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Reader comments closed for the weekend

Friday, Sep 30, 2011

* My wife was in an auto accident a little over a month ago. Nobody was hurt, but our car was crunched but good. She picked up the car today in Chicago and said it looked brand new, which is good since it’s not even a year old. She loves that car and she’s ecstatic right now, so this one’s for Wasan

Honey, it ain’t your money
Baby, I got plenty of that

- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      


And now the Chicago Board Options Exchange considers leaving Illinois

Friday, Sep 30, 2011

* First CME started shopping itself around, and now CBOE is looking at relocating

The parent of the Chicago Board Options Exchange has held talks with a number of governors and state officials about a possible move of its headquarters to another state after Illinois raised its tax rate, providing another challenge to the city’s status as the self-styled “derivatives capital of the world.”

January’s tax increase is seen increasing CBOE Holdings Inc.’s (CBOE) state tax bill by a quarter. Chicago-based CME Group Inc. (CME), the world’s largest futures exchange operator, is also talking about relocating its headquarters.

“We’ve had a series of meetings with people in this state and outside this state,” said Bill Brodsky, chairman and chief executive of CBOE, in an interview. “The bottom line is that we don’t want to leave Illinois, but the structure that exists as it relates to exchanges is virtually punitive.” […]

Chicago’s derivatives exchanges form the nucleus of a broader financial services sector that is also being hit by the tax rise, said Brodsky. The trading business is estimated to employ around 120,000 people in the city, and has expanded to fill the gap left by the decline of its manufacturing base. […]

“Our goal is to find a way that will remove the punitive aspects that will allow us not to move operations out,” Brodsky said. “Hopefully we will come to a solution, but if not we have many other alternatives.”

It may already be too late, but I really think we need to seriously consider repealing that corporate income tax hike.

- Posted by Rich Miller   15 Comments      


This just in…

Friday, Sep 30, 2011

* 1:56 pm - Illinois AFL-CIO President Michael Carrigan just sent this e-mail to his executive board. I confirmed it with Cullerton’s office…

Patricia Cullerton, mother of Illinois Senate President John Cullerton, D-Chicago, died Thursday at Tabor Hills, a retirement home in Naperville. She was 85.

“President Cullerton is taking this time to honor her memory and celebrate the proud legacy she left in her family,” said Rikeesha Phelon, spokeswoman for Cullerton.

Patricia Cullerton, a Chicago native and longtime resident of Winfield, had nine children and more than 20 grandchildren. Her husband, John J. Cullerton Sr., preceded her in death.

Visitation is from 2-7 p.m. Sunday at Williams-Kampp Funeral Home, 430 E. Roosevelt Road, Wheaton. A funeral Mass will be at 11:30 a.m. Monday at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in Winfield.

My most sincere sympathies are extended to President Cullerton and his entire family.

- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      


Unsolicited advice

Friday, Sep 30, 2011

* Dear Gov. Pat Quinn,

You’d probably better set aside more money in your budget to fight a blizzard of lawsuits over your planned facility closures

Among the potential roadblocks is a statute designating the Chester Mental Health Center as the state’s sole facility for treating certain kinds of violence-prone residents. The governor wants to move the residents to an existing facility in Alton.

In addition, moving nearly 2,000 inmates out of the Logan Correctional Center will cause additional overcrowding in the state’s already cramped prison system, potentially opening up the state to an inmate lawsuit. […]

In addition to requiring statutory changes allowing Alton to begin serving Chester residents, mental health advocate Mark Heyrman, a facilitor for the Chicago-based Mental Health Summit, said state laws limit how Quinn can use the savings he says he will get from closing the three centers.

* Dear Tammy Duckworth,

It’s “Dick” with a “D.” Try to remember that the next time you send out a fundraising e-mail…

…Adding… But this Duckworth campaign e-mail update ain’t bad at all…

Here’s the good news: when we totaled it up at lunch yesterday, we realized that Tammy has raised $386,504 for the primary from over 2,000 people.

* Dear Community Unit School District 300,

If Sears moves its headquarters because the company’s local economic development area authorization is allowed to expire, you’re gonna get even less tax money

“EDA is not the way.”

“RIP, EDA.”

Allison Strupeck, director of communication services in Community Unit School District 300 admitted, “I’ve been thinking a little too much about what the slogans might be.”

Those are slogans Strupeck said she hopes to see and hear soon around the Carpentersville-area school district as it treads into uncharted waters to stop the extension of the EDA — economic development area — special property tax status around Sears’ Prairie Stone corporate headquarters in Hoffman Estates.

District 300 is working with students, staff, parents, community groups and legislators to remove an amendment to Illinois Senate Bill 540 that would extend the EDA past its expiration in mid-2012. That’s because those tax incentives hand about $14 million in tax dollars each year that would go to District 300 instead to the EDA generally bordered by I-90, Route 72, Beverly Road and Prairie Stone Parkway, school district officials say.

* Dear ten percent of the American public,

Are you freaking blind?

Three years after a financial crisis pushed the country deep into recession, an overwhelming number of Americans — 90 percent — say that economic conditions remain poor.

* Dear ComEd,

You might wanna consider the distinct possibility that you’ve been cursed

Wind gusts knocked out power to 31,000 people overnight, ComEd officials said.

Perhaps canceling your Cubs skybox would do the trick.

* Dear 47th Ward Democratic Committeeman Gene Schulter,

Perhaps your organization wouldn’t be such a laughing stock right now if you had spent more of this money over the years

Schulter’s two campaign committees had $187,299 in cash on hand, with another $647,141 invested in certificates of deposit as of June 30, state records show.

* Dear Robert Schmidt, husband of embattled state Sen. Suzi Schmidt,

What kind of person calls 911 because his wife locked him out of the house after she discovered on Christmas morning that he was allegedly having an affair with their neighbor? Yeah, she threw stuff at you, but, sheesh dude, couldn’t you just walk away, perhaps to that very same neighbor’s house?

* Dear Chicago Tea Party honcho Steve Stevlic, who is co-hosting this weekend’s TeaCon 2011 event,

In retrospect, I’m sure you would agree that it probably wasn’t a good idea to taunt Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr. after his marital problems were exposed when you yourself had been busted two months earlier by the coppers for soliciting the services of a, um, woman of the evening.

It’s fantastic that you weren’t convicted after you agreed to attend a rehab program. Here’s hoping that you’re a better person now. And I mean that without any snark in my heart. But you still might wanna try to keep a low profile during the upcoming festivities.

* Your turn…

- Posted by Rich Miller   30 Comments      


Question of the day

Friday, Sep 30, 2011

* First, a little background from the Bloomington Pantagraph

State Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka defended the raises for members of her staff during a stop at an animal shelter in Normal Wednesday morning.

A Chicago-based nonprofit group, the Better Government Association, criticized Topinka for providing raises of at least 3 percent to 56 employees.

“This is a small raise and we’re not talking about huge amounts of money,” she said. “Plus, we are down on our headcount by 24 people and $1.5 million.”

The raises for nonunion staffers were also based on an effort to create more parity with the unionized work force. Under existing contracts, those raises were set at 4.5 percent.

“I had all of these folks who for years have been working, working, working and I didn’t want to have to force them to join a union to get a raise,” she said.

* Now, on to the editorials. The Champaign News-Gazette

We’re broke, but here’s a raise

In Illinois, budget belt-tightening has a whole different meaning than is generally understood.

With the state effectively bankrupt, should top state elected officials be handing out pay raises to their staffs? […]

Here [is the reasoning]: The raises were given because employees took on new, more serious duties; the pay raises were given as a matter of equity because the employees had been previously underpaid; and the raises were given to nonunion employees because union employees had received raises.

Those explanations are reasonable. What’s unreasonable is handing out any raises in these offices when the state is effectively broke.

A floundering private business could never get away with this kind of money management. In the private sector, having no money means having no money. In the public sector, that doesn’t seem to be a problem — at least not in Illinois.

* State Journal-Register

This is a bit like the class valedictorian and student council president getting caught phoning in a bomb threat as a prank on their high school. Here we have the lone Republican constitutional officers, the ones who have preached fiscal responsibility to the point of advocating combining their offices to save money, doing the very thing that so drives taxpayers and good government groups crazy. […]

Sure, we get the excuses: Pay equity. Promotions. Adjusting for new duties, etc. But some of the raises handed out by Rutherford and Topinka seem at most excessive and at the very least, tone-deaf.

It doesn’t help public perception that news about these raises arrives only with help from the Freedom of Information Act or by good-government groups sifting through state data.

All the excuses in the world aren’t going to do anything to assuage voter anger, especially since some voters haven’t had raises in many years, and in many cases have seen pay and benefits shrink. Add in the fact that we are paying more taxes to help the state out of a fiscal crisis, and this move isn’t going to do anything to stem the ire when terms are up.

* Beloit, Wisconsin Daily News

Across the state line, the insanity continues. […]

The ill-timed raises demonstrate the obvious. Illinois’ leadership — pardon our gross misuse of that word — clearly is constitutionally incapable of exercising sound fiscal judgment.

Who knows? Maybe their rationale is to rake in a few final bucks before the state’s entire fiscal house of cards collapses. Chances are it’s too late to save this spend-happy state anyway. […]

Failure for years to deal with known problems landed Illinois in this fix. The only solution, eventually, may be the humiliation of bankruptcy. Really.

* Northwest Herald

Giving pay raises to state workers demonstrates political tone deafness. That was the case when Quinn did. It’s still the case now that Rutherford and Topinka have done it.

* Belleville News Democrat

They all have excuses and explanations for the new jobs and the big raises. But no way should they be doing this in the midst of a fiscal crisis. They’re supposed to be leading us out of this mess, but instead they are adding to the problem.

* The Question: Are editorial boards overreacting to these raises for non-union employees? Take the poll and then explain your answer in comments, please. Thanks.


- Posted by Rich Miller   58 Comments      


SB 1652: A National Model for Smarter Regulation

Friday, Sep 30, 2011

[The following is a paid advertisement.]

Prominent experts in utility regulation are speaking out about Senate Bill 1652 (Electric Infrastructure Modernization Act).

Here’s what they are saying:

“ComEd is the only utility proposing legislation that includes performance standards linking utility investments to service reliability improvements. SB 1652 establishes a new era of accountability to consumers and serves as a national model.”

    - John Kelly, Galvin Electricity Initiative

“(SB 1652) is an innovative approach to setting electricity rates that is compatible with good regulation, market realities and the goal to modernize Illinois’ electric grid.”

    - Ken Costello, former regulator, principal at the National Regulatory Research Institute

“Changing regulatory policy is not easy, nor should it be. But this bill represents one opportunity for Illinois to shape policy that protects consumers, spurs needed investment in a fragile grid and creates much-needed jobs.”

    - Ray Romero, former commissioner at the Illinois Commerce Commission

“The long term success of a digital grid requires that we free ourselves of outdated thinking and stereotypes, and embrace innovation as we have in so many other facets of every day life.

    - David O’Brien, former Vermont Commissioner of Public Service

For more information, visit www.SmartEnergyIL.com.

- Posted by Advertising Department   Comments Off      


The final insult

Friday, Sep 30, 2011

* Sheesh

The unsuccessful 2011 mayoral campaign of Carol Moseley Braun has failed to file documentation on how $315,000 in campaign funds was spent, something that is required by state law.

Illinois Board of Elections officials told the Chicago Sun-Times and NBC5 News they have been unsuccessful in getting either Braun or her now-defunct campaign to explain how the money was spent.

Candidates are required by law to file quarterly campaign disclosure statements. In an April 15 filing, Braun reported raising $323,000 and spending $315,000.

In the report, the Braun campaign listed “Vendors Multiple” instead of itemizing expenditures over $150.

* And any remaining good will for Carol Moseley Braun should now vanish forevermore

Any fault, according to Moseley Braun, lies with her former treasurer, Billie Paige.

“If Billie Paige neglected to (detail those expenses), it doesn’t surprise, she is elderly and overwhelmed,” Moseley Braun said by phone this week.

First of all, Billie Paige resigned as Braun’s campaign treasurer on April 13th. If this reporting problem was her fault, Braun has had plenty of time to straighten out the books since then.

Secondly, Paige said she warned the Braun campaign about the problem

By phone this week, Paige told NBC Chicago she had raised questions herself about the expenditure omissions.

Thirdly, Billie Paige has been one of Braun’s best friends for decades. To make these accusations now is inexcusable. Paige has defended Braun through thick and thin, and there’s been plenty of both over the years.

And, lastly, Ms. Paige is not a senile old woman. Far from it. To suggest that this problem was caused by Paige’s age and lack mental acuity is just flat-out disgusting and wrong. She’s still as sharp as a tack. The real problem was a wholly disorganized and disjointed campaign apparatus created by Braun’s total incompetence. Nobody knew what was going on from minute to minute because Braun thought she knew best. She didn’t.

Carol Braun ran a terrible campaign, and these financial reporting problems are further proof of this fact. Thankfully, she has finally been exposed as the horribly disorganized, mean-spirited person many of us have long known her to be.

It was obvious to all of us who knew her that Paige realized early on that she’d made the biggest mistake of her life by convincing Braun to run for mayor. It weighed on her heavily, and probably broke her heart.

And now this. The final insult, and a total crock to boot.

Go away, Carol, and never come back.

- Posted by Rich Miller   41 Comments      


Indiana goes all in

Friday, Sep 30, 2011

* If this story is accurate, then Indiana’s bid for CME would appear to more than wipe out the company’s entire Illinois corporate income tax costs

So, just how much is Indiana offering CME Group Inc. to move its headquarters and perhaps other operations to the Hoosier state?

I hear the figure — in net tax savings — is a mouth-watering $150 million a year. That’s from a reliable source who claims to have obtained the information from Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels’ office.

CME isn’t commenting on who’s offering what, though CEO Terry Duffy earlier in the week said he expects the headquarters matter to be resolved by yearend.

But, in a conversation with my colleague John Pletz on Thursday, Indian’s top economic development official, Dan Hasler, stopped way short of waving us off that number.

The Hoosiers really want that company to move across the border. Illinois cannot afford to compete with an offer like that, but it also cannot afford to lose such a valuable corporation.

Ugh.

- Posted by Rich Miller   59 Comments      


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Friday, Sep 30, 2011

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PREVIOUS POSTS »
* Reader comments closed for the weekend
* Rauner vetoes several social service bills
* Ok, that's enough
* I truly hate this US Senate race
* Rauner signs life insurance bill
* Question of the day
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* *** UPDATED x5 - Motion approved - Noven to withdraw - $421 million budget hit - One appointee appears to be ineligible - The plot thickens as three new board members appointed *** Controversy expected at TRS hearing today
* React to remap reform ruling
* Divided court kicks remap reform off ballot
* Yesterday's blog posts

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