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*** UPDATED x1 *** Fun with numbers

Tuesday, Jun 19, 2012

* The Pantagraph looked at grocery purchases from the beginning of the fiscal year through April

According to the comptroller’s office, the General Assembly paid $20,015 for coffee supplies. Along with coffee, the money paid for tea, sugar, creamer, artificial sweeteners and drink-related supplies.

That amounted to about $113 in coffee-related spending for each of the 177 members of the House and Senate. Broken down further, that’s about $9.42 per month, per member, for java.

Except that the General Assembly has lots of employees. So the cost shouldn’t really be broken down “per member.”

* Illinois Review completely misread the story and filed this rewrite

Since April of this year, Illinois taxpayers have spent $20,000 for coffee supplies for 177 members of the Illinois House and Senate. That’s about $113 per politician in the last 60 days.

And this is just coffee supplies. One can only imagine what our cost is for the actual coffee they drink for free.

1) It’s through April of this year, not since.

2) The coffee supplies category includes the cost of actual coffee, according to the article.

*** UPDATE *** It appears that the Illinois Review has retaliated, but of course they bungled it badly

In his Southtown Star column, left-wing blogger Rich Miller delights in reviewing AFSCME’s mystical endorsement sessions last weekend

Actually, it was the Illinois AFL-CIO’s endorsement that I wrote about, not AFSCME. And it happened last week, not last weekend. Also, I suppose I’m left-wing when compared to IR. But then, pretty much everybody is. And the column appears statewide, not just in the Southtown Star.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - just sayin' - Tuesday, Jun 19, 12 @ 9:26 am:

    “Illinois Review completely misread the story . . .”

    It would be news if they didn’t.

  2. - Anon - Tuesday, Jun 19, 12 @ 9:33 am:

    $9.42 a month for coffee? And even that number is inflated?

    I’d die to pay that little for just myself per month on coffee!

  3. - Mouthy - Tuesday, Jun 19, 12 @ 9:34 am:

    This is nothing in the world of waste. JBT is sitting on a mountain of information.

  4. - J - Tuesday, Jun 19, 12 @ 9:35 am:

    Why is this news?

    If you actually look at how the numbers work out, it’s not nearly as egregious as it sounds

    -There are 177 members
    -Each member has a handful of staffers
    -There’s a whole bunch of non-partisan staff employed by the GA that doesn’t work for the members
    -Lastly, there are thousands of people who visit Springfield to discuss pending legislation

    We’re talking about $20,000 in coffee over 4 months for thousands of people. This is not news. There’s plenty of waste fraud and abuse, and I’m glad to see that the Pantagraph isn’t really looking for it.

  5. - Bitterman - Tuesday, Jun 19, 12 @ 9:38 am:

    …waiting patiently for a report on the Sox/Cubs game last night….

  6. - Kerfuffle - Tuesday, Jun 19, 12 @ 9:38 am:

    Let not the facts get in the way of a salacious story.

  7. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Jun 19, 12 @ 9:40 am:

    Bitterman, as far as I’m concerned, no baseball game was played last night in Chicago.

  8. - OurMagician - Tuesday, Jun 19, 12 @ 9:40 am:

    9.42 per member??? We could buy 3 gallons of gas with that money!!! Better yet, 4 Powerball tickets the next time the drawing is over $500 million. I do know that none of that money was spent by Senator Brady, no one could be that boring that had drank coffee unless it was de de de de caf.

  9. - Plutocrat03 - Tuesday, Jun 19, 12 @ 9:42 am:

    There are a ton of private companies that no longer provide coffee to their employees.

    They could look like they want to same money somewhere.

  10. - Oswego Willy - Tuesday, Jun 19, 12 @ 9:48 am:

    $9.42 for Coffee …

    In Chicago, if you go to “the Starbucks” and order ..

    Venti, Skinny Caramel Macchiato, with Vanilla, Extra Hot, with an Extra Shot ….

    That would be about $9 with just One Drink ordered.

    Not That I Would KNOW….

  11. - cindy lou - Tuesday, Jun 19, 12 @ 9:50 am:

    I’m not on my usual computer but jumping on to say that I tend to look at this a bit different. I get it’s peanuts in the thick of things, but why are the people who just voted to slash meds for elderly spending $20,000 on coffee/tea for themselves? For me it’s not about if 177 members drank if or if dozens and dozens of staff assisted in the drinking. In my world if one wants coffee while working (on break of course) one supplies their own.

  12. - Shore - Tuesday, Jun 19, 12 @ 9:52 am:

    how is this a problem?

  13. - Oswego Willy - Tuesday, Jun 19, 12 @ 9:53 am:


  14. - Fed up - Tuesday, Jun 19, 12 @ 10:00 am:

    Hmm part time job with benefits plus free coffee. Not the biggest deal but most offices the employees have to chip in for coffee. But I’m guessing with the quality of our state government putting an empty coffee can for people to pay for their coffee would get you no where with this crew. You would think Madigan & Cullerton with the millions they make of the legal services they provide to state contractors and vendors could spring for some coffee for their obedient bodies.

  15. - wordslinger - Tuesday, Jun 19, 12 @ 10:01 am:

    Somewhere, there has to be a press conference brewing to bemoan this unconscionable, Nanny State, socialist entitlement.

    Solution: put an empty Folgers can by the coffee pot. Anyone who takes coffee and doesn’t make the tin sing, walks in shame.

  16. - Fed up - Tuesday, Jun 19, 12 @ 10:02 am:

    Maybe some should get Alec Baldwin to come in during the overtime session and yell coffee is for closers at the caffeine deprived legislators until some progress is made.

  17. - Regular Reader - Tuesday, Jun 19, 12 @ 10:08 am:

    Sometimes I wonder if Illinois Review misreads things just to get free advertising on CapFax.

  18. - Esquire - Tuesday, Jun 19, 12 @ 10:11 am:

    Is it worthwhile to reference the Illinois Review on this site? It is like mixing oil and water.

    IR just took a shot at Rich Miller for being a “left wing blogger.”

  19. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Jun 19, 12 @ 10:11 am:

    I am with Cindy Lou on this. Why are the tax payers spending $20 or $20,000 on coffee!

  20. - Oswego Willy - Tuesday, Jun 19, 12 @ 10:24 am:

    Maybe the GA should have an “I-PASS” type of system, that everyone pays their “Coffee-Pass” account, and then when you have depleted your “Account”, they take an additional $10 out to relpenish you Coffee Jones.

    Now the cost of the entire “Coffee-Pass” system is roughly $83,500.00, so It could be very cost-effective.

  21. - otownie - Tuesday, Jun 19, 12 @ 10:24 am:

    Most state employees I know pay for their own coffee at work.

  22. - Wumpus - Tuesday, Jun 19, 12 @ 10:27 am:

    Why are we subsidizing their addiction to caffiene? I propose we can pay for one cup, some soap and let them get water from the tap!

  23. - Yossarian Lives - Tuesday, Jun 19, 12 @ 10:31 am:

    I can’t speak for all four caucuses, but in the caucus of which I have personal knowledge, staffers pay for their own coffee; only the members and whoever else is drinking their coffee get it for free.

  24. - Bitterman - Tuesday, Jun 19, 12 @ 10:50 am:

    RM, well the Cubs haven’t been playing baseball on the north side, maybe the south side is more to their liking…..

  25. - Oswego Willy - Tuesday, Jun 19, 12 @ 10:55 am:

    I think the IR is trying to find a nitche, and have now found it …

    “Facts”, based on half-truths, with a Right Wing, litmus test few can pass, let alone try to pass.

    Fran, We Hardly Knew Ye …

  26. - dave - Tuesday, Jun 19, 12 @ 11:05 am:

    Oswego…didn’t Fox News already create that niche?

  27. - downstate hack - Tuesday, Jun 19, 12 @ 11:07 am:

    A small amount of money in the over all scheme of things. But $20,000 to a mechanic or nurse who has to pony up for their own coffe at work, it hits home. Why should legislators get free coffe from the constituents who are already paying them, and giving them a per diem? That’s the real questions.

  28. - downstate hack - Tuesday, Jun 19, 12 @ 11:11 am:

    In his Southtown Star column, left-wing blogger Rich Miller delights in reviewing AFSCME’s mystical endorsement sessions last weekend

    With ancestors like Jefferson and Cash, how can you be so left wing? Just asking.

  29. - Kerfuffle - Tuesday, Jun 19, 12 @ 11:11 am:

    It’s probably all Madigan’s fault. We’ll see a posting on it very soon from the IL Republican Central Committee.

  30. - House of Pain - Tuesday, Jun 19, 12 @ 11:15 am:

    Ok how many legislators actually drink coffee? The assumption is they all do, I personally know several who do not. Having pointed out the poor reporting I think those who drink it should pay for it.

  31. - Oswego Willy - Tuesday, Jun 19, 12 @ 11:24 am:

    - dave -

    I guess the difference is that Fox News has, at minimum, ratings success, which is a goal of a cable network.

    I can’t speak to what the goals are of IR, be they political, monetary, or social … but as a Repub, they are hurting more than helping here in IL.

    It is best said like this:

    You can disagree, and not be dissagreeable.

    Our Right Wing likes the disagreeable part, thus two factions working against each other, “for the same goal”.

  32. - mythoughtis - Tuesday, Jun 19, 12 @ 11:35 am:

    I am sure some private sector companies provide free coffee… although none of the ones I ever worked at. Most full time state employees pay for their own coffee, why are the part-time ones and teir staffs getting it paid for? The state is broke. It’s not much money, but it is a gesture, you know?

  33. - Mouthy - Tuesday, Jun 19, 12 @ 11:40 am:

    Psst…Don’t look at the judges….

  34. - Johnnie F. - Tuesday, Jun 19, 12 @ 11:40 am:

    Maybe the legislators could also chip in and buy their own microwave oven for their breakroom. Here, employees have been told that it would be frowned upon by taxpayers if they found out tax money was used for ”a perk” for employees. We pay for our own toaster, coffeemaker, coffee and water. The free water provided by the taxpayer comes out of the faucet a lovely shade of rust. We also take up collections when a co-worker is hospitalized or dies, our employer won’t even spring for a card. In short, buy your own coffee like the rest of us.

  35. - Emanuel Kant - Tuesday, Jun 19, 12 @ 12:00 pm:

    Er, sorry to break it to you Rich…you ARE left of center.

  36. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Jun 19, 12 @ 12:06 pm:

    EK, get your terminology right. I was called “left wing.”

  37. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Tuesday, Jun 19, 12 @ 12:16 pm:

    1. “Misread” assumes folks can “read.”

    @Kant -

    Um, on behalf of the Left, I reject your characterization.

    I’d call Rich stubbornly “Center”, except he’s not actually a “Centrist.” Centrists cling to the Middle, wherever it be, without Reason.

    Rich is stubbornly Factual, with a healthy dose of Pragmatic. I’m not sure that qualifies as an Ideology per se, although I think we’d all agree that being Factual is a welcome trait in a journalist.

    And I, for one, think Pragmatism is a welcome trait in public policy discourse.

  38. - freezeup - Tuesday, Jun 19, 12 @ 12:17 pm:

    “Left wing blogger”. I LOL’d iced tea all over my keyboard when I read that. Gee, I consider myself somewhat Republican but this is the only political website I visit regularly. Could it be that my self awareness needs a tuneup?

  39. - Steve Brown - Tuesday, Jun 19, 12 @ 12:43 pm:

    “You would think Madigan & Cullerton….could spring for some coffee for their obedient bodies.”
    Thanks for bringing this up.
    To the best of my knowledge those who use Room 300 pay for their own coffee with their own money.
    Not sure what the $20K includes…could include district offices, etc.
    This is a good diversion to keep away from that tragic event near 35th and the Ryan about 9 p.m. Monday night.

  40. - John - Tuesday, Jun 19, 12 @ 12:49 pm:

    I wonder how much of it Mike Bost drinks.

  41. - Jeff Trigg - Tuesday, Jun 19, 12 @ 1:19 pm:

    Do away with the luxury perk and let someone open up a coffee cart/stand nearby. Create a job for a change.

  42. - Happy Returns - Tuesday, Jun 19, 12 @ 1:26 pm:

    And $20,000 in four months isn’t already creating a job somewhere? _Someone_ is selling it to them…

  43. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Tuesday, Jun 19, 12 @ 1:48 pm:

    @Trigg -

    Republicans support spending billions of state taxpayer dollars on pensions for non-state employees, and you wanna complain about $20K worth of coffee?

    Eyes on the prize, fella.

  44. - Jeff Trigg - Tuesday, Jun 19, 12 @ 1:52 pm:

    Someone_ is selling it to them

    The new coffee cart would still have to buy supplies from someone, its just that the coffee cart wouldn’t be spending taxpayers money on it. Instead of taxpayers paying for free coffee, the people that drink the coffee would pay for it. Assuming the same amount of coffee is consumed, it would create a job, have the same economic impact on the coffee industry, and be paid for by the consumers instead of taking it out of people’s paychecks.

  45. - Jeff Trigg - Tuesday, Jun 19, 12 @ 1:53 pm:

    I’d complain if they didn’t pick up a penny on the ground to help pay off our debts. You’ll never win the prize without watching every penny.

  46. - Hacks - Tuesday, Jun 19, 12 @ 2:05 pm:

    As an ex-employee of Madigan, I would say Miller is pretty deferential to the Dems. He likes to claim independence, but how objective can he be to a father who drives the Obamalac.

    I don’t think picking the low hanging fruit of corrupt Illinois Dems establishes his objective bona fides.

    I was surprised at his fear of going after Blago until after he was removed. Interesting.

  47. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Tuesday, Jun 19, 12 @ 2:14 pm:

    === You’ll never win the prize without watching every penny. ===

    I guess you’re not familiar with the Law of Diminishing Marginal Returns?

    If it costs $100 per hour to perform an audit, spending 200 hours to save one penny doesn’t really save you much.

  48. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Jun 19, 12 @ 2:14 pm:

    ===was surprised at his fear of going after Blago until after he was removed. Interesting.===

    You’re such a moron. I went after him hard from the very beginning.

    ===but how objective can he be to a father who drives the Obamalac.===

    Again, you’re a moron. One cannot pick one’s father, who, by the way, until a few years ago was about the most solid Republican I’ve ever known.

    Bite me.

  49. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Tuesday, Jun 19, 12 @ 2:18 pm:

    @Hacks -

    Capitolfax was criticizing Rod Blagojevich long before Tom Cross or the Chicago Tribune.

    If that’s your metric for declaring Rich “left wing”, that pretty much makes Cross a Socialist.

  50. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Tuesday, Jun 19, 12 @ 2:49 pm:

    @Steve Brown -

    As I told Rich after his Sox lost to my Cardinals, “tragedy” rarely applies in baseball. Although last night’s game was surely enough to put a Sox fan in a sour mood this a.m., Konerko seems to be taking it in stride.

    After all, the White Sox still lead their division, and the Cubs still have the worst record in the major leagues.

  51. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Jun 19, 12 @ 3:02 pm:

    ===Although last night’s game===

    There was no game last night.

  52. - Endangered Moderate Species - Tuesday, Jun 19, 12 @ 3:04 pm:

    “Left Wing Blogger”? All this time I felt I’ve been reading the fairest and most factual blog on the web. McCarthyism lives at the Illinois Review.

  53. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Tuesday, Jun 19, 12 @ 3:11 pm:

    == There was no game last night. ==

    My apologies. Yesterday’s home run clinic. :)

  54. - Esquire - Tuesday, Jun 19, 12 @ 4:02 pm:

    Put it in context: I would be angrier if the Illinois General Assembly was subsidizing its members by picking up their daily coffee tabs and pay retail prices at Starbucks.

  55. - PublicServant - Tuesday, Jun 19, 12 @ 4:43 pm:

    ===Rich is stubbornly Factual, with a healthy dose of Pragmatic.===

    Except when it comes to the White Sox…

    Just sayin.

  56. - different set of rule - Tuesday, Jun 19, 12 @ 6:53 pm:

    In 15 years of service as a state employee, the tax payers have never bought me coffee at work. Once and a while a generous manager will buy the coffee, but that it. It’s such a tiny thing, but it just shows how totally out of touch the folks in that branch are.

  57. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Tuesday, Jun 19, 12 @ 8:50 pm:

    @PublicServant -


    He does get emotional about his Sox. And ending prohibition.

    In his defense, criminalizing marijuana makes even less sense than being a Cubs fan.

    @different set of rule -

    First they complain about the coffee.

    Next they’ll complain about the coffeemakers.

    If you brought your own coffeemaker to work, they’d complain about how the taxpayers are footing the bill for the electricity.

    And despite what Trigg says, he’d never stop complaining if you got rid of all of the coffeemakers and started going out for coffee once an hour.

  58. - Jeff Trigg - Tuesday, Jun 19, 12 @ 9:20 pm:

    YDD - You’re right, I’d never stop complaining, and didn’t say I would. Can we start charging them for parking?

    As for audits, we don’t need an audit to find this coffee luxury perk they get. And if we need audits to find out what we are spending money on, we’re in bigger trouble than even I think.

    The law of diminishing returns works both ways. You can only take so much money out of the economy before it starts to contract. Kind of like now. There isn’t an unlimited pool of taxpayers to pay all the bills. Ask Detroit about what uncontrolled government spending will do.

    $20,000 is a spec in the eye of a flea on a fly on a bump on a log in a hole in the bottom of the sea, I know. It still looks bad after an income tax increase on the working poor of Illinois.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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