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Friday, Aug 31, 2012

* I’m gonna kick off the last big summer holiday weekend by seeing this guy

You know, sometimes, I write happy songs
Then some little thing goes wrong
I wish they all could make you smile

Have a great Labor Day weekend!

- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      


Question of the day

Friday, Aug 31, 2012

* Tribune

State Sen. Bill Brady, the unsuccessful GOP candidate for governor two years ago, met with delegates Thursday morning after arriving from an anniversary celebration in New York with his wife, Nancy. The senator from Bloomington said a decision on making a third bid for the office would “probably” come in January.

Brady spent Wednesday night at the Tampa Bay Times Forum in a suite sponsored by the Republican Governors Association, which pumped millions of dollars in TV advertising into his losing bid against Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn in 2010. While there, Brady said he received some encouraging words from former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.

“Jeb Bush said it to me, he said, ‘You know, Bill, I don’t know if you’re going to run again. But I’ll tell you, strangely as it seems, I wouldn’t have won the second time if I didn’t lose the first,’” Brady recalled. “He said in big states like Illinois and Florida, people need to get to know you and if they don’t know you, when people attack you, it sticks. So it’s important that I continue to get to know people, if that’s what I want to do.”

* The Question: Should Sen. Bill Brady run a third time for governor in 2014? Take the poll and then explain your answer in comments, please.


- Posted by Rich Miller   55 Comments      


Eaton “goes there”

Friday, Aug 31, 2012

* Fran Eaton should be given a lot of credit for taking on this issue so directly. I don’t always agree with her, but somebody needed to write this story since both of these gentlemen are considering a bid for governor. Eaton approached the incredibly touchy subject in a very honest, open and frank manner

This week, the issue of gay politics is in the news as one likely candidate for governor - State Treasurer Dan Rutherford - reportedly made an off-the-cuff comment in Tampa in support of anti-Republican Equality Illinois picking up the bar tab for the Illinois Delegation. The State Treasurer is quoted as saying that those who don’t like it “can go someplace else to drink.”

That was an eyebrow-raiser for conservative Republicans back home who are concerned about preserving traditional marriage in Illinois.

Then Wednesday night, a second potential 2014 gubernatorial candidate - Congressman Aaron Schock - told PBS he is opposed to same sex marriage. In response Gay blogger John Aravois expressed his thoughts about Schock, writing:

    “GOP Rep. from IL Aaron Schock said last night on local PBS in Chicago that he’s opposed to gay marriage. I think it’s finally time we had an honest and open discussion about what this guy’s sexual orientation really is. Because if he wants to play the anti-gay card, then he makes his own sexual orientation an issue. He needs to directly answer and put to rest all the talk about him being gay.”

Another eyebrow-raiser. And perhaps the signal that it is time to address a rather difficult topic.

* Eaton then gives us some history and context

So, let’s start with the obvious. Both Rutherford and Schock are not married. Rutherford is 57 years old and Schock is 31. Both have dedicated their adult professional lives to public service.

Rutherford worked for ServiceMaster before becoming a state representative, then a state senator, and now the state treasurer. He’s been involved in politics statewide for decades, and has actively promoted Republican candidates and local organizations. While in the legislature, his voting record was above average on conservative issues with a lifetime average rating of 70 according to the staunchly conservative URF legislative scorecard.

However, Rutherford was the sole Republican vote in favor of adding “sexual orientation” to the state’s non-discrimination statute. The vote caused a furor, and rumors about Rutherford’s sexuality really began to fly.

That’s when I interviewed Rutherford and when I asked him what he referred to as “The Question.” He had heard the same rumors over the years and was eager to answer it publicly. Indeed, Rutherford told me directly, “No, I am not gay.”

* Schock

The other legislator whose sexuality has been questioned is Aaron Schock. Schock was first elected to the Peoria school board when he was 19. At age 21, he challenged an incumbent Democrat state rep and knocked her off in a hard-fought race. At age 27, he ran and won a tough primary race in his first bid for Congress, when Ray LaHood stepped down.

Schock’s a respected, hard-working legislator and as the youngest member in Congress, his future in politics appears to be limitless.

He’s handsome, articulate and photogenic. He’s become a rock star on Capitol Hill and he’s reaching out to his generation with Republican ideals.

I’ve been asked numerous times whether Schock is gay - as if I had proof one way or another. “From discussions I’ve had with those closest to Schock, he is not,” I’ve answered time and time again.

I’ve also explained that Schock experienced a soul-searching time when his parents divorced. He sought pastoral counsel and subsequently made a public declaration of his faith in Jesus at a very conservative church in Peoria. That all happened while he was serving as an Illinois House member.

Fran writes that she’s never asked Schock “The Question,” but the congressman was asked about it back in 2004, according to a 2009 Schock profile. That Details Magazine profile is no longer online, but it’s still searchable

Schock is hoping his romantic prospects will improve too, once he settles in. He’s the only one of his siblings not married with children, and is similarly an outlier among his friends. “I had a group of five or six guys, and we hung out and traveled—ski trips and stuff,” he says. “They slowly got picked off—married, married, married.” His pals try not to dog him about his love life. “I think he’s got enough pressure as it is,” says Shea Ledford, a concrete worker who’s been Schock’s good friend since high school.

Indeed, there’s been enough speculation about Schock’s confirmed-bachelor status that, as far back as 2004, a Chicago newspaper asked him whether he was gay (his response: “No . . . I’m not.”).

* Eaton, a very conservative blogger, concludes her piece with some almost liberal remarks

So, do we have a right to know about a candidate’s personal and public position on moral issues? The answer is “yes”. But I contend it’s less about what a candidate does in their bedroom and more about what the condition of his or her heart, soul and mind is.

Do they respect and guide their lives according to time-solidified scriptural, moral principles? That alone is what will determine the direction they lead their own lives, their homes, and their state.

Perhaps that’s “The Question” we all need to ask ourselves before we ask them the other.

Thoughts?

But before you comment, I need to tell you that I’m gonna delete anyone who makes inappropriate comments and will likely ban those deleted commenters for life. Speculation, rumors, “somebody told me” etc. will not be tolerated. There is going to be very little leeway on this post, so don’t test me.

So, if you think I might delete you, don’t write it. If I think I might ban you, just walk away from your computer. I’m not kidding about this. Don’t push me. Thanks.

- Posted by Rich Miller   67 Comments      


Not good for Schilling’s gander

Friday, Aug 31, 2012

* A DCCC campaign tracker showed up at a public event held by Republican Congressman Bobby Schilling on August 25th. A police officer was stationed outside the Rock Falls Chamber of Commerce Auditorium and informed the tracker that he wouldn’t allowed to film inside. The event was not political, it was “an educational forum” on veterans’ issues. Attendees

Congressman Bobby Schilling, Mr. Duane Honeycutt, Director of the Department of Veterans Affairs Regional Office in Chicago (VARO), Ms. Dawn Oxley, Acting Director of the Iowa City VA Health Care System, Ms. Jean Swiderski, TRICARE, and Mayors David Blanton and Skip Lee

* The tracker tried to argue his case, but to no avail. The police officer cited “federal regulations” as the reason. Watch

I’m not a huge fan of trackers, but they’re a fact of life and congressmen shouldn’t be stomping on the 1st Amendment.

This is especially ironic when you consider that an infamous tracker video of Democrat incumbent Phil Hare helped Schilling defeat the incumbent. Hare was hosting an official public forum on health care reform when he was approached by tea partiers.

“We just provided the hall here,” said an official at the Rock Falls Chamber of Commerce Auditorium when I called this afternoon. “We weren’t even here for it.” The official did say that the flier for the event included a statement prohibiting video cameras, but she didn’t know why.

I suppose you could say that Schilling learned from Hare’s mistake. But you could also say that Schilling is being pretty darned hypocritical here.

* Meanwhile, earlier this week, Republican congressional candidate Jason Plummer sent an e-mail to his supporters asking for cash to put gas in his tank…

Help Fuel My Truck!

Hey Team,

Today I started my District-wide truck tour. Over the next few days, I am going to be visiting communities within every county of our District!

As you all know, poor public policy has destroyed Southern Illinois’ economy. This truck tour will give me another chance to hear issues affecting the people of Southern Illinois first-hand.

This race is not about Washington, D.C. talking points; it is about who will represent the people of Southern Illinois best in Washington, D.C.

This morning I stopped in Ava, DeSoto, Royalton, Zeigler, Oraville, and Mount Vernon, but I need your help to reach voters across the entire District.

Will you donate $10, $20, or $50 to help me fill up my truck and continue my journey through the District?

Any amount helps me continue to gain
insight into the issues affecting residents of the 12th District.

I can’t do this without your help.

Please contribute today!

Sincerely,

Jason Plummer
12th Congressional District Nominee

* The Democratic response…

In response to an out of touch email from inherited multi-millionaire Jason Plummer, President of the Southwestern Illinois Building Trades Totsie Bailey challenged Plummer to disclose his tax returns before asking working people for gas money to “fill up his truck.” Bailey criticized Plummer for asking folks to “chip in for gas money” when Southern Illinois families are hurting and trying to stretch every dollar to make ends meet, but Plummer won’t even have an honest conversation about his finances or how much he stands to gain from a tax plan that could help him pocket nearly $1 million in tax breaks.

President of the Southwestern Illinois Building Trades Totsie Bailey said:

“First inherited multi-millionaire Jason Plummer won’t disclose his finances with voters even though he could be taking hundreds of thousands of dollars in tax breaks and now he wants us to cover his gas? Inherited Multi-millionaire Jason Plummer has never had a real job and doesn’t know a thing about working for a living. It’s outrageous inherited multi-millionaire Jason Plummer would be so flippant as to pretend he needs gas money. Inherited multi-millionaire Jason Plummer is running on a tax plan where he personally could profit another million in tax breaks. The last thing we need is one more career politician who doesn’t get us. Washington is broken – we don’t need multi-millionaire heir Jason Plummer personally profiting from the wreckage and doing nothing for workers or our middle class.”

* Related…

* Plummer announces three grassroot groups’ endorsement: National Right to Life, Gun Owners of America, and ABATE of Illinois have all chosen to endorse Plummer’s Congressional candidacy.

- Posted by Rich Miller   18 Comments      


Quote of the month: “Thankfully I screamed so hard it scared the other cows off”

Friday, Aug 31, 2012

* From the AP

State Rep. Rich Morthland is recovering from surgery after an encounter with a cow left him with a knee injury.

The Cordova Republican says the injury happened Thursday when a cow trying to bolt through a gate smashed its head into his knee. […]

Morthland says doctors told him a tendon in his knee was severely damaged. He’ll need to immobilize his leg for six weeks and follow that with physical therapy, but he’s expected to make a full recovery.

* And here’s the quote….

Speaking from his hospital bed at Genesis Medical Center in Silvis, Rep. Morthland said the injury happened early Thursday morning when a cow trying to bolt through a gate “smashed its head into my knee.

“Thankfully I screamed so hard it scared the other cows off, and I managed to close the gate,” he said. “I couldn’t get up and I had to drag myself 100 yards to my car.”

Rep. Morthland said he managed to get in the car and drive the mile to his house where he honked the horn to alert his wife Betsey, who drove him to the hospital.

“I smelled like crap,” Rep. Morthland said jokingly.

That last line is our runner-up.

I wish Rep. Morthland a speedy recovery, and I hope he’s not in too much pain. But I would also like to thank him for giving attendees to my little dinner party such a hearty laugh last night when I read the story aloud to them.

“Thankfully I screamed so hard it scared the other cows off.”

Classic.

- Posted by Rich Miller   20 Comments      


*** UPDATED x1 *** Arbitrator sides with union, for now, while AFSCME issues blistering attack on Quinn

Friday, Aug 31, 2012

*** UPDATE *** From Kelly Kraft at the governor’s office…

Hi Rich— To the below— really important here—-

We have already won the major issue in this case: whether we are obligated to pay raises if they are not appropriated. Judge Billik’s answer in July was “no.” That means, unless Billik is reversed by a higher court we will not be obligated to pay some of the dollars associated with the raises.

All that remains is for the Judge to determine —-are we going to have to pay everything that we DO have remaining in approps that could go to raises or something less.

The judge has not preliminarily ruled for the union. In fact, on the major issue at dispute-whether subject to approp applies-the state has already won. Even on the side issue of —what we owe— from what approp we actually have, the judge hasn’t preliminarily ruled either. It was just an order from the judge to preserve the approps that could possibly be used for pay raises by vouchering them-and that had to be done today.

[ *** End Of Update *** ]

* An arbitrator ruled earlier this year that the state had to pay employee pay raises that Gov. Quinn had refused to pay because there was no specific appropriations authority for the cash. Gov. Quinn appealed the ruling to the courts, which kicked the case back to the arbitrator, who kicked it back to the judge. The judge prelminarily ruled for the union yesterday

The judge in a dispute over Illinois workers’ pay raises is telling Gov. Pat Quinn’s administration to hand over unspent money from the state budget in case he rules in favor of the employees.

Cook County Circuit Court Judge Richard Billik Jr. ordered a voucher for $18 million in unspent payroll money sent to the state comptroller. Millions of dollars more might also be involved.

The Thursday decree came a day before the state’s authority to earmark spending from the last budget expires. Quinn hasn’t paid about $60 million in raises required by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees’ contract from 2011 because he says the Legislature didn’t appropriate it.

* Ordering that vouchers be submitted to Comptroller Topinka is not the same as forcing the state to actually pay the raises. Not yet, anyway

Quinn spokeswoman Kelly Kraft reiterated that no money is being paid yet.

“Vouchers will not be finalized or paid out until, at the very least, there is a final order from the trial court as to what payments … can be paid and are owed by the state,” Kraft said. […]

Billik is continuing to do fact-finding to determine if, in fact, money wasn’t available to honor the raises. He has previously ruled that the Quinn is not obligated to spend money that wasn’t appropriated by the General Assembly.

* The lapse period expires today, so the judge’s order simply meant that vouchers had to be submitted before the deadline. AFSCME’s Henry Bayer explains

“The Quinn administration is doing everything possible to avoid honoring its contract with frontline state employees,” said AFSCME executive director Henry Bayer. “If the end of August passed without this order, the state would claim it ran out the clock and couldn’t be held accountable.”

* AFSCME ain’t happy, to say the least. This is from a recent e-mail newsletter to its members about the contract negotiations. Highlighting is in the original…

Certainly a big cause of the anger union members expressed at the State Fair rally was Governor Quinn’s efforts to undermine collective bargaining rights and economic security for state employees. After more than eight months at the bargaining table, negotiations for a new state contract are at a virtual standstill as the Quinn Administration continues to press for massive concessions that would take thousands of dollars out of union members’ pockets.

The current contract expired on June 30, but the parties agreed to extend it pending the involvement of an independent mediator in the bargaining sessions. The mediator has now been selected by mutual agreement and will attend the next round of bargaining which is scheduled for September 10-12.

But few on the Union Bargaining Committee hold out much hope for what the mediator can accomplish given Management’s determination to extract some $3 billion from state employees in the form of wage cuts and health care cost increases. While the Committee has been able to beat back many of Management’s proposals to drastically weaken job rights, the Employer has refused to budge on its demand for massive economic concessions.

Over the past month, Council 31 staff and Bargaining Committee members have held more than 200 meetings at worksites across the state to inform employees directly of just what’s at stake in these negotiations—and what it will take to gain a fair contract.

The meetings were eye-opening for many employees who didn’t realize just how steep the cuts would be. In meeting after meeting, union members spoke up and pledged to do whatever it takes to protect their economic security, retain affordable health care, and preserve their union rights.

AFSCME members in state government have never faced an Administration so totally indifferent to its responsibility to provide vital services to Illinois citizens—or so unremittingly hostile to the employees who provide those services. It’s going to be a long, tough fight to preserve those services and to protect the gains we’ve made over the years.

In the coming weeks, your local leaders will be reaching out to you to affirm your commitment to making that fight. Be sure you’re there on the frontlines to carry it on.

That last graf is ominous. Strike?

* In the same newsletter, AFSCME talks about the large crowd booing Gov. Quinn at the Illinois State Fair…

Quinn has one of the worst records in the country—coming up right behind Wisconsin governor Scott Walker—when it comes to attacking working families. He is trying to lay off more than 4000 state workers, destroying jobs in communities across Illinois. He’s withholding negotiated pay raises, leading the charge to cut pensions, and pushing for huge contract concessions

So it’s no wonder that when Quinn finally made his appearance at a rally on the fairgrounds, hundreds of angry union members were waiting to greet him with signs, boos and chants. Their righteous chorus quickly drowned out anything the governor had to say and sent him scurrying off to leap into his waiting limo.

Oof.

- Posted by Rich Miller   43 Comments      


Record seat-belt usage in Illinois

Friday, Aug 31, 2012

* From a press release…

Governor Pat Quinn today announced that Illinois has achieved an all-time high seat belt usage rate in 2012. Federal observational surveys showed that 93.6 percent of front-seat passengers were using seat belts as of June, up from 92.9 percent last year and above the national average of 84 percent. The governor credited this significant public safety achievement to impactful awareness campaigns, motorist compliance, strategic partnerships with state and local law enforcement, and strengthened traffic safety legislation. Governor Quinn also urged travelers to drive safely during the Labor Day weekend.

“Labor Day Weekend should be a time of parades, barbeques and baseball, not sitting in a hospital ER, wondering if a loved one will survive a crash,” Governor Quinn said. “Seat belts save lives, and Illinois’ high seat belt usage rate is the result of our comprehensive efforts to ensure that drivers in Illinois are buckling up. When traveling this Labor Day, make sure everyone is buckled up, including those in the back seat, and such precious cargo as infants, the elderly and pets.”

Prior to the primary safety belt law, police could not pull a driver over based solely on a seat belt violation. Since the primary belt law was enacted in July 2003, belt usage has climbed each consecutive year, going up 17.4 percentage points from 76.2 percent in 2003 to nearly 94 percent in 2012.

“Through our effective partnerships with law enforcement and advocacy groups across Illinois, we have been able to achieve a record rate of seat belt usage,” Illinois Transportation Secretary Ann L. Schneider said. “The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) is working diligently toward 100 percent statewide usage and to help drive zero road fatalities to reality.”

Additional legislation signed by Governor Quinn last summer required that all passengers buckle up, including those riding in the back seat of vehicles, to help further prevent traffic accident-related injuries or fatalities. Along with successful awareness programs and enforcement efforts, these laws have helped lead to an overall reduction in fatalities on Illinois roads over the last ten years.

Do you always buckle up?

- Posted by Rich Miller   32 Comments      


RNC Open thread

Friday, Aug 31, 2012

* Internet is down. Posting from my phone. Use this thread to discuss last night’s Republican National Convention speeches.

- Posted by Rich Miller   76 Comments      


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