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Bloomberg SuperPAC ad hits Halvorson

Tuesday, Jan 29, 2013

* With relatively light fundraising by even the frontrunners, outside groups were bound to descend on the 2nd CD special primary. It has begun. New York’s billionaire Mayor Michael Bloomberg is jumping into the race via his SuperPAC.

From a press release…

INDEPENDENCE USA PAC RELEASES NEW TV AD HIGHLIGHTING FORMER REP. DEBBIE HALVORSON’S ANTI-GUN SAFETY POSITIONS
~
Ads to focus on Halvorson’s Congressional and Illinois Statehouse record of voting to allow criminals to carry loaded, hidden guns; permitting guns in national parks; and opposing bans on large-capacity magazines

(FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE): As the race for Chicago’s 2nd Congressional District enters it final month, Michael R. Bloomberg’s Independence USA PAC today announced a significant TV ad campaign around educating Chicago voters about former Rep. Debbie Halvorson’s abysmal gun safety record.

Armed with an “A” rating from the National Rifle Association – a grade that is unlikely to continue now that she’s come against President Obama’s proposed Assault Weapons Ban — Halvorson went as far outside the mainstream in her congressional career as to vote for the National Right-to-Carry Reciprocity Act of 2009, a bill that would allow criminals to carry loaded, hidden guns in Chicago.

“Throughout her years in Washington and Springfield, Debbie Halvorson’s record on gun safety has been entirely devoid of any semblance of the kind of common-sense reforms that will keep Americans safer from the scourge of gun violence,” said Stefan Friedman, spokesman for Independence USA PAC.

Many of the other candidates in the crowded field to take the seat held by Jesse Jackson, Jr. have come out on behalf of reasonable measures that would help keep illegal guns out of the hands of criminals and make Americans safer.

The ad is linked here or available on request. A script of the ad is below.

    “In the race to replace Jessie Jackson, watch out for Debbie Halvorson. When she was in congress before, Halvorson got an A from the NRA.

    The NRA: against comprehensive background checks, against banning deadly assault weapons, against banning high capacity ammunition clips.

    Halvorson even co-sponsored a bill that would allow some criminals to carry loaded, hidden guns into Chicago.

    Debbie Halvorson: when it comes to preventing gun violence, she gets an F.

    Independence USA PAC is responsible for the content of this advertising.”

* Watch the ad

Rate it.

* The PAC spent a ton of money last year.

- Posted by Rich Miller   27 Comments      


*** UPDATED x1 - Halvorson fires back at Preckwinkle *** Hutchinson announces Senate support

Tuesday, Jan 29, 2013

* From a press release…

SIX SENATORS ENDORSE HUTCHINSON’S CAMPAIGN FOR CONGRESS

Senators Koehler, Lightford, Muñoz, Noland, Sandoval, and Steans today announced their endorsement of Toi Hutchinson’s campaign for Congress in the second congressional district today.

“I am a strong supporter of Toi Hutchinson’s, and I have no doubt that she is the best choice to stand up for Illinois in Congress,” said Senator Antonio Muñoz. “Toi Hutchinson is working alongside me to ban assault weapons because she knows how critical gun safety reforms are. Just as she is fighting for these reforms in Springfield, I know she’ll take that fight with her to Washington as well.”

“Toi Hutchinson is exactly the kind of reformer we need to send to Washington,” said Senator Kimberly A. Lightford (D-04). “Toi has always worked hard to protect middle and working class families. Ever since I’ve met her, I’ve been deeply impressed by her passion and commitment—there are few public servants I know who work so tirelessly for the people they represent.”

None of those Senators actually lives in the 2nd District, but it does answer concerns I expressed earlier that Hutchinson wasn’t listing any of her Senate colleagues on her endorsement list.

*** UPDATE *** Halvorson responds to Preckwinkle via press release…

HALVORSON RESPONDS TO PRECKWINKLE BASELESS ALLEGATION OF VOTING AGAINST THE EXTENTION OF UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS
AND VOTING TO SUPPORT THE RICH

HALVORSON RECEIVED THE AFTERNOON PHONE CALL FROM PRESIDENT OBAMA ASKING HER TO VOTE TO EXTEND THE BUSH TAX CUTS

Crete, IL—Debbie Halvorson – Candidate for Illinois’ Second Congressional District- is disappointed in Cook County Board’s President Toni Preckwinkle’s false allegation that she voted against extending unemployment benefits during her two years in Congress. In fact, Halvorson has always voted to extend unemployment benefits.

“It’s unfortunate that the Cook County Board President would make such false claims against my record without checking the facts. I grew up poor and witnessed my father’s struggle to make ends meet. To overcome such odds and vote against extending unemployment benefits to people in need is not reflective of whom I am as a person. I have always voted to extend unemployment benefits. The County Board President is wrong and her allegations are baseless and without merit.” says Halvorson.

Among other false allegations is that Halvorson was somehow anti-Obama by voting in 2010 to extend the Bush tax cuts. But Halvorson was only responding to a phone call she received at her Crete home from President Barack Obama requesting her assistance in gathering her democratic colleagues in the spirit of compromise in voting to extend the Bush Tax cuts.

Halvorson adds, “Voting to extend the Bush Tax cuts was never an option for me. But when my President called me at my home and personally asked me for my support and to lobby my fellow democrats, I did so. It was the spirit of compromise in which President Obama was attempting to achieve. I supported him in that quest. To not honor the President’s request would have been anti-Obama. But again if Toni Preckwinkle wishes to rely upon Toi Hutchinson to provide her with my record, she will only spin herself out of control recanting her statements.

President Preckwinkle also accused Congresswoman Halvorson of not being in support of Wall Street reform. However Debbie voted for the Wall Street reform bill that was supported and signed by President Obama. Halvorson initially voted against the House version of the Wall Street reform bill that was written to penalize small community banks. Halvorson felt that the bill punished smaller banks for the actions of the bigger mainstream banks. But the version in which she voted for and was passed, had the full support of the Obama White House.

- Posted by Rich Miller   36 Comments      


Protected: SUBSCRIBERS ONLY: Afternoon updates

Tuesday, Jan 29, 2013

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Question of the day

Tuesday, Jan 29, 2013

* From Progress Illinois

[Senate President John Cullerton] said there was a chance at some point of drafting a bill that includes concealed carry permits within assault weapons ban legislation,

* The Question: Should these two issues be combined into a “grand bargain” this spring? Take the poll and then explain your answer in comments, please.


survey software

- Posted by Rich Miller   120 Comments      


Simple solutions are never simple

Tuesday, Jan 29, 2013

* From an Illinois Issues column on abolishing the lame duck session, which allows simple majority votes to pass a bill during a few days ever other January

Granted, the pressure on the Illinois General Assembly and the U.S. Congress to deal with major issues is immense. Political gridlock has made passage of controversial legislation nearly impossible without resorting to chicanery. And bond rating houses and influential interest groups such as the Civic Committee of the Commercial Club of Chicago and others are pushing loudly for solutions to the state’s fiscal mess or to controversial social issues.

But it’s a shame — better yet, a sham — that legislative leaders, the governor and the special interests believe that the only way to make those major changes is through votes by legislators who don’t have to answer to the voters who elected them.

Yes, the 2011 lame duck session went further than ever before. But the recent 2013 lame duck session was a gigantic bust. They usually are. So, I’m not sure they need to change the rules because one out of many lame duck sessions went further than some think they should have.

* Also, we have primaries in March. Any legislator who loses a March primary is a lame duck and therefore “don’t have to answer to the voters who elected them.” Any legislator who announced his or her retirement before the March primary was also a lame duck. And several legislators retired last year and were replaced by temporary seat-holders. But rarely does anyone talk about those folks.

In other words, eliminating lame ducks from the equation would be impossible.

- Posted by Rich Miller   16 Comments      


School money, school testing

Tuesday, Jan 29, 2013

* The Illinois State Board of Education has asked lawmakers to fully fund education this coming fiscal year. The $5 billion figure would be an increase of $800 million over the current year. Not gonna happen

“The state board should get in on the reality of the world,” said state Rep John Bradley, D-Marion.

Bradley runs the powerful House Revenue Committee, and it is his job to set a spending cap for the new state budget.

Bradley said Illinois’ pension debt and other unpaid bills will make it impossible to spend more on schools.

“We have a pension payment that will go up $1 billion. We have $2.3 billion in employee health insurance claims. We have another $8 billion to $9 billion in unpaid bills,” Bradley said. “We are going to have to figure out how to cut a billion dollars from operations to make end meet.”

Bradley says things will not get better.

Bradley set the spending cap for the current budget at $33.2 billion. Illinois schools received $4.2 billion for education. Illinois’ pension payment was just over $6 billion.

“We are upside down, and things are getting worse,” said Bradley. […]

Bradley said the numbers are stacked against the $5-billion budget request from the State Board of Education.

“If we have to cut $1 billion from operations, and education is 40 percent of operations, that’s nearly $400 million,” Bradley added.

* Meanwhile, there’s something important missing from this otherwise very good piece on teacher evaluations

Teachers and administrators must now all be rated according to four clear categories: excellent, proficient, needs improvement or unsatisfactory.

While student growth on standardized tests is not yet a factor in a majority of districts across the states, all teachers, beginning this fall, must be evaluated using these categories. […]

In Illinois, a separate, complimentary piece of legislation to PERA was pushed through both chambers of the state legislature in the spring of 2011, allowing teacher evaluations to be used in decisions about tenure and layoffs. That piece, Senate Bill 7, passed at the time because of “exquisite timing,” says Robin Steans, director of Advance Illinois, an organization that promotes education reforms. […]

Teachers with exceptional reviews could be placed on a fast track to earn tenure within three years instead of four. In turn, teachers with two unsatisfactory evaluations during a seven-year period could have their certificates revoked.

Many years ago, lots of special education students were “mainstreamed” into the classroom. Needless to say, those special needs students can bring down a lot of test scores. I’ve talked to teachers who are worried sick about losing tenure because they have large numbers of special needs students in their classrooms. This ought to be addressed.

* Related…

* Your kids could fail the Illinois state test, but they aren’t stupid

* School closing panel to advise 20-schools-a-year limit, source says

- Posted by Rich Miller   37 Comments      


2nd CD roundup

Tuesday, Jan 29, 2013

* If there is a “media darling” in the 2nd Congressional District race it’s probably Sen. Toi Hutchinson. For instance

After what she called a nine-week-long “struggle”, Preckwinkle decided to endorse south suburban State Senator Toi Hutchinson.

“I had a difficult decison to make. I made it. I’m supporting Toi because I think she’s the best and strongest candidate,” Preckwinkle said.

Hutchinson was excited about the high-profile endorsement.

“It means so very much to me. I know that you’ve given a tremendous thought to this decision. You went through a process and I am so very grateful for your support,” Hutchinson said.

And

Snubbing a loyal one-time staffer, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle announced Monday she’ll use her political muscle to push state Sen. Toi Hutchinson (D-Olympia Fields) to the front of a crowded pack of Democrats running for Jesse Jackson Jr.’s old congressional seat.

At a Monday afternoon news conference in downtown Chicago, Preckwinkle stood next to Hutchinson and told reporters it wasn’t an easy decision, considering her former chief administrative officer, Robin Kelly, is also among the 17 Democrats in the race to win the South Side and south suburban 2nd Congressional District.

Oh, please. This has been a foregone conclusion for months. One big reason

Preckwinkle said that she and Hutchinson share many commonalities — they’re both parents and former teachers. They also use the same powerhouse political consultant, Ken Snyder, who once worked for David Axelrod.

* Mark Brown, however, broke from the pack after Hutchinson’s performance yesterday

Hutchinson of Olympia Fields continued Monday to sidestep questions about what she did to earn high marks from the National Rifle Association in prior elections as she tries to re-position herself from a gun rights to a gun safety candidate — or maybe to have it both ways.

The NRA’s endorsement served Hutchinson well in her election to the state Senate from a far south suburban district that includes parts of Will and Kankakee counties but now looms as a potential liability in the Democratic race for the seat vacated by Jesse Jackson Jr. amid a national conversation about gun violence.

Instead of answering a reporter’s direct question about her high rating from the NRA (A- in 2010), Hutchinson retreated to her campaign talking points about how she is co-sponsoring state legislation introduced in the fall session that would ban assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines, the same position now embraced by President Barack Obama as part of his effort to combat gun violence. […]

In her 2010 campaign, Hutchinson made clear her support for gun rights.

“The 2nd Amendment gives an American the right to bear arms to protect themselves and their property. Law-abiding citizens don’t need any more infringements on their constitutional right to protect their families and their property,” she stated in a news release that included a quote from the executive director of the Illinois State Rifle Association praising her as the “type of advocate for 2nd Amendment rights that the 40th district needs.”

But now she only wants to talk about the assault weapons ban.

Even Preckwinkle was a little short on straight talk as she tried to square her own past “F” rating from the NRA with her endorsement of Hutchinson.

“I looked at where Toi is now” on gun issues, Preckwinkle told me in a phone interview, avoiding the issue of where Hutchinson had been previously.

* But Preckwinkle stood her ground

Preckwinkle, a former Chicago alderman who’s banged the drum about stricter gun-control laws, said she’ll shield Hutchinson from criticism on gun control: “I will vocally defend her against attacks from opponents” on the issue.

* Meanwhile, Robin Kelly announced endorsements from three state Senators today. From a press release…

A group of three state Senators including Senator Donne Trotter, who was a candidate for the Second Congressional district, today endorsed Robin Kelly for Congress. In addition to Senator Trotter, Senator Kwame Raoul, and Majority Whip Mattie Hunter also endorsed the campaign today.

“Robin Kelly is my choice for Congress because she has a clear vision for our future,” Senator Donne Trotter said. “Robin has personally been through the economic struggles that too many are facing right now, and come out the other side. We can count on Robin Kelly to fight for us every single day because she knows firsthand what it is like, and that is why I am endorsing her.”

“Robin Kelly is the best choice for our next Congresswoman,” State Senator Kwame Raoul said. “She is the only candidate that has the track record, leadership skills and relationship with our President to begin making progress on day one. I look forward to working with her.”

“I’m supporting Robin because she’s the best candidate to help get guns off our streets. I’ve examined the NRA records of the other major candidates and I’m proud to be supporting Robin Kelly, a candidate who got an ‘F’ from the NRA and has put forward a sensible pledge to reduce gun violence,” Senator Hunter said.

Robin Kelly is the only candidate to have issued a five-point pledge to get assault weapons and high capacity magazines off the streets of Chicago and the Southland, as well as making sure that Illinois’ conceal and carry ban stays in effect. You can read her full pledge at RobinKellyPledge.com.

She previously announced the endorsements of Aldermen Will Burns (Ward 4), Leslie Hairston (Ward 5) and Deborah Graham’s (Ward 29), and Dr. Cheryl Whitaker who serves as her Campaign Chair.

Notice two things here: 1) Sen. Hutchinson still has no state Senators on her endorsement list; and 2) Ald. Burns and Sen. Raoul were both considered Preckwinkle allies until fairly recently.

- Posted by Rich Miller   16 Comments      


Caption contest!

Tuesday, Jan 29, 2013

* From, of course, Treasurer Dan Rutherford’s Facebook page

And, no, I don’t believe that’s Aaron Schock in the photo behind Rutherford. But it looks a bit like him, don’t you think?

As always, keep it clean, people.

- Posted by Rich Miller   82 Comments      


Protected: SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Supplement to today’s edition and a roundup

Tuesday, Jan 29, 2013

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

Tuesday, Jan 29, 2013

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*** UPDATED x1 *** Preckwinkle to endorse Hutchinson

Monday, Jan 28, 2013

* I told subscribers about this earlier today

In what some observers say is a surprise move, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle won’t be backing her one-time cabinet member Robin Kelly in the 2nd Congressional race, but will throw her significant political weight behind state Sen. Toi Hutchinson (D-Olympia Fields).

Preckwinkle told the Sun-Times on Monday that she believed Hutchinson – not Kelly – had the muscle to win the race.

“It was a really tough decision to make. I had to make a difficult choice between two people…” Preckwinkle told the Sun-Times by phone, pausing for a moment. “But I had to pick the candidate who I thought could win.”

Preckwinkle declined to answer any more questions, saying she’d talk more at an afternoon news conference to announce her endorsement of Hutchinson.

Kelly, who was also a chief of staff to former state Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias, was among Preckwinkle’s first hires when she won the November 2010 county board presidency. Kelly was earning $172,519 annually before stepping down in December to focus on campaigning for the seat vacated by Jesse Jackson Jr.

*** UPDATE *** With a hat tip to a commenter, here is Robin Kelly’s response…

“Getting an A rating from the NRA might get you President Preckwinkle’s endorsement, but it won’t fly with the voters in the Second District. They want someone who will fight against the NRA not stand with them. Robin Kelly is the one candidate ready to stand with President Obama to bring common sense gun control to help families throughout Chicago and the Southland.”

A bit harsh, no?

- Posted by Rich Miller   48 Comments      


Today’s numbers, and a roundup

Monday, Jan 28, 2013

* Not good

Between 2009 and 2012, Illinois slashed funding for community mental-health programs by more than 30 percent — more than all but three other states, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness. Even before those cuts, Illinois’ per capita spending on mental health was about $85 — well below the national average of about $123 per person, the group found.

The funding situation has made it difficult, if not impossible, for people who aren’t in crisis or eligible for Medicaid to enter the system, says Lora Thomas, director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness of Illinois.

And while there’s no way to predict when a tragedy like the recent shootings in Connecticut and Colorado might occur — or even if the perpetrator will be someone with a mental illness — the lack of resources in Illinois makes it less likely a mental-health provider could intervene.

“We absolutely know the system in Illinois is so broken there is no community-based system that could catch or prevent it,” Thomas said.

* Wow

The state of Michigan lost 42,000 union members from 2011 to 2012, the ninth largest drop in the country, according to a Jan. 23 report by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Illinois had the largest drop in the country with a loss of 75,000 union members.

Chart

Raw BLS data is here.

* That’s a lot of TIF districts, man

It has been 13 years since Illinois lawmakers approved a significant overhaul of the law that allows cities to create tax increment financing districts.

State Rep. John Bradley, a Democrat from Marion, plans to introduce legislation this spring to bring changes to the state’s TIF laws.

A year ago, TIF reform shepherded by Bradley ran aground amid disagreements by those involved in the locally managed economic development program that continues to surge in popularity.

At the end of 1990, there were 238 TIF districts in the state. By 2006, that number had grown to nearly 1,000. Now the number stands at 1,221, according to figures collected by the Illinois comptroller’s office. […]

Under Bradley’s proposal, cities would be required to submit annual reports that would include the jobs created or kept within the district; tightened control over the transfer of funds between TIF districts; required cities to return any surplus TIF funds to taxing districts within the TIF; require property tax bills to reflect when a property is included in a TIF district; and created a state website so people could look up information about individual districts.

* This was a ton of money spent for a hat that may not have belonged to Lincoln

For the next six months, the presidential museum honoring Abraham Lincoln wants visitors to believe one thing when they see the iconic $6.5 million beaver-fur stovepipe hat put on display this past week.

The hat was his. Really.

To mark Lincoln’s 204th birthday, the museum is bringing the hat out of storage for the first time since the Chicago Sun-Times last April questioned the prized showpiece’s authenticity and for the first time disclosed holes in its provenance.

But not even the slightest doubt is reflected on the sign now attached to the hat’s display case. The placard that went up with the hat on Wednesday explains its background in eight sentences, noting that only three of Lincoln’s famous stovepipe hats are known to exist: “2 silk ones from his last days of life, and this.”

“There’s no deception at all,” said Chris Wills, a spokesman for the museum.

* Related and a roundup…

* Chicago’s growth trails most big cities

* Springfield session begins with full plate of money woes

* Tom Kacich: Jakobsson to push graduated income tax

* Stunt bill not a stunt?

* Fraud concerns linger over new Ill. license law

* Illinois illegal immigrant driver’s licenses available in 10 months

* Gov. Quinn signs bill that lets illegal immigrants get driver’s licenses

* Proposal seeks to clear air about smoking in beer gardens: Koehler’s proposal would require that one side of the enclosed area be constructed with material that allows smoke to pass through. But material that allows smoke to pass through hasn’t been defined in building or architectural codes, Schafer said.

* IL House Considering Hydraulic Fracturing Regs

* Continental Tire plans expansion in Illinois

- Posted by Rich Miller   12 Comments      


Question of the day

Monday, Jan 28, 2013

* From the Senate Democrats

Nearly 1 million workers in 10 states rang in the new year with an increase in pay, thanks to those states raising their minimum wage.

Illinois’ minimum wage, however, remains at $8.25, where it’s been since 2010. Sen. Kimberly Lightford (D-Maywood) has been working to change that.

Of the 10 states, only one raised its minimum wage because of new legislation. The other nine raised their minimum wages automatically because of existing laws that require annual adjustments to keep pace with inflation, a process known as indexing.

Illinois’ minimum wage is not indexed, however, and minimum-wage workers have seen their purchasing power erode because of it. To match the purchasing power the minimum wage had in 1968, when spending power was at its highest, Illinois would have to raise it to $10.58, according to the latest figures from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics.

* The Question: Should Illinois’ minimum wage be indexed to inflation? Take the poll and then explain your answer in comments, please.


online surveys

- Posted by Rich Miller   56 Comments      


Why Pat Brady is walking the plank

Monday, Jan 28, 2013

* My weekly syndicated newspaper column

Talk to just about any top Illinois Republican these days off the record and they’ll freely admit that they want the bill legalizing gay marriage to be approved as soon as possible.

It’s not that they’re necessarily in favor of gay marriage, mind you. Many of them are publicly and privately opposed.

Some of them do support it, even though they don’t feel they can vote for it because it might destroy their careers in the next GOP primary.

The reason so many Republicans would like to see the bill passed is because they know that with the huge, new Democratic majorities in both legislative chambers, that it’s eventually going to pass anyway.

They want to get this issue out of the way and behind them as soon as possible. The issue is trending hard against the GOP’s historical opposition, and they want the thing off the table before it starts to hurt them.

In 2005, a statewide poll taken for the Illinois Policy Survey by Northern Illinois University found that 31 percent of Illinoisans supported gay marriage, while 34 percent backed civil unions and 29 percent were opposed to any legal recognition.

Five years later, in 2010, a poll by Southern Illinois University’s Paul Simon Public Policy Institute found little change in the public’s attitudes — 34 percent supported gay marriage, 34 percent backed civil unions and 27 percent wanted no legal recognition.

But then things began changing fast. By 2012, the Paul Simon Institute’s annual poll had support for gay marriage at 44 percent. Opposition to all legal recognition was down to just 20 percent, while backing for the civil unions status quo was at 32 percent.

A Public Policy Polling survey taken last month had support for gay marriage at 47 percent, with opposition at 42 percent. Worse yet for the Republicans, 58 percent of people under 45 backed gay marriage, while 37 percent were against it. And 54 percent of women backed the idea, compared with 37 percent opposed.

Republicans and Democrats expect this trend to continue. By 2014, people figure that a solid majority of Illinoisans will support gay marriage.

The Republicans don’t want to be on the wrong side of another hot-button issue during the statewide election that year. They also don’t want it coming up in their primary election races that spring.

Except for things such as the state income tax increase, which was designed to be “temporary,” what’s done is usually considered done in politics.

The gay-marriage issue is causing some serious short-term divisiveness within the Republican Party ranks. Social conservatives such as freshman state Sen. Jim Oberweis and former U.S. Rep. Joe Walsh have called for state Republican chairman Pat Brady’s head for publicly lobbying on behalf of the gay marriage bill.

The quicker this thing gets resolved, goes the reasoning, the quicker the white-hot war will end and the quicker the party can move along to other, less divisive issues such as taxes.

The Republicans want to make repealing the 2011 income tax hike (from 3 percent to 5 percent) a centerpiece of the 2014 election. The higher tax is set to expire in January 2015, less than two months after that election.

But if the GOP gets too bogged down in too many social issues where they are on the “wrong” side of public opinion, its candidates won’t stand much of a chance.

Anyway, that’s why Brady was sent out to walk the plank on the gay-marriage issue this month. Yes, he does personally support gay marriage, but he undoubtedly wouldn’t have gone so public with his support if party leaders were not encouraging him behind the scenes.

And the party’s top dogs, including U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk and its top two legislative leaders, want this thing taken care of so they can move beyond it, even though they may not actually vote for the bill when it gets to the floor.

Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno (R-Lemont) will be a “no” vote on the bill, for example, but she didn’t try to stop Brady when he checked in with her before his public support of it.

- Posted by Rich Miller   32 Comments      


Kelly demands Halvorson and Hutchinson release NRA questionnaires

Monday, Jan 28, 2013

* From a press release…

Robin Kelly, candidate for Illinois’ second Congressional district, today called on her opponents, former Congresswoman Debbie Halvorson and State Senator Toi Hutchinson, to publically release their National Rifle Association questionnaires they filled out in previous elections.

“I am calling on my opponents to release their previous NRA questionnaires so that the people of the second Congressional district know what promises they have made to the NRA, and how they earned their ‘A’ ratings,” Robin Kelly said. “I earned a lifetime ‘F’ rating from the NRA and I could not be more proud of that fact. The voters deserve to know how Toi and Debbie both earned ‘A’s’ from the pro-gun lobby, which is notoriously known for only issuing ‘A’s’ to its very strongest supporters.”

“It is a tragedy that we have lost so many lives in Chicago and the Southland to gun violence, including losing seven lives this Saturday alone. We have to stop the violence and get the guns off the streets. I am the only candidate in the race with the record of fighting against gun violence. I am ready to work with President Obama to take on the NRA and protect our communities.”

Robin Kelly is the only candidate in the race to issue a five-point pledge to combat gun violence and has earned an ‘F’ rating with the NRA. Both Debbie Halvorson and Toi Hutchinson scored high ratings with the NRA in previous elections, but have yet to release the candidate questionnaires that earned them high ratings from the pro-gun group.

* The gun issue was highlighted in today’s Tribune

Debbie Halvorson found herself alone among leading Democratic candidates Sunday when she indicated she would not support a ban on the semi-automatic firearm used in the Sandy Hook school shooting last month. […]

“We’ve buried far too many of our own children over the years — every day. When are we going to go after the criminals? When are we going to go after the people who buy guns for those who aren’t able to go get their backgrounds checked? We need to strengthen the laws we already have instead of keep talking about new ones,” Halvorson said at the forum at Trinity United Church of Christ, 400 W. 95th St.

“We need to do more about the criminals. Cook County has an assault weapons ban. We have the highest amount of murders in the country. Let’s do more about enforcing the laws we have at the same time doing more about keeping our streets safe,” she said, adding she backs a universal background check and tougher criminal penalties on straw purchasers. […]

State Sen. Toi Hutchinson, of Olympia Fields, who replaced Halvorson in the state Senate, also has had NRA backing in the past. Hutchinson, who did not attend the forum, has embraced Obama’s call for tougher gun measures and co-sponsored a bill in Springfield to ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.

* Politico also had a story

Now, black leaders — concerned about Halvorson’s position atop polls — say they’re prepared to make gun control the central issue in the contest. The goal is to paint her as an NRA ally who’s too conservative for the seat and insensitive to Chicago’s rising tide of gun violence.

“The NRA gives Debbie Halvorson an ‘A’ rating,” said Michael Pfleger, a Roman Catholic priest and gun control activist in Chicago who is supporting one of Halvorson’s opponents. “That tells me she should not be the representative from the 2nd District. If she gets an ‘A’ rating from the NRA, she gets an ‘F’ from me.”

Though she has described herself as a conservative Democrat, Halvorson voted with her party more than 90 percent of the time in Congress. She backed a cap-and-trade bill as well as President Barack Obama’s health care and economic stimulus measures. The onetime cosmetics saleswoman is pitching herself to voters as an experienced hand who can hit the ground running in Washington after Jackson’s long-running troubles that ended with his resignation in November.

But it’s her stance on guns that’s drawing the most attention.

* It’s not just Halvorson, though. The Kelly folks are zeroing in on Hutchinson as well. For instance

After being appointed to Debbie Halvorson’s state senate seat in 2010 Hutchinson received an A- rating from the NRA Political Victory fund, the highest rating for a candidate without a record of gun votes at the time. Until her current run, she has listed the NRA endorsement on her website. The NRA gave her a 92% rating for the 2012 cycle.

In her 2010 campaign, Hutchinson aggressively struck back against accusations from her Republican opponent that she was not pro-gun enough. In fact, Hutchinson released a statement to the press saying:

• “Law-abiding citizens don’t need any more infringements on their constitutional right to protect their families and their property.”
• “I know that my stance on gun rights isn’t the consensus in my party, but above all else, I represent the 40th district; a diverse district that is representative of the State of Illinois,” said Hutchinson. “I’m clear about our right to keep and bear arms, and I’ve been recognized for that.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   60 Comments      


We’re not like Greece because we fight it out in the courts?

Monday, Jan 28, 2013

* A Lee Newspapers story about the high number of court fights over the state budget included this choice quote from the governor’s budget office

But, state Sen. Kirk Dillard of Hinsdale, who is among a handful of Republicans mulling a second bid for governor in 2014, said previous governors have managed to deal with financial problems without the courts playing such a high profile role.

Dillard, who served as chief of staff to former Gov. Jim Edgar during an economic downturn in the early 1990s, said Edgar worked across the partisan aisle to forge agreements that would reduce the budget in a legal way.

“(Quinn) is not a good manager, and he doesn’t have the legislative allies who will help him,” Dillard said. “The lawsuits are symbolic of the chaos in Springfield. There has never been such a blizzard of lawsuits against the governor or the state of Illinois than like now.”

[Abdon Pallasch, spokesman for the governor’s budget office] said lawsuits are a part of the process.

“In Greece, the government tries to cut back and people take to the streets and throw firebombs and burn down buildings. Here we go to court,” he said.

Oy.

* Related…

* Illinois Credit Rating Lowered by S&P as Pension Costs Rise: The move affects $26.6 billion of debt, according to Robin Prunty, an S&P analyst. It leaves Illinois’s bond grade six levels below AAA and ties it with California as S&P’s lowest- rated state. The combination of the pension burden and budgetary stresses may push Illinois closer to speculative grade, the company said.

* IL Bond Rating Sinks To Worst In Nation

* Discontinuation of relief programs hits home - Circuit Breaker, Rx seekers come up short

* The first system to be insolvent? GARS

* Illinois Tops ‘Job Blackmail’ List For Deals That Cost Taxpayers Money And, Potentially, Jobs

* 10-year-old state debts plague Galesburg detention center

- Posted by Rich Miller   30 Comments      


Sun-Times: Mike Madigan = Frank Sinatra, Lisa = Nancy

Monday, Jan 28, 2013

* From the Sun-Times editorial page

How could anybody believe that a Gov. Lisa Madigan is really running the show when Mike — the proud father who paved the way for her career — remains the powerful speaker of the House?

Mike Madigan would carry Lisa in Springfield the way Frank Sinatra carried Nancy when they sang “Somethin’ Stupid.”

Illinois would have itself a Gov. Madigan. But would it be Lisa or Mike?

* Lyrics

I know I stand in line until you think you have the time
To spend an evening with me
And if we go someplace to dance, I know that there’s a chance
You won’t be leaving with me
And afterwards we drop into a quiet little place and have a drink or two
And then I go and spoil it all by saying something stupid like “I love you”

* Video

Discuss.

- Posted by Rich Miller   60 Comments      


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Monday, Jan 28, 2013

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