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Reform stuff

Thursday, Aug 1, 2013

* Ted McClelland shows us why much of the negative media hoopla and reformer complaints about the congressional district maps are off base

However, Madigan may have cut it too close in a few districts. Congressional incumbents win re-election 90 percent of the time, due to fundraising advantages and gerrymandering. But according the Cook Political Report, Illinois has some of the most competitive congressional races in the nation.

The 10th District, where former Rep. Bob Dold will try to reclaim the seat Brad Schneider took from him 2012, is one of only seven of 435 congressional elections rated in the “Toss-Up” category.

In western Illinois, two districts are rated as “Lean Democratic,” meaning the incumbents have a slight advantage. In the 12th District, freshman Rep. Bill Enyart is running against state Rep. Mike Bost of Murphysboro, a well-known legislator who has served in the General Assembly since 1995. In the 17th District, Rep. Cheri Bustos will have a rematch with Bobby Schilling, whom she defeated in 2012. (Schilling’s website asks voters to “help re-elect Bobby Schilling.”)

If Schneider, Enyart and Bustos win, they may solidify the Democrats’ holds on those districts. But for now, Illinois will be one of the most exciting states to watch on Election Night 2014.

Not to mention the Rodney Davis race.

Yes, Democrats kicked Republican tail last year, but that had a lot to do with it being a presidential year and the home-state guy on the top of the ballot.

Bill Foster won by 17 points last year, but his district, as currently drawn, gave wins to both Bill Brady and Mark Kirk in 2010.

The editorial boards which constantly harp on this topic never actually look at the reality. Some are just lazily repeating talking points, others ought to know better.

Also, it was Senate President Cullerton, not Speaker Madigan, who drew most of the congressional district maps. Madigan was heavily involved in Jerry Costello’s district and Dan Lipinski’s district. Other than that, it was pretty much all Cullerton.

* In other news, many suburban Cook municipalities require candidate petitioners to gather 5 percent of votes cast in the last election, so I really don’t think this is such a huge deal. Also, petitions are only a tiny part of the campaign process. Doubling the number doesn’t mean doubling the entire campaign effort

Do you know that a new law will make it twice as hard to run for alderman in 2015 as it was in the last election?

If you didn’t — and almost no one does — welcome to the world of sneaky Springfield politics, in which what some call the new “aldermanic protection plan” gets enacted without anyone really noticing.

The measure involved will double the number of petition signatures from qualified voters that will be needed to run from alderman from 2 percent of the votes cast in the last election to 4 percent. In other words, it’ll be twice as hard to dump turkey incumbents.

In most cases, that means a candidate will need something like 300 to 600 signatures, up from roughly 150 to 300 now, according to Chicago Board of Elections spokesman Jim Allen. (The figures vary because voter turnout rates sharply vary from ward to ward.) But since election lawyers tend to pick apart petitions on all sorts of teeny technicalities — i.e. someone signed “Dick” rather than “Richard” — the wise candidate will secure at least twice the minimum number of signatures needed. That means that under the new law a candidate really will need 600 to 1,200 signatures, and getting them is no easy task.

There are some real reforms the General Assembly should make regarding the petition process. In most counties, you gotta staple your petitions together. If you use paperclips in those counties, you’re off the ballot. Other counties allow paperclips.

That’s just one example. There are many, many more.

* I’m not sure why this was needed, and nobody wants to admit to inserting it into the bill, so maybe they oughtta just repeal it during the veto session

Calling the measure illegal and unconstitutional, Lake County officials are seeking an injunction to stop a new state law that strips away the county clerk’s election oversight.

Lake County Board Chairman Aaron Lawlor filed a lawsuit Tuesday in Waukegan to halt the change, which Gov. Pat Quinn signed into law as part of a wide-reaching piece of election-related legislation.

The law orders Lake County’s chief judge to create a five-member commission that will manage future elections, starting with the spring primary.

Lawlor is represented in the matter by Lake County State’s Attorney Michael Nerheim, and the duo held a news conference Tuesday to announce the move.

* Hilarious

Rep. Andre Thapedi, D-Chicago, one of the co-sponsors of the bill in the House, said he didn’t know how the clause was added.

Republican lawmakers from Lake County have speculated that the provision was politically motivated by Democrats. The county clerk, Willard Helander, is a Republican.

State Sen. Terry Link, a Democrat from Lake County and a longtime Helander adversary, said Tuesday that he supported the idea but again denied he was behind the clause.

“And I have zero idea who it was,” he said.

* Gov. Pat Quinn was asked about it yesterday…

Online voter registration was a bigger priority to Gov. Pat Quinn than not expanding the size of government in a state that leads the nation in units of government.

That’s why Quinn didn’t use his amendatory veto power to pull the plug on the controversial creation of a Lake County election commission in a sweeping election bill he signed Saturday.

“I looked at the whole bill. It included the opportunity to have online voter registration. I thought that was a good thing,” Quinn said Wednesday. “The legislature, in its wisdom on this particular bill, voted for a board of election commissioners in Lake County. I thought it was appropriate to move forward as quickly as we can with the election bill itself, especially online voter registration. We’ve got to get that ready for next year, so I acted.”

If Quinn had cut the Lake County election board provision out of the bill, it would have been sent back to lawmakers to either accept or reject his changes. The move would have at least delayed the plan becoming law. And if lawmakers disagreed about how to proceed, Quinn and lawmakers who support online voter registration could have been left with nothing, he said.

- Posted by Rich Miller        


11 Comments
  1. - Shore - Thursday, Aug 1, 13 @ 11:20 am:

    newspapers don’t lose seats, parties lose seats and the gop has been pathetic for a decade. again, pennsylvania republicans in 2002 gerrymandered the heck out of their states’ congressional map to a 12-4 advantage for them and by the end of the decade it was 10-6 democrats.

    the tribune also doesn’t have to endorse democrats like they so often do for no reason in contested races. They’ve had some horrendous calls in recent years-jan over joel pollak because they didn’t like pollak posting his transcript online, the jesse jackson primary endorsement among others.

    ward room is a decent blog. a little left of center for my taste, too pro chicago political establishment, but not bad.


  2. - Jake From Elwood - Thursday, Aug 1, 13 @ 11:44 am:

    This is just a politically motivated attack against Willard Helander, who is a very smart and capable County Clerk.

    I don’t believe Sen. Link when he says he had nothing to do with this bill. This smells like a grudge match.

    And shouldn’t a bill sponsor have some reasonable idea of the history of a bill that he or she has agreed to sponsor? So shame on the sponsor also.


  3. - wordslinger - Thursday, Aug 1, 13 @ 12:17 pm:

    Nobody knows nothing in Lake County, huh? Give me a break.

    –In most counties, you gotta staple your petitions together. If you use paperclips in those counties, you’re off the ballot. Other counties allow paperclips.–

    That kind of junk is just undemocratic.


  4. - Marty Funkhouser - Thursday, Aug 1, 13 @ 1:02 pm:

    Just because they didn’t competently gerrymander the seats doesn’t mean gerrymandering is a good thing.


  5. - Keep Calm and Carry On - Thursday, Aug 1, 13 @ 1:21 pm:

    The fact no one wants to claim credit for, much less admit any knowledge of, the Lake County provision only furthers suspicion some sort of shadiness is afoot.

    It’s such a great idea… no one wants to take credit for it. In fact, no one knows nuttin’ about it. Now that’s quality legislation right there.


  6. - Chicago Cynic - Thursday, Aug 1, 13 @ 2:18 pm:

    Count that now as two provisions PQ should have AV’d. The other is the doubling of the aldermanic signature requirement.


  7. - Chicago Cynic - Thursday, Aug 1, 13 @ 2:48 pm:

    Oh, and I completely agree with McLelland. Redistricting reform is an extremely low priority given all the crap that ails IL.


  8. - walkinfool - Thursday, Aug 1, 13 @ 2:58 pm:

    The closer we get to the next census, the less likely any real redistricting reform will occur. The time is now.


  9. - siriusly - Thursday, Aug 1, 13 @ 4:50 pm:

    I have no problems with politically motivated baloney, but man up dude - own this.

    Senator Link if you think Helander is so bad and this is a better way - stand up and say so. Don’t be such a wimp !


  10. - Just Me - Thursday, Aug 1, 13 @ 9:20 pm:

    “In the wisdom of the legislature they wrote this bill so I signed.”

    Yeah, that’s the ticket!


  11. - Angry Chicagoan - Friday, Aug 2, 13 @ 8:20 am:

    I wonder if these newspapers will ever actually look at the data to compare Illinois’ “gerrymander” with the real thing that happened in North Carolina, for example? Ten 58-42 GOP districts and three 70-30 Dem districts — and they did whatever they had to with the boundaries in order to get them to mathematically match. Madigan wasn’t even in the ballpark with that level of blatant behavior; he simply turned solid GOP districts into competitive ones, which ends up being good for everyone as we actually get some choice. I’d love to see the media reaction if he’d have actually drawn a North Carolins-style map. I hate to say it, but I don’t think a lot of MSM journos would know the difference.


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