SUBSCRIBE to Capitol Fax      Advertise Here      Mobile Version     Exclusive Subscriber Content     Updated Posts    Contact
CapitolFax.com
To subscribe to Capitol Fax, click here.
Defending the indefensible

Monday, Sep 30, 2013

* OK, you’re about to see something that you’ve probably never seen here before. I’m gonna defend Rep. Bill Mitchell and Reboot Illinois.

First, Kass

The Quad City Times reported that state Rep. Bill Mitchell, R-Forsyth, said he was having lunch with a friend when Cohen’s ruling [striking down Quinn’s veto of legislative salaries[ was issued:

“His first thought was, ‘When do we get paid?’”

That was Mitchell’s first thought? When does he get paid?

Nice.

I called Springfield to speak with Rep. Mitchell about his first thoughts of getting paid, but he wasn’t available.

“His assistant is not in today,” said a lady on the phone. “She’s out. You try his district office?”

I called his district office. No answer. I left a message, then called again and again and again. Still nothing.

* The missing context from the original story

Mitchell is a full-time lawmaker, meaning he had to dig into savings to make ends meet during the impasse.

“It was a bad three months,” he said.

Unless you’re independently wealthy, if your entire income is based on one job and you aren’t getting paid for that job, then no paychecks can cause real hardships. I see no reason to pick on the guy for being honest.

* Let’s move on to a story about Reboot Illinois’ new legislative contact app

Here’s how Reboot describes itself on its website, rebootillinois.com. “Reboot Illinois aims to encourage citizens to retake ownership of our governments. Through non-partisan digital and social media, Reboot Illinois intends to engage citizens giving them the information and tools they need to act on improving the jobs climate, schools, taxes and state debt.”

One of those things is a new feature allowing people to contact their public officials via email on certain issues. This includes their local lawmakers, legislative leaders like Madigan and Cullerton, and the governor. More importantly, it also allows a person to find out just who represents them in the General Assembly simply by typing their home address into the site.

So far, so good. The trickier part comes from the suggested messages to send public officials. The site has a series of issues listed covering such things as raising the minimum wage or pension reform or the progressive income tax along with a sample letter that can be sent to lawmakers. For example, you can send a message that you do not want the state to raise the minimum wage. Or you can send a message saying that the 3 percent compounded COLAs for pension benefits must end, along with raising the retirement age for workers.

Now, if you want to say you like the idea of a higher minimum wage or that the state shouldn’t change COLAs for retirees, well, you’ll have to compose your own thoughts on that. The site doesn’t provide that option. Also, it doesn’t provide the email addresses of the public officials, so if you want to send your own thoughts, you’ll have to add a step.

Actually, you can compose your own message and it’s pretty easy. You just select all, delete what Reboot wrote and write whatever you want. The group will then send your message for you. I tried it today by sending a test message to Rep. Poe’s office and it worked fine.

Now, maybe you aren’t literate enough to write your own message, but if that’s the case, then why bother at all? Or maybe you’re not computer literate enough to know you can delete Reboot’s message and replace it with your own. So, what the heck are you doing on the Web then?

However, Reboot might wanna just add a simple message saying you can write whatever you want, just to be clear.

Click here and see for yourself.

* I tried to get in the spirit of things by finding a recent state-related Tribune editorial I could praise, but had no luck.

Sigh.

- Posted by Rich Miller   29 Comments      


Question of the day

Monday, Sep 30, 2013

* Gov. Pat Quinn got a flu shot on Friday, the same day he failed to convince two judges for a stay during appeal of the previous day’s legislator pay ruling…

* The Question: Caption?

Funniest commenter wins a new Statehouse mobile app that I’ll be launching soon.

Our most recent winner was Old Shepherd

“As God is my witness, I thought turkeys could fly!”

- Posted by Rich Miller   109 Comments      


We should all probably calm down and wait

Monday, Sep 30, 2013

* You may have noticed that I’ve completely avoided the Illinois Obamacare implementation story. That’s by design. There’s been just way too much propaganda from both sides to easily sift through.

For instance, a few days ago Gov. Pat Quinn announced that health insurance exchange rates were lower than expected. That doesn’t really mean anything because we don’t know how much more the exchange health insurance policies will cost than what people already have, which doesn’t really mean much because the new insurance policies will cover more than many bare-bones policies currently do, which doesn’t mean much if you can’t afford the new rates, which doesn’t mean much if you qualify for subsidies, etc., etc., etc. Not to mention all the people who don’t have insurance now because they can’t afford it and may be able to with the new program.

* There’s no doubt that the rollout has been bungled. For instance

Only a fraction of the expected army of outreach workers will be certified and ready Tuesday to help Illinois residents sign up for insurance under President Barack Obama’s health care law, state officials told The Associated Press late Friday.

That will leave most people on their own to figure out the complicated enrollment process — at least during the first week of a six-month enrollment period.

Only around 100 workers will be certified by Saturday, said Kelly Sullivan, a spokeswoman for the new Illinois insurance marketplace where people will be able to comparison shop for health plans starting Tuesday. Sullivan said Illinois officials would work to certify “hundreds more” by Tuesday’s launch.

Officials have said 1,200 temporary outreach workers, hired with federal grant money, would ultimately be trained and certified. About 1.8 million Illinois residents are uninsured, about 15 percent of the population.

The outreach workers are important because the enrollment process is complicated and many consumers will need assistance. They will help walk people through the new health insurance options available to them through the online marketplace. Health care marketplaces, a key component of the Affordable Care Act, will operate in every state.

That’s just ridiculous.

* Then there was the goofy, focus-grouped logo the administration touted in a press release…

The orange color palette is decidedly optimistic, representing the colors of sunrise – tied to focus group feedback that October 1 felt like the “dawn” of a new day for those uninsured.

Really?

* But does any of this mean that the whole program is not worthwhile? The most informed take I’ve read so far is from the guy who implemented former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney’s health insurance program, on which Obamacare is closely based. Money quotes

“Up here in Massachusetts, the biggest opponent of the individual mandate was John Sweeney of the AFL-CIO. He said it was going to be the end of employer-based health-care here. Well, that certainly wasn’t the case.

“The analogy I like to use is a building that’s burning down. The number of people covered by employer-based health-care plans is dropping by a percentage point a year. The system is falling apart. So you put in a new safety net. That means a few more people are going to come in. If you’re not willing to risk making some things worse, you’re never going to make anything better.

“My estimate is that 80 percent of the people are not going to feel any change at all, and that 17 percent or so are going to find that things are better, and that about two or three percent will be worse off, and those are the people who benefit from the discriminatory nature of health-insurance at the present time.

“If health-insurance companies can’t discriminate any more, those people will have to pay a little more. When we decided that people couldn’t discriminate in what they paid black people or women any more, people had to pay more because employers couldn’t discriminate in what they paid black people and women. Was that a bad thing?”

* And since Obamacare has been tied in with the government shutdown/debt ceiling circus, I’ve been even more loathe to go there. As far as I can tell, this is the smartest take I’ve yet seen on what to expect with that mess

But while it’s certainly the case that Boehner thinks a shutdown would be terrible for the party, and that he’d prefer to avoid one, it’s not at all clear it’s in his interest to do so. Why? Because there are two things Boehner presumably cares about more than avoiding a shutdown: not being ousted as Speaker, and raising the debt ceiling by mid-to-late October so as to avoid a debt default. The latter would be far more damaging to the economy than a shutdown, and therefore more devastating to the Republican brand. Unfortunately for Boehner, the only plausible way to both keep his job and avoid a debt default is … to shut down the government when the fiscal year ends next week.

Here’s why: Tea Party conservatives in the House, following the lead the distinguished non-filibusterer from Texas, are all keyed up for a confrontation with Obama in which they refuse to fund the government unless they can simultaneously defund (or rather, “defund”) Obmacare. This is why Boehner and Cantor, after initially hoping to keep the two initiatives separate, reluctantly agreed to make defunding Obamacare a condition for funding the government in the bill they passed last Friday. The Democratic Senate and the president obviously aren’t going along with this. So the only way to avoid a shutdown is for Boehner to walk it back, which conservatives will regard as a humiliating retreat. […]

(O)ne of two things is probably going to happen if we avoid a shutdown: Either John Boehner is going to turn around and appease irate conservatives by insisting on delaying Obamacare in exchange for raising the debt limit, thereby sending the government into default (since Obama isn’t negotiating). Or he’s going to back down and allow the debt ceiling to be raised with a minority of House Republicans and a majority of House Democrats, thereby further infuriating conservatives and almost certainly costing himself his job. (Recall that conservatives got more than halfway to the number of defections they needed to oust Boehner back in January, after he’d merely allowed a vote on a small tax increase when a much bigger one was kicking in automatically.) That is, either Boehner gets it or the global economy gets it, both of which Boehner would like to avoid even more than he’d like to avoid a shutdown.

If Boehner resigns himself to a shutdown, on the other hand, suddenly the future looks manageable. After a few days of punishing political abuse, Boehner will be able to appear before his caucus, shrug his shoulders in his distinctive Boehnerian way, and bleat that he executed the strategy conservatives demanded, but that the country is overwhelmingly opposed to it, as are most Senate Republicans and almost every semi-legitimate right-wing pundit and media outlet. Most of these people have already said that shutting down the government would be a mistake; they would presumably only grow more vocal in as Republicans’ poll numbers collapsed and they hemorrhaged blood all over Washington. Boehner will be able to point to the party’s extreme political isolation as a reason for calling off this round of jihad, in the same way he did during the payroll tax cut debate in late 2011 and the fiscal cliff debate in late 2012. The demoralized conservatives will realize they’re out of moves—at least in this particular battle—allowing Boehner to raise the debt limit a few weeks later with little drama. There will be no debt default, and no conservative coup in the House.

Try very hard to avoid a national political throwdown in comments, please. Thanks.

- Posted by Rich Miller   41 Comments      


Answer the question, please

Monday, Sep 30, 2013

* Rick Pearson asked Gov. Pat Quinn late Friday about the implications of the governor’s veto of legislative salaries. Quinn essentially dodged it

Asked by reporters if his veto would set a precedent for governors to withhold pay from lawmakers over other issues, as critics have alleged, Quinn said the unfunded pension liability was a “crucial, crying issue in our state.”

“It’s urgent. It’s an emergency. It’s been going on for decades. That’s why I acted as I did,” he said.

Asked if he also considered legalizing same-sex marriage, which he supports, an emergency, Quinn said: “I think it’s a very important issue, but on the issue of pensions, that deals directly with state finances, where the legislature has had much time to act, they have failed to put a bill on my desk that’s necessary for the common good.”

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, the governor has exploited a very dangerous loophole. Whatever happens in the court case, going forward the Legislature ought to pass a continuing appropriations bill on their salaries so nobody can pull this stunt again.

Also, many kudos to Rick for trying to pin the governor down. More like this, please.

- Posted by Rich Miller   24 Comments      


Still some sticking points

Monday, Sep 30, 2013

* So, while Gov. Pat Quinn has been running all over the state cutting ribbons on capital projects approved by the General Assembly while, ironically, defending his veto of legislative salaries because those same legislators hadn’t finished their jobs, was he actually working on pension reform? Not according to Rep. Elaine Nekritz, the House Democratic point person on pensions

[Nekritz] said she had not spoken to anyone from Quinn’s office since July on the progress of pension negotiations.

* Despite Quinn’s non-involvement, or maybe because of it, Nekritz believes a pension plan could be voted on during the veto session later this month

“We’re close enough where I think that there’s a definite possibility we could take action in veto session,” Nekritz said of the scheduled Oct. 22 return of the General Assembly.

“We have a few, what I would call, details to work out, but as in any negotiation, when you get to the end, the things that were not so significant in the beginning become big,” she said in a WGN-AM 720 interview. “So, I’m not saying that the whole thing can’t fall apart, and we’ll be back to square one, but it’s also very likely we could come to an agreement and be done in a couple of weeks.”

* More

She acknowledged that the move for a 1 percentage point reduction in employee contributions to their pensions was aimed at meeting a state constitutional prohibition against diminishing or impairing public employee pension benefits.

Still, she said, “I don’t think there’s any way we can avoid being sued by the public employees — whether it be actives (current employees) or retirees.”

The House Republicans are pushing hard to eliminate that 1-point reduction, among other things.

* Sen. Kwame Raoul, who chairs the pension reform conference committee, has pushed back

“The charge of the (pension) conference committee is to come up with a proposal that we think (can) solve the pension problem … and that can pass a constitutional challenge,” Raoul said.

But, in the end, Raoul still wants a bill. So, we’ll see.

…Adding… Sun-Times editorial board

The big snag, we understand, is a new list of demands unveiled by committee Republicans two weeks ago and a new total savings target — $150 billion, up from an agreed-upon $140 billion. We want more savings, too, but what’s maddening is that most of the Republican demands don’t amount to much.

They’re pressing for things like raising the retirement age, raising the employee contribution and creating a 401(k) option. Those sound good but would barely move the cost-savings needle.

I really think this bill should not be tanked over a 30-year savings of $10 billion. But they may try to blow up the process anyway.

- Posted by Rich Miller   101 Comments      


*** UPDATED x1 *** Has the running mate game changed?

Monday, Sep 30, 2013

* The Sun-Times has a story called “Kwame Raoul would run for lt. gov., but Quinn’s not asking.” I asked Sen. Raoul about the rumors I’d been hearing last week, and I came away with a different impression than the Sun-Times

Lately, it’s a question that state Sen. Kwame Raoul (D-Chicago) gets all the time: Would he run as Gov. Pat Quinn’s lieutenant governor?

The answer is basically yes.

* Here’s what he told the Sun-Times

“A lot of people have been calling me,” said Raoul, who told the Chicago Sun-Times he would be open to running as Quinn’s lieutenant governor for the 2014 race. “A lot of people — not the governor — have called and inquired, hearing rumors.” […]

Raoul said he would consider the job with a major caveat — that it would come with responsibilities.

“The state Senate hasn’t been an awful place for me, I’ve been able to engage in a lot of things. It’s not the worst place in the world. I don’t have to run for higher office this time around,” Raoul said.

* And here’s what he told me via text…

Obviously, Raoul doesn’t want to just sit around his office for four years doing nothing as Quinn’s lieutenant governor. He would want some real responsibilities. Whether Quinn would give those to him is anybody’s guess. As I’ve already pointed out today, Quinn has been trying to increase the power of the governor’s office, not dilute them.

* And then there’s the fact that Quinn is now essentially unopposed in the primary. His running mate choice can now be aimed at the general election.

So, does Quinn really need an African-American running mate now? It could help boost turnout, at least some. First black lieutenant governor, etc. But how much? I dunno.

Your thoughts?

*** UPDATE *** A valid point from Matt Dietrich

Should they win in 2014, Raoul could be an effective envoy for Quinn in the General Assembly. That’s something Quinn has sorely lacked throughout his time in office. Quinn’s inability to shepherd legislation through the legislature via floor leaders has been a big weakness for his administration and is among the major reasons why his pension reform efforts led to the current stalemate.

…Adding… As some have already pointed out in comments, Quinn doesn’t listen much to Gary Hannig as it is, and the former Deputy House Majority Leader Hannig was a very good choice to run the legislative shop. If he won’t listen to Gary, would he listen to Kwame? Maybe not.

- Posted by Rich Miller   40 Comments      


Why Quinn is appealing

Monday, Sep 30, 2013

* My weekly syndicated newspaper column

A bipartisan chorus seemed to rise as one last week to urge Gov. Pat Quinn not to appeal a ruling by a Cook County judge. The judge ruled that the governor had violated the state Constitution when he vetoed lawmaker salaries last summer. Quinn said he vetoed the appropriations because he was tired of waiting for legislators to finish a pension reform plan.

Despite urgings by both Democrats and Republicans to drop the whole thing, Quinn forged ahead, issuing a defiant statement in which he vowed to pursue an appeal of Judge Neil Cohen’s decision voiding the veto and ordering lawmaker paychecks to be processed “immediately.”

Judge Cohen agreed with Quinn on one issue about veto process, but then went on to declare Quinn’s veto wasn’t valid from the moment it was issued. Cohen did so by relying on the meaning of a single word: “Changes.”

Quinn had argued that transcripts from the 1970 Illinois Constitutional Convention clearly showed that delegates hoped to stop legislators from increasing their salaries when they agreed on language that prevented “changes in the salary of a member” from taking effect during their term of office following their most recent election.

Cohen relied on two dictionary definitions to declare that the common meaning of “changes” included both increases and decreases. Therefore, Quinn’s veto violated the Constitution and was declared null and void.

It’s actually a pretty well reasoned and informed decision, especially considering the fact that Judge Cohen seemed more than a little out of his element during a previous hearing. He didn’t appear to understand the briefs that had already been presented, and appeared confused at times about the Constitution and general procedure. He even agreed to put off his decision by a week so that Madigan and Cullerton could file another brief, but then went ahead without them and gave them what they asked for.

OK, back to the appeal, which is no surprise, to say the least. Even setting aside the overwhelming popularity of the governor’s veto and Quinn’s natural stubbornness, there should have never been any doubt that Quinn would attempt to appeal this ruling.

Quinn has jealously guarded his powers and attempted - often bungling - to expand the powers of his office ever since he was elevated in 2009. One of the ways he’s done this is by issuing presidential-like “signing statements.” His latest, issued in July, promised that he would not allow a bill he’d signed to undermine the state’s compliance with a class action consent decree. Quinn is the first to use such statements, which are normally reserved for vetoes.

He has also constantly meddled in the affairs of various boards and commissions, demanding resignations of the University of Illinois Board of Trustees after a political influence scandal and recently calling for the ouster of the director of the state’s torture commission. He attempted to pack Southern Illinois University’s board this year in order to get his way at that university, but was solidly rebuked when the Senate unanimously rejected his appointees.

Quinn called for the “fumigation” of state government when he was first elevated to the office, but then resisted several legislative efforts designed to get rid of Blagojevich holdovers, saying it was his job to fire them.

An appeal, therefore, would be right in line with Quinn’s history of protecting and expanding his powers. He clearly believes he had the absolute right to veto those salaries and that the judge was wrong to stop him. This is more than just a political game to Quinn, even though the game is most definitely part of it.

He acts like such a goofball at times that it’s often difficult to take what he says and does at face value, but this is obviously very serious business to the governor. Make no mistake, Quinn wants the right to do this again. And he wants his successors to have this right in order to bring the General Assembly to heel.

Most people don’t know that Chicago mayors are legally quite weak. They compensate by building strong political organizations.

Illinois governors are constitutionally strong, so state legislative leaders have compensated for their comparative weakness by building huge political fiefdoms and devising innumerable rules to stymie the governor’s powers. Quinn appears to be trying to inject some balance into the government with this veto.

Discuss.

- Posted by Rich Miller   37 Comments      


*** UPDATED x1 *** This just in… Appellate court denies stay motion

Friday, Sep 27, 2013

* 4:46 pm - I’m told by an attorney involved in the fracas that the appellate court has denied Gov. Pat Quinn’s motion for an emergency stay of Judge Cohen’s rulings on Quinn’s legislative salary veto.

More when I know more.

*** UPDATE *** The one-sentence appellate court order denying Quinn’s motion for a stay can be read by clicking here. Not much to see, but it could be suitable for framing if you’re a state legislator.

…Adding… And there go the checks…

- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      


Reader comments closed for the weekend

Friday, Sep 27, 2013

* I think I’ll go see Los Lobos at Donnie’s Homespun. Better turn it up, y’all

Life is a fly
And then you die

- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      


Quinn files emergency appellate motion for stay

Friday, Sep 27, 2013

* I haven’t had a chance to go through it all yet, but here are two documents filed with the appellate court today…

* Emergency motion for stay of judgment pending appeal

* Supplemental affidavit

* The governor’s motion admits the “impracticality” of forcing legislators to return their paychecks, but wants immediate action to block the next round of pay checks to be issued Monday. From the motion…

An immediate stay is needed to preserve the status quo and the ability to effectuate the Governor’s veto if he prevails on appeal. If the judgment is not stayed, the plaintiffs and the other 175 members of the General Assembly will receive payment of their legislative salaries from the Comptroller’s office. Once that occurs, a ruling by this Court or the Supreme Court that the Governor’s veto was valid would to a large extent be a pyrrhic victory.

Still reading. I’ll let you know what else I find.

…Adding… Man, they laid it on thick…

(A)ny potential hardship the plaintiffs may experience will be short-lived and is vastly outweighed by the Pandora’s Box that would be opened if the members of the General Assembly were allowed to collect their salaries prior to the final adjudication of the issues in this case concerning ripeness and the constitutionality of the Governor’s veto. It would be inappropriate to allow these issues of great public importance to be effectively decided at the trial court level, but that is exactly what would occur in the absence of a stay.

It was actually shorter than it first looked, so I think I’m done. I’ll be closing comments soon and will let you know if a stay is issued today or over the weekend.

- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      


Perhaps a little payback?

Friday, Sep 27, 2013

* Top Republicans received an interesting little mailer this week. The entirety of the letter was a recent Tom Kacich column in the Champaign News-Gazette about Republican gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner’s unusually large number of ties to Democrats. The sender highlighted the most important parts. Here’s a cellphone pic of one page of the letter…

* The sender didn’t use a bulk mail permit, so we can’t trace its origin. But check out the postmark…

Hmm. What Rauner enemy lives in Peoria? Lemme think a bit. Nope, I just can’t possibly guess.

- Posted by Rich Miller   30 Comments      


Protected: Subscribers only: This just in… Yet another retirement

Friday, Sep 27, 2013

This post is password protected. To view it please enter your password below:

- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      


Your Friday moment of Zen

Friday, Sep 27, 2013

* It’s been a crazy day. Actually, it’s been a bit of a crazy week. So let’s chill for a moment, shall we?

Here’s a pic I took yesterday of Oscar the Puppy…

* A commenter who owns the same breed of dog as Oscar wrote here not long ago about the phenomenon known as the “nut run.” It’s when dogs just go a little crazy and start running around like a bat outta heck.

When the weather is nice, I’ll take my laptop and Oscar to the back yard. If I’m too busy to play, he’ll sometimes go on a nut run.

Here’s the tail end of one from yesterday. The little guy had already slowed down a lot by the time I started recording his fun

- Posted by Rich Miller   27 Comments      


This Is Illinois

Friday, Sep 27, 2013

* From the Belleville News-Democrat

An attorney appointed to represent the interests of some residents from the Warren G. Murray Developmental Center says in a sworn statement that the private homes they’re being sent to are unsafe and woefully understaffed.

The attorney, Stewart Freeman, says in his affidavit that he fears someone might even die in one of the privately-run homes.

Freeman says one of his clients who has been moved to a private facility suffered a seizure because the home ran out of medicine, and another was fed a store-bought nutrition drink for days because the home ran out of the doctor-prescribed nutrition that the resident is supposed to receive via feeding tube.

But the head of the state office that is responsible for safeguarding Illinoisans with developmental disabilities says in his own sworn statement that he, too, has visited the privately-run homes, and found former Murray residents who are living happily in well-run facilities.

* AP

A year after Illinois was sued and reached a settlement over inadequate conditions in its juvenile detention centers, two separate reports are detailing a number of conditions that the authors say must change.

The first report is by a panel of experts, submitted in U.S. Northern District Court Monday as part of the settlement. It details an eight-month investigation of the state’s six juvenile detention centers in Kewanee, St. Charles, Warrenville, Joliet, Harrisburg and Pere Marquette. The juvenile justice and adolescent psychiatric experts describe incarcerated teens mowing lawns during the school day, being improperly medicated and routinely subjected to more solitary confinement than necessary.

The second report, by watchdog group the John Howard Association, was obtained by The Associated Press ahead of its scheduled release Thursday morning.

The group examined conditions at Kewanee, a specialized mental health facility that’s seen an influx of maximum security inmates following the closure of another facility by Gov. Pat Quinn. The Joliet Youth Center closed in February as part of Quinn’s decision to shutter several Illinois prisons and other facilities as a way to save money. The report says Kewanee is a facility with “extremely limited resources” to deal with its population of juvenile sex offenders and youths with acute mental illness.

* Tribune

The staff of the agency charged with overseeing land use and transportation planning for northeastern Illinois is recommending against the construction of a new toll road connecting interstates in Illinois and Indiana.

The proposal for the Illiana Corridor is “broadly incompatible with the overall goals and recommendations” of the region’s long-range master plan, the staff at the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning said in a report issued this morning.

Building the Illiana would “expose the State of Illinois to extensive financial risk” due to the proposed toll road’s estimated cost and potential financing structure, the report found.

The Illiana, a project strongly pushed by Gov. Pat Quinn, would be a 47-mile toll road cutting across southern Will County and linking Interstates 55, 57 and 65 in Indiana.

The full report is here.

Greg Hinz has more

CMAP estimates that in addition to the $950 million IDOT estimates the road will need from the state or a private investor, there is an additional “funding gap” of $440 million to $1.1 billion.

The Illiana will be “unable to repay its initial debt, pay for annual operations and maintenance, finance required periodic capital maintenance expenditures and meet private-sector return on investment requirements without a public subsidy,” the report says. […]

Officials in Will County strongly back the roadway. So do proponents of a proposed third metropolitan airport at Peotone, which the Illiana would pass to the south. But foes — including the Metropolitan Planning Council and Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle — suggest that CMAP’s integrity and ability to send resources where they’re most needed is on the line if it begins caving in to demands from powerful politicians.

Though Mr. Quinn has argued that the roadway would serve transportation needs, it also would serve political needs as he enters an election year. It could potentially help him attract votes in Will County, campaign contributions from contractors and shore up support for the Peotone airport that he’s also pushing as a way to attract support from African-American voters.

- Posted by Rich Miller   12 Comments      


This just in… Quinn to appeal stay denial

Friday, Sep 27, 2013

* 12:01 pm - I’ve confirmed that Gov. Pat Quinn is planning a quick visit to the appellate courts to try to overturn Judge Cohen’s ruling from this morning that denied Quinn a stay on Cohen’s Thursday legislative pay ruling. Quinn wanted the stay during his appeal to the Illinois Supreme Court.

Fasten your seatbelts, campers.

*** UPDATE *** * 12:20 pm - Tribune

“The governor violated the constitution. He had no right to do that despite his benevolent intent,” Cohen said.

Cohen commended Topinka for following his order to “immediately” issue checks.

Testimony showed Topinka will issue checks for October by 3 p.m. today. Quinn attorneys are appealing Cohen’s denial of a stay immediately to the state appellate court.

Quinn’s attorneys argued that “no one in this courtroom” believed Cohen’s decision that the governor violated the constitution “would be the final word in this case.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   41 Comments      


This just in… Judge denies Quinn request for stay pending appeal

Friday, Sep 27, 2013

* 11:01 am - From the Twitters…


*** UPDATE *** Sun-Times

-Republican Treasurer Dan Rutherford, a 2014 candidate for governor, joined the bi-partisan chorus of officeholders Friday calling on Gov. Pat Quinn to drop his appeal of a court decision that blocked the governor’s pension-driven bid to withhold legislative salaries.

“I think the judiciary has spoken. He should just let it be at rest,” Rutherford said in an interview in the Chicago Sun-Times Statehouse office. […]

“It really added a great deal of acidity in the waters between two co-equal branches of government, the executive and legislative. I just don’t see how this is going to enhance the ability to try to work together to help fix what Illinois needs to have fixed,” Rutherford said.

“The second thing is it also is a horrible precedent to set. At what point does a future governor say that he or she wants you to do something, and if you don’t general assembly, I’ll veto your salaries?” the treasurer said. “I just think it was a bad move.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   32 Comments      


Question of the day

Friday, Sep 27, 2013

* Mary Ann Ahern

Thx @GovernorQuinn for stopping by WLS Radio with @John_Kass #lawmakerspay

Kass asked Quinn if lawmakers should be forced to stand in line in public to get their paychecks so the media could photograph them. Quinn laughed and kinda dodged the question.

* Mary Ann’s photo

* The Question: Caption?

Funniest commenter wins a new Statehouse mobile app that will be launched very soon.

- Posted by Rich Miller   50 Comments      


*** UPDATED WITH LIVE COVERAGE *** In other courtroom news…

Friday, Sep 27, 2013

* WGN

A Cook County judge is expected to make a ruling today, on whether a same sex marriage ban in Illinois is constitutional.

A lawsuit seeking to legalize same sex marriage got opposition from five downstate county clerks.

Twenty-five gay couples initiated the case because they want the legal right to marry. Cook County’s top prosecutor and the Illinois Attorney General say the ban violates the state constitution.

The hearing begins at 11 o’clock.

Looks like a busy Friday.

* Meanwhile, the Catholic Conference of Illinois is gearing up. From a press release

The Catholic Conference of Illinois is promoting a “Defend Marriage Lobby Day” scheduled for Wed., Oct. 23 at the Capitol in Springfield.

Efforts to change the state’s legal definition of marriage from “between a man and a woman” to “between two persons” dominated the legislative session last year.

Senate Bill 10 passed the Senate in February, but was not called for a vote in the House by the May 31 deadline because it lacked the votes needed for passage.

The legislature will meet for its fall session on Oct. 22-24, and Nov. 5-7. There is always the possibility that SB 10 could be called for a vote in the House.

That’s why the Catholic Conference of Illinois is promoting a “Defend Marriage Lobby Day” on Wed., Oct. 23 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Capitol in Springfield. Download a flier about the day here. […]

The “Defend Marriage Lobby Day” is sponsored by the Illinois Family Institute.

*** UPDATE *** Tony Arnold and I presume others will be covering the 11 o’clock hearing. Here’s a ScribbleLive feed

- Posted by Rich Miller   22 Comments      


Updates and nuggets

Friday, Sep 27, 2013

* We had a long, thorough discussion about Judge Cohen’s ruling yesterday. There’s not much in today’s coverage that expands on what I’ve already told you and what you commented on.

But there are some updates. Tribune

Dealt a loss in his attempt to wipe out lawmakers’ paychecks, Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn will try to put the ruling on ice Friday as he attempts to kick up to the Illinois Supreme Court the legal question of whether his move was constitutional.

Those efforts were complicated by Republican Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka’s decision to send money electronically overnight to lawmakers’ bank accounts for the checks they missed in August and September while the dispute played out in rounds of legal briefs and hearings.

Subscribers know more about the current status of the checks. But this is from NBC 5

Quinn’s camp immediately filed a motion to appeal that decision and a hearing was scheduled for 10:30 a.m. Friday.

I’ll let you know what happens.

* AP

Topinka, a Republican who controls the state’s checkbook, said late Thursday her office already was processing the checks and that lawmakers with direct deposit should have money in their bank accounts Friday morning. Paper checks also would be in the mail, she said. She also criticized the Democratic governor for what she called “game playing.”

Topinka’s quick action brought a rebuke from Quinn’s office.

“We’re disappointed that she started to issue paychecks,” said Quinn spokeswoman Brooke Anderson. “Her enthusiasm to hand out paychecks to legislators appears to exceed her interest in public pension reform.”

Ouch.

* On to the nuggets. SJ-R

A co-chairman of the pension reform conference committee declined to speculate Thursday when the committee will finish its work.

“I think we’re very close (but) I have stopped making predictions on time because mine have all been very wrong,” said Rep. Elaine Nekritz, D-Northbrook.

Nekritz, who was at a meeting with some other committee members Thursday, said the outcome of the lawsuit should have no impact on the talks.

“It didn’t have any impact when the governor made that decision. I don’t think it will now,” she said. “We’re still focusing on getting some legislation that will get (the necessary) votes.”

* Sun-Times

The governor’s office is represented by outside legal counsel, Steven Pflaum, and a Quinn aide said Thursday it was unclear exactly where the legal tab now stands in defending against the Madigan/Cullerton lawsuit.

“I can tell you in the grand scheme of things, it’ll be pennies compared to $5 million a day,” Quinn spokeswoman Brooke Anderson said, referring to the multimillion-dollar rate at which Illinois’ unfunded pension liability grows daily. […]

The total for legislators’ pay for August, September and October stands at $1,000,581 per month, though it is unclear how much additional interest will have to be paid out on top to comply with Cohen’s order.

* From AFSCME…


Thoughts?

- Posted by Rich Miller   25 Comments      


Our sorry state

Friday, Sep 27, 2013

* Forbes

Illinois boasts the fourth-most big companies in the U.S., including Boeing, Abbott Labs, Caterpillar and Kraft Foods.

Job growth, however, is projected to be second worst in the country over the next five years, according to Moody’s Analytics.

Throughout my lifetime, Illinois has lagged other states at the end of recessions. But this one is worse. Much worse.

- Posted by Rich Miller   39 Comments      


Quote of the day

Friday, Sep 27, 2013

* From OneMan in comments

You know at this point I would have to say the entertainment value of CapFax comments if Rauner wins the whole thing would be priceless

I was telling somebody yesterday that Bruce Rauner inspires more heated debate in comments than anyone I’ve seen since the Rod Blagojevich days. I might have to endorse the guy out of purely personal self-interest.

Just kidding.

Mostly…

Why do you think he rubs people the wrong way here?

- Posted by Rich Miller   68 Comments      


Twittereaction

Friday, Sep 27, 2013

* Two consecutive tweets from yesterday…


A bit contradictory, no?

* On the other hand, Rep. Ron Sandack was clear and concise…



* But the fake Speaker Madigan was the best by far…


Heh.

- Posted by Rich Miller   17 Comments      


Protected: *** UPDATED x2 *** SUBSCRIBERS ONLY: And the race is on…

Friday, Sep 27, 2013

This post is password protected. To view it please enter your password below:

- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      


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

Friday, Sep 27, 2013

This post is password protected. To view it please enter your password below:

- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      


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

Friday, Sep 27, 2013

This post is password protected. To view it please enter your password below:

- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      


Illinois AFL-CIO executive board endorses gay marriage

Thursday, Sep 26, 2013

* An endorsement like this could actually help move the ball forward with some more conservative, pro-union Democrats and even some Republicans…

WHEREAS the Illinois AFL-CIO has a long history of supporting full equality and civil rights for all Americans, regardless of their race, their religion, their sex, their national origin, their sexual orientation or gender identity; and,

WHEREAS the Illinois AFL-CIO has worked in support of anti-discrimination protection, domestic partner benefits, and other protections and benefits for our union brothers and sisters who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender; and,

WHEREAS gay and lesbian workers in same-sex relationships are treated as second class citizens in their workplace, denied family and medical leave, equal insurance coverage and other benefits that build strong families in Illinois, despite the fact that 13 states and the District of Columbia extend the freedom to marry to same-sex couples; and,

WHEREAS, the federal Government Accounting Office documents more than 1,100 federal benefits denied to loving, committed gay and lesbian couples, including Social Security benefits, worker compensation, pension benefits, Family and Medical Leave Act benefits, and many more; and,

WHEREAS President Barack Obama has endorsed the freedom to marry for all Americans, saying “We are a people who declared that we are all created equal – and the love we commit to one another must be equal as well”; and,

WHEREAS the National AFL-CIO filed a “friend of the court” brief asking the Supreme Court of the United States to find the federal Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional.

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Illinois AFL-CIO joins with leaders from the faith community, civil rights organizations, President Obama, our own unions and a growing majority of Americans in supporting marriage equality legislation that effectively protects religious freedom; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that we call on our Illinois state legislators to sponsor and vote for this legislation; and

BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED that Illinois AFL-CIO will work to advance legislation and/or support ballot measures, at both the state and federal level, to confer full marriage equality, including health and pension benefits, family and medical leave, tax treatment and disability benefits to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.

Discuss.

- Posted by Rich Miller   13 Comments      


This just in… Judge rules against Quinn on salaries - Quinn will appeal decision - Behind the scenes race - Topinka orders staff to process pay checks - Quinn wants direct appeal to ILSCt - Radogno: Appeal a “waste” of money, distraction - Bill Brady calls appeal “waste of money” - Topinka: Pay arriving tomorrow morning

Thursday, Sep 26, 2013

* 2:32 pm - Wow


*** UPDATE *** * 2:45 pm - The ruling can be downloaded by clicking here.

* The judge rejected the plaintiffs’ contention that by not vetoing the “total” lines in the appropriations bill he hadn’t really vetoed the money. The judge said it was “abundantly clear” that everybody knew the governor’s intent.

* The judge relied on the Jorgensen case, which involved cost of living increases for judges, to rule that the comptroller must “immediately” pay salaries, plus interest.

* More Judge Cohen…

Governor Quinn invites this court to consider statements made during the 1970 Constitutional Convention in construing the word “changes.” This court declines to do so. It would only be proper to consider the debates… if there was doubt as to the common meaning of “changes.”

That means the judge ruled legislative salaries cannot be raised or lowered during a term of office. The governor had argued that Con-Con delegates only referred to stopping legislators from increasing their pay during their terms.

* 3:17 pm - Cullerton react…

Senate President John J. Cullerton released the following statement on Judge Cohen’s order in Cullerton v. Quinn:

“Today the circuit court vindicated the Illinois Constitution as Judge Cohen ruled to protect and preserve the separation of powers. Now that the governor’s actions have been answered by a court, I trust that we can put aside all distractions and focus on the goal of pension reform.

“Pension reform remains our top priority. Even while this case was pending, the legislature never stopped working on this issue. I applaud the progress of the pension conference committee as its members shape a pension plan that maximizes our savings and upholds a fundamental standard of fairness.”

Any bets on whether Quinn will file an appeal?

*** UPDATE *** * 3:20 pm - I got the answer to my own question. I’m told that Quinn will appeal.

Quinn can ask the judge to stay his ruling during the appeal, which would hold up the checks, but Cohen doesn’t have to comply.

* 3:26 pm - Bruce Rauner react…

Republican candidate for governor Bruce Rauner issued the following statement regarding Judge Neil Cohen’s ruling that Illinois must pay lawmakers:

“When Pat Quinn suspended legislators pay I called it ‘just another political stunt.’ More than two months later, the pension system is still broken.

We don’t need any more political stunts. We need a leader who is willing to take on the government union bosses and special interests that control Springfield, and the crowd in charge now refuses to do it. I’ll get the job done.”

*** UPDATE *** * 3:41 pm - I’m told that Quinn may ask for a stay this afternoon. So, there’s kind of a behind the scenes race going on right now between the comptroller’s office, which is quickly processing the checks, and Quinn’s attorneys, who want an immediate stay.

* 3:45 pm - Quinn statement on his appeal and request for a stay…

Governor Pat Quinn Statement on Judge Ruling Against Suspension of Legislative Pay

CHICAGO – Governor Pat Quinn issued the below statement regarding today’s ruling by Judge Neil Cohen to allow legislators to receive their paychecks:

“I respectfully disagree with the judge’s decision.

“On behalf of Illinois taxpayers, I intend to appeal the decision and seek a court stay that would prevent any legislative paychecks from being issued until this case is considered by a higher court.

“However, this case is about far more than just the Governor’s constitutional authority to suspend the appropriations for legislative paychecks.

“The reason I suspended legislative paychecks in the first place – and refused to accept my own – is because Illinois taxpayers can’t afford an endless cycle of promises, excuses, delays and inertia on the most critical challenge of our time.

“Illinois’ pension crisis is costing taxpayers millions of dollars a day; robbing our children of the education and public safety services they desperately need; and holding our economy back from real recovery.

“I will not accept a paycheck until a comprehensive pension reform bill is on my desk, and neither should legislators.

“Nobody in Springfield should get paid until the pension reform job gets done.”

*** UPDATE *** JBT…

TOPINKA: COURT HAS RULED, PAYCHECK PROCESSING TO BEGIN

Comptroller instructs staff to process payments for lawmakers

CHICAGO - Illinois Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka made the following statement Thursday in response to the Court’s ruling to restore compensation for lawmakers:

“In light of today’s Court ruling, I have instructed my staff to begin processing salary payments for Illinois lawmakers. I have consistently said action was required by the General Assembly or the Court to authorize restoration of those payments. That has now occurred, and the Comptroller’s Office will comply. Processing of paychecks for August, September and October begins today.”

* 4:10 pm - From Speaker Madigan’s spokesman…

At this point we will defer comment until issues such as a stay are resolved

*** UPDATE *** * 4:14 pm - Topinka just told Roe Conn of WLS that paychecks will be issued by Monday.

* 4:17 pm - Twitters…


*** UPDATE *** * 4:19 pm - Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno…

“It will be unfortunate if the decision is appealed and a further waste of taxpayer dollars. Pension reform discussions are moving along with committed legislators meeting regularly, negotiating and working toward a compromise. Illinois desperately needs pension reform. Yet another legal maneuver is a distraction we don’t need.”

* 4:22 pm - Sun-Times

Republican gubernatorial hopeful Bill Brady described the governor’s original move to withhold legislative pay as “dirty politics” and said any appeal of Thursday’s ruling by Quinn would be “a waste of money.”

“Clearly, when he did this, his own party, particularly the majority party, the Democrats, were very upset, and it didn’t help us move forward on pension reform,” Brady said in an interview with the Sun-Times. “Hopefully, we can set this aside now, get down to brass tacks and come up with a meaningful pension package that will protect the interests of the people who paid into the system and will give us a financial platform to move forward on.”

The state senator from Bloomington also urged Quinn not to appeal.

“The decision has been made. The judge has looked at it. It would just be a waste of money and further erode any chance we have of a meaningful pension package,” Brady said.

“It’s not something I would have done, although I understand in the public eye the governor may have hit a grand slam. But it’s really kind of dirty politics, and he certainly didn’t help himself,” Brady said.

*** UPDATE *** * 6:33 pm - Comptroller Topinka talked to the media today and compared Quinn’s veto to “blackmail.” She also said legislators signed up for direct deposit would likely get their pay tomorrow morning. Listen…

- Posted by Rich Miller   124 Comments      


Today’s quote

Thursday, Sep 26, 2013

* James Krohe Jr. wrote about the Statehouse remodeling controversy. He doesn’t think much of it. Krohe’s conclusion

The Capitol is a singular building. If you want to mock the pretensions of the original conception, go ahead; they verge on the preposterous.

But attempting to aggrandize self-government is not an entirely contemptible gesture, and in this case it left the people with a museum of vanished craftmanship that dazzles by its sheer exuberance if not its taste. It is unique, priceless, irreplaceable. Almost everyone who sees it with unjaundiced eyes realizes that we could never do that today. Sadder still, we would never dare to try.

I for one would like to see Illinois officials try a little harder to be as big as their building.

I’m in total agreement with that last line.

- Posted by Rich Miller   20 Comments      


Question of the day

Thursday, Sep 26, 2013

* Sun-Times

Corruption-busting former U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald Wednesday voiced concern that the region’s four transit agencies seem to have dropped the ball on adequately training staff on how to remove politics from hiring.

Fitzgerald’s comments came during the second meeting of a transit task force formed in the wake of allegations by ex-Metra CEO Alex Clifford that two Metra Board members conspired to dump him because he would not “play ball” on patronage requests — two of them supposedly originating with Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago). […]

In an exchange with RTA executive director Joseph Costello, Fitzgerald asked whether the RTA keeps any record of politicians who call the RTA to say they’d like someone hired.

Costello said no such record is kept because all such callers are referred to the agency’s website for directions on how to apply for jobs.

* The Question: Should all public agencies document instances when politicians inquire about patronage jobs? Take the poll and then explain your answer in comments, please.


customer surveys

- Posted by Rich Miller   37 Comments      


Gaming the pension systems then using the money to destroy benefits

Thursday, Sep 26, 2013

* Rhode Island has been held up as a national model for pension reform. But within Matt Taibbi’s fascinating account of how some businesses and groups are taking money they’ve made from pension fund management and using it to lobby for reductions in pension benefits is this astounding segment

Hedge funds have good reason to want to keep their fees hidden: They’re insanely expensive. The typical fee structure for private hedge-fund management is a formula called “two and twenty,” meaning the hedge fund collects a two percent fee just for showing up, then gets 20 percent of any profits it earns with your money. Some hedge funds also charge a mysterious third fee, called “fund expenses,” that can run as high as half a percent – Loeb’s Third Point, for instance, charged Rhode Island just more than half a percent for “fund expenses” last year, or about $350,000. Hedge funds will also pass on their trading costs to their clients, a huge additional line item that can come to an extra percent or more and is seldom disclosed. There are even fees states pay for withdrawing from certain hedge funds.

In public finance, hedge funds will sometimes give slight discounts, but the numbers are still enormous. In Rhode Island, over the course of 20 years, [Edward Siedle, a former SEC lawyer] projects that the state will pay $2.1 billion in fees to hedge funds, private-equity funds and venture-capital funds. Why is that number interesting? Because it very nearly matches the savings the state will be taking from workers by freezing their Cost of Living Adjustments – $2.3 billion over 20 years.

“That’s some ‘reform,’” says Siedle.

“They pretty much took the COLA and gave it to a bunch of billionaires,” hisses Day, Providence’s retired firefighter union chief. [Emphasis added.]

* And this

On Wall Street, people are beginning to clue in to the fact – spikes notwithstanding – that over time, hedge funds basically suck. In 2008, Warren Buffett famously placed a million-dollar bet with the heads of a New York hedge fund called Protégé Partners that the S&P 500 index fund – a neutral bet on the entire stock market, in other words – would outperform a portfolio of five hedge funds hand-picked by the geniuses at Protégé.

Five years later, Buffett’s zero-effort, pin-the-tail-on-the-stock-market portfolio is up 8.69 percent total. Protégé’s numbers are comical in comparison; all those superminds came up with a 0.13 percent increase over five long years, meaning Buffett is beating the hedgies by nearly nine points without lifting a finger.

* The Illinois Teachers Retirement System started pumping huge amounts into hedge funds a couple of years ago. From a 2011 Crain’s article

Springfield-based TRS, the state’s largest pension provider, plans to allocate about a third of its $37.8-billion portfolio to alternative investments such as private-equity and hedge funds, a four-month Crain’s investigation of TRS holdings and practices finds. These unconventional assets typically dangle the potential for higher returns, but only because they also carry greater risks and fees. TRS is shifting its portfolio while it’s still developing an in-house risk-management system.

Gunning for bigger returns exposes the plan to the possibility of bigger losses, further jeopardizing the pensions of 362,121 former and current teachers. The system, which has just 46.5% of the assets it needs to cover promised payments to retirees, is counting on an 8.5% annual return, which many portfolio managers and investors, including Berkshire Hathaway Inc.’s Warren Buffett, say is unrealistically high. If TRS banked on a 7.75% return — the rate that two other Illinois public pensions lowered their forecasts to this year — its assets would equal only 43% of obligations. That would swell its shortfall to $50.1 billion from $43.5 billion.

* And Bruce Rauner’s former investment firm GTCR also takes a 20 percent fee, plus extras

GTCR has managed money for years for the Illinois Teachers’ Retirement System and the Illinois State Board of Investment, the largest and third-largest, respectively, in Illinois, as well as state and municipal pension plans from the San Francisco City and County Employees’ Retirement System to the Massachusetts Pension Reserves Investment Management Board. Its funds have delivered above-average returns for Illinois, according to Preqin Ltd., a London-based investment data provider.

For its work, GTCR takes a slice of returns it reaps from business sales, typically about 20 percent, and charges management fees, up to 1.5 percent. The Illinois State Board of Investment, for instance, reports it paid $280,000 in fees last year on $85 million it has in two GTCR funds.

Combined, TRS and the ISBI have committed $252 million with GTCR since 1993.

Some folks were understandably upset with the Dixon lawyers’ big cut of the Rita Crundwell settlement yesterday, but we need to talk more - a lot more - about these insanely high fund fees. They’re essentially robbing the pension funds of needed dollars and pushing to use benefit cuts to make up the difference.

Ridiculous.

…Adding… From Bruce Rauner’s campaign spokesman…

Rich - saw your post on fees and returns provided by alternative investment vehicles.

There a few important clarifications that would provide context for your readers:

1. GTCR performance for Illinois has far exceeded the pension funds’ returns: “William Atwood, who leads the Illinois State Board of Investment and has invested the state employee pension fund’s money with GTCR…. says the board’s investments with GTCR have generated annual returns of 17.2% since 1984.” Pension fund over that same time period has been closer to 7-8%. Those are annualized returns, so GTCR has made the pension funds a lot of money.

2. Hedge funds and firms like GTCR are different types of businesses. Hedge funds are typically sophisticated (and leveraged) trading entities. GTCR invests directly in private companies and builds them for the long term.

3. The 20 percent fee is only received if/after they sell a company for profit.

Bottom line is comparing GTCR’s performance for Illinois to that of hedge funds in other states is like comparing apples and oranges.

Also, worth pointing out, as one of your commenters did, that the rate of return for pensions is after fees.

Thanks,

Mike

- Posted by Rich Miller   78 Comments      


Quinn gets his way over torture commission

Thursday, Sep 26, 2013

* Tribune

The director of a state commission vetting allegations of police torture is stepping down amid controversy after some victims’ families complained the panel violated Illinois law by excluding them from the process.

David Thomas, who has chaired the Illinois Torture Inquiry and Relief Commission since 2011, told members at the commission’s public meeting at the Thompson Center on Wednesday that he is retiring as of the end of the month.

The move came less than two weeks after Gov. Pat Quinn revealed that he had asked Thomas to resign because of a failure to notify victims’ families about the board’s decisions in violation of the 2009 statute establishing the commission.

* The Sun-Times editorial board was indignant about Quinn’s behavior throughout the entire process

The commission’s job is to root out any remaining cases in which innocent men are languishing in prison because of statements extracted through police torture in the 1970s and ’80s by former Chicago Police Cmdr. Jon Burge and his so-called Area 2 midnight crew. More than 100 men have claimed they were tortured, and so far the commission has made recommendations in about 25 cases, either rejecting them or forwarding them for further judicial review.

But in three cases, the commission’s staff — which consisted of the executive director and a secretary — neglected to notify relatives of victims about the hearings, as the law requires. It was clearly an oversight by an overworked staff and the commission has rectified it by pulling back the cases so that family members may testify. But relatives of victims in one of the cases, the 1983 home invasion, rape and murder of Dean and JoEllen Pueschel and the beating of their son, understandably remain angry that they weren’t notified. […]

After the Legislature authorized the creation of the commission in 2009, it sat dormant for about a year until Quinn finally appointed commissioners.

When the commissioners finally had a quorum, they appointed Thomas executive director, but it took four months for his appointment to get through a lumbering state hiring process. It took two more months to hire a secretary. Then the commission had to devote several months to the complicated state-required process of setting up rules and regulations.

In August 2011, the commission finally was able to begin reviewing claims, but in June 2012, the Legislature stripped all its funding, and work stopped. Funding finally was restored in late March, and the commission was pulled out of mothballs. Now, it’s facing another delay.

The commission’s job is not to decide guilt or innocence, but only to determine which cases contain credible claims of police torture. Those cases are referred to Cook County Chief Judge Timothy Evans, who assigns them to judges for further review. Those judges may decide that the torture claims, while credible, are not sufficient to justify an evidentiary hearing. But even those cases that proceed to a hearing won’t necessarily get a new trial, and any new trials won’t necessarily lead to acquittals. And given other strong evidence, the Pueschel case is not a likely candidate for a reversal.

* But Chuck Goudie has portrayed the governor as a hero throughout

The head of the Illinois torture commission resigned Wednesday after an I-Team report revealed shoddy treatment of the family of a murder victim. Illinois is the only state in the nation with a torture board.

Officially named the Torture Inquiry and Relief Commission, appointees of the governor look at a narrow spectrum of murder cases tinged by police brutality and determine whether to recommend the cases be re-examined in court. Late Wednesday afternoon, the embattled executive director of the commission, Dave Thomas, turned in his resignation. Nearly two weeks after the I-Team broke the story that Governor Quinn wanted Thomas out. […]

Thomas is resigning with Governor Pat Quinn’s foot on his behind. As paid director of the commission that reviews cases of police torture, Mr. Thomas had become the focus of angry, emotional complaints from the relatives of murder victims.

Discuss.

- Posted by Rich Miller   9 Comments      


More like this, please

Thursday, Sep 26, 2013

* Senators Kirk and Durbin have been pressing the US Attorney to do more to fight Chicago street gangs. From a media advisory…

U.S. Attorney Gary S. Shapiro, Chicago Police Superintendent Garry F. McCarthy, and representatives of the FBI and IRS Criminal Investigation Division will hold a press conference at 2:30 p.m. today, Thursday Sept. 26, 2013, to announce federal criminal charges against alleged leaders of a Chicago street gang for engaging in a series of violent drug-related crimes, including murders.

The press conference will be held in the U.S. Attorney’s Office press conference room on the 9th floor, north end, of the Dirksen United States Courthouse, 219 South Dearborn St., Chicago. Media representatives will have access at 2 p.m.

The criminal charges and a detailed press release will be issued early this afternoon in advance of the press conference.

I’ll let you know what happens.

- Posted by Rich Miller   15 Comments      


State gives suburban company $2.4 million to move 15 miles to Chicago

Thursday, Sep 26, 2013

* Power Construction is moving from Schaumburg to Chicago (15 miles, according to Google) and is getting $2.4 million in state assistance over ten years. That naturally prompted questions

Dan Seals, the former congressional candidate now serving as assistant director of the Ill. Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, was asked how he justifies giving a tax break to an Illinois company to move a short distance from suburb to city.

“We didn’t give a company a tax credit to move a few miles. What we did is saw a company that we thought was a good company that was looking to leave the state entirely that was receiving several million dollars to come to another state. We wanted to compete. We thought it was a good company to retain. And that’s what we did. And we won,” Seals said.

“You only get [the state aid] if you create the jobs. If you don’t create the jobs, you don’t get `em. And they’re based on the tax revenue that comes off the job. So, the state comes out ahead.”

Power got an EDGE tax credit. About the EDGE credit

The EDGE program is designed to offer a special tax incentive to encourage companies to locate or expand operations in Illinois when there is active consideration of a competing location in another State.

The program can provide tax credits to qualifying companies, equal to the amount of state income taxes withheld from the salaries of employees in the newly created jobs. The non- refundable credits can be used against corporate income taxes to be paid over a period not to exceed 10 years.

To qualify a company must provide documentation that attests to the fact of competition among a competing state, and agree to make an investment of at least $5 million in capital improvements and create a minimum of 25 new full time jobs in Illinois.

In other words, if a company is being lured by another state and they’re willing to create some new jobs, the state can let them use their employees’ state withholding taxes to lower their corporate income tax bill. Power says it will create 30 new jobs.

Still, it would be nice to know what state was competing with us and how much they were offering.

- Posted by Rich Miller   18 Comments      


Emanuel predicts “mass exodus” from Chicago if no pension relief from state

Thursday, Sep 26, 2013

* Mayor Rahm Emanuel has some pretty big pension problems on his hands, the result of years of not paying into the funds. So, he’s proposing a new and extended “ramp” to get the payments up to snuff over time. Gov. Pat Quinn vigorously opposed a shorter new ramp last spring, so Emanuel is trying again

The measure would require a series of small city property tax increases starting in 2018 — three years into what would be Emanuel’s second term as mayor. It also would delay the need for big increases in city pension payments to 2022, three years into what would be Emanuel’s third term, if he decided to serve that long and was able to win re-election. […]

Emanuel needs to press for relief because of the timing of a state law approved while Richard M. Daley was mayor. It would require the city to put in nearly $600 million more in contributions to police and fire pensions starting in 2015. That additional amount is about one-fifth of the city’s day-to-day operating budget. […]

The state law that kicks in requires higher payments into the police and fire pension plans based on what actuaries say the city needs to pay to get up to 90 percent funding by 2040.

And his warning

Combine City Hall’s pension costs with the huge amount of money needed to fund Chicago Public Schools pensions and the resulting property tax hikes means “there will be a mass exodus” from Chicago, Emanuel said.

“It will be the largest caravan since America settled the West,” the mayor said. Suburban property taxes historically are much higher than those in Chicago, however.

So are Downstate property taxes. Chicago has relatively low residential property taxes because commercial property is taxed at a higher rate.

- Posted by Rich Miller   57 Comments      


Caption contest!

Thursday, Sep 26, 2013

* Treasurer Dan Rutherford tweets

In @MetropolisIL found my newest supporter

The photo

Funniest commenter will win a free copy of a new mobile app that I’ll be rolling out before veto session.

- Posted by Rich Miller   122 Comments      


PREVIOUS POSTS »
* IDPH wants to ban beer garden smoking
* Yes, it's quite a paradise
* *** UPDATED x2 *** What do Sha-Na-Na, Bill Enyart and pies have in common?
* Rauner endorsed by several black ministers
* Question of the day
* A quick run-through of the down-ballot statewide polling
* Poll: A three-point spread
* A bit petty, no?
* Trouble in paradise?
* Durbin sides with Holland against Quinn
* Nursing home bankruptcy trial gets underway
* SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Political events calendar
* Davis' poll shows him leading big
* Rauner on patronage: Zero if elected
* You're gonna need a bigger boat, Bruce
* SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Supplement to today’s edition: Crosstabs, mail, TV buys
* SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Today's edition of Capitol Fax (use all CAPS in password)
* *** UPDATED x1 - Frerichs response *** Former Democratic state treasurer endorses Cross - Cites bipartisanship, Israel bonds as reasons (COMMENTS OPENED)
* Prison reform group responds to new Rauner ad (COMMENTS OPENED)
* Quinn hit on botched early prisoner release program (COMMENTS OPENED)
* Reader comments closed for the weekend
* SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Friday's cable TV buys
* Yesterday's blog posts

Support CapitolFax.com
Visit our advertisers...

...............

...............


Search This Blog...

Search the 98th General Assembly By Bill Number
(example: HB0001)

Search the 98th General Assembly By Keyword

          
        * AT&T to start selling LG G3 Vigor on Sept. 26
        * AT&T to carry Samsung Galaxy Alpha, available on Sept. 26
        * CyanogenMod 11 nightlies land for international Galaxy S4 Active
        * iOS 8 is still no Android when it comes to third-party support
        * THAW transfers smartphone files to PC by screen contact
        * Apple Watch spotted out in real-world testing
        * iPhone 6 record sales, Google Nexus 9 plans, AT&T Galaxy Alpha & more – Pocketnow Daily

        * Own Your Own Micro Motion 3D Printer for $349
        * Mini Garage Houses Your Keychain, Holds Your Car Keys
        * Nokia Lumia 930 Receives Windows Phone 8.1 Update 1 Now
        * Ray Ozzie on Talko, His New Venture to Give Business Collaboration a Voice
        * Engine Firing Test Completed For India’s Low-Cost Mars Mission
        * UpLocket Is A 3D Printed NFC-Capable Accessory
        * Google Play Store Set To Show Price Ranges For In-App Purchases

        * Bassitt twirls gem, blanks Tigers for 7 2/3 in first win
        * Carroll, White Sox out to spoil Tigers' Central plans
        * Bassitt twirls gem, blanks Tigers for 7 2/3 in first win
        * White Sox 2, Tigers 0: Chris Bassitt picks up first win
        * Avisail realizes V-Mart will be highly coveted as free agent
        * White Sox announce dignitaries for Paul Konerko Day
        * Johnson prepared to work for second-base job in spring camp


        Main Menu
        Home
        Illinois
        YouTube
        Pundit rankings
        Obama
        Subscriber Content
        Durbin
        Burris
        Blagojevich Trial
        Advertising
        Updated Posts
        Polls

        Archives
        September 2014
        August 2014
        July 2014
        June 2014
        May 2014
        April 2014
        March 2014
        February 2014
        January 2014
        December 2013
        November 2013
        October 2013
        September 2013
        August 2013
        July 2013
        June 2013
        May 2013
        April 2013
        March 2013
        February 2013
        January 2013
        December 2012
        November 2012
        October 2012
        September 2012
        August 2012
        July 2012
        June 2012
        May 2012
        April 2012
        March 2012
        February 2012
        January 2012
        December 2011
        November 2011
        October 2011
        September 2011
        August 2011
        July 2011
        June 2011
        May 2011
        April 2011
        March 2011
        February 2011
        January 2011
        December 2010
        November 2010
        October 2010
        September 2010
        August 2010
        July 2010
        June 2010
        May 2010
        April 2010
        March 2010
        February 2010
        January 2010
        December 2009
        November 2009
        October 2009
        September 2009
        August 2009
        July 2009
        June 2009
        May 2009
        April 2009
        March 2009
        February 2009
        January 2009
        December 2008
        November 2008
        October 2008
        September 2008
        August 2008
        July 2008
        June 2008
        May 2008
        April 2008
        March 2008
        February 2008
        January 2008
        December 2007
        November 2007
        October 2007
        September 2007
        August 2007
        July 2007
        June 2007
        May 2007
        April 2007
        March 2007
        February 2007
        January 2007
        December 2006
        November 2006
        October 2006
        September 2006
        August 2006
        July 2006
        June 2006
        May 2006
        April 2006
        March 2006
        February 2006
        January 2006
        December 2005
        April 2005
        March 2005
        February 2005
        January 2005
        December 2004
        November 2004
        October 2004

        Blog*Spot Archives
        November 2005
        October 2005
        September 2005
        August 2005
        July 2005
        June 2005
        May 2005

        Syndication

        RSS Feed 2.0
        Comments RSS 2.0
        WordPress

        Loading


        * Gov. Quinn Promotes High-Speed Rail In Granite .....
        * Gov. Quinn - Belleville News Democrat..
        * Approaching elections raise questions about wages..


        * Ohio grand jury to review highway shooting case
        * Prosecutors seek time to review ex-lawmaker's past
        * Quinn, Rauner differ over 'common sense' on guns
        * Quinn, Rauner promote community investments
        * Illinois medical marijuana applications due Monday
        * Suspect in Joliet double murder waives jury trial
        * Chicago museum only US site for Bowie exhibit
        * Slain girl's mother speaks at Watson memorial
        * U of I Foundation receives increase in donations
        * Illinois city marks birthday with mega bratwurst

        * Governor candidates differ over ‘common sense’ on guns
        * Quinn, Rauner differ over ‘common sense’ on guns
        * Rauner gets support from black Chicago pastors
        * Don’t bet on gaming expansion — yet
        * GOP's Rauner gets another $1M from hedge fund CEO
        * Former Illinois prisoners get help reintegrating
        * Court: Lincoln inmate must use $20K settlement to pay incarceration costs
        * Deadline ahead for Illinois marijuana businesses
        * Gov. Quinn picks up Sierra Club endorsement
        * Statehouse Insider: Rauner hit with double whammy

        * U.S. cracks down on overseas tax moves
        * United cutting winter schedule long before snow falls
        * University of Illinois donations jump 10 percent
        * George Lucas takes a selfie — and other names at Expo Chicago
        * Emanuel, McCarthy to testify on sentencing reform


        * Faternity suspended from Loyola University for 3 years
        * 1 killed, 10 wounded in shootings Monday
        * Bishop Blase Cupich: ‘I’m going to love this city’
        * Defendant in Joliet double-murder waives right to jury trial
        * Parents who want to attend school fair asked to provide names, emails
        * Truck driver arrested after allegedly holding children hostage near Midway
        * Feds want severe punishment for man charged in credit card scheme


        * Rauner avoids nursing home questions as trial starts
        * Niles man killed in motorcycle accident in DesPlaines
        * Evanston police investigate overnight shooting
        * Police: Man arrested after holding children at gunpoint in truck
        * Cupich vows to aid poor, help Chicago neighborhoods
        * Indicted commander credited with saving neighbor's life
        * Teen run over by car after falling off hood
        * Lawndale shooting wounds 2
        * Police: Galewood neighborhood bank robbed
        * Indiana man dies while hiking with brothers at Grand Canyon


        * Polls Showing Illinois Governor's Race A Draw
        * Cupich to be next Chicago archbishop
        * Listen to State Week - September 19, 2014
        * Chris Mooney: More Evidence-Based Policymaking Needed
        * African Drumming At Southwind Park On Saturday
        * Investors gather in Chicago seeking cannabis businesses
        * Climate, Space Create Challenges For Local Food
        * Can A Governor Really Create Jobs?
        * How do you find high school dropouts?
        * Governor's Race Has A Third Contender; Judge Keeps Libertarians On Ballot


        * Governor candidates differ over ‘common sense’ on guns
        * Kathleen Parker: Mark Sanford’s ongoing saga with himself
        * Rauner gets support from black Chicago pastors
        * Don’t bet on gaming expansion — yet
        * Thomas Schneider and Jay Scott: Building strong families to curb child abuse, neglect
        * GOP's Rauner gets another $1M from hedge fund CEO
        * Former Illinois prisoners get help reintegrating
        * Court: Lincoln inmate must use $20K settlement to pay incarceration costs
        * Deadline ahead for Illinois marijuana businesses
        * Gov. Quinn picks up Sierra Club endorsement


        * Marion VA hosts town hall
        * Award-winning Southern Illinoisan journalist dies
        * Donnelly wins conference award, team reamins No. 16
        * Flaws nets Big Ten honor
        * Correction: Freemon did not break state record
        * Monday's prep highlights: Chrisman, Watseka, PBL sweep in VB
        * M-S girls' tennis 'breaking the mold'
        * Tate: Abdullah could spell trouble
        * City’s guiding document under review
        * Blogger weighs in on prof's side


        * Imrem: Cutler efficient enough to get job done
        * Rozner: Gutsy Bears hang on for win, jump atop North
        * Bears win: Take Jets' gifts, get offense going, hold them off
        * Lights not too bright for Sutton, Ferguson
        * Girls golf: Monday's result

        * 6-cent hike in diesel boat fuel tax urged ...
        * Legislation would boost apprenticeships - ...
        * Lipinski: Leading effort to halt proposal ...
        * Lipinski Takes Action on Student Air Traff...
        * Rep. Lipinski Votes for Limited Authority ...
        * New GAO Report Reveals that Taxpayer Dolla...
        * Lipinski attacks Obama over terrorist thre...
        * Illinois vote: Dems split on aid for Syria...
        * Rep. Lipinski Stands with Middle Class; Su...
        * Rep. Lipinski Announces New Federal Fundin...

        * Illinois firms keep $100 billion in foreig......
        * Illinois firms keep $100 billion in foreig......
        * Illinois firms keep $100 billion in foreig......
        * Illinois firms keep $100 billion in foreig......
        * Illinois firms keep $100 billion in foreig......

        * Democrat Giannoulias backs Republican Cros......

        * Maybe we can fight over pies?
        * Eric Metaxas on the future of America's religious freedom
        * Lois Lerner and the IRS Scandal: An Update on the Investigation and Cover-up
        * Wash clothes and empty pockets at Manteno's new gambling venue
        * Hypocrisy: Harry Reid said in 1993 what GOP says now about Illegal Immigrants [video]
        * Illinois Dems shed "little guy" persona with pricey reception for Mike Madigan
        * Chicago Faith Leaders Sing, Pray For A South Side Trauma Center (VIDEO)
        * Emanuel, National Group Launch Youth Anti-Tobacco Video Contest
        * Higgins: Conservatives should vote for Quinn
        * Obama Signs Executive Order To Tackle Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria


        * The Economic Empowerment Forum Endorses Rauner for Governor
        * State Director on Aging Says September Observances Stress the Importance of Healthy Aging - September is Healthy Aging Month; September 23 is Falls Prevention Day
        * Governor Quinn Breaks Ground on First Veterans Home in Chicago - New Facility Will Care for 200 of the Nation’s Heroes
        * Quinn still refusing to fire 20 political cronies
        * Illinois Chamber of Commerce Endorses Rauner for Governor




            Hosted by MCS SUBSCRIBE to Capitol Fax Advertise Here Mobile Version Contact Rich Miller