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Question of the day

Tuesday, Nov 12, 2013

* Crain’s

Chicago has a long, rich history of immigration and ethnic diversity. But as the generations pass, are cultural roots forgotten? More than 7.7 million people live in the Chicago area, and about 30 percent of them speak a language other than English at home. For the six-county area, the five most common languages after English are Spanish, Polish, Arabic, Tagalog and Chinese. […]

Some of the highest concentrations of people speaking Tagalog, a native Philippine language, turn up not just in Cook County but in DuPage and Will counties, too.

I didn’t realize that so many Illinoisans spoke Tagalog, which is a primary or secondary language in the Philippines. As you’re most certainly aware, Typhoon Haiyan has devastated parts of the Philippines. So that means a lot of Illinoisans have family members and friends who could use some help

All Furigay family members could do was pray since learning of the devastating typhoon that ripped through their native Philippines on Friday, until learning their loved one was safe.

Rencie Furigay, of Chicago, said she could barely sleep while worrying about her 30-year-old nephew who lives in Tacloban — the city most devastated by the Category 5 storm. On Saturday morning, she got word he was OK.

Typhoon Haiyan, one of the strongest typhoons ever to make landfall, hit the central Philippines and Tacloban — a city of 220,000 — the hardest.

Leo Herrera-Lim, Chicago’s consul general of the Philippines, said he is trying to organize fundraisers for the relief effort. He said Illinois hosts the third-largest population of Filipinos in the U.S.— about 140,000 — behind California and Hawaii.

* The New York Times recommended several charities, including

* Doctors Without Borders

* Red Cross

* Save the Children Typhoon Haiyan Children’s Relief Fund

* Catholic Relief Services

* World Food Programme

* Instead of a question today, let’s try to pitch in with some financial assistance. Tell us below if you’ve contributed, or if you have your own personal stories to share about this devastation.

- Posted by Rich Miller   25 Comments      

Thank you, legislators

Tuesday, Nov 12, 2013

[The following is a paid advertisement.]

On behalf of the thousands of same-sex couples and their families who now are recognized as equal citizens of this state, Illinois Unites for Marriage would like to thank the Illinois General Assembly for approving SB10 a week ago today.

It’s not too often that one can wake up, go to work and make a decision that improves the lives of tens of thousands of people. Last Tuesday, members of the Illinois General Assembly did just that. You have helped men, women and children in every corner of Illinois. And for that, we thank you.

For more information, visit

- Posted by Advertising Department   Comments Off      

Getting it done

Tuesday, Nov 12, 2013

* Personal stories can move legislators more than you might sometimes imagine

To address another concern, the [gay marriage] bill was amended to reiterate that churches and affiliated groups wouldn’t be forced to host or perform gay marriage ceremonies.

“Once the amendment was filed, I was ready to move forward,” said Rep. Andre Thapedi, who represents the Englewood neighborhood. “If not, I may have gone a different way.”

The change was pushed by Democratic Rep. Anthony DeLuca of Chicago Heights, who said he struggled to reconcile his Italian-Catholic upbringing and the desire to protect religious rights with his oath to represent the people of his district and correct what he believes is a “legal inequity.”

“I was shocked through this process how many close family friends would contact me that live in the district who are closely affiliated with the Catholic Church who have a gay child or gay relative and asked me to support it,” DeLuca said. “It was surprising to me, I learned a lot.”

* As implied above, the amendment really didn’t do anything new. It was more for show than go because the very same protections were already in the original bill. But if a couple of fence-sitters want something that doesn’t change the underlying legislation, then by all means give it to them.

The above passage is from a much longer, quite well written story about the behind the scenes efforts to pass the bill. Go read the whole thing.

- Posted by Rich Miller   6 Comments      

The rollout and the left behind

Tuesday, Nov 12, 2013

* The indefatigable Monique Garcia was at Gov. Pat Quinn’s press conference with his new running mate Paul Vallas


So, Vallas was reined in on his first day. But it’s a very long time until March.

I hope to have raw audio soon, so check back.

* Meanwhile, from CBS2

CBS 2 has learned State Senator Kwame Raoul was among the finalist, along with Vallas, State Senator Heather Staines, and City Treasurer Stephanie Neely.

Quinn tried to call Neely, but never connected.

“I wouldn’t say that it’s awkward, I’d just say it’s life. I’m 50 years old; I go through ups and downs. It’s ok,” said Neely.

In fact, CBS 2 was told it wasn’t ok. Privately, Neely, who was at a news conference when the word leaked out, was stunned that Quinn hadn’t left a message and considered it disrespectful.

If you watch the video, it’s clear that Neely was disappointed, almost to the point of tears. She obviously wanted the job, and she probably would’ve been good at it.

* But, everybody and their cat knew that Quinn was set to announce his running mate decision on Friday. So, when Neely got a phone call from the governor that very morning she didn’t answer it? No disrespect intended, but who does that?

OK, Quinn should’ve left a message, but maybe she should’ve also taken the guy’s call.

And it’s not like Quinn had any choice but to announce when he did. I broke the story far earlier than his office expected.

- Posted by Rich Miller   39 Comments      

Column on Illinois law causes heads to roll at gun mag

Tuesday, Nov 12, 2013

* Guns & Ammo contributing editor Dick Metcalf wrote an opinion piece in December’s edition which focused on two phrases in the 2nd Amendment, both highlighted here…

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

* Metcalf complained that too many 2nd Amendment hardliners ignored the “well regulated” language. “The fact is,” he wrote, “all constitutional rights are regulated.”

He was, of course, correct. Try getting a permit to hold a demonstration at 3 o’clock in the morning in front of your mayor’s house. Or just look at all the registration requirements for lobbyists. Etc.

* Metcalf also referenced Illinois’ new concealed carry law as an example of fair regulation. Metcalf is from Illinois, and this is his column’s conclusion

I don’t think that requiring 16 hours of training to qualify for a concealed carry license is infringement in and of itself.

But that’s just me.

* The uproar was swift to develop and fierce to behold. The magazine’s editor fired Metcalf and then stepped down, penning an online farewell

As editor of “Guns & Ammo,” I owe each and every reader a personal apology.

No excuses, no backtracking.

Dick Metcalf’s “Backstop” column in the December issue has aroused unprecedented controversy. Readers are hopping mad about it, and some are questioning “Guns & Ammo”’s commitment to the Second Amendment. I understand why.

Let me be clear: Our commitment to the Second Amendment is unwavering. It has been so since the beginning. Historically, our tradition in supporting the Second Amendment has been unflinching. No strings attached. It is no accident that when others in the gun culture counseled compromise in the past, hard-core thinkers such as Harlon Carter, Don Kates and Neal Knox found a place and a voice in these pages. When large firearms advocacy groups were going soft in the 1970s, they were prodded in the right direction, away from the pages of “Guns & Ammo.”

In publishing Metcalf’s column, I was untrue to that tradition, and for that I apologize. His views do not represent mine — nor, most important, “Guns & Ammo”’s. It is very clear to me that they don’t reflect the views of our readership either.

Dick Metcalf has had a long and distinguished career as a gunwriter, but his association with “Guns & Ammo” has officially ended.

I once again offer my personal apology. I understand what our valued readers want. I understand what you believe in when it comes to gun rights, and I believe the same thing.

I made a mistake by publishing the column. I thought it would generate a healthy exchange of ideas on gun rights. I miscalculated, pure and simple. I was wrong, and I ask your forgiveness.

The editor’s “mistake” was believing that the bizarrely rabid “It’s my God-given right!” gun owners would willingly engage in any sort of “healthy exchange” of ideas.

My own website was inundated with those sorts of folks for months leading up to the passage of Illinois’ concealed carry law. They were far more interested in sparking hateful arguments with anyone and everyone who disagreed even slightly with their position than in any sort of dialogue. I was repeatedly attacked here as their enemy, even though I’m a gun owner who plans to apply for a concealed carry permit. I was so happy when that bill finally became law because the rapturous fanatics quickly retreated to their bat caves.

And, by the way, asking for “forgiveness” after wrongly assuming your readership was capable of civil debate is not only “backtracking,” it’s an act of cowardice.

- Posted by Rich Miller   73 Comments      

*** UPDATED x1 - Rutherford supports upholding law *** Sen. Kirk fires warning shot

Tuesday, Nov 12, 2013

* AP

Republican Sen. Mark Kirk says he won’t endorse any candidate in Illinois’ GOP gubernatorial primary.

However, Kirk gave some advice. He contends the only way Republicans will take control of the governor’s mansion is to be moderate on social issues.

Kirk said that includes accepting same-sex marriage is legal in Illinois.

One of Sen. Kirk’s top campaign advisers is now working for Bruce Rauner. Kirk didn’t officially bless that move off his payroll and onto Rauner’s, but he didn’t try to stop it, either.

Beyond that, though, this is a clear warning to all four candidates that they need to reject any suggestions to repeal the soon-to-be gay marriage law.

The bill isn’t a law yet and Rauner has spread around a whole lot of money, so the hard right hasn’t yet made this demand of the candidates.

*** UPDATE *** I missed this quote from Treasurer Dan Rutherford…

And, asked about same-sex marriage, which he opposes, Rutherford says if elected, he would uphold the law rather than try to repeal it.

* Related…

* In first speech since stroke, Sen. Mark Kirk advocates for LGBT anti-bias bill

* Catholics urge Cardinal George to excommunicate Illinois Governor

- Posted by Rich Miller   97 Comments      

Unclear on the concept

Tuesday, Nov 12, 2013

* OK, how could this even remotely be described as a “campaign effort” when the governor’s new running mate wasn’t in the country and Quinn refused to answer any questions about him?

Gov. Pat Quinn flew around the state Monday to talk up the latest Illinois Lottery ticket benefiting veterans, a move he said was intended to honor those who serve but one that also illustrates the benefits of incumbency as he runs for re-election.

The Democratic governor began the day at a veterans home in Chicago’s Humboldt Park neighborhood and traveled downstate for stops in Peoria, Milan near the Quad Cities and Rockford. While the focus was pitching the scratch-off tickets, the taxpayer-funded events also get Quinn in front of the cameras and voters just days after he named former Chicago Public Schools CEO Paul Vallas as his running mate.

The two have yet to appear together in public, and Quinn refused to answer questions Monday about the Vallas pick. The duo is scheduled to make its debut Tuesday at a Loop hotel. The governor also scoffed at suggestions that his tour of the state doubled as a campaign effort, saying he’s held events to promote the veterans lottery ticket for 10 years. […]

While Quinn does normally mark Veterans Day by promoting various veterans programs, it’s unusual for him to travel the state to do so. [Emphasis added.]

* The Tribune wasn’t the only outlet with questions about this fly-around. Listen to the Q&A…

* But here’s just one example from recent history, November 11, 2011

Governor Pat Quinn celebrated Veterans Day by honoring Illinois Veterans and servicemembers at four memorial ceremonies across the state. Governor Quinn unveiled the Portrait of Soldier Memorial exhibit at Loyola University’s Water Tower Campus and in Moline. He also attended the City of Chicago Veterans Day event and the dedication of the Fallen Soldiers Tree Memorial at Illini State Park in Marsellies.

Long before he was lieutenant governor, when he quietly, without any fanfare whatsoever attended funeral services for Illinois’ fallen soldiers, veterans have held a special place in Quinn’s heart. Say what you want about the guy, but that was no campaign event yesterday. If it was, Vallas would’ve been with him and/or Quinn would’ve at least answered questions about the guy. He didn’t.

- Posted by Rich Miller   22 Comments      

The biggest loser

Tuesday, Nov 12, 2013

* My weekly syndicated newspaper column

Perhaps the biggest loser in last Tuesday’s historic passage of a gay marriage bill in the Legislature was the National Organization for Marriage.

The group, based in Washington, D.C., has been at the forefront of attempts to stop gay marriage in states throughout the country. A Maine investigation uncovered alleged internal documents about the group’s strategy that included this passage:

“The strategic goal of this project is to drive a wedge between gays and blacks — two key Democratic constituencies. Find, equip, energize and connect African-American spokespeople for marriage, develop a media campaign around their objections to gay marriage as a civil right, provoke the gay marriage base into responding by denouncing these spokesmen and women as bigots. No politician wants to take up and push an issue that splits the base of the party.”

The National Organization for Marriage tried all that in Illinois — spending tens of thousands of dollars on politically connected consultants and robocalls into black legislative districts in the spring, summer and right up until the day of the vote and holding media-friendly events in the black community. The gay marriage bill wasn’t called for a vote last spring mainly because black House members were overwhelmed by fervent local opposition.

In the end, the National Organization for Marriage lost badly. Fourteen of 20 Democratic members of the House Black Caucus voted “yes” on the bill, while just four voted “no” (Monique Davis, Mary Flowers, Eddie Lee Jackson and Chuck Jefferson) and two voted “present” (Rita Mayfield and Derrick Smith).

Ironically enough, other than gay marriage supporters, those who probably cheered the loudest after the bill’s passage may have been the four Republican gubernatorial candidates. They’ve been hoping this controversial issue would be safely put away, allowing them to move on to their agendas.

They may be right. These things do tend to fade away once a bill is passed. The big talk last week in Congress was about a bill to prohibit employment discrimination against gay people. Illinois has had that law on its books for years.

Despite much screaming by opponents that the end of the word was surely near, everybody just accepted that law and moved on without incident.

But people don’t always move on. Social conservatives could try to stir up a backlash by demanding that the Republican candidates pledge to repeal the marriage measure.

Three of the four candidates are on record opposing gay marriage. The fourth, Bruce Rauner, said he would only sign a gay marriage bill into law if the public had first voted to approve it via a non-binding referendum. It obviously wasn’t done that way, so Rauner could be forced to answer some touchy questions.

State Rep. Tom Cross, R-Oswego, a candidate for state treasurer, is undoubtedly hoping that the issue fades quickly, at least in the runup to the March primary election. Cross voted “yes,” even though a spokesman recently told the Chicago Sun-Times that he opposed the gay marriage bill. But it’s been known for weeks that Cross was struggling with the issue, both on philosophical and political levels.

Cross has a Republican primary opponent, the socially conservative DuPage County Auditor Bob Grogan. Grogan hasn’t been much of a campaigner to date, raising little money and garnering few major supporters, and says he’s not interested in Cross’ vote. But some anti-gay marriage forces are, and that could cause Cross problems.

The immediate fear among Cross’ allies is that his gay marriage vote could spark more interest among, and money from, the far right to defeat him. Cross has done a good job so far of rounding up traditional GOP supporters, however, so the calculation was that his favorable vote won’t be fatal in the primary.

His vote last week will, however, take an issue away from Cross’ Democratic rival, state Sen. Michael Frerichs, of Champaign. Cross clearly took the long view, and that could come with significant benefits — including campaign contributions from gay marriage supporters and the ability to paint himself as a moderate and “modern” Republican in the November 2014 election.

And speaking of Republicans, unlike in the Senate, where the lone Republican “yes” vote was more symbolic than essential to the outcome, the three House Republicans who voted for the bill helped provide the margin of victory. Without those votes, the going would’ve been a whole lot tougher.


- Posted by Rich Miller   19 Comments      

* $3 million in one pop from Rauner
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* SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Today's cable TV buy report
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* Bost's "anger," Cook's ratings, Foster's ad
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