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THIS JUST IN: Doug Whitley announces retirement

Thursday, Sep 5, 2013

Posted by Barton Lorimor (@bartonlorimor)

From a press release…

In the coming months, the Illinois Chamber of Commerce will embark upon a change in leadership. Doug Whitley, our talented and energetic President and CEO, has informed the Chamber Board of Directors that he plans to retire next June. We thank Doug for the long advance notice, which will allow the Board to work with him through a well-planned transition period that will launch the Chamber’s next chapter of strong advocacy for Illinois employers.

Doug has served the Illinois Chamber since September 2001, guiding the organization through one of the most turbulent periods for business in the Chamber’s more than 90-year history, meanwhile restoring the leadership status of the Illinois Chamber as the unifying statewide voice of business in Illinois.
….
Looking ahead, the timing of Doug’s retirement offers the Illinois Chamber an opportunity to establish new leadership and set its agenda prior to the 2014 gubernatorial election. Additionally, my term as board chairman ends next June, which means the incoming Illinois Chamber Board Chair and the new CEO will be able to begin their terms together.

- Posted by Barton Lorimor   10 Comments      


Question of the Day

Thursday, Sep 5, 2013

Posted by Barton Lorimor (@bartonlorimor)

This. Is. Awesome.

Here’s good news for all you expatriates of Qo’noS.

The Illinois Department of Employment Security exists to help all of its residents, not just the human ones. Which is why, on their website, if you want to ask a question regarding a claim, you may, in fact, sign into the website in Klingon. So you may read the site, ask questions and get answers, even if your foreign language happens to be foreign enough to be from another planet.

Question: What else should the state consider implementing from science fiction?

I mean, I can’t be the only one slightly concerned about our lack of Sharknado preparedness.

- Posted by Barton Lorimor   59 Comments      


Report: Rita Garman to be named Chief Justice

Thursday, Sep 5, 2013

Posted by Barton Lorimor (@bartonlorimor)

11:57 a.m. - Brian Mackey reporting…

Garman would be the second woman to head the Illinois Supreme Court — and in fact, only the second woman to lead one of Illinois’ three branches of government.

Based in Danville, Garman has been a lawyer since 1968, a judge since 1974, and on the Supreme Court since 2002.

Unlike on the U.S. Supreme Court, the chief justice of Illinois serves a three-year term. The position usually rotates among the justices based on seniority.

- Posted by Barton Lorimor   13 Comments      


But then there is this

Thursday, Sep 5, 2013

Posted by Barton Lorimor (@bartonlorimor)

* We’re not number one…

* But then there is this…

In the fiscal year that just ended, the state let $135 million worth of no-bid, “emergency” contracts. That’s $34 million more than the year before, and 300 times the amount spent the last year of former governor Rod Blagojevich…A member of the state’s Procurement Policy Board suggests all the no-bid contracts could be the result of worker indifference or personnel shortages or “general incompetence.” Those are the most positive possibilities. This could also be corruption — a sly way to give contracts to friends, family and political cronies.

Whatever the explanation, it means that the taxpayers likely are overpaying for goods and services.

* And this…

More than 700 pages of emails the Tribune obtained through an open records request provide new insight into Scott’s recommendation and business dealings with Ahmad.

Before he arrived at City Hall, Ahmad served as Ohio deputy treasurer and awarded Scott’s firm $165,000 in bond business. After Scott joined the Emanuel administration, she selected a firm that employed Ahmad’s onetime boss, former Ohio treasurer Kevin Boyce, for hundreds of thousands of dollars in city bond work.

Boyce, too, recommended that Emanuel hire Ahmad. That backing came more than five months after he learned that federal authorities in Ohio were investigating his office, records show. A subpoena sought, among other things, the cellphone records of Boyce and Ahmad.

They got that from government emails?

* But then there is this...

Mayor Rahm Emanuel has reversed course and will reappoint Inspector General Joseph Ferguson as City Hall’s top watchdog oversees a lengthy audit of work done by the mayor’s former comptroller, who abruptly resigned amid a federal bribery probe related to a previous government job in Ohio.

The mayor’s office confirmed Tuesday that Emanuel plans to reappoint Ferguson to a second four-year term. The decision comes after Emanuel earlier had suggested that Ferguson, who often criticizes the administration, would have to reapply for his job with his current term set to expire in November.

Emanuel aides maintain that Ferguson plans to serve only one more year, and in a statement, Ferguson suggested that’s about right. But once the inspector general’s appointment is approved by the City Council, the mayor would be at a loss to enforce a one-year limit if Ferguson decides there’s reason to stick around.

In its endorsement of the move, the Tribune editorial board said the episode was a distraction from “raising the bar on public schools, repairing the city’s disastrous finances, stemming the bloodshed in its streets.”

* But then there is this…

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle has fired a top county ethics official who was trying to punish Cook County Assessor Joe Berrios for putting relatives on his payroll.

MaryNic Foster was quietly dumped from her $110,355-a-year post in May after five years as executive director of the county’s Board of Ethics…Foster said top aides to Preckwinkle didn’t give her a reason for removing her from the post she’s held since 2008 — a job that’s exempt from rules that ban political considerations from influencing county hiring or firing decisions….Maribeth Vander Weele, one of five ethics board commissioners, said she agreed with Preckwinkle’s decision because “the office needed to be professionalized. It has no investigative procedures. Case notes are hand-written. There are no standards for professional conduct. As aggressive as this office is, we need to make sure every investigation is thorough and objective.”

* But then there is this…

People who are appointed to any one of the more than 70 units of government by the chairman of the Lake County Board will now have to sign a “Standards of Conduct” saying they agree to follow ethical standards.

Lake County Board Chairman Aaron Lawlor announced the plan last week for the 300 appointees that sit on various boards and commissions and it will be voted on Sept. 10 by the full County Board.

* But then there is this…

A longtime Springfield power broker went to prison in Kansas after being convicted in a shakedown scheme at the Illinois Teachers’ Retirement System, but that very pension fund still cuts him a tiny check because he briefly taught at a public school decades ago.

The taxpayer-supported retirement checks keep flowing to ex-Rep. Roger Stanley and insider William Cellini because their crimes were not tied to the public jobs in which they earned the pension credit.

* And this…

An anonymous website is hosting numerous documents related to the St. Clair County Board, including minutes from a closed session discussing drug testing of county employees….The unknown publisher hopes the website enhances “government transparency and inform the residents of St. Clair County about what their representatives are doing.”

* And all of this, too…

* Aldermen, BGA applaud mayor for reappointing Ferguson

* City Council’s inspector could be in trouble, aldermen warned

* Yorkville awarded for online transparency

- Posted by Barton Lorimor   19 Comments      


Reboletti announces for Dillard’s seat; Scherer, Yingling face GE challenge

Thursday, Sep 5, 2013

Posted by Barton Lorimor (@bartonlorimor)

* State Rep. Dennis Reboletti will seek the Senate seat Kirk Dillard is vacating in order to run for Governor…

It’s too soon to tell if Reboletti will face a Republican opponent during the March primary. One person considering a bid is former state Rep. Chris Nybo, who was Dillard’s opponent for Senate in the 2012 primary.

“I have not decided,” Nybo said on Wednesday. “I will begin the process of collecting signatures to get on the ballot. I’m giving it a lot of thought, but I haven’t made a final decision yet.”

Nybo’s most recent quarterly report shows he did not raise any money this spring. In fact, his campaign fund appears to still owe just over $39k to family members. He reported a $1,500 donation a couple of weeks ago, but that still only puts him at roughly $3k in the bank.

Reboletti has been looking to move up for some time now. Subscribers know more.

* A Republican member of a school board in Christian County will challenge Sue Scherer…

Much of the start-up work has been done with the help of Decatur Mayor Mike McElroy, who ran for the state Senate in 2012 against current state Sen. Andy Manar, D-Bunker Hill. While McElroy is not an official member of his campaign team, Bell said the mayor helped identify people to know and put on committees, how to set up campaign structure and personal advice from the 2012 Senate run.

Support has also come from local Republicans, including state Rep. Bill Mitchell of Forsyth, who said he is firmly behind Bell’s campaign.

Bell has reportedly raised $5k in the last few weeks while Scherer has almost $40k in the bank.

* And…

Round Lake attorney Gerald Dietz has announced he intends to seek the Republican nomination for a state representative seat in the March primary.

Dietz, 44, said he plans to run in the 62nd House District currently represented by Democrat Sam Yingling of Round Lake Beach. Yingling and Dietz previously worked together for Avon Township.

Yingling posted some strong poll numbers when he beat incumbent Sandy Cole in November 2012. Dietz has roughly $7k on hand but still owes himself $5k. Yingling has more than $25k in the war chest.

- Posted by Barton Lorimor   4 Comments      


Same sex marriage as an economic issue

Thursday, Sep 5, 2013

Posted by Barton Lorimor (@bartonlorimor)

* The first time I ever heard tourism used in a pro-same sex marriage argument was more than five years ago. Since then, other Midwestern states, such as Iowa and Minnesota, have legalized same sex marriage. So if there is any part of this story that is surprising to me, then it is that something like this did not happen sooner…

Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak, who recently married 46 same-sex couples following his state’s passage of a law legalizing gay weddings, will appear in a predominantly gay Chicago neighborhood Thursday to launch a campaign called “Marry Me in Minneapolis.” He plans to follow with campaigns in Colorado and Wisconsin, two other states that haven’t approved same-sex marriage.

Rybak is trying to convince Chicagoans that rather than take a long — and expensive — plane trip to one of the coasts, just drive six hours to his city.

One has to wonder if this will ignite similar campaigns by officials from cities even closer to Illinois than Minneapolis, like Des Moines or even Davenport.

I suppose some were expecting the Governor to be more upset with this campaign, and treat it like a Scott Walker or Rick Perry poaching blitz. But the Governor has lobbied for SSM since he signed the civil unions bill, and this campaign isn’t trying to pry dollars out of the Illinois economy like Walker/Perry. These are dollars, as the Governor and Mayor Emanuel stated, that Illinois is simply missing out on…

The mayor, governor and Chicago tourism advocates cited the potential economic impact of legalizing same-sex marriage in Illinois, singling out a UCLA School of Law Williams Institute study.
That organization’s study estimated that Illinois’ wedding business would grow by $74 million during the first three years of legalized same-sex marriages. It also would generate $29 million in tourism dollars from out-of-town guests and boost state and local tax revenues by $8.5 million.

The Governor also blamed Republicans for not putting enough votes on the SSM bill in the House this spring. But as you know, and as subscribers know a little bit better, the HGOP not putting up votes was not the only reason that bill was not called for a vote.

*Bruce Rauner stood by his previous statements about same sex marriage during a radio interview yesterday…

Rauner: I will never…I have not supported gay marriage, and I will never advocate for it. What I’ve said is this should be decided through a voter referendum, and I will support what the voters decide through a referendum. If the majority of voters want to accept gay marriage, I will support them in that decision. If the voters through a referendum decide they don’t want to accept gay marriage, that’s what I will support.

Go listen to the whole thing if you’re not on a state computer. Rauner’s remarks about gay marriage start at about the 6:30 minute mark. The first half of the interview is devoted to his Legislative and veto override proposal.

* Speaking of which, Both Gov. Quinn and Kirk Dillard came out against the Rauner term limit proposal yesterday. First from the Governor…

“The Illinois Constitution was adopted by the people of Illinois in a referendum, and they decided — in their wisdom — that to override a veto it takes three-fifths of the members of the General Assembly,” Quinn says. “So I think that’s a pretty important provision … (and) I don’t think there’s a need to change that.”

Quinn says he also doesn’t see the need for another aspect of the plan, which would increase the number of representatives in the Illinois House, while decreasing the number of state senators.

And Sen. Dillard…

“I think it’s a real slap in the face to downstate Illinois to downsize the state Senate because the districts become so geographically large, your chances of having input face to face to your state senator are greatly diminished,” Dillard says.

Related…

* Bruce Rauner invites Gov. Quinn to join fight for term limits

* Martin: With term limits, boot out career pols

* Schoenburg: Rauner says tenure for college profs a ‘flawed concept’

- Posted by Barton Lorimor   12 Comments      


Morning shorts

Thursday, Sep 5, 2013

Posted by Barton Lorimor (@bartonlorimor)

* I promise my being here does not signal the start of the Great Ginger Uprising…yet.

Rich is still out, but rest assured he shall return early next week from…

He may be looking for a new “intern emeritus.”

Hey, I’m all for new members to the Capitol Fax Intern Caucus.

* We’re going to get off to a slower start today. I have a class on Wednesday nights that runs into the early morning hours. I have a couple posts lined up that I’ll try to push out by this afternoon. Until then, here’s a rundown on some of today’s headlines…

* Biss: UPDATE: Pension conference committee: This process has been lengthy, partly due to the difficult and contentious nature of the issue — even as we hone in on a recommendation, conference committee members are hashing out every aspect of the topic carefully, and many components require significant compromise from all participants. Perhaps even more importantly, we are taking very seriously the need for a robust, credible actuarial evaluation of our final product. Consequently, we are requesting very thorough — and, yes, time-consuming — studies of our ideas.

* Pension fund buys River North apartment tower: The pension fund acquired a majority stake in Kingsbury Plaza, a 47-story tower just north of the East Bank Club in River North, according to people familiar with the transaction. TRS acquired its interest from GE Asset Management, which built the 420-unit high-rise in 2007 in a joint venture with Chicago-based apartment landlord Habitat Co.

* New Chamber CEO Mintle can’t lobby till 2015

* Study: Poverty increases fast in Chicago suburbs: The number of suburbanites living in poverty had grown to 629,564 by 2011, according to a review of U.S. Census Bureau data by the Heartland Alliance, a nonprofit group that fights poverty. That’s 95 percent higher than the 1990 number, the report said. That increase was faster than the 29 percent overall suburban population growth during the period.

* ‘I’m the guy you’re looking for’: Escaped prisoner with Glen Carbon ties recaptured: Carter was spotted by local police in Palestine, Ill., on Tuesday afternoon walking down the street about seven miles from the prison. When stopped, Carter told police, “I’m the guy you’re looking for” and surrendered without confrontation, then asked for water. Carter was part of a mowing detail at the minimum-security prison, located about 110 miles southeast of Champaign near the Indiana border. While assigned to the work crew cutting grass on the prison grounds, he walked away.

* Nearly $1 million awarded in Illinois inmate death suit

* Topinka: Illinois can regain fiscal footing

* Consumer protection clinic turns to talk about state’s bills

* Jack Higgins’ on State Capitol Rehab

* Brown: Restoring majestic state Capitol is one thing, but $669,608 for doors?

* Journal Star: Roads must be maintained, but let’s face it, there’s a cost

* Push for teacher quality in Illinois takes toll on minority candidates

* Higher Ed Leader Says President’s Plan Reflects Illinois Efforts

* Report: Farmers Could Do More To Lessen Impact Of Drought: The Natural Resources Defense Council says farmers could have greatly reduced losses, if they had been working to improve soil health. The NRDC suggests that planting certain grasses and legumes, and implementing a set of soil conservation practices, could nearly drought-proof fields. That would save farmers a lot of headache and taxpayers a lot of money

* Quinn Declares September “Recovery Month”

* Illiana expressway gets red light from planning group: “The current plan for the Illiana does not demonstrate significant transportation or economic benefits in exchange for high and uncertain costs,” the council said in a statement. “MPC opposes the Illiana.”

* Whole Foods developer gets $10 million city subsidy: (Walter) Robb promised to “learn and listen” to Englewood residents, serve “what the community wants, so long as it meets our quality standards” and offer “affordable” prices. “I don’t yet know exactly how we’re gonna do that . . . But, we’ve had some experience in the last year in Detroit,” he said of the 21,000-square-foot store now exceeding expectations in Midtown, one of that bankrupt city’s more vibrant communities.

* Whole Foods coming to Englewood

* Public hearings begin for CPS master plan

* Loyola gets vacated street to create more of a campus feel in Rogers Park

* Morton College gets $4.5 million classroom addition funding

* Midway to get speedier security screening by year’s end

* Des Plaines River flood plan calls for new levees, wetlands, dam removal

* Bomb threats made against Kane County courthouses

* Rockford’s use of funds questioned by feds

* Stimulus money went for paintball, movie tickets

* Rockford may dissolve department in stimulus audit aftermath

* Houston: I’ll Start Thinking About Re-Election Next Spring: But half-way through a term he had said would be his last, Mike Houston is now hinting at the possibility of re-election.

* Panhandling Suit Filed In Springfield

* (Springfield) To Help Foot Bill For EPA Coal Tar Cleanup

* IDNR demonstrates how to reel in a healthy pond

* EIU enrollment off but freshman on the rise

* Shelbyville City Council says it’s time to tighten finances

- Posted by Barton Lorimor   43 Comments      


« NEWER POSTS PREVIOUS POSTS »
* Reader comments closed for the weekend
* Question of the day
* *** UPDATED x1 - Rauner response *** This just in... Illinois Supreme Court denies Rauner appeal
* They need a rich "white knight"
* Johnson finally backs Davis... So does Joan
* Schneider throws Quinn under the bus
* Wincing before the hit
* Inspector general's IDOT probe places no direct blame on Quinn
* Today's number: 57 percent
* *** UPDATED x2 - Not totally clean - Some questions answered *** Stories raise unanswered questions about IDOC policy
* *** UPDATED x1 - Schneider campaign responds *** US, Illinois Chambers launch TV hit on Schneider
* Reaching into the past for today's gotcha moment
* New DGA YouTube video ties Rauner to Romney via outsourcing
* SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Supplement to today’s edition
* SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Today's edition of Capitol Fax (use all CAPS in password)
* This just in... Unions file motion to "gut" the state's pension case
* Yesterday's blog posts

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