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GOP leaders respond to special election push

Thursday, Dec 18, 2014

* Statement from Senate Republican Leader Radogno and House Republican Leader Durkin…

“The Illinois Constitution requires the Governor-elect to appoint a new comptroller to a four-year term. A partisan and constitutionally-dubious eleventh hour law would face a certain legal challenge and force the people of Illinois to endure a protracted and legal battle that no one wants. The only Constitutionally responsible choice is to allow the Governor-elect to appoint a Comptroller to a four-year term.”

* And here’s their legal analysis…

The Illinois Supreme Court has held that “the State constitution is supreme within the realm of State law.” See People v. Gersch, 553 N.E.2d 281, 287 (Ill. 1990). In this case, Section 2 of Article V of the Illinois Constitution governs the terms of office and the timing of elections for state officers, including Comptroller. It speaks in clear and mandatory terms in two important respects. First, the “officers of the Executive Branch shall hold office for four years beginning on the second Monday of January… until their successors are qualified.” As the Attorney General indicated in her advisory opinion, that means that a vacancy will occur in the Comptroller’s Office for the term of office that runs from January 12, 2015 to January 14, 2019. Second, Section 2 also provides that the state officers, including the Comptroller, “shall be elected at the general election in 1978 and every four years thereafter.”

If the General Assembly were to pass a state law that creates a special election for the Comptroller in 2016, that law would violate the express terms of Section 2 in two ways. First, it would presumably create two two-year terms of office, despite the fact that Section 2 clearly provides only for a four-year term that runs until January 14, 2019. Second, it would provide for an election of a state officer outside of the schedule established by Section 2 requiring that the election of the Comptroller will be held every four years after 1978.

Section 7, Article V dealing with vacancies does not authorize the General Assembly to order a special election to fill a vacancy or replace a person who is appointed to fill a vacancy. Rather it says that the Governor “shall fill the office by appointment” and that person shall “hold office until the elected officer qualifies or until a successor is elected and qualified as may be provided by law.” The phrase “as may be provided by law” modifies “qualified” and not the word “elected.” In fact, the only support that this language was intended to provide for a special election comes from statements of a delegate to the 1970 Constitutional convention. Those statements directly conflict with the clear language of Section 2, as noted above. When a conflict exists between the express language of the Constitution and any legislative history, the Illinois Supreme Court states that “the best indication of the intent of the drafters is the language which they voted to adopt.” See Coryn v. Moline, 374 N.E.2d 211, 213 (Ill. 1978). Where the adopted language is clear, as it is in Section 2, “it will be given effect without resort to other aids for construction,” including statements of individual delegates. See People ex rel. Baker v. Cowling, 607 N.E.2d 1251, 1253 (Ill. 1992). In this case, it is also important to note that the legislative history cited comes from the debate over Section 7, not Section 2 dealing with the term and timing of the election of state officers. Therefore, the direct conflict between the express language of Section 2 and the legislative history of Section 7 would likely be resolved by enforcing the clear terms of Section 2.

Our own review of the committee reports and verbatim transcripts from the Constitutional Convention show that the election schedule for constitutional officers established in Article V, Section 2 was deliberately intended by delegates to allow voters to concentrate their attention on the state election contests in those years, rather than risk that an informed debate of state issues would be overwhelmed by the sound and fury of a national presidential contest. Those intentions should not now be lightly set aside.

We do not contest the right of the General Assembly to seek a special election. That is within their authority and judgment to do so. In the case of a state officer, like the Comptroller, however, it would require a constitutional amendment that revises the clear and mandatory terms of Section 2. As for Governor-elect Rauner, his only authority under the Constitution, as currently constituted, is to appoint a person who will assume a four-year term on January 12, 2015.

* “The phrase ‘as may be provided by law’ modifies ‘qualified’ and not the word ‘elected’” seems like a huge stretch to me. If there was an “or” in there, I could see it, but not this way.

Your thoughts?

* Also, from Bruce Rauner’s office…

“There is a real likelihood that a statute mandating a special election would violate the Constitution and result in costly litigation and uncertainty for Illinois taxpayers. The only route to enact a special election for a statewide officeholder that is absolutely consistent with the Constitution is passing a constitutional amendment. Additionally, any major change like this should apply to all future vacancies and be carefully and thoughtfully discussed - not rushed through in a last minute special session that would look overtly political.”

…Adding… A commenter points out this section of the above legal analysis…

First, the “officers of the Executive Branch shall hold office for four years beginning on the second Monday of January… until their successors are qualified.”

They left out two very important words: “elected” and “election”

These elected officers of the Executive Branch shall hold office for four years beginning on the second Monday of January after their election..

…Adding More… From commenter Norseman…

I read a little further on the committee report presentation on the relevant sections. GOP staff probably read it too, but don’t want to mention it. This seems cut and dried.

    “We leave unaltered the existing constitutional language, in this and other sections, which in the past has served to support statutes calling for special elections when an appreciable time remains in an incompleted term.”

Explanation and Commentary on Section 8. Vacancies in Other Elective Office, 1970 — COMMITTEE PROPOSALS, Page 373

…And the final nail in the coffin… This is from the original Con-Con documents that Attorney General Lisa Madigan sent out the other day. Click here and check page 8

In the 1870 Constitution the wording is “elected and qualified in such manner as may be provided by law.” (Article V, Section 19.) The Report of the Committee on the Executive indicates no intention to change the thrust of the original provision. (P. 37.) But if that is true, it seems essential to change “qualified as provided by law” to “elected and qualified as may be provided by law.” Then it is clear that the General Assembly (a) can do nothing, (b) can provide for special elections to fill the vacancies other than Lieutenant Governor, but (c) cannot provide any other method for filling vacancies.

Done.

- Posted by Rich Miller   84 Comments      


This just in… Special session called for January 8

Thursday, Dec 18, 2014

* 11:17 am - I’ve confirmed that the governor’s office has informed the Secretary of State that a special session proclamation will be filed at noon today.

Not sure yet, but I think we could be seeing a special election for comptroller and a minimum wage hike as topics. Likely date is January 8th.

* 11:26 am - I reached out to House Speaker Michael Madigan’s spokesman for comment. Regarding the comptroller issue, he had “Nothing new” to add. It’s “still an executive department matter,” he said, saying that Speaker Madigan remains “hopeful” the governor and governor-elect “can reach a sensible solution.”

* 12:05 pm - Press release…

Governor Pat Quinn today called legislators back to Springfield on Jan. 8, 2015, to consider legislation that would allow voters to fill the elected position of Illinois Comptroller. A special election will give voters the opportunity to choose their Comptroller in the next statewide election on Nov. 8, 2016. The primary election is scheduled for March 15, 2016. Governor Quinn issued the following statement:

“Judy Baar Topinka’s passing has not only left us heartbroken – the people of Illinois have been left without their elected representative in the Comptroller’s Office.

“Nobody but Judy Baar Topinka was elected to do this job. That’s why it’s so important that voters have the soonest possible opportunity to elect their Comptroller. Holding a special election is the right thing to do.

“Members of the legislature should set up a special election for 2016 so that voters can exercise their democratic right to decide who will serve as their Comptroller.”

The official proclamation is here.

- Posted by Rich Miller   103 Comments      


*** UPDATED x1 - GOMB disputes numbers *** Today’s number: 3,000

Thursday, Dec 18, 2014

* From Fox 55

But Downtown Springfield, Inc says over the last decade, almost 3,000 state jobs that were once in downtown Springfield have relocated with the majority moving to Cook County. “That’s a huge deficit to our area and it’s really been felt. It’s felt in morale of our city, it’s felt economically, the energy is different,” said Victoria Ringer of Downtown Springfield, Inc.

Now, Ringer says there’s 17,000 state employees in Cook County compared to 13,000 in Sangamon County.

“Property tax values have been affected, the sales tax of people not buying that greeting card, or that cup of coffee, or paying for parking or what have you. That’s a huge impact of those 2,600 bodies missing downtown,” Ringer said. […]

Springfield mayor Mike Houston says when he first served as mayor from 1979 through 1987, most agency directors lived in Springfield. “When you have agency directors right here in the community, they can have a very major, important impact on our future. And that’s what I’m really looking forward to having in the community again,” said Houston.

*** UPDATE *** The Governor’s Office of Management and Budget disputes the split between Cook and Sangamon and sent these numbers along which were painstakingly researched over several months…

- Posted by Rich Miller   46 Comments      


Shake this up, please

Thursday, Dec 18, 2014

* It’s been abundantly clear for some time now that the state’s grant programs need a complete rethink

A federal jury Wednesday found a Chicago couple guilty on all counts in a state grant scam trial that featured testimony about power, money and sex and saw a high-profile ruling that one of President Barack Obama’s golfing buddies was a hostile witness.

The seven-man, five-woman jury deliberated for about five hours on the fate of Leon and Karin Dingle, who faced conspiracy, mail fraud and money laundering charges. Prosecutors contended that the Dingles helped themselves to $3.36 million in state grant funds that were supposed to fight AIDS, flu and cancer in minority communities and misrepresented or concealed where the money went.

During the trial, prosecutors sought to prove money went instead to underwrite luxury cars, a Marina Towers condo, a son’s mortgage, yacht club expenses, and maintenance of vacation homes in Hilton Head, S.C., and Savannah, Ga., two places the Dingles are putting up for sale. Prosecutors will seek to recover money at sentencing April 9. Most counts carry potential 20-year sentences.

Springfield-based U.S. Attorney James Lewis said a central Illinois task force investigation that so far has netted more than a dozen people on state grant abuse “goes on until we come to the end.”

Those millions would’ve been appreciated by groups that actually do great work. But too many grants are handed out to political cronies, and this is just one example of what results.

* More

The Dingles and their co-defendants, who earlier pleaded guilty, stole what amounted to $2 of every $5 they received in grant funds form IDPH from 2004 to 2010, prosecutors said. The scheme involved $11 million of mostly no-bid, upfront-funded grants ostensibly doled out for AIDS- and cancer-awareness campaigns in minority and under-served communities. […]

The case against Dingle, a well-regarded and successful Chicago businessman, and his wife was part of a probe that had drawn four previous guilty pleas. Quinshaunta Golden, the former IDPH chief of staff who controlled the grants, pleaded guilty to bribery, mail fraud and making false statements. She conspired with former agency human resources director Roxanne Jackson to split ill-gotten gains; Jackson pleaded guilty to bribery and tax fraud. They await sentencing.

Lewis would not comment on further indictments in the IDPH case. He noted that Dr. Eric Whitaker, a close friend of Obama’s who served as IDPH director from 2003 to 2007, is not a target of the investigation. Whitaker made the list of government witnesses, and although never summoned, Bass repeatedly invoked his name to establish a landscape of access and influence Dingle allegedly cultivated to breed criminal activity.

- Posted by Rich Miller   24 Comments      


On “war zones” and “foreign invasion”

Thursday, Dec 18, 2014

* N’Digo Magazine publisher Hermene Hartman helped the Bruce Rauner campaign’s outreach to the African-American community. She discussed her work with Fox 32

“His outreach was real, it was not phony, it was very real. I know, I was there, I did it, ok so it was very real, it was authentic. He learned a lot. He saw some things that I think he had not seen. He learned about the African American business community, he traveled our neighborhoods and saw what I call warzone areas,” said Hartman.

“That touched him, that bothered him and him being a businessman, he related to it and he saw solutions for it, that was a lot of our conversation,” said Hartman.

Hartman said Rauner saw things he hadn’t seen, “Like the war zones of our communities, lack of businesses.”

The mom n’ pop diner stops familiar among politicians seeking office were few and far in between once Rauner hit Illinois’ most impoverished communities.

“We don’t have a lot of restaurants for example. We don’t have, I call it the foreign invasion. Many of the African American communities, the businesses that we do have are foreign invaded, other people other than us run these businesses. A lot of fast food restaurants, a lot of liquor stores so there’s a lack of business, there’s a lack of enterprise. A lot of the crime that we have would go away if we had businesses there to hire people,” said Hartman.

Blaming “foreigners” for this problem is really odd. It’s not like they’re crowding out other potential business owners because there aren’t that many retail stores in the first place.

- Posted by Rich Miller   35 Comments      


Topinka memorial roundup

Thursday, Dec 18, 2014

* AP

Late Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka was remembered Wednesday as a tough, honest leader with a signature sense of humor.

Crowds filled the Operating Engineers’ Local 150 headquarters in Countryside to pay respects. Individuals included the state’s top leaders, lawmakers, local leaders and Illinoisans who knew her for more than 70 years.

* Tribune

Rauner noted the irony of appearing in a union hall after a campaign in which he vilified public employee unions by saying Topinka was observing from heaven and “chuckling about me standing in the Local 150 union hall.”

“We’ve got to remember a good life always ends too early. A good life always ends too soon,” said Rauner, who added, “Judy was all about working together and solving problems, and I loved her for it.”

Auditor General William Holland called Topinka “an undeniable, smashing success” who earned the “approbation of honest citizens.”

“There are many important people here today. Then there are the important people who are not here today. They are those who shook Judy’s hand at the State Fair, heard her speak at an ethnic festival or walked with her in a parade,” Holland said. “I have no doubt that today, throughout Illinois in bungalows, farmhouses and town houses, these people whose names are unknown to us here are grieving, just as we are for the loss of their good friend Judy.”

* Sun-Times

“She was always known for telling the truth, a truth teller, and standing up for important issues no matter what her party might say. No matter the conventional wisdom of the day, Judy spoke from her heart,” Gov. Pat Quinn said during Topinka’s memorial at the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 150 headquarters in the western suburb of Countryside.

Gov.-elect Bruce Rauner, former Gov. Jim Thompson and Mayor Rahm Emanuel were among the political heavyweights who filled the union hall to capacity Wednesday. Topinka’s beloved Scottie dogs, Jack and Nora, also made an appearance.

“Judy led the ultimate life,” Rauner said. “She was a true public servant . . . She cared deeply for the families of Illinois. She worked her tail off to try to make a better life for all of us here.” […]

“We all feel a tremendous sense of loss because she filled every square inch of a room, every square inch of our hearts,” Kimme said. “She was hilarious. She was loyal to a fault sometimes, frustrating as all get out and simply the best person I’ve ever known. Rest well my friend. We love you.”

* Suburban Life Media

Topinka was a frequent guest for Roe Conn and the Chicago radio show he hosted for years.

“She was a total truth screamer. … She warned us in 2006 about Rod Blagojevich. She was right,” Conn said.

Thompson offered a call to action.

“If we really respected [Topinka] … we could all take a vow to work just a little bit harder for the people of this state.”

* Herald News

A serious and recurring theme throughout the ceremony was best said by former Gov. Jim Thompson, who spoke of Topinka’s ability to work with people of all walks of life, her commitment to making the state better for its residents and the necessity for all sides to work together to accomplish that goal.

Thompson called on those in attendance to find ways to compromise and work together to solve the lengthy list of issues before the state.

“So if we really respected our departed friend and really want to do something in her memory at this memorial, we could take a vow to work together … to move the people forward,” Thompson said. “Or, as Judy might say, ‘We got them here, lock the doors, order the pizzas, we’re gonna start now.’ ”

* ABC 7

Praise came from both sides of the aisle. Several Illinois lawmakers, including Governor Pat Quinn, former Governor James Thompson and Governor-Elect Bruce Rauner, spoke at the memorial, which was held at IUOE Local 150, located at 6200 Joliet Road in Countryside.

“She’s probably chuckling a little bit to see me standing, talking in local 150 hall,” Gov.-Elect Rauiner said.

“She didn’t care whether it was a Republican sponsored bill or a Democratic-sponsored bill. If it had value to the people, she was there,” Secretary of State Jesse White, democrat, said.

“Partisanship has no place for her. She’s really just a good government person who likes to work with the people,” Former Il. Comptroller Dan Hynes, democrat, said.

“All of us have lost that middle voice that’s really lacking in this country,” Jim Sweeney, Operating Engineers Local #150, said.

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank Topinka’s staff and family for asking me to speak yesterday.

- Posted by Rich Miller   27 Comments      


Question of the day - Golden Horseshoe Awards

Thursday, Dec 18, 2014

* The 2014 Golden Horseshoe Award for Best “Do-Gooder” lobbyist goes to Jen Walling at the Illinois Environmental Council…

Smart, hardworking, personable, responsive. Very tough to lead such a diverse group of advocates in the same direction, but she does an amazing job time and time again. Open and creative, she is always assessing how to make improvements in her organization, build relationships across the aisle, and increase the leverage of the environmental community in Springfield. She has managed to strike the very difficult balance between passionate and practical advocacy…a big challenge but a very necessary step as the environmental advocates increase their influence in Springfield each year.

* The 2014 Golden Horseshoe Award for Best Congresscritter goes to Luis Gutierrez on the strength of this nomination…

As much as it pains me to nominate a person I disagree with on many issues, Luis Gutierrez is the rare Democratic Congressman who has made a real difference. On immigration, he’s probably been the major force who pushed the President to take action. Had the President listened to Luis a year ago, the results of the November elections may have been very different.

* OK, here are today’s categories, with last year’s winners in parentheses…

* Best Contract Lobbyist (Dave Sullivan)

* Best In-House Lobbyist (Todd Vandermyde and Rob Karr)

Please nominate in both categories and explain your votes or they won’t count. Thanks!

- Posted by Rich Miller   40 Comments      


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Thursday, Dec 18, 2014

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« NEWER POSTS PREVIOUS POSTS »
* Reader comments closed for the weekend
* No pension bump for Stermer, MJM still not persuaded on special session
* SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - More comptroller stuff
* 1:30 comptroller announcement expected - Stermer appointed, says he will resign January 12th
* SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Comptroller stuff
* Golden Horseshoe Awards
* Bears open thread
* More adventures in misgovernance
* Question of the day - Golden Horseshoe Awards
* Petulance all around
* Yesterday's blog posts

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        * Quinn set to go to Maryland to visit soldiers..
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