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Friday, Oct 17, 2014

* I’m assuming that a certain someone will dump a huge amount of money into his campaign fund later today, just like he does most Friday afternoons, so watch the middle column or click here for the Tribune’s invaluable campaign contribution Twitter feed to monitor any updates. I’m done for the day.

Mick and the boys will play us out

The change has come

- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      

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Friday, Oct 17, 2014

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Readers to Sun-Times: Tell us how to vote!

Friday, Oct 17, 2014

* I’m trying really hard not to smirk

We will plunge back in Sunday with an endorsement in the race for governor, and we will make endorsements in the February Chicago municipal elections and other key local races.

Two years and nine months ago, we announced we would no longer make endorsements, explaining that we had come to believe they feed a perception of a hidden bias throughout a newspaper. The Chicago Sun-Times has always taken great care to keep its news coverage separate from its editorials and opinion pieces, but we are sensitive to the fact that we operate within an increasingly fragmented and politicized media market.

Our readers have taken a different view. They have told us they understand the difference between the independence exhibited in the news coverage from opinions expressed in the editorials. We appreciated this feedback and understanding.

In the years and months since our decision to stop making endorsements, readers have told us constantly that they found great value in them and wished we would make them again. Our endorsements, they said, offered another frame of reference, fresh analysis and insight. Even when they disagreed with an endorsement, readers said, it was of help to them in exercising the most fundamental right of a democratic republic — deciding who will represent them. For every reader who has commended us for standing on the sidelines, seemingly hundreds of others have asked, “Who’s gonna tell me how to vote for …?”

They already telegraphed their gubernatorial endorsement yesterday, without mentioning that a certain someone was part of the group that bought the Sun-Times a while back. He has since sold his ownership stake, of course, so no problem there.

- Posted by Rich Miller   15 Comments      

Quinn demands Rauner unseal deposition

Friday, Oct 17, 2014

* Sun-Times

Gov. Pat Quinn jumped to his mother’s defense Friday and urged GOP rival Bruce Rauner to heed her advice to tone down his attacks on the gubernatorial campaign trail.

But while preaching civility, Quinn also used the comments from his mother, Eileen Quinn, in a Chicago Sun-Times interview Thursday to launch a lengthy new attack on Rauner and his alleged interactions with a former female executive in his one-time business empire who alleged in a now-settled lawsuit that Rauner threatened her. Rauner has forcefully denied the businesswoman’s claims. […]

“I think she gave him some good advice. It is never, ever right to use threatening language toward any woman anywhere in this state or this country,” Quinn said. […]

Quinn on Friday renewed his demand that Rauner release his full deposition. The governor also reacted to Rauner’s contention in his Thursday interview with the Sun-Times that GTCR and an associated law firm settled with Kirk and others for $511,000 to end the case because “we’re nice folks.”

“I don’t think it’s ever nice to use threatening language towards people who are working for your company and threatening their future, and their livelihood and their family, and paying $500,000 to make the lawsuit go away. I think the nice thing to do is unseal the deposition of Mr. Rauner in that very case and let’s see what’s in there,” Quinn said.

* Listen

- Posted by Rich Miller   27 Comments      

*** UPDATED x2 *** Good news, not so good news

Friday, Oct 17, 2014

* From a press release

The administration of Governor Pat Quinn, the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission and the Department of Insurance (DOI) announced that a national study has provided additional evidence that Illinois’ historic workers’ compensation reforms are delivering major savings for businesses across the state. The biennial report by the Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services shows Illinois recorded the sharpest reductions in workers’ compensation insurance premiums in the nation over the last two years. […]

The Oregon study - - ranks all 50 states and the District of Columbia by the amount insurance premiums rose or dropped in the last two years. It highlights that Illinois had the steepest reduction in workers’ compensation rates when compared to the median, with an estimated rate drop of 24 percentage points between 2012 and 2014 (see chart below), compared to the national median reduction of only 2 percent.

The report shows Illinois employers workers’ compensation premiums dropped from $2.83 per $100 of payroll in 2012 to $2.35 in 2014. This means hundreds of millions of dollars in savings for Illinois businesses.

All good. No doubt about it. The trend is positive. But look at the actual rankings by clicking here and you’ll see Illinois has the 7th highest premiums in the nation. That’s down from 4th highest in 2012, but they’re still way too high.

* Meanwhile, from another press release…

The Illinois unemployment rate fell in September for the seventh consecutive month to reach 6.6 percent while employers created +19,300 jobs, according to preliminary data released today by the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Illinois Department of Employment Security. The data is seasonally adjusted.

The drop from 9.1 percent one year ago marks, for the second consecutive month, the largest year-over-year decline since 1984. The last time the rate was lower than 6.6 percent was in June 2008 when it was 6.3 percent. Also, there are +69,000 more jobs than one year ago.

“Unemployment rates continue to fall because private-sector employers are averaging more than 5,400 new jobs each month since the Illinois economy began to improve,” IDES Director Jay Rowell said. “Meanwhile, help wanted ads for full-time work continue to grow and indicate employers expect their need for more workers to remain strong.”

September job growth was led by Trade, Transportation and Utilities (+6,500), Professional and Business Services (+6,000), and Other Services (+5,500). Manufacturing (-2,800), and Leisure and Hospitality payrolls ( 1,100) declined.

Employers added +300,700 private sector jobs since job creation returned to Illinois in February 2010. Leading sectors are Professional and Business Services (+126,800); Education and Health Services (+60,900); Trade, Transportation and Utilities (+56,100); and Leisure and Hospitality (+36,200). Government remains the job loss leader, shedding -21,500 positions during the same period.

The unemployment rate also is in line with other economic indicators. First-time jobless claims have been trending lower for the past four years and in September the number of monthly claims was at its lowest level since 2000. Numbers from the independent Conference Board’s Help Wanted OnLine Index show that Illinois employers in September advertised for nearly 212,000 jobs and 85 percent sought full-time work.

Those lost manufacturing jobs are not a good thing, and it’s been trending that way for months.

*** UPDATE 1 *** From Bruce Rauner…

“Any monthly job growth is welcome news, but under Pat Quinn, Illinois’ unemployment rate continues to trail most of our neighboring states and far too many people remain out of work. Now, we’ve learned that Pat Quinn wants to make things even tougher on hard-working Illinoisans by enacting another massive tax hike next month.

“Since Pat Quinn became governor Illinois has lost more than 48,000 manufacturing jobs, including more than 2,500 last month alone. The people of Illinois have suffered enough under Pat Quinn and it’s time for him to go. I have a plan to lower taxes and create more jobs so our economy is booming again. I’m eager to get to work for you.”

*** UPDATE 2 *** From Brooke Anderson of the Quinn campaign…

We’re not surprised that Bruce Rauner continues to root for the Illinois economy to fail. The truth is, Illinois’ improving economy doesn’t fit the false narrative he’s made the foundation of his campaign.

Jobs are up and unemployment is down. Unemployment is now at its lowest point in more than 6 years… more people are working today than when Governor Quinn took office.

In the last 2 months alone, Illinois has created 40,000 jobs. In the last 6 months, Illinois has seen the steepest decline in unemployment of any state in the nation.

Bruce Rauner just can’t handle the truth. Having a Governor who makes the tough decisions is leading our economy in the right direction.

- Posted by Rich Miller   29 Comments      

Question of the day

Friday, Oct 17, 2014

* As you may or may not know, the Chicago Tribune refused to endorse either attorney general candidate this week

In her first run for statewide office, Lisa Madigan championed the notion of an aggressive attorney general. With then-Gov. George Ryan’s administration under federal investigation for widespread corruption — he would be indicted the following year and eventually imprisoned — Madigan repeatedly pledged to clean up state government:

“All too often in recent years we have seen our current attorney general sit on the sidelines in the face of mounting evidence of government corruption,” Madigan wrote to the Tribune that year, describing her plan to create a Public Integrity Division within the attorney general’s office. She exhaustively reassured voters she would not be conflicted in her role as attorney general with her father serving as speaker of the Illinois House. Allegations of wrongdoing “must be investigated, no matter if they involve Democrats, Republicans or even my father,” she said.

Twelve years later, Madigan is imprecise about her noticeable mission shift: While she can point to a few cases where her office has pursued public corruption, she has largely focused on civil matters. State’s attorneys are better equipped to prosecute corruption cases, and she has occasionally lent a hand to them, she says. She explains that she doesn’t have the authority to impanel a grand jury; legislation to empower her office with that tool has been stuck in the General Assembly. You’d almost think some legislators don’t want an attorney general to have that power to meddl …. um, to investigate.

To categorically accept that explanation for her office’s devotion to civil matters rather than criminal is to ignore Madigan’s own promises — and some of her early actions in office. Those were her words, vowing to pursue public corruption wherever it led. Those were her accusations leveled at her predecessor, Jim Ryan, who was “too passive” about fighting corruption. Those were her actions when she began investigating wrongdoing in Rod Blagojevich’s administration. That was her office that blocked a casino in Rosemont due to concerns about the potential for mob influence.

* The Question: Should AG Madigan more vigorously investigate and prosecute corruption? Take the poll and then explain your answer in comments, please.


- Posted by Rich Miller   27 Comments      

September 23 through October 15?

Friday, Oct 17, 2014

* I don’t know why anybody would publish poll results that include data as old as 25 days, but whatever, here are the numbers…

Democratic Illinois Governor Pat Quinn enjoys a two and one-half point lead among registered voters over Republican challenger Bruce Rauner, according to the latest statewide poll from the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute at Southern Illinois University Carbondale.

But when likely voters are asked for their preference, Rauner holds the two point lead.

“It’s a tied race,” said David Yepsen, director of the Institute. “No one can predict from these numbers who will win. It’s likely to be close on election night and every vote will be important.”

    • Among registered voters, the survey shows 41.2 percent favoring or leading toward Quinn and 38.6 percent favoring or leaning toward Rauner. Libertarian Chad Grimm had 4.5 percent supporting or leaning toward his candidacy.

    • But among the 691 respondents considered to be likely voters, it’s Rauner who holds a slim lead: He gets 42.4 percent, Quinn has 40.7 percent and 3.0 percent are for Grimm.

The full sample of registered voters has a margin of error of plus-or-minus 3 percentage points. The smaller likely voter sample has a margin of error of 3.7 percentage points. That means both leads are within margins for error, hence a statistical tie.

Among the 1,006 registered voters surveyed, Republicans held the edge in voter enthusiasm, with half (49.8 percent) saying they were more enthusiastic to vote than usual, compared with barely a third (31.4 percent) of Democrats and Independents (29.5 percent).

On the other hand, Democrats held the edge in the generic vote for US House of Representatives, with 46.6% favoring or leaning toward the Democratic House candidate and just 33.1% leaning toward the Republican candidate. Among likely voters, the margin shrank to 43.3 percent for the generic Democrat and 37.6 percent for the Republican.

“If every vote is important, then Republicans have the easier turnout task, since their folks are clearly more excited about the election,” Yepsen said.


- Posted by Rich Miller   18 Comments      

That’s life, baby

Friday, Oct 17, 2014

* Eric Scott doesn’t like the practice of using clips of TV news anchors/reporters in political ads

The Republican candidate for governor, Bruce Rauner, is now running a commercial featuring local TV news anchor lead-ins to negative stories about his Democratic opponent. It shows three clips from newscasts that aired on stations in the Champaign-Decatur and Rockford TV markets where anchors are reading copy leading into stories, but all you see and hear is a quick sentence that is taken out of context when shown in a political ad. Worse yet, the video clips are not actually what viewers saw when these newscasts aired live, but post-produced recordings and slick video editing added some “darkened graininess” and quick-flash negative imagery to give it more of a dark and scary look for further manipulation — all trick, no treat.

But I raise the red flag for the much larger issue at hand, which deals with trashing journalistic ethics and tarnishing the hard-earned reputations of those unwillingly being featured in these ads. Unfortunately, these media professionals have absolutely no control over their appearances or the power to stop this practice from happening.

At the end of the day, journalists must always maintain their credibility as a trustworthy and objective source of information. You want to watch a certain TV newscast or read stories from your favorite news source because you want to get the details from people you trust — you want to hear it from them first.

By leveraging video clips of TV news anchors and reporters for political gain, candidates and their campaigns are wilfully discrediting these journalists in using their images and voices to suggest they are endorsing one candidate by criticizing the opponent. This is different from campaigns showing newspaper headlines and mast head logos in ads — those ads usually reflect actual newspaper endorsements and don’t use individual reporters’ names or images to strengthen their point.

He goes on to upbraid the Quinn campaign for using the now-infamous Carol Marin clip in the “bury her” ad.


* The “Fair Use Doctrine” allows campaign to use clips of what TV reporters say in their ads, just as it allows people like me to use those same clips right here.

As a result, everyone in TV and radio knows - or should know - that whatever they say could be used by a campaign.

* NBC 5 posted this on its website after the Quinn ad began airing

NBC 5 strongly objects to use of our material in a campaign ad, and we asked the Quinn campaign to not use it.

NBC 5 is required by law to air campaign commercials bought by bona-fide candidates for public office so you will see it on our air.

We want to make clear that this commercial is not an endorsement of Governor Quinn by Carol Marin or NBC 5. We will continue to work hard to make sure we cover both candidates for governor fairly and objectively.

And that’s as it should be.

* The Rauner campaign has been using one of my Crain’s Chicago Business columns in its entirety as a fundraising tool for months. I haven’t objected for a couple of reasons. First, the copyright issue is up to Crain’s to deal with, and secondly, those mailers probably put my column in front of a lot more eyeballs than Crain’s did. I’m not ashamed of that piece, in fact, I’m pretty proud of it.

I really hate it when campaigns use stuff from behind my subscriber firewall, and I often make a big private stink about that. Fortunately, such behavior has been kept to a minimum this year. And I was pretty darned surprised when a candidate in the primary used one of my comments beneath a blog post to attack his opponent, but whatever. That’s life and it re-taught me a lesson: If you don’t want your words used by a campaign against somebody else, then watch what you say.


- Posted by Rich Miller   19 Comments      

Sparring partners

Friday, Oct 17, 2014

* Not surprisingly, the City Club debate between treasurer candidates Tom Cross and Mike Frerichs this week was heated at times


If you go to the 40-minute mark of this video, you’ll see the two men go toe-to-toe over whether Bruce Rauner’s budget proposal is balanced or not.

* From the Sun-Times

Cross, who has promised if he wins to fight the General Assembly if it passes unbalanced budgets, made his comment after Frerichs asked him about Rauner’s spending proposals.

“Bruce Rauner’s put forward a budget plan that’s been widely criticized by economists, by journalists, by political scientists, as being out of balance,” Frerichs said. “Would you sue Bruce Rauner’s budget? Would you call that budget out as being out of balance?”

Cross said he would, if that turns out to be the case.

“If, in fact, Bruce Rauner’s the governor, and when he actually lays out a budget that’s passed, and it’s not balanced, you’re darn right I’ll take him to court,” Cross said.

Even so, Cross still dodged the central question, which is whether he thinks Rauner’s proposal is balanced. It ain’t.

* Moving right along

In the treasurer’s race, Tom Cross, the former state House minority leader, had collected $331,000 over the past three months, spending $226,000 and leaving $614,000 on hand.

A big chunk of that $614K is now gone because Cross reserved a bunch of cable TV buys last month. Cross has reported raising another $67,500 since the first of this month.

* Frerichs reported raising $423,624 in the third quarter, spent $1.3 million (TV buys) and had $413,563.22 cash on hand. He has reported raising another $36,001 since the first of the month.

- Posted by Rich Miller   19 Comments      

Not that this is a surprise, but Quinn’s mom loves him

Friday, Oct 17, 2014

* Gov. Quinn’s mom has been making the media rounds lately. NBC 5 interviewed her earlier this week, and the Sun-Times got access to her yesterday

“I’m a little affected, I must say,” by how [Bruce Rauner’s] campaign has portrayed her son, she said. “It’s a very harsh campaign. We’ve been through several. But I’ve never been through one like this.” […]

“I would say, I think that you should modify your tone and your language. I think you have a very poor way of addressing people.” [she responded when asked what she would say to Rauner] […]

“I’m horrified,” Rauner said Thursday, laughing. “At least what I say is true. Unlike him…

“We gotta deal with facts. and we got to hit those hard. And if his mom is mad at me for trying to get those facts out, you know, so be it.”

Rauner’s right to laugh that one off. Of course Quinn’s mom is gonna say nice things about her son and harsh things about his opponent. But the “so be it” line is not exactly nice.

Full video of the interview is here.

* The paper also posted a photo of the governor as a young boy


- Posted by Rich Miller   94 Comments      

When a “fact check” is neither

Friday, Oct 17, 2014

* This could be the worst AP story of the 2014 campaign

Whether education funding in Illinois rose or fell under Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn depends on whose money you’re talking about, and during what time period.

The question has surfaced repeatedly in the heated campaign between Quinn and his challenger, Republican businessman Bruce Rauner. In two televised debates, Rauner has said money for schools dropped by a half-billion dollars under Quinn. In turn, Quinn insists it actually rose nearly $500 million since he assumed office in 2009.

Determining who is right depends on whether you count an influx of federal stimulus dollars in the 2010 fiscal year, the first budget that the Quinn administration crafted. […]

But Rauner’s campaign focuses on there being less money today for schools than six years ago — suggesting Quinn should have come up with funding to replace the lost stimulus funds.

* Wait a second: “Rauner has said money for schools dropped by a half-billion dollars under Quinn”?

Um, no. Rauner has said that Quinn “cut” school funding by half a billion dollars. And he’s been using the word “cut” since April, and even used the word in a TV ad this summer.

But Quinn couldn’t “cut” federal money that expired on its own. That’s an impossibility.

The AP has allowed Rauner’s campaign to redefine the terms of the debate after having been thoroughly debunked by everyone who has taken a close look at this, including Reboot, myself, the Civic Federation and now Eric Zorn.

If you’re gonna “fact check” a candidate, then fact check what the candidate has been saying for six months.

- Posted by Rich Miller   28 Comments      

Rauner: We settled case “because we’re nice folks”

Friday, Oct 17, 2014

* Sun-Times

Republican gubernatorial nominee Bruce Rauner on Thursday defended his role in a case brought against him by a former female CEO that’s been the subject of a TV attack ad, saying his firm settled part of the case “because we’re nice folks.”

The ad cites a court deposition claiming Rauner, through an intermediary, communicated a threat to “bankrupt” and “bury her,” if the CEO filed a lawsuit against him and his Chicago-based investment firm, GTCR. […]

Rauner acknowledged a portion of the case with former Leapsource CEO Christine Kirk was settled. However, he said it wasn’t an admission of wrongdoing but: “because we’re nice folks. We treat people well,” Rauner said. “This is for legal expenses, is nothin’.”

Rauner outright denied that he ever communicated a threat and said that sworn depositions in the case contradict one another.

“In my deposition, I wasn’t even asked about it. This is, you know what, lawsuits contain a lot of false accusations,” Rauner said. “That’s what a lot of lawsuits often have. This is false, it’s a false accusation.”

* Quinn campaign react…

The Chicago Sun-Times is reporting today that Republican billionaire Bruce Rauner is claiming he settled allegations that he threatened to “bury” a female CEO and her family “because we’re nice folks.”

Rauner again mischaracterized the LeapSource allegations, contained in a lawsuit that he settled for more than $500,000, as frivolous.

But the attorney for the female CEO - who claimed that Rauner threatened to make her “radioactive” if she ever took legal action against him - stood by the sworn statements, saying, “The judge never said it was frivolous. The judge never said these statements quoted in the complaint were not true.”

Further, the judge confirmed that Rauner and his partners played “hardball” every step of the way. […]

Below is the statement of Quinn for Illinois Deputy Press Secretary Izabela Miltko:

    “If Bruce Rauner is so nice and has nothing to hide, he should nicely release his deposition now.

    “Nice guys do not threaten women. Ever.

    “How Mr. Rauner treated a woman executive at his business is information that the public has a right to know and also reflects the temperament he’d bring to the Governor’s Office.

    “The voters have no reason to take Bruce Rauner at his word about what happened in this case involving his threatening a woman. His deposition should be unsealed immediately to let the people of Illinois hear his testimony under oath in this very troubling case.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   70 Comments      

“The Myth of the Incumbent 50% Rule”

Friday, Oct 17, 2014

* Nate Silver

1) It is extremely common for an incumbent come back to win re-election while having less than 50 percent of the vote in early polls.

2) In comparison to early polls, there is no demonstrable tendency for challengers to pick up a larger share of the undecided vote than incumbents.

3) Incumbents almost always get a larger share of the actual vote than they do in early polls (as do challengers). They do not “get what they get in the tracking”; they almost always get more.

4) However, the incumbent’s vote share in early polls may in fact be a better predictor of the final margin in the race than the opponent’s vote share. That is, it may be proper to focus more on the incumbent’s number than the opponent’s when evaluating such a poll — even though it is extremely improper to assume that the incumbent will not pick up any additional percentage of the vote.

Go read the rest for his research.

- Posted by Rich Miller   4 Comments      

Ebola breaks through as political issue in Illinois

Friday, Oct 17, 2014

* From a press release…

Former Congressman and Congressional candidate Bobby Schilling (R-Colona) is calling for an immediate halt of commercial air traffic in and out of Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia, the three countries where the Ebola virus is out of control, and any new countries that experience an uncontrolled outbreak.

“I have been constantly amazed by the ineptitude of President Obama and international agencies who keep saying it would be counter-productive to halt flights in and out of Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia because there would be no way to get world health experts and medical supplies into and out of those countries,” Schilling said.

“We must protect our population, first and foremost. The answer is to immediately halt commercial air traffic with hundreds of civilian passengers who could then spread the virus all over our country and the world,” Schilling continued. “Instead, we should be using U.S. government small planes for Center for Disease Control (CDC) personnel and technicians who can wear masks and hazmat suits on the way out. A small plane with a few experts and medical supplies is infinitely better able to have both the passengers and the plane itself controlled and quarantined upon arrival.”

“It absolutely defies common sense why this hasn’t been done already,” Schilling said.

Schilling noted that neighboring countries Nigeria and Senegal have stamped out their Ebola outbreaks in small part by sealing their borders with Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea. In this case, the world is like a hospital—those who have deadly contagious diseases are put in isolation until they are out of danger of spreading the disease. The same needs to be done with countries. It seems to have been part of the solution for Nigeria and Senegal.

Nigeria had 20 Ebola cases and eight deaths with 900 people potentially exposed. They got to business with a massive sense of urgency from the beginning with outstanding epidemiological detective work, and they closed their borders with countries where the outbreak was uncontrolled.

Schilling also said he has heard from numerous doctors and nurses here at home who are alarmed at the very slow progress in developing protocols on what to do if confronted by the need to treat a potential Ebola victim.

“Our Administration and healthcare leaders need to work around the clock until this vital planning is done because the Ebola virus is already here,” concluded Schilling.

* Polls show that an overwhelming majority agrees with this opinion, but a new Washington Post poll finds a majority has at least some confidence in the federal government to handle the situation

* Kent Sepkowitz urges calm

The same large sigh of relief should be heard from for the large health-care worker staff at the beleaguered Dallas hospital where Duncan was seen on Sept. 25 (when he was sent home) and again on Sept. 28, when he arrived by ambulance quite ill. They too seem to be in the clear. And the people on the airplane with Duncan through Brussels and Washington, D.C. are also in the clear.

Speaking of air travel, the single most important epidemiologic fact arguing for the public’s safety is this: Patrick Sawyer, the American who flew from Liberia to Nigeria while sick with Ebola, spread infection to absolutely no one who shared the plane with him. This information should go a long way to assuring those Frontier Airlines passengers who accompanied the second infected nurse from Cleveland to Dallas this week.

And still more: Spain, where a nurse caring for two repatriated patients dying of Ebola herself developed the disease, has not seen a second case related to these men’s care or the ill nurse’s, despite what has been reported by local groups as a complete lack of preparation and appropriate supplies to minimize the risk of transmission.

Despite a raging, unconscionable epidemic in West Africa, no other cases other than Duncan have appeared unexpectedly outside of Africa. Europe: Zero cases. USA: No further cases three weeks since Duncan’s illness began. Obviously past performance does not predict future returns and the world is not out of the danger zone but for now, the infected traveler is a rare event.

In other words, the rules of transmission in the community are exactly as promised with calm assurance weeks and months ago; and, conversely, the risk of caring for the super sick is every bit as harrowing and dangerous as feared when all of this began.

- Posted by Rich Miller   114 Comments      

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Friday, Oct 17, 2014

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Good morning!

Friday, Oct 17, 2014

* Janis

- Posted by Rich Miller   28 Comments      

We’re talking about a month here, people

Thursday, Oct 16, 2014

* Tuesday’s Tribune

The director of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources testified Tuesday that if state legislators do not act to set rules governing horizontal hydraulic fracturing the agency will not issue fracking permits “absent a court order to the contrary.”

The rules were on the agenda Tuesday of the 12-member Joint Committee on Administrative Rules, but the committee defered action until Nov. 6. The committee has until Nov. 15 to adopt the rules or the process of formulating fracking regulations would start over again.

* Thursday’s Tribune

On Wednesday, [Amy Pollard, who leased land to oil drillers two years ago] and a dozen other landowners filed suit against [DNR Director Miller] and Gov. Pat Quinn in Wayne County circuit court, claiming the state’s delay in issuing fracking permits is akin to an illegal land grab. […]

The legal argument being used is called “inverse condemnation.” It’s the idea that regulation of a property’s use has gone “too far,” depriving the owner of a property’s value or utility. The precedent for such an argument was established in a 1922 U.S. Supreme Court Case called Pennsylvania Coal Co. versus Mahon.

Taylor said that because the state won’t issue permits for fracking, which is not illegal in the state, landowners have lost the right to sell that land for other purposes.

Pollard, of Wayne County, said she is concerned her four-year lease will expire before oil and gas drilling can begin. She owns a title searching firm whose business quadrupled three years ago when landmen from 10 companies descended on the area.

Oh, please. The law says the rules have to be finalized by November 15th. It’s been clear all along.

* Ann Alexander of the NRDC, which favors a fracking moratorium but diligently helped draft the new law, calls them out

First, there really is not a plausible option of DNR issuing permits before the rulemaking is completed. Sorry, there just isn’t. The reason we have rules is to define how the statute will be implemented in practice. Without them, everyone is pretty much flying by the seat of their pants on some pretty critical questions that DNR was specifically told to write rules about. Things like how to address earthquakes caused by underground waste disposal, how public hearings are going to be run, how permit modifications will be governed, how to get information about chemicals to doctors in an emergency, and how enforcement will go down if drillers violate the rules. While we can understand why industry would prefer that such things remain murky and undefined, it’s not acceptable to the rest of us, and not consistent with the statutory directive to define essential procedures via rulemaking. Industry may be having trouble letting go of its fond memories of the old Oil & Gas Act and the minimally regulated fracking free-for-all it allowed prior to the 2013 statute, but that train has left the station.

Second, getting JCAR to prohibit the rules will not make the statute go away. It will simply delay its implementation. Of course, as far as we’re concerned, delaying the start of fracking is a fine idea in principle – calling a halt to the state’s ill thought out fracking gold rush is, in the larger sense, exactly what we should be doing. However, we’re also aware that sending DNR back to the drawing board to go through the entire rulemaking process over again, so it can reach a more or less similar result, is not a particularly sensible way to achieve that larger end. By the same token, if industry is assuming it will get a result substantially more to its liking the second time around, it may be deluding itself. For all their rhetoric about the revised draft rules being inconsistent with the statute, the truth is pretty much the opposite. As we explained to JCAR in a set of supplemental comments, DNR’s revisions actually fixed a number of first draft provisions that badly undercut the statute’s public protections. We have every reason to expect that if DNR ends up having to try again, it will continue to do its job and put forth rules that support rather than undermine the law.

And finally, if we’re wrong, and if a post-election DNR were to fold its cards on a second go-round and issue a set of rules that satisfies industry but not the statute’s requirements, citizens are not without recourse. If a future iteration of the rules is incompatible with the statute, citizens can ask JCAR to address the problem. And if worst comes to worst, they will have the option to take legal action. While we would rather than no fracking be happening at all, we will do what’s necessary to ensure that what does happen is governed by the set of stringent rules that the statute requires.

- Posted by Rich Miller   14 Comments      

“But at least I ain’t him”

Thursday, Oct 16, 2014

* Mick Dumke pretty much nails it

When Quinn was first sworn in, his mission was clear: make sure everyone understood that he wasn’t Rod Blagojevich. He succeeded, even if he did it by being seen as boring when he was seen at all.

A year later, logic dictated that the governor’s office was there for the taking for the GOP. But then conservative state senator Bill Brady won the Republican nomination, and Quinn was happy to point out that, at the very least, he wasn’t the guy who wanted to restrict abortion rights.

When Texas governor Rick Perry came to Illinois last year to try to lure away businesses, he ended up helping Quinn by reminding many voters—especially those leaning Democratic—that the political leadership here could be much worse. Quinn still loves to bring up Perry. During his stop at Uber, he claimed that job creation in Illinois had surpassed that in Texas. “Someone ought to call Rick Perry,” he said. He also offered up a favorite zinger about the time he had to spend six days with Perry on a trip to Iraq and Afghanistan. “It was the harshest punishment known to man.”

Now Quinn is able to campaign as the candidate who’s not Bruce Rauner. He and his allies have keyed in on Rauner’s vast wealth, stressing that Quinn isn’t the kind of guy who owns multiple homes and belongs to a $100,000-a-year wine club.

Go read the whole thing.

- Posted by Rich Miller   30 Comments      

Perhaps the best DCCC ad I’ve seen in a while

Thursday, Oct 16, 2014

* I am usually no fan of DCCC TV ads. But this one I kinda like…

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is launching its first television ad in Illinois’ 10th Congressional District, highlighting how former Congressman Bob Dold is just a reliable Republican who is standing with Republicans who want to raise the retirement age, privatize Social Security and who has opposed a woman’s right to make her own health care decisions, even restricting access to birth control and defunding Planned Parenthood. The ad starts today.

* It’s not the message so much as the style. It jumps right at you

As a commenter noted this week, it looks like an ad for a new truck.

* Script…

For Republican reliability, take a look at the 2014 Bob Dold.

With features that include lockstep voting with Republicans, the Tea Party counts on Bob Dold.

Fully loaded with Republican ideas – like raising the retirement age, and privatizing Social Security.

Bob Dold puts the brakes on women’s choice, voting ten times with Republicans against women’s health, restricting access to birth control, defunding Planned Parenthood.

Typical, reliable Republican. That’s the 2014 Bob Dold.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is responsible for the content of this advertising.

- Posted by Rich Miller   29 Comments      

Question of the day

Thursday, Oct 16, 2014

* Judy Baar Topinka is to ____ as Bruce Rauner is to ___?

- Posted by Rich Miller   71 Comments      


Thursday, Oct 16, 2014

* Sun-Times

Republican Bruce Rauner’s campaign spent $20.3 million in the months from July through September, according to the Illinois State Board of Elections. During the same period, he took in $20.5 million in contributions, including a $1.5 million check he wrote to himself last week. […]

During that same period, Gov. Pat Quinn spent the smaller – but still hefty – sum of $15.2 million, state records show. Unlike Rauner, Quinn spent more than he took in, raising just $8.2 million, the records show. That leaves Quinn with $4.7 million in the bank as the race heads into the home stretch – $1 million more than Rauner has banked.

That’s a bit misleading for two reasons. First, Rauner has given millions to the state GOP to help fund legislative races, which could help him locally, but wasn’t spent directly on himself. Secondly, the union-backed Illinois Freedom PAC reported spending $3.7 million on Quinn’s behalf in the third quarter. And that doesn’t count all the statewide referendum spending.

Again, if Rauner loses this race, his failure to bury Quinn by fully opening up his checkbook after the primary will be a big reason that I’ll point to. If he wins, he was frugally smart. If not, he was just plain dumb.

* We’ll get to the treasurer’s race in a bit, but check this out

In the comptroller’s race, Democrat Sheila Simon brought in $154,000 and spent $558,000, leaving $105,000 in her checkbook.

Her opponent, Judy Baar Topinka, outraised Simon, taking in $248,000. She spent just a fraction of what Simon did, reporting a modest $69,000 in expenses. Topinka’s campaign fund balance of $1.4 million also dwarfed Simon’s $105,000.

That is one huge burn-rate by Simon, and one empty campaign kitty going into the final stretch, although she’s reported raising about $35K since the end of September.

…Adding… Ah, I see now. Simon prepaid for about $441K worth of October advertising. Not as bad as I thought.

- Posted by Rich Miller   18 Comments      

Is this really a scandal?

Thursday, Oct 16, 2014

* Tribune

Executives of a nursing home chain owned by Bruce Rauner’s investment firm made banned campaign contributions to Ohio lawmakers in 2003 and then improperly billed Medicaid for reimbursement of the donations, according to court records in the company’s ongoing federal bankruptcy case.

Company officials self-reported the actions to authorities more than a year after they became aware of the $48,500 in potentially illegal donations, according to a letter from lawyers for the nursing home chain known as Trans Healthcare. […]

The mishandling of the donations and Medicaid reimbursement eventually led to an $800 fine from Ohio election authorities and a $137,454 settlement with federal Medicaid regulators.

Details of the Ohio troubles, tucked inside the huge bankruptcy file, add to questions about what involvement Rauner had in oversight of the nursing home chain, which he helped launch as the head of Chicago-based equity firm GTCR. Those questions have become a matter of public debate because Rauner, the first-time Republican candidate for governor, is basing his bid to oust Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn on the strength of his business resume.

* The key here is “self reported.” Doug Ibendahl had the deets on this way back in February, when an amended complaint was filed in Florida against Rauner’s former nursing home chain. Ibendahl highlighted excerpts from the complaint and here’s some of what he pointed out

¶ 84. Due to the severity of the fraudulent financial statements, THI terminated its former CFO, Jeffrey Barnhill. His subsequent litigation with THI revealed that Barnhill was involved in illegal campaign contributions on behalf of THI and its owners.

¶ 85. Barnhill was reimbursed for a $49,500 contribution as a non-salary and non-taxable event he made in 2003, for which THI then sought reimbursement from Ohio Medicaid. […]

¶ 88. In an effort to gain distance from the illegal contribution scheme, after Barnhill revealed the illegal scheme in a federal court pleading, THI and GECC utilized a law firm, the Mintz Law Firm, to be involved in “self-reporting” the Medicaid part of the crime to the Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”), Office of the Inspector General, to seek forgiveness.

¶ 89. The Office of the Inspector General imposed a fine of $137,000.

¶ 90. THI was also advised to report the illegal contributions to the Ohio Election Commission, which issued an $800 fine.

So, they found out that their CFO was apparently crooked, fired him, got sued, discovered the campaign contributions billed to Medicaid, reported the violations and paid the fines.

Am I missing something here?

- Posted by Rich Miller   28 Comments      

Do my eyes deceive me?

Thursday, Oct 16, 2014

* The Sun-Times announced years ago that it wouldn’t be endorsing any more candidates. Then came today’s editorial…

If Pat Quinn is re-elected, Illinois can expect a continued slow ascent… The danger — the real and formidable danger — is that recovery at this speed, such as it is, won’t come soon enough to save our state from ultimate and permanent economic decline. Not for nothing does Illinois have the second-highest out-migration — folks picking up and leaving — of all 50 states.

There are drawbacks to Rauner’s proposed remedies as well. His budget numbers, to begin with, don’t completely add up. But Rauner, a private equity investor by nature and politician by choice, does seem to understand down to his toes that time is up — big things have to happen fast or Illinois will become a backwater state, so economically far behind it can never recover. Illinois is desperate for big change, not cautious steps.

Rauner wants to roll back the income tax, though wisely he plans to do it over four years. And, if you read between the lines in his “jobs and growth agenda,” he is committed to rolling back the income tax fully only if other reforms take place first.

And concludes

For every voter in Illinois, the question becomes which candidate understands that best and has the skills — both the business acumen and the political savvy — to get the job done.

While there’s still time.

That sure looks like an endorsement to me.

- Posted by Rich Miller   99 Comments      

PPP poll shows wide support for minimum wage hike, not much for cutting biz taxes

Thursday, Oct 16, 2014

* Public Policy Polling has released a new Illinois survey taken October 10-12 of 812 likely voters. Let’s take a look

* Do you support or oppose raising Illinois’ minimum wage from $8.25 per hour to $10.00 per hour?

    Support 61%
    Oppose 33%
    Not sure 6%

* Bruce Rauner once favored eliminating Illinois’ minimum wage entirely. Does this make you more likely to support him, less likely, or does it not make a difference?

    More likely 17%
    Less likely 47%
    Doesn’t make a difference 35%
    Not sure 2%

* Do you think you could support your family on a minimum-wage salary, which comes out to about $1,430 per month, or $17,160 per year, or not?

    Think you could 15%
    Think you could not 74%
    Not sure 10%

* Which of the following comes closest to your view? ‘I think the best way to create an economy that works for everyone is by cutting taxes and regulations on big businesses and the wealthy,’ or ‘I think the best way to create an economy that works for everyone is by paying fair wages and investing in American workers’?

    Cutting taxes and regulations on big businesses and the wealthy 29%
    Paying fair wages and investing in American workers 61%
    Not sure 11%

* The intensity among women is pretty strong

* Independents appear to like the idea…

* Lately, I’ve been seeing some polls that show Latinos are a bit more conservative and GOP than we might expect. Check out these results…

Go read the whole thing and discuss.

- Posted by Rich Miller   63 Comments      

Rate Quinn’s new ads

Thursday, Oct 16, 2014

* The first ad we’ll discuss today is currently running on broadcast TV. From the Quinn campaign…

Governor Pat Quinn’s commitment to fighting against gun violence and standing up for victims and their families is highlighted in a new TV ad released today by his campaign.

The ad comes on the day which Governor Quinn was honored for his strong leadership in supporting gun safety, and a day after a debate in which his opponent Bruce Rauner again refused to support a ban on military-style assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines.

In the new 30-second ad, the parents of sons and daughters who were killed by gun violence tell their stories and outline why they stand with Governor Quinn: “He listened,” explained Pam Bosley, who lost her son Terrell to gun violence in 2006.

“He’s there because he cares,” said Annette Holt, who lost her son Blair to gun violence in 2007. “He does have Illinois in his heart.”

* The ad

* Script…

Tonya Burch: He was just accepted into the Air Force the day that he was murdered.

Pamela Bosley: His goal was to be a famous gospel bass player.

Annette Holt: Blair was the average 16-year-old.

Cleo Pendleton: She LOVED to read.

Nate Pendleton: During our tragedy, everything was a blur. I remember certain people that stood out, and Pat Quinn was one of them.

Pamela Bosley: There’s a lot of politicians–when the cameras are gone, they’re gone. But Governor Quinn, he stayed back, he listened.

Annette Holt: He’s there because he cares. I stand with him and I support him because he does have Illinois in his heart.

* This next one is an online ad…

Quinn for Illinois rolled out a new noir account of how Republican billionaire Bruce Rauner built his fortune: “On the misfortune of others.”

The web video, narrated by famed actor Martin Sheen, recounts the scandals that have marked Bruce Rauner’s GTCRauner business dealings, including the massive Lason accounting fraud; Synagro’s Detroit bribery; the outsourcing of Zenta; and the deadly abuse at Trans Healthcare Inc, all which took place under Rauner’s leadership.

The greed-driven Rauner formula - buying up companies, sucking them of their value, laying-off workers and selling those companies before criminal acts, mismanagement and abuse and neglect are revealed - is documented by Sheen in the new video.

The video fades to an image of the Illinois Statehouse as Sheen concludes:

“In the end, Bruce Rauner made a fortune: A fortune on the misfortune of hardworking people. He’s a man who runs over people to get what he wants…. Now he wants something new.”

* The ad

* Script…

NARRATOR: “Bruce Rauner. He made a fortune on the misfortune of hardworking people. He got his start with Mitt Romney and those Bain boys; after that, he headed west, to the Windy City.

“Bruce Rauner: He’s the R in GTCR, a big-time private equity firm right on the Chicago River. Their model was simple: Use borrowed money to buy out companies, then squeeze profit out of them, and then get out before the bill comes due.

“One company wasn’t enough for Bruce Rauner: he just got that itch, and nothing could stop him. There was Lason: Three executives went to prison for one of the biggest accounting scams since Enron. At Synagro, his boys bribed the mayor of Detroit, and Rauner himself…well, he made out okay. At a company named Zenta, Rauner bragged about shipping American jobs to places like China and India.

“The pattern started to emerge: Patterns with zeroes and dollar signs, patterns where other people suffered, where other people took the hit. And Rauner? He took the money and ran.

“There was Trans Healthcare: That was Rauner’s little empire of nursing homes—it was disturbing, and tragic. The negligence and abuse was so bad there that seniors not only suffered—some died. Rauner took the money and ran from there, too—time and time again, when things went wrong, he let others take the fall.

“In the end, Bruce Rauner made a fortune: A fortune on the misfortune of hardworking people. He’s a man who runs over people to get what he wants…. Now he wants something new.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   49 Comments      

Civic Federation confirms that state school spending rose under Quinn

Thursday, Oct 16, 2014

* Bruce Rauner has not stopped repeating his claim that Gov. Pat Quinn has cut education spending by $500 million, even though I wrote recently in Crain’s Chicago Business that his statement was the “most easily disprovable falsehood of this year’s gubernatorial campaign.”

Well, the Civic Federation did its own analysis and came to the same conclusion I did. State education spending has gone up, not down

General Funds spending on education in FY2010 is shown in budget documents as $7.3 billion. But that number includes $790.8 million in federal stimulus funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. Some analysts might deduct that amount to maximize comparability, which would reduce the General Funds figure for FY2010 to $6.5 billion. Based on that calculation, General Funds spending on education increases by $358 million to $6.8 billion in FY2015. Similarly, budget documents in FY2009 show education spending at $7.4 billion, but that amount includes $1.0 billion of stimulus funding. Deducting that amount results in General Funds spending of $6.3 billion in FY2009 and an increase of $522 million to $6.8 billion in FY2015.

- Posted by Rich Miller   66 Comments      

Protected: SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Today’s edition of Capitol Fax

Thursday, Oct 16, 2014

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- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      

Good morning!

Thursday, Oct 16, 2014

* You just can’t get any better than this. Ella and Pops will wake us up today

Oh, I wasn’t a bit concerned
For from history I had learned
How many, many times the worm had turned

- Posted by Rich Miller   14 Comments      

* A long, long way to go
* Statewide roundup
* Question of the day
* Last night's oddest moment
* So far, it's (an almost) complete news blackout
* Stand down, lefties
* Today's number: $379 million
* Local 150 spending "six figures" on Libertarian candidate
* More on McKinney
* Rauner, GOP matching Madigan's money in House races
* SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Supplement to today’s edition
* Down, but not out
* SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Today's edition of Capitol Fax (use all CAPS in password)
* Good morning!
* *** UPDATED x1 - Quinn campaign responds *** Rauner campaign responds to firestorm over Sun-Times reporter's sidelining
* New Quinn ad hits Rauner on nursing homes
* *** UPDATED x1 *** Sun-Times sidelined reporter after Rauner campaign intervention
* *** UPDATED x2 *** Quinn campaign responds to Sun-Times endorsement decision
* Yesterday's blog posts

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