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Friday, Aug 28, 2015

* The Decemberists will play us out

Come back steppin’ like to walk on air

- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      


Rate the new ILGO web ad

Tuesday, Aug 25, 2015

* From IllinoisGO…

Illinoisans for Growth and Opportunity (IllinoisGO) today announced the launch of its third web ad, which educates Democratic voters about the financial challenges of cities across Illinois and the importance of lawmakers statewide coming together to find real, long-term solutions to fix these problems. IllinoisGO’s video, part of a larger digital organizing campaign, is airing on digital platforms in suburban Cook County and the Collar Counties.

Cities across the state are struggling with budget deficits, growth of unfunded pension debt, and state cuts to education. State legislators have made local problems worse by cutting funding for education, creating an unequal funding system for teachers’ retirement, and authorizing pension holidays.

Chicago’s situation is particularly acute, with a massive budget deficit and the threat of devastating cuts to its schools without action by Springfield. But the impact of Chicago’s problems does not end at the city’s borders. 600,000 workers commute into the city from the suburbs. In fact, three out of four downtown workers don’t live in Chicago. So the economic health of the state’s largest city affects all of Illinois.

Chicago can come back, if given a fair shake by Springfield. That means a fair school funding formula, an end to double taxation on Chicago residents, and investments in programs that grow our economy and create jobs – like infrastructure and transit.

“Chicago is an anchor for our state. Its economy, culture, and even sports teams are important to Illinoisans everywhere,” said IllinoisGO Chairman Anthony Anderson. “Chicago is facing a massive financial crisis, made worse by bad policies from Springfield. The City can come back, just like it always has, but it needs state lawmakers to step up and do their part.”

* Rate it

- Posted by Rich Miller   53 Comments      


Beyond the headlines

Tuesday, Aug 25, 2015

* The media always gets a little breathless when it comes to anything about Michael Madigan. For instance, here’s a recent CBS 2 headline

Madigan in Tense Stand Off With Press After Foiled Attempt to Avoid Questions

* But the raw video shows little sign of a “tense standoff”

* On to a recent Sun-Times front page headline

THE WATCHDOGS: Top Madigan aide has lucrative side deals with clients that rely on state funding

* From the article

For 30 years, Steve Brown has been the voice of Illinois House Speaker Michael J. Madigan — a press secretary whose pronouncements often provide the only insight into the thinking of one of the state’s most powerful politicians.

But Madigan’s top aide has never been a state employee, unlike the people handling similar duties elsewhere in Illinois government.

Instead, Brown works for Madigan under a lucrative contract that lets Brown also do consulting work for other clients that rely on Madigan and the Illinois General Assembly for funding, records examined by the Chicago Sun-Times show.

Brown’s clients include a state agency and a state university. They also include a private nurse-assistant training program called New Start Inc. whose state funding more than doubled over two years, records show.

Brown’s contract with Madigan is not a new story. He makes no secrets about it and I found a piece from twenty years ago on the same topic after 30 seconds on the google.

According to the article, Brown’s clients don’t pay him all that much. The most “lucrative” contract reported is $19,200 a year from the Illinois State’s Attorneys Appellate Prosecutor, a client referenced in that above-linked 1995 story.

* What’s supposed to be different about this CS-T story, though, is the allegation that Brown is helping his clients with Madigan

New Start Inc., the Springfield not-for-profit, which has a $10,000-a-year consulting contract with Brown. New Start was started by the late James Torricelli, a longtime Brown friend, and now is run by Torricelli’s son Steve Torricelli.

In the 2011 budget year, the group got $366,043 in state funding approved by the Legislature to train nursing assistants. Its state funding was increased to $550,698 in 2012 and to $750,000 a year during each of the next two years. […]

Torricelli, New Start’s executive director, says he’s never asked Brown to lobby Madigan or any other lawmakers to fund New Start.

“We speak for ourselves,” Torricelli says. “The biggest role he provides for me is to connect me with people who could help the agency. We started a campus in Chicago. We needed to find a nursing home that would be a partner with us. He had a contact.”

* Brown appeared on WGN Radio yesterday. It’s online headline

Mike Madigan’s Right Hand Man Responds to Corruption Allegations

Brown said during the interview that the Sun-Times contacted his clients and others and asked all of them whether he did any lobbying with the Speaker and the paper came up empty.

* The Sun-Times editorial today admitted as much

We certainly can’t prove otherwise.

* But they kept kicking anyway

This sort of thing is sometimes called “honest graft,” a phrased coined in 19th century New York for a practice honed to an art in Chicago. If you’re a prominent politician or in good with one, you set up a law firm or insurance office or consulting business and the customers roll in, just playing the odds. You don’t have to cross a single ethical line, though the whole point is that some clients hope you might.

Anyway, it’s your turn to discuss.

- Posted by Rich Miller   69 Comments      


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