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Race to the bottom

Monday, Jan 31, 2005

I’ve seen plenty of arguments pro and con about the impact of a single state increasing its minimum wage (as Illinois did). It’s not clear from the evidence that it has a huge impact.

But new technologies appear to be allowing corporations to change the dynamic.

The McDonald’s restaurant in Hermiston, Oregon is outsourcing customers drive-thru meals to North Dakota.

The restaurant on Highway 395 has outsourced one of the most important jobs at the drive-through window — order taking.

When a customer drives through, they’ll be patched through to Grand Forks, North Dakota to place the order. Why? Because the minimum wage in North Dakota is five-dollars and 15 cents, compared to Oregon’s seven-dollars and 25 cents.

I wonder when McDonald’s finally outsources this task overseas at a buck an hour.

- Posted by Rich Miller   4 Comments      


Statewide sites

Monday, Jan 31, 2005

I’m going to add a new link category on the right side of the page for statewide candidate websites and their non-blogger tormentors. The NoLaHood.com link shouldn’t be under “blogs,” for instance, and I’m going to change that.

If you know of any STATEWIDE candidate-related sites, please post them in comments. Thanks.

The latest one I’ve found is Rod Gidwitz’s site. Kinda lame, but he does have a “Road Diary”.

- Posted by Rich Miller   3 Comments      


New IRMA chair

Monday, Jan 31, 2005

From Crain’s online:

The Illinois Retail Merchants Association named Western Springs True Value Hardware owner Linda Johnson as chair to replace Jewel-Osco executive Pete Van Helden, who was promoted to the head of the grocery store chain’s California division.

- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      


Hynes says no

Monday, Jan 31, 2005

Comptroller Hynes says “No” to paying the governor’s bill.

Illinois’ chief financial officer said Monday his office would refuse to pay for the millions of dollars in flu vaccine that Gov. Rod Blagojevich ordered from Europe but never got federal approval to import, even though the state signed a contract.

In a letter to the governor’s chief of staff, state Comptroller Dan Hynes’ office said the lack of approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to import the vaccine should let the state cancel the contract under a provision about “circumstances beyond its reasonable control.'’

The letter also notes that Illinois’ $2.5 million contract for 256,000 doses of flu vaccine was not submitted until Jan. 24 — three months after Blagojevich struck the deal to import the vaccine.

“In light of these facts … the Office of the Comptroller will refuse any requests for payment,'’ the letter said. Hynes spokesman Alan Henry said that if the vaccine suppliers still feel entitled to the money, they will have to sue the state.

Blagojevich spokeswoman Abby Ottenhoff said the governor’s office was looking into the letter and had no immediate comment.

Stay tuned for more.

- Posted by Rich Miller   2 Comments      


Recommended reading

Monday, Jan 31, 2005

The Rockford Register-Star’s Aaron Chambers sits down with the governor’s commerce director, Jack Lavin.

The interview is transcribed online, Q&A style, a practice that has been used by more and more of this state’s newspapers in the past year or so. It began when House Speaker Madigan decreed last year that he would only allow himself to be interviewed if it was reprinted verbatum, and then everyone else asked for the same treatment.

Imagine that. Mike Madigan, of all people, helping to reshape news coverage for the better. Kinda weirds me out.

- Posted by Rich Miller   14 Comments      


Pulitzer sold

Monday, Jan 31, 2005

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch and the Bloomington Pantagraph are being absorbed by Lee. All of Lee’s Statehouse reporters operate out of one office right now, but it’s getting kinda crowded in there, so I wonder if they’ll make Erickson and McDermott (both very good reporters) move.

Pulitzer Inc. has agreed to a $1.46 billion acquisition by Lee Enterprises Inc., that will create the seventh-largest U.S. newspaper chain in terms of circulation.

The deal, announced late Sunday, ended two months of speculation about the fate of Pulitzer, whose holdings include The Pantagraph and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. […]

Lee operates 44 daily newspapers in 19 states. It had revenue of $683 million and profits of $86.1 million in its latest fiscal year. Pulitzer owns 14 dailies and more than 100 weekly newspapers and other publications. It had revenue of $444 million and profits of $44.1 million last year.

Lee’s deal for Pulitzer also includes a small stake in the St. Louis Cardinals. Pulitzer Inc. and Michael Pulitzer together own slightly less than four percent of the baseball team.

One question not answered by the above Pantagraph article was how the SP-D’s very strong employees’ unions will be impacted.

- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      


Survey says…

Monday, Jan 31, 2005

Despite some of the bad press resulting from the state’s “C-minus” in the Government Performance Project’s latest management survey of all state governments, Illinois appeared to be praised more often than it was criticized.

You can see the complete Illinois study here, or you can just peruse the press release here.


In the end
, whether you see Illinois management as a glass half full or a glass half empty doesn’t matter a great deal. The bottom line is that there’s an enormous amount of catching up to do—but at least now there’s somebody checking to see that the glass doesn’t fall off the table.

And some basic facts:

The state takes longer than average to hire new employees and terminates an above average number of new workers before the end of their probationary period. Despite recent high retirement turnover, the state boasts comparatively low voluntary turnover. Illinois spends an average amount of money on benefits per salary dollar for employees, including a 19 percent contribution of employee salary to retirement and payment of 90 percent of an employee’s health insurance costs.

* 51,127 state employees (excluding temps)
* 20% of employees are covered by the merit system
* 45 political appointees serve in the Executive Branch
* 80% of state employees are covered by labor contracts […]

Total benefit dollars per state employee:

* $16,347 for state classified employees
* $16,347 for state non-classified employees
* $20,812 for Environment classified employees
* $29,577 for Environment non-classified employees
* $24,700 for Transportation classified employees
* $36,100 for Transportation non-classified employees

Benefits dollars per dollar of salary:

* $.29 for state classified employees
* $.40 for state non-classified employees
* $.40 for Environment classified employees
* $.32 for Environment non-classified employees
* $.57 for Transportation classified employees
* $.57 for Transportation non-classified employees

Percent of health insurance covered by state:

* 90.9% for state employees

Employee relations:

* There were 1,211 grievances for state employees
* There were 23.7 grievances per 1,000 state employees
* There were 110 appeals for state employees
* There were 2.2 appeals per 1,000 state employees
* There were 138 discrimination charges for state employees
* There were 2.7 discrimination charges per 1,000 state employees

There’s more, and I’m sure other reporters and bloggers will dig it up. I’ll keep looking as well.

- Posted by Rich Miller   3 Comments      


Turn me on, dead man

Monday, Jan 31, 2005

Very trippy:

Remember when the “White Album” came out and we were worried that Paul might be dead?

Remember ruining our needles playing songs backwards searching for hidden messages?

Remember wondering what the entire song of “Revolution #9″ would sound like backwards? […]

Not every family had reel-to-reel tape recorders and it was impossible to play an 8 minute song backwards on a turntable so I don’t think many people ever got to hear the whole thing. I longed for the day that technologies would allow this type of sonic manipulation to be simplified and of course that day is here now! Using Cool Edit Pro, I have completed the project for all to hear.

Go here and scroll down.

(Via growabrain.)

Frankly, it doesn’t sound like anything.

- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      


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* Teen killed while delivering newspapers in Chicago
* New Bitcoin-based security slightly higher in debut on CME
* Metra to modify train schedules during holiday season
* Chicago-area teen accused of pointing replica gun at cars
* The Latest: Electricity fully restored at Atlanta airport
* Chicago taking proposals for reuse of historic city bridge
* No more valedictorian, class ranks at Kankakee High School
* Police: Illinois man dies after crashing ATV in New Mexico
* 14 millionth book for U of I library is professor's work
* Iowa homeless shelter sees high demand for beds

* State paying Medicaid bills before interest piles up
* Food stamps cut to tens of thousands in Illinois
* Statehouse Insider: Holiday cheer from Rauner to Madigan
* Lawmaker's daughter gets probation in political rival attack
* Gov. Rauner unveils Bicentennial Pepsi can
* Video gambling numbers level off in Springfield
* Judge: Video gambling profits must be split with operators
* Under the Dome Podcast: "Objection! (to nominating petitions), Pritzker endorsements
* Schoenburg: Jones leads fundraising in 13th Democratic primary
* Governor candidates want action on Legionnaire’s outbreak at veterans home

* Rauner keeping public in the dark about rates in Medicaid reboot
* Hunter Harrison, famed railroad turnaround CEO, dies at 73
* How City Colleges manipulated graduation rates and won a national award
* Bitcoin takes bigger Wall Street stage with smooth CME debut
* Like our roundup? Share it around.


* Toyota planning 10 purely electric vehicles by 2020s
* Hershey buying maker of SkinnyPop in $1.2 billion deal
* Trump to unveil ‘America First’ national security strategy
* Volkswagen Tiguan is all-new for 2018
* Holiday travel chaos ahead after Atlanta airport outage
* Holiday travel chaos ahead after Atlanta airport outage
* Owl, hawk vs squirrel, 87th St. slip memories: Notes, Chicago outdoors
* Mario Batali gives holiday recipe in same email as misconduct apology
* Doug Jones: Trump shouldn’t resign over misconduct allegations
* Man’s buttocks bruised when bullet hits wallet in East Garfield Park


* Bitcoin futures debut on CME, taking bigger Wall Street stage
* Hunter Harrison, CEO of railroad company CSX, dead at 73
* Cubs Q&A: How many more pitchers will the Cubs look to bring in?
* NFL's notorious catch rule resurfaces in decisive moment. Will it ever be changed?
* Teen helping stepdad deliver Tribune, other newspapers shot dead on Southwest Side
* Panthers owner Jerry Richardson to sell team amid workplace misconduct investigation
* Man wrestles gun from intruder, possibly shoots him during home invasion on Northwest Side
* Metra considers shaking up fare system: Riders closer to downtown may shell out more
* Morning Spin: Mendoza says Rauner can't take criticism 'from a 5-foot-3 woman from Chicago'
* Year after unveiling, what’s latest on Tiger Woods’ Chicago golf project?


» Is It Too Soon To Pass Sexual Harassment Policies? Some Legislators Think So
» Chicago High Schools Compete Against Each Other — For Students
» State Week: Why Are People Still Dying From Legionnaires At Illinois Veterans Home?
» Top Three Challenges For Homegrown Star Taking Over Chicago Schools
» Illinois Women Tell Their #Metoo Stories
» Illinois Issues: A Personal Story
» Key Question For Democrats: To Billionaire, Or Not To Billionaire?
» Pritzker To Be First On Primary Ballot
» 3 Years, 13 Legionnaires’ Deaths At Illinois Veterans’ Home
» Protesters Disrupt Meeting, Call For Palos Trustee To Quit Over ‘Racist’ Comments


* George Will: Whirlpool has Washington in a spin cycle
* State paying Medicaid bills before interest piles up
* Andy Shaw: Is Illinois ready to attack bureaucratic bloat and save money?
* UIS Perspectives: Educating leaders in education
* Food stamps cut to tens of thousands in Illinois
* Our View: City should enlist public input in cuts
* Statehouse Insider: Holiday cheer from Rauner to Madigan
* Schoenburg: Bernie-backing Gronemeyer vs. Clinton delegate Mazzotti for Dem post
* Lawmaker's daughter gets probation in political rival attack
* Scott Reeder: Assaults should never be swept under the rug


* CIRA cancels flights due to Atlanta airport power outage
* White Christmas not likely this year
* Rick's Six: Fog early, road work, shooting, controlled burns and new contest clue
* Ameren picks route options for north expansion
* Europe topic of ISU spring seminar series
* Area Calendar 12/18/17
* Start the Week Off Right: Maintain a healthy lifestyle during the holidays
* Holiday gift (and selfie) hunt
* One hospitalized after single-car crash that knocked down power lines in Belleville
* One hospitalized after single car crash in Belleville


* Hershey buying snack maker Amplify in $1.2 billion deal
* Pakistan steps up security after IS kills 9 in church attack
* New high roller at the table, Penn buys Pinnacle for $2.8B
* New Bitcoin-based security slightly higher in debut on CME
* Trump says he isn't considering firing Mueller over emails

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* Duckworth: Dems Need to Unite on Spending ......

* Consciousness raising.
* Corporate tax gifts didn’t start with the current GOP bill thanks to Dem friends.
* Chicagoetry: Winter Mice
* Investigation: Emanuel's Chicago Infrastructure Trust has cost taxpayers $5 million but has contributed little, and other news
* Let’s not presume that Trump and his political ilk are beaten quite yet
* Bling for the budget- and design-conscious
* Standing on the shoulders of ancestors.
* Sketchbook.
* Whenever the fight for democracy reaches a crossroads, look south.
* Sunday, Sunday.


* Illinois Awarded Funds to Offer Advanced Training on Detecting Impaired Driving
* Illinois EPA Announces Upcoming Household Hazardous Waste Collection Events
* IEMA Highlights Emergency Preparedness for People with Access and Functional Needs in May - Ready Illinois website offers preparedness tips for people, caregivers
* First Lady Launches Illinois Family Connects
* Governor and Lt. Governor Unveil 2016 Journal of Local Government Shared Service Best Practices

  
* Best Buy Doorbuster Event Day 18: Apple Watch Series 2 Stainless Steel Models Starting at $349
* The Huawei Enjoy 7S is yet another 2:1 phone with narrow bezels and dual cameras
* Pixel 2 and 2 XL get upfront Google Store discounts, Target gift cards and bill credits
* Bloomberg report lends further credence to Samsung Galaxy S9 February announcement
* There’s still time to bring the Oculus Rift home for the holidays at a discounted price
* Purported Sony H8216 specs could foreshadow Xperia XZ1 sequel with Snapdragon 845
* Samsung Market Share Slipping and the Post Net Neutrality World | #PNWeekly 283

* Podcast: Much ado about Manny Machado
* Lull in Manny Machado rumors, but plates shift underneath
* Sporcle Saturday: The richest free agent deals in White Sox history
* Former White Sox players return to rep team
* White Sox news that doesn’t involve Manny Machado
* Former White Sox players return to rep team
* The cracks in the White Sox-Manny Machado rumors


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