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Tough fight ahead

Wednesday, Feb 23, 2005

Those who predicted an easy victory for Cong. Jesse Jackson’s south suburban airport plan weren’t paying attention.

As Capitol Fax readers know, Senate President Emil Jones said he would wait to see what Senate Majority Leader Debbie Halvorson thinks. And now this:

Will County leaders Tuesday asked local legislators to support the county’s plan for developing and operating a third Chicago-area airport at Peotone.

County Executive Larry Walsh, a Democrat, and Republican County Board member Jim Moustis met with nine local legislators and a representative of House Minority Leader Tom Cross (R-Oswego). U.S. Rep. Jerry Weller (R-Ill.), whose district covers the airport site, arranged the closed-door, 90-minute meeting in New Lenox.[…]

State Sen. Debbie Halvorson (D-Crete), the Senate majority leader, will steer the bill through the legislature, Walsh said, adding he “firmly believes” there will be action on it this spring.

The Will County plan contradicts Jackson’s plan in several ways, and an internal IDOT memo throws some doubt on part of the congressman’s proposal, according to the Daily Southtown.

An Illinois Department of Transportation memo casts doubt on whether the state can transfer land set aside for an airport to a group headed by U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr.

The memo, prepared by IDOT lawyers for Transportation Secretary Tim Martin, suggests the land near Peotone should not be relinquished without the blessing of the General Assembly.

The document also questions the legality of how the Jackson group selected two developers to design and build the airport. Illinois procurement laws do not allow design and construction contracts to be lumped together.

- Posted by Rich Miller   1 Comment      

Breathtaking, Part 2

Wednesday, Feb 23, 2005

Like I said before, it never helps to look ‘em in the eye and not tell the truth.

Democratic Gov. Rod Blagojevich has dragged his feet on naming members to the Illinois Gaming Board and balked at its plea to hire more investigators, yet his administration has forced the panel to hire a lobbyist that board members say they neither want nor need. […]

Though the Gaming Board is a quasi-independent agency, Blagojevich’s Revenue Department oversees its budget and hiring. In January, before Freveletti formally came on the payroll, [Gaming Board members] Peterlin and Dugan wrote a letter to Revenue Director Brian Hamer to complain they had not been consulted about the possibility she could be hired.

“As the economic shortfalls of the state call for budget tightening, this is a position the Illinois Gaming Board has identified as one that is not required,” the letter read. “We’ve previously informed your office of our position.” […]

As recently as last week, Blagojevich declared his commitment to preserving the independence of the board. “The more independent the better the Gaming Board should be,” Blagojevich told the Tribune.

You see, he was just saying they should be independent. It’s not like he took a solemn pledge or anything.

- Posted by Rich Miller   9 Comments      

Groundhog day

Wednesday, Feb 23, 2005

Back in 1975, Mayor Richard J. Daley traveled to Springfield and made an eloquent (no, really) speech to a joint session of the General Assembly on behalf of more funding for schools.

The mayor’s idea passed both chambers, but Governor Dan Walker vetoed it. Daley, fed up, unleashed the dogs and Walker was history.

Is history about to repeat itself?

Mayor Daley chided Gov. Blagojevich on Tuesday for a $53 billion state budget that ignores what the mayor contends should be Illinois’ highest priority: a more equitable way to fund public education. […]

“We should have a discussion on this because, otherwise, it falls upon the local taxpayers and it’s uneven, its unfair,” the mayor said. “If you live in a wealthy area, such as the North Shore, you have all the money you want. But other areas of the state don’t have . . . the financial resources. It’s called unfairness. Until that [tax swap] happens, there’s unevenness in the quality of education in Illinois.”

Governor Blagojevich, you may remember, has vowed to veto any tax swap bill if it makes it to his desk.

If I have time this week, I’m going to dig up that old Daley speech.

- Posted by Rich Miller   6 Comments      

Not gonna happen

Wednesday, Feb 23, 2005

The idea of redistricting Illinois’ congressional districts after what the Texas Republicans did a couple of years ago has come up before. Senate President Emil Jones pushed the idea, only to be overruled by House Speaker Michael Madigan, who went through an excruciating post-remap remap debate in the 1970s.

The plan is back, and, according to Roll Call (subscription only), some big muckety mucks in DC are pushing Governor Rod Blagojevich to draw a new map.

Faced with the prospect of Republicans redrawing Congressional lines in a third state since the initial 2001 round of redistricting ended, a faction of national Democrats is urging an aggressive strategy aimed at striking back at Republican House Members in states like New Mexico and Illinois. […]

Democratic Govs. Rod Blagojevich (Ill.) and Bill Richardson (N.M.) as well as high-ranking Louisiana elected officials have been contacted by members of House leadership led by Hoyer since the Georgia legislature began their re-redistricting.

MYDD has more analysis of what this could mean for Illinois:

Democrats believe that a re-opening of the Illinois lines could yield at least two seats; one could be carved out of the suburbs surrounding Chicago, which are currently represented entirely by Republicans including House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.).

Another gain could come in southern Illinois in areas Phelps represented prior to the redistricting of 2001.

This may become a hot topic on the Internets yet again, but I called Madigan’s spokesman last night and he said the Speaker is still opposed to drawing a new map.

The original 2001 congressional map was drawn after extensive negotiations by the incumbents in both parties. Phelps was the odd man out partly because he wasn’t well-liked, and mostly because nobody wanted to do anything to unduly upset US House Speaker Denny Hastert.

The reasoning goes that there are far more benefits for Illinois with a cooperative Hastert than the Dems could ever get from a couple of extra seats in the US House (with the accompanying vengence by Hastert’s people).

Unless Madigan changes his mind, this idea is still dead.

(Major hat tip to John Deeth for the links.)

- Posted by Rich Miller   13 Comments      

“Ten Things I Believe Bloggers Do Wrong”

Wednesday, Feb 23, 2005

Raw360 has some very good advice for all of us who are doing this blog thingy.

1. Only link to what we’ve already read and only say what we’ve already heard. Most bloggers will go through this stage at some point, but ask yourself why they should be reading you instead of InstaPundit if you’re taking all your links from IP and why they should be reading you instead of RightWingNews or Daily Kos when your point of view is virtually identical.

The rest of it is very good and I found myself cringing a couple of times. If you blog, or even if you read a lot of blogs, try to take a minute to look at the entire post.

- Posted by Rich Miller   3 Comments      


Wednesday, Feb 23, 2005

I’ve noticed that Firefox is getting a little bit buggy lately. It’s crashing and freezing up more than it did before. Not sure if it’s Firefox or me. Anyone else having problems?

- Posted by Rich Miller   8 Comments      

The great white hunter

Tuesday, Feb 22, 2005

Multi-millionaire Ron Gidwitz wakes up really early, hangs out with regular fellas, dons a goofy hat, borrows a shotgun that doesn’t work and blogs about it on his campaign website:

For whatever reason be it rain, elevated temperatures, too much wind or just plain bad luck, only two geese had the temerity to come within range. On that occasion, I had a regrettable equipment malfunction with my borrowed shotgun. Clark missed but Mike saved the day, bringing both geese down.

The “temerity”? I guess he didn’t pick up on any of the local lingo.

At least that photo is better than the “action shot” of him standing in his hotel room talking to a WGN radio personality Spike O’Dell… on the phone.

- Posted by Rich Miller   8 Comments      


Tuesday, Feb 22, 2005

Look ‘em in the eye and don’t tell the truth. Good plan.

A day after Gov. Rod Blagojevich told the Daily Southtown that the Tinley Park Mental Health Center would be “fully funded” for the next year, his Department of Human Services announced that one-fifth of the center’s staff will be laid off in May.

The department on Friday notified a public employees union that it intends to lay off 46 workers and an additional unspecified number of managers. The governor’s budget request calls for $20.4 million to operate the mental health center in 2005-06, down from $24 million in the current fiscal year.

Words fail me.

UPDATE: From a friend’s instant message:

See..he “told”..he didn’t sign a pledge or he’s not really breaking his word

I guess he understands the governor better than me.

- Posted by Rich Miller   1 Comment      

The other side of the debate

Tuesday, Feb 22, 2005

From today’s New York Times:

But for all the worry over higher medical expenses, legal costs do not seem to be at the root of the recent increase in malpractice insurance premiums. Government and industry data show only a modest rise in malpractice claims over the last decade. And last year, the trend in payments for malpractice claims against doctors and other medical professionals turned sharply downward, falling 8.9 percent, to a nationwide total of $4.6 billion, according to data compiled by the Health and Human Services Department. […]

Lawsuits against doctors are just one of several factors that have driven up the cost of malpractice insurance, specialists say. Lately, the more important factors appear to be the declining investment earnings of insurance companies and the changing nature of competition in the industry. […]

Data compiled by both the federal government and by insurance organizations show costs for the insurance companies climbing steadily over the last decade at an average annual rate of about 3 percent, after adjusting for inflation. Over most of that period, premiums for doctors rose modestly and sometimes even dropped as the insurance companies battled for market share in a scramble to collect more money to invest in strong bond and stock markets. But when the markets turned sour and the reserves of insurers shriveled, companies began to double and triple the costs for doctors. […]

And some researchers are skeptical that caps ultimately reduce costs for doctors. Mr. Weiss of Weiss Ratings and researchers at Dartmouth College, who separately studied data on premiums and payouts for medical mistakes in the 1990’s and early 2000’s, said they were unable to find a meaningful link between claims payments by insurers and the prices they charged doctors.

“We didn’t see it,” said Amitabh Chandra, an assistant professor of economics at Dartmouth. “Surprisingly, there appears to be a fairly weak relationship.”

Go read the whole thing.

- Posted by Rich Miller   13 Comments      


Tuesday, Feb 22, 2005

I’d like to extend my sincere condolences to Sen. George Shadid on the recent death of his son, George Shadid, Jr.

The younger Shadid died after a long bout with brain cancer.


Funeral services include a visitation on Wednesday, February 23, from Noon to 3:00 p.m. and 6:30-9:00 p.m. at St. Thomas Church in Peoria Heights.

His funeral will be Thursday, February 24, at 1:00 p.m. with visitation at 12:30 p.m.

Memorials can be made to St. Thomas Church, Guardian Angel Home (C/O Catholic Charities) or the George P. Shadid, Jr. Endowed Scholarship at BradleyUniversity.

- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      

Sgt. Jessica Housby mourned, buried

Tuesday, Feb 22, 2005

The Illinois House also held a moving memorial service for Sgt. Housby last week.

On a knoll overlooking the Rock River Valley, Sgt. Jessica M. Housby was laid to rest Saturday at a service attended by friends, family, fellow comrades-in-arms and top military and government officials from the State of Illinois.

Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn told the assembly of civilians and solemn ranks of soldiers that the 23-year-old Rock Island soldier, the first Quad-City woman killed in the Iraq War, exemplified the best tradition of service to her nation.

“Jessica is a true hero. She is among those who are proving that by serving in a dangerous place,” he said.

More than 250 mourners attended the 20-minute service at Rock Island Memorial Park Cemetery, where the Rev. Msgr, Dale Wellman of Sacred Heart Church, Moline, delivered the rite of committal. An honor guard snapped to attention, riflemen fired salutes and a bugler sounded “Taps.” […]

Quinn… noted that 86 members of the armed forces from Illinois, including 11 members of the Illinois National Guard, have been killed in Iraq and Afghanistan since the war began two years ago.

Let’s try to keep any comments respectful and not turn it into a war debate. There are times and many other places for that.

- Posted by Rich Miller   4 Comments      

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