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Friday Topinka blogging

Friday, Feb 25, 2005

I have no idea what that means other than it looks like a menu.

Friday Topinka blogging is beginning to bore me, mainly because I’ve used up most of the good pics of her that can be found online. Any suggestions? Or do you want to keep your weekly dose of Topinka?


- Posted by Rich Miller   19 Comments      


Debating society

Friday, Feb 25, 2005

Three good debates are taking place in the comments section right now.

  • Archpundit and a couple of anonymous posters are going back and forth about higher education spending and tuition.
  • Hunter S. Thompson’s suicide and suicide in general are being discussed here.
  • Governor Blagojevich’s ethics, or lack thereof, are being debated here.

I’m getting a kick out of all of them.

- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      


Simply amazing

Friday, Feb 25, 2005

Wow.

Aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn’t mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoetnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be at the rghit pclae.The rset can be a total mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit porbelm.Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe.

Find out you how you - yes, you - can play this game with The Scramblizer.

Here’s the Capitol Fax blog Scrablized.

(Link via In4mador.)

- Posted by Rich Miller   6 Comments      


Good news

Friday, Feb 25, 2005

After months of saying it couldn’t possibly be done because of Illinois’ refusal to reform medical malpractice laws, it was done.

Memorial Hospital of Carbondale has recruited a new brain surgeon to open a practice nearly one year to the day the hospital’s two former neurosurgeons announced a hostile medical malpractice climate in the state was driving them out.

Hospital administrator George Maroney said Thursday, after several weeks of discussion, Dr. Allan Gocio, a licensed neurosurgeon currently practicing in St. Louis, has decided to re-open a neurosurgery practice in Carbondale. The practice will open in April under the name Neurological Surgeons of Southern Illinois.

- Posted by Rich Miller   2 Comments      


Sickening

Friday, Feb 25, 2005

I was willing to give ICC Chairman Ed Hurley the benefit of the doubt, but I was wrong (and I should have known better, since he’s such a pawn of the utility industry).

In a scathing rebuke, Attorney General Lisa Madigan accused the state panel that polices utilities of breaking Illinois’ open meetings law and ordered it to quit letting power company executives pay for commissioners’ restaurant meals.

One of Madigan’s top lawyers this week informed Illinois Commerce Commission chairman Ed Hurley that it was possibly illegal for him to have let Peoples Energy executives buy his and another commissioner’s lunch last month, even though Hurley paid back the executive later.

Moreover, Madigan’s office said the lunch date violated the state’s Open Meetings Act because two of the ICC’s four commissioners were present. The office “strongly recommended” the commissioners undergo a special training session to brush up on public meeting laws.

Worst of all, Hurley still doesn’t get it.

“I’ve got to assimilate some of this information and determine appropriate behavior, I suppose,” Hurley said of Madigan’s letter. “But again, I don’t think we did anything so terrible.”

The governor’s appointments to the ICC are at the very heart of my problem with him. The contractor contributions, the manipulations, the Elvis posing… that’s all small stuff.

Almost nothing that state government does impacts more people directly than utility regulation. The undeniable fact that this governor has appointed blatantly utility-friendly tools to the ICC - who have then marginalized or ousted pro-consumer staff - completely undercuts his claims that he is a progressive reformer.

His last appointment of a total unknown was designed to please both sides. That wouldn’t have been a bad idea if the ICC wasn’t already so heavily weighted against consumers. He should have appointed a real reformer, like former state Sen. Patrick Welch. But Welch has been told that he was too consumer friendly for the governor’s taste.

Right now, there is only one ICC commissioner who is on the side of consumers, and he was appointed by George Ryan.

Governor Blagojevich should be ashamed of his record. He has flagrantly pimped for SBC, ComEd and Peoples Energy for two years straight. He ought to be held accountable.

- Posted by Rich Miller   7 Comments      


Whacked

Friday, Feb 25, 2005

It looks like everyone had this story today about the governor’s alleged meddling in the affairs of the supposedly independent Illinois Gaming Board, particularly through his fundraising chief, Chris Kelly.

The Tribune editorializes:

And here we thought Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s refusal to fill three empty seats on the Illinois Gaming Board was mere benign neglect–a mysterious devotion to not regulating the nine operative casino licenses that are among this state’s most valuable assets.

That’s evidently just part of the Blagojevich administration’s plans for the Gaming Board. What’s coming into focus is the picture of a governor meddling dangerously, and not for the first time, with a state agency that is supposed to operate independently of politicians like Blagojevich and his busy band of top aides.

Read the whole thing. Entertainment value = 8 out of 10.

- Posted by Rich Miller   4 Comments      


Reform and renewal

Friday, Feb 25, 2005

It turns out that I wasn’t the only one with the scoop on today’s press conference by Dan Hynes.

Comptroller Dan Hynes plans today to announce a new legislative push to clamp down on state contractors who get sweet taxpayer-funded deals and also happen to be generous political contributors.

‘’Taxpayers have a right to expect that government officials are basing their actions on sound public policy, not campaign cash,'’ said Hynes, whose effort also will involve Sen. Miguel del Valle (D-Chicago) and Rep. John Fritchey (D-Chicago). […]

Under the proposal Hynes will be unveiling today, companies with more than $25,000 in state contracts would be barred from donating to the officeholder who awarded the contracts.

Not mentioned, however, is that the plan has bipartisan support. See the Capitol Fax for more on that subject.

Os-blog was skeptical yesterday about criticisms of the governor’s penchant for accepting campaign contributions from contractors.

If you want to complain and say its a problem and unethical (and I’m pretty much with you)- then find me a legislator willing to deal with campaign finance reform and ban these sorts of donations/contracts.

He made a lot of good points in that post, but he spoke just a little too soon. Whether the bill will actually pass, however, is still unknown. The Os-man (another excellent regional politics blogger) could still be vindicated come the end of session.

- Posted by Rich Miller   5 Comments      


Uh-oh, updated

Friday, Feb 25, 2005

This is what I was talking about yesterday.

Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s plan to save money by changing pension benefits for state employees is “very risky,” the director of the State University Retirement System told lawmakers Thursday.

James Hacking said the plan assumes there will be long-term savings the state can divert to other expenses immediately. But if some of the revisions change in the future - for example, if the courts strike down certain aspects - the pension systems could be worse off than they are now, he said.

“We are spending the savings before it accrues,” Hacking told members of the General Assembly’s Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability. “There is no room for error whatsoever. It is a very risky program.”

There’s more to this, but you have to subscribe to Capitol Fax to see it.

- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      


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