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Question of the day

Thursday, Feb 23, 2006

The hotel deal has been a festering sore for years. Topinka has never been able to put the questions aside, so she tried a new tack with the Daily Herald.

Republican governor candidate Judy Baar Topinka expressed regret Wednesday for a decade-old, ill-fated hotel loan settlement proposal and also said she doesn’t think she’ll be hearing from federal prosecutors any time soon about a 2003 subpoena. […]

Asked Wednesday if she’d handle the loan situation differently in hindsight, Topinka said she would have tried to “create a consensus” instead of going at it “head on.” If she had done that, then-Republican Attorney General Jim Ryan, who eventually quashed Topinka’s settlement, might have helped her avoid what’s become a political albatross.

Topinka also denied any relationship with Cellini, despite his bank board’s ties. “He doesn’t contribute to me. I do not socialize with him,” she said.

The treasurer also said she doesn’t think anything will come of a February 2003 subpoena that U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald’s office issued after a former Topinka contract employee complained that workers were campaigning on state time. Topinka attributed the complaint to her decision not to renew the individual’s contract.

Will it work?

UPDATE: Audio here. (Scroll down.)

- Posted by Rich Miller   42 Comments      


Oy, Part 64,389

Thursday, Feb 23, 2006

I didn’t write about this in today’s Capitol Fax because I figured everybody else would be all over it. They were.

The Blagojevich administration’s count of how many jobs it has created is filled with errors and loose definitions that inflate the total, state auditors reported Wednesday.

Auditor General William Holland said Gov. Blagojevich’s commerce department counts jobs it expects will be created through grant programs instead of tracking the number actually created.

Holland, who is appointed by the General Assembly, also criticized the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity for shoddy administration and failure to follow mandates from the Legislature.

Further, Holland said the department changed its methods so that people undergoing training are counted as new jobs, even though the trainees are people who already have jobs, auditors said.

But, wait, there’s more.

*DCEO had “difficulty” proving that it created or saved most of the jobs it claimed. Holland said that “for eight of 10 jobs performance measures … documentation did not agree with the amount reported.”

*20 percent of DCEO’s job-creation performance measures “were poor measures that provided little insight into program effectiveness.”

*None of DCEO’s 11 bureaus have procedures for measuring their effectiveness for economic development.

*The department has no way of tracking mandates from the General Assembly or eliminating obsolete mandates. “We identified some unfulfilled mandates,” the report stated.

*DCEO Commissioner Jack Lavin came in for direct criticism. By statute, he is chairman of the Coal Development Board, but he has not taken up his duties or provided leadership on the board’s expenditures.

More here and here.

- Posted by Rich Miller   40 Comments      


Weird

Thursday, Feb 23, 2006

I wonder if the staff played a little prank on the boss, or whether they’re all just this inept. Apparently, Gov. Blagojevich didn’t know that his recent interview with “The Daily Show” was for a comedy bit.

Talking with Post-Dispatch editorial writers on Wednesday, the Democratic governor said he went into the interview believing it was a serious report about Illinois’ emergency-contraception debate. Blagojevich said he had never watched “The Daily Show,” and didn’t know what it was when he saw it on his schedule.

“It was going to be an interview on contraceptives . . . that’s all I knew about it,” said Blagojevich, who laughed about the episode. “. . . I had no idea I was going to be asked if I was ‘the gay governor.’”

- Posted by Rich Miller   53 Comments      


Morning shorts

Thursday, Feb 23, 2006

· Tougher penalties for fake cops pushed.

· McSweeney goes on the attack.

· House bill would force online dating servies to investigate participants.

· Labor endorses Stroger, Stroger blasts Claypool.

· No real surprise, but Ryan won’t testify in his own defense and his wife is certain that he’ll be acquitted.

· Tribune endorsements for Illinois House and Senate.

· Wilmington’s water nightmare.

· Most inane editorial ever. And that’s saying something.

· Illinois lost 32,000 manufacturing jobs last year. (Hat tip: IR.)

· Fritchey loves him some Peppers, claims he was ripped off.

· If you’re a DuPage Dem, Hiram has your weekend planned. Man, that’s a good blog.

· Would somebody please ask Ray LaHood about this? Are all reporters in his district blind or just too afraid to offend?

· No executions yet, says guv.

· Idiot wind, blowing like a circle around my skull. From the Grand Coulee Dam to the Capitol. Idiot wind, blowing every time you move your teeth. You’re an idiot, babe. It’s a wonder that you still know how to breathe.

· “In the past year, Marly’s has had fewer police calls than all but two of the 3 a.m. bars near it, according to department records. Police have been called to Marly’s 51 times, while they were dispatched 150 times to The Firehouse, 67 times to PT’s, 56 times to Catch 22, 55 times to 11 West, 41 times to The Alamo and 14 times to Mojo’s.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   11 Comments      


Gidwitz explains contributions to insiders

Thursday, Feb 23, 2006

Is Ron Gidwitz a fool or an opportunist? Or did he truly have a political awakening that just happened to coincide with the gubernatorial campaign?

As a Republican candidate for governor, businessman Ron Gidwitz criticizes the Republican and Democratic players who he says have jointly controlled state politics for decades.

But a review of state and federal campaign finance records shows that he has been a prolific donor to some of the state’s most powerful GOP politicians, including former Gov. George Ryan, and has given to a handful of Democratic friends, such as Mayor Richard Daley.

On Wednesday, Gidwitz sought to distance himself from his fundraising past, saying it wasn’t “until relatively recently” that he understood the potential problems of contributions made by political insiders seeking deals in Washington and Springfield.

“My whole effort, for the last 30 years, was to try and get good people elected to public office who’d do the right thing by the people,” he said. […]

Records show Gidwitz has made more than $570,000 in donations to candidates and causes in the last decade, aside from another $1.7 million he’s given his campaign. He called the donations “contributions in the charitable and philanthropic sense.” He said he never sought anything in return. […]

Asked if he wasn’t helping to fund an organization he is now criticizing, Gidwitz said, “I was helping inadvertently.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   17 Comments      


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