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Bollywood and Johnny Cash

Friday, Aug 25, 2006

If this doesn’t put a smile on your face…

Then this surely will.

Go on… have a smile

- Posted by Rich Miller   9 Comments      

Guv goes back to positive spots

Friday, Aug 25, 2006

The traditional campaign cycle is essentially beginning - start positive, go negative, finish positive.

Team Blago is back on the air this week with another flight of ads. The buy started Wednesday, August 23rd and runs at least through Monday the 28th. In placement it appears much like the waves of ads they ran in April, May, and June before taking most of July and August off: heavy on news and public affairs with a few prime time spots thrown in for good measure.

But these spots are 30 seconds long, and are not bookended. These also seemed intended to prod his positives upward, touting his role in the Amber Alert system, rather than just drive his opponents’ lower.

And there are a lot of them. He’s spending $400K in Chicago for this buy, and it’s only 6 days long – that’s $65K a day on TV spots.

There are actually two new TV ads. “Amber Alert” and “Ethanol

What do you think?

UPDATE: If he wants to help kids, maybe he should’ve had a talk a while back with one of his biggest supporters.

CHICAGO (Aug. 23, 2006) - U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Department of Justice have reached an agreement with A. Finkl & Sons Co. on alleged clean-air violations at the company’s steel forging plant, 2011 N. Southport Ave., Chicago. The company agreed to do two environmental projects totaling $620,000, to pay a $75,000 penalty and to comply with the Clean Air Act. […]

The agreement resolves EPA allegations that Finkl violated performance standards for new sources of air pollution by making equipment modifications that caused an increase in particulate (smoke, dust, ash) emissions and by not getting permits that would have required better controls. […]

Inhaling high concentrations of particulates can affect children, the elderly and people with heart and lung diseases the most.

[Hat tip: MV at SoapBlox]

- Posted by Rich Miller   40 Comments      

Another landmark lost

Friday, Aug 25, 2006

This sucks.

Department store operator Bon-Ton Stores Inc. said today it is closing its Carson Pirie Scott store on Chicago’s State Street.

The company said 300 full time and 150 part-time employees are impacted by the closure. They will be able to interview for available positions at other store locations and receive severance support, Bon-Ton said.

Bon-Ton attributed the closure to sales declines, losses due to rising operating costs, and payment incentives from the building’s owner, who has redevelopment plans for the site.

I was in Carson’s a few weeks ago and it was just about empty. I browsed the men’s suit section, which covers thousands of square feet, for almost an hour and there were no other customers around. (By the way, I didn’t buy anything because even with all those clothes nothing really caught my eye.)

That said, I can’t help but wonder who owns the building and what the dastardly person has planned.

UPDATE: More from Crain’s:

Mr. Bergren said the current owner is working on “very exciting plans for the Carson Pirie Scott building and we think the city and people of Chicago will agree.”

· More from the AP:

The building — with 1 million square feet — is owned by Joseph Freed and Associates, which has been renovating it in recent years — including extensive work on the terra cotta facades and the ornate cornice at the corner of State Street and Madison Avenue.

The company said in a news release that after Carson vacates the structure, it plans to convert 250,000 square feet to new retail space on the lower level, first and second floors. The third through seventh floors will offer 350,000 square feet of new office, school and entertainment space.

“National and international tenants have expressed interest in leasing this historic property, and now we can pursue these opportunities,” said Paul Fitzpatrick, the company’s managing director.

- Posted by Rich Miller   25 Comments      

Protected: SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Veto Session; Women legislators; Tracy; Myers; Target News Feed (use all CAPS in password)

Friday, Aug 25, 2006

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- Posted by Rich Miller   Enter your password to view comments      

Question of the day

Friday, Aug 25, 2006

From the Tribune:

Topinka had been under pressure from the Blagojevich campaign for several weeks to show voters how she would fund her campaign proposals. But Blagojevich campaign spokeswoman Sheila Nix said the governor would not produce his own four-year financial plan before the Nov. 7 election, instead relying on his record of state budgets.

Nix said the proposals Blagojevich has already introduced are fully funded and should give voters an idea of his financial priorities.

After all the grief that Topinka has taken since March for “not having a plan,” should the press and the pundits now turn the tables on Blagojevich and demand more details from him? As a bonus question, should Blagojevich now be pushed hard to address property tax relief?

Explain why or why not.

- Posted by Rich Miller   60 Comments      

Judge the contest

Friday, Aug 25, 2006

Comments are now closed on yesterday’s caption contest. An astonishing 100 of them made it past my censorious actions.

My personal favorite was from “Scoop,” who wrote:

(AP) — Upon exiting her campaign bus during a stop on her statewide tour, State Treasurer Judy Baar Topinka was told she was under arrest for impersonating a Republican.

Which was your favorite? The commenter with the most votes will win lunch on me at a cheap restaurant of my choosing.

UPDATE: I didn’t see this one:

Wait! A garage sale! Hold the bus!!

UPDATE: OK, based on the votes so far I’m declaring “Garage sale” the winner.

Here’s how this’ll work. The winner should send me an e-mail first with a “secret message” that they’ve made up all by themselves. And then after waiting a few minutes that person should post the same “secret message” here in comments. If the messages and IP addresses match, I’ll send details about the lunch.

- Posted by Rich Miller   21 Comments      

Topinka’s plan - UPDATED x1

Friday, Aug 25, 2006

Lots and lots of stuff today. Let’s get to it.

This is probably the most cogent critique of Judy Baar Topinka’s plan to expand casino gaming. It’s from Elgin Mayor Ed Schock, who is conflicted because he has a boat in his community, but he makes sense.

…casino owners would have to invest in their existing facilities to build the new stations. As for Elgin’s casino, a new boat at a cost of $150 million would have to be built to accommodate the new spaces or they would have to be built on land - a concept that has so far been rejected by the public, Schock said.

And in Illinois, the chances of seeing gambling giants dump more money into their casinos is slim considering they already pay the highest taxes in the country, Schock said.

Elgin’s casino, for example, pays 73 percent, Schock said.

“Why are you going to invest more in Illinois, so you can pay more taxes?” he said. “For (Topinka’s plan) to work they have to look at the tax structure. That’s why the numbers aren’t realistic, because it’s not all new money. It’s not going to work that way.”

Gov. Blagojevich also made a very valid point.

[Blagojevich] said if Topinka’s plan has any chance of passing in the Legislature, it wouldn’t wind up just being one casino for Chicago because other communities would want theirs and other groups would clamor for gaming, including slot machines at horse racing tracks.

“Then all of a sudden it’s not what it was and suddenly Illinois becomes, to quote Treasurer Topinka, Las Vegas,” he said.

Topinka pretty much confirmed this yesterday.

Republican governor candidate Judy Baar Topinka refused Thursday to rule out new casinos for Waukegan and the south suburbs and slot machines at horse tracks, throwing some doubt on her stated opposition to gambling expansion.

“I’d have to see what the legislature sent me,” Topinka told the Daily Herald editorial board Thursday when asked if she’d veto a gambling package that included new casinos for Waukegan and the south suburbs.

Topinka also said she’d “have to look at” a gambling measure that included slot machines for horse tracks like Arlington Park.

Meanwhile, my Sun-Times column this week is also about the plan.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen a serious candidate for governor lay out a detailed budget plan as Judy Baar Topinka did this week.

Incumbents always challenge their opponents to produce an alternative plan of their own, and the opponents usually respond with a few broad ideas and a “vision for the future” label slapped on for good measure.

The reason we don’t ever see specific, detailed proposals is that those details invite tremendous amounts of nitpicking, and candidates who get bogged down in nitpicking usually lose. Before they can respond to one critique, the other side and the media have already moved on to, “But what about paragraph 849?”

Gov. Blagojevich went on the offensive,

Gov. Blagojevich was in Chicago, touting figures that show Illinois added more new jobs than any other state in July, and he called the GOP casino proposal a “fraudulent gimmick” that would do anything but balance the budget.

“She would take it back to how it was under Ryan and Topinka with a $5 billion deficit, except there’d be three times the amount of gambling and fewer kids and senior citizens would have health care,” Blagojevich said.

He also said

“She’s spent the last year or so getting on her high horse attacking my administration, saying things like quote-unquote we have to live within our means, that we shouldn’t have any quick fixes,” the governor said during an event at a Chicago pretzel factory. “And yet, when you propose a massive expansion of gambling that nearly triples the amount of gaming positions that would exist in Illinois, if that’s not a gimmick, I don’t know what is.”

Mayor Daley talked more about the two competing education funding ideas.

The back-and-forth between the candidates came as Mayor Richard Daley appeared to soften his previous demand that a Chicago casino be owned by the city; the state’s nine existing casinos are privately owned.

“I don’t care if it’s private. I don’t care if it’s public. I don’t care if it’s owned by anyone,” Daley said. He still questioned why taxpayers shouldn’t own a casino and enjoy the profits while hiring a private firm to manage it

The Sun-Times editorial was positive for JBT:

This page has long favored a casino for Chicago, as well as more gambling positions for existing casinos, to generate more revenues for state and local governments. And while it is not the ideal way to fund schools, we think it’s better than Blagojevich’s plan to sell or lease the lottery. It gives the state a steady, significant revenue boost that won’t expire a few decades down the road. The state should look to a Chicago casino. Education funding needs more than a casino quick fix, of course, but right now, it’s the best proposal out there.

And an Indian tribe announced plans for a bingo center near DeKalb.

Just months after paying top dollar for a family farm near this southern DeKalb County community, a Kansas Indian tribe announced ambitious plans Thursday night to bring Indian gaming to Illinois.

The Prairie Band Potawatomi of Mayetta, Kan., said they intend to open a 22,000-square-foot bingo hall with electronic gaming stations for 750 players on a 128-acre farm they bought in April. The farm is off University Road, near Preserve Road.

Tribal Chairwoman Tracy Stanhoff conceded that the proposal for the bingo hall would be controversial but said the hall would be good for the region.

UPDATE: I asked some of the other state Republican candidates whether they supported Topinka’s plan. Sen. Dan Rutherford, who previously said that gambling is “an inappropriate way to feed the jabberwocky of a hungry government,” is now in favor of JBT’s proposal. From the campaign:

Sen. Rutherford supports the plan as long as it is an allocation of the 10th license, as has been his position in the past.

- Posted by Rich Miller   16 Comments      

Natarus continues his dramatic self-destruction

Friday, Aug 25, 2006

Chicago Alderman Burt Natarus recently left this voicemail for Tribune columnist Eric Zorn.

I have stood your criticisms for many many years, and quite frankly I don’t regard you as being very innovative or humorous. The fact of the matter is that dog doo is a cause of rats. And rats are a very, very important problem in terms of eradications and keeping my ward clean. I have the cleanest ward in the city….

And before I became the alderman there was no Michigan Avenue… all of the buildings that have been built there except maybe the Tribune Tower and the Hancock Center were built during my terms of office.

So you could look at the positive side once in a while Mr. Zorn in terms of some of the work that we do. I have a doctor of law degree and I’m a member of the plan commission and I work very, very hard.

As far as I’m concerned you can keep insulting me because quite frankly it may enhance your readership. But it also enhances my vote getting ability. Bye bye.

There was “no Michigan Avenue” before he was an alderman? Was it just empty prairie? Has Burton completely and finally lost it?

Those were rhetorical questions.

- Posted by Rich Miller   29 Comments      

Morning shorts - UPDATED x1

Friday, Aug 25, 2006

· Notice how this story didn’t come out until after his Bridgeport fundraiser? “Sorich talks to grand jury”

· IVI-IPO backs Todd Stroger

· “Two of three janitors accused with a secretary of state administrator of a scheme in which they were paid for some 8,000 hours not on the job pleaded guilty Thursday to four counts of wire fraud.”

· “The state Department of Human Services is not doing enough to verify that low-income residents who receive federal grants deserve them, an audit released Thursday said.”

· “This month’s Diageo/Hotline poll should serve as a small splash of cold water on “Speaker” Pelosi and “Majority Leader” Reid. But just a splash. The upshot: our snapshot of likely voters suggests that, nationwide, Republicans may be as ginned up as Democrats. Or both Dems and Republicans may be equally motivated to vote — even if that level of motivation is low. That said, control of Congress won’t be decided by the votes of a majority of likely voters in the country. It’ll be decided by voters in about a dozen states across several dozen congressional districts.”

· “But if you are betting on the generic ballot to predict control of the House, even when it looks awfully strong for Democrats, you might want to think again. The relationship has weakened and the uncertainty is huge.”

· Champaign Co. Dems change rules to allow party to endorse in primaries

· Friday Beer Blogging

· It’s funny because it’s true: What your favorite Springfield radio show says about you

· Muir: Comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.

· Hiram: In Illinois 6th Roskam Supports Less Than 1.3% Of Illinois Residents With Estate Tax Repeal

· Austin Mayor: NRCC: Taking The Low Road

· Morning-after pill OK without prescription

· O’Hare flight caps in place through 2008

· UPDATE: This is fascinating.

Bill Tancer’s latest post about Hitwise having advance indications of yesterday’s announcement of a drop in July home sales is fascinating. In short, Bill points out that the National Association of Realtors require 3-4 weeks to put their analysis together, so, even though September’s almost upon us, we’re just now hearing that home sales in July fell.

Except Hitwise saw this coming. The web stats and competitive intelligence company saw a drop in July in searches for terms relating to home sales, and has seen a similar pick-up in August. So Bill’s not only saying they saw this coming, he’s predicting that August’s numbers will pick up.

- Posted by Rich Miller   12 Comments      

* Sherri Garrett responds to Hickey report
* Hickey wants Madigan to be more available to employees
* *** UPDATED x1 *** Mapes responds to Hickey report: "It is my position that the recent criticisms made against me do not truly appreciate the size of the responsibility of my position"
* Fun with numbers
* "Bank On" initiative signed into law
* AG attempts to dismiss lawsuit against gun dealer regulations
* Pritzker, Lightfoot launch new campaign committees
* Planned Parenthood loses federal funding for contraception, cancer screening and STD tests
* *** UPDATED x1 *** Hickey report released
* Sandoval issues another statement, but not another apology
* Pritzker's Chicago office gets a facelift
* *** UPDATED x1 *** Lightfoot wants state approval for city tax hikes
* SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Today's edition of Capitol Fax (use all CAPS in password)
* Yesterday's stories

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