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Obamarama - Whitewater edition

Tuesday, Dec 19, 2006

I’ve seen this same meme popping up among the punditry lately. The first place I remember seeing it was Slate’s John Dickerson.

The Rezko business is also not likely to hurt him, because his principal rival will probably be Hillary Clinton, and she’s not going to bring up the topic of questionable land deals.

Clarence Page, of the Chicago Tribune, also made the same argument.

As a practical matter, the Rezko flap isn’t likely to hurt him in a race against Hillary Clinton, who has a questionable land deal called Whitewater in her past.

Apparently, nobody paid attention to the Blagojevich campaign. We had the most investigated governor in modern Illinois history (if not in all the state’s history) winning a race mainly by smearing a mostly honorable state treasurer as a George Ryan crony and a likely crook.

Besides, as I recall, that Whitewater thing went nowhere. It’s my opinion that she’ll have no qualms about using the Rezko deal against Obama, if she hasn’t already. Thoughts?

…Also, just in case any of the bigs ever stop by here, I’m wondering if they’ll ever get answers to questions that some local reporters have been struggling to pry out of him (I haven’t been able to get a return e-mail from his press office for quite a while and it’s starting to tick me off).

Here’s a good place to start: Why did Obama get a big discount on his house while Rezko paid full price for the lot next door (which was originally part of the same property)? Did Rezko actively and knowingly subsidize Obama’s discounted purchase price by paying the seller full price for the vacant lot? Obama has usually successfully shifted the discussion to his purchase of a portion of the Rezko land for more than he should have paid. But it’s that first purchase that I have the most qualms about.

Meanwile, on a far lighter note…

Dost thou doubt him?

- Posted by Rich Miller   50 Comments      


Protected: SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Madigan-Jones; CORE; Redistricting (Use all caps in password)

Tuesday, Dec 19, 2006

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- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      


Question of the day

Tuesday, Dec 19, 2006

The Sun-Times commemorates tomorrow’s 30th anniversary of Richard J. Daley’s death by reprinting a story from the time and a Mike Royko column. Here’s Royko:

…In some ways, he was this town at its best — strong, hard-driving, working feverishly, pushing, building, driven by ambitions so big they seemed Texas-boastful.

In other ways, he was this city at its worst — arrogant, crude, conniving, ruthless, suspicious, intolerant. […]

And if somebody in City Hall saw a chance to make a fast bundle or two, Daley wasn’t given to preaching. His advice amounted to: Don’t get caught.

But that’s Chicago, too. The question has never been how you made it, but if you made it. This town was built by great men who demanded that drunkards and harlots be arrested, while charging them rent until the cops arrived.

Some things never change.

What do you think is Richard J’s greatest legacy?

- Posted by Rich Miller   26 Comments      


Watson trip defended, hit

Tuesday, Dec 19, 2006

My weekly syndicated newspaper column is about an unpublicized European trip taken by Senate GOP Leader Frank Watson a few weeks before the election.

After losing five state Senate seats and ending up on the wrong end of a veto-proof majority, there’s bound to be a lot of second guessing and finger pointing. But Senate Republican Leader Frank Watson probably did himself no favors by going to Europe for 10 days just a month before the November election.

Watson’s spokesperson, Patti Schuh, did her level best to tamp down this story last week, and she made a few good points. Watson, she stressed, called in every day from Europe to check up on things, much as he would have done if he had been in his Decatur or Greenville district offices. “He was in constant communication by telephone, by e-mail.”

Watson was reportedly at an NCSL conference in Italy with Sen. Steve Rauschenberger in October.

Some lobbyists and former staff members have been quietly grumbling about the trip since they first heard about it, but most of them have conceded it probably didn’t make a lot of difference in the election’s outcome.

That’s an important point, by the way. Still….

I’ve talked to some of Watson’s members who are just furious about his trip. What bothers them the most is that they and their volunteers were in some of the more hotly contested districts walking precincts and doing other work while Watson was in Europe. Important meetings or not, a legislative leader’s top job — perhaps his only job — during campaign season is making sure his caucus does well at the polls.

So even if he ran all his traps before he left and checked in every day, Watson nevertheless left the field of battle, and that fact has most definitely rankled some of his members. If he was in one of his downstate offices and crisis struck, he could have been in Springfield or in the district in question within a few hours at most. He couldn’t have done that from Europe.

I kinda bet he won’t do that again.

- Posted by Rich Miller   16 Comments      


Froehlich’s Republican “road map”

Tuesday, Dec 19, 2006

State Rep. Paul Froelich, who saw several formerly solid Republican seats in his own backyard go to the Democrats last month, presents a road map to the future for the GOP.

Demographic math makes it clear that Republicans in the blue state of Illinois will not regain majority party status until the GOP attracts a sizable segment of minority voters. It isn’t happening at the moment, so the party has to change. The question is how?

I propose bringing back the traditional Republican emphasis on pursuing justice and providing equal opportunity. Lincoln said the Republican cause is “to elevate the condition of men, to lift the artificial weights from all shoulders, to clear the path of laudable pursuits for all, to afford all an unfettered start and a fair chance in the race of life.”

Froehlich wants more emphasis on social justice issues and he lists several problems with the GOP’s current approach.

Blunt crusades against illegal immigrants and affirmative action, which are easily (mis)interpreted as racist.

A blind attachment to the death penalty, despite the high wrongful-conviction rate of minority defendants.

The lack of serious Republican effort (except for Ken Mehlman) to earn support from African-Americans.

Opposition or indifference to issues important to Latinos and African-Americans, such as rooting out racial profiling and closing the nation’s biggest disparity in public education funding.

Thoughts?

[Comments closed. Move to this post instead.]

- Posted by Rich Miller   44 Comments      


Stroger wants layoffs, creative financing

Tuesday, Dec 19, 2006

All those county workers who busted their kiesters for Todd Stroger in last month’s election to protect their jobs couldn’t have been happy this morning when they picked up their papers.

About 6,200 Cook County employees could lose their jobs if department heads and elected officials follow through on a directive County Board President Todd Stroger has issued to cut their budgets by 17 percent.

Stroger is expected to make the announcement Tuesday as his administration attempts to close a $500 million deficit without raising taxes, spokesman Bill Figel said.

The county employs about 26,000 people, so that’s a serious cut. But there’s also some creative financing proposed.

The Stroger administration is addressing $150 million of the deficit through “various financing strategies,” according to the letter. Figel said the administration is considering restructuring some of its debt to save money.

I expect we’ll see more of that stuff than is currently proposed and fewer layoffs when push finally comes to shove. But the fight is gonna be fun to watch.

- Posted by Rich Miller   16 Comments      


Morning shorts

Tuesday, Dec 19, 2006

* State to ante up legal fees to video-game victors

* Editorial: Lawmakers: Wake up and smell the report

* Sandi Jackson To Run For 7th Ward Alderman… More here

* The Race for 32

* Durbin pushes politics at Cobden High

* Farmers get an early present - Winter storm remnants seeping into soil, providing moisture for next year

* Prosecutor named in DUI case

* FCC chief: Cities blocking cable competition

* Schaumburg mayor to run unopposed

* Irv Smith OK after heart operation

* Cong. Lane Evans says farewell to constitutents

* Mayor’s Metra board seat in question

* Who pays for levee repairs?

- Posted by Rich Miller   7 Comments      


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