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Local mail and TV

Thursday, Feb 22, 2007

[Click the pics for larger images]

* Alderman Ted Matlak’s 32nd Ward opponent has gone negative…

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Why_Mum.jpg whyMumBack.jpg

* Ald. Burt Natarus has also gone negative…

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* But SEIU has gone negative in a big way on Natarus…

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* And more from SEIU on Natarus…

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* I’m told that Natarus had five mailers hit on the same day. Probably not a smart move. I have many of the mailers, but I’m too busy today to upload them. Hopefully I’ll post them tomorrow.

* 50th Ward candidate Naisy Dolar talks about her campaign…

* Alderman Ed Smith’s TV ad can be found at this link

* A WYCC report on the 32nd Ward race…

This is a Chicago elections open thread.

Also, I’m planning to be in the city next Monday and Tuesday to have a closer look. Any suggestions?

- Posted by Rich Miller   24 Comments      

Afternoon shorts

Thursday, Feb 22, 2007

I missed some items in Morning Shorts and the local elections roundup, and others have popped up since then, so I’ll add ‘em now…

* Senator Murphy to host online chat this evening on his bill that would ban access to “social networking” Websites in certain public facilities.

Under the proposed legislation sponsored by 27th District state Sen. Matt Murphy, all public libraries and schools in Illinois would have to prohibit access to sites such as My Space, Facebook and personal blogs from computers.

The proposal, which Murphy’s office says is the only one in the nation that calls for a complete ban on these sites, has been a hot topic since it was introduced Feb. 9. It has since been referred to the rules committee.

Murphy’s live online discussion will be held 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. Thursday at his blog, The freshman senator will answer questions people have on his bill.

Be there or be square.

* Environmentalists are near a meltdown over plans to recycle nuclear fuel an hour southwest of Chicago

* Charlie Johnston: GOP Senate Race Reality Check

* Bill Baar: Jesse Jackson Jr to Todd Stroger: there are consequences to a vote

* Slusher: Sticky issue of putting ideological labels on political candidates

* Rosemont gaming license still in play

* Governor’s backlog of clemency requests draws fire

* ArchPundit thinks the story on Daley paying $100 to students for election day work was seriously flawed.

* “Today, the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law released a new report finding that Illinois’s campaign finance system is broken and badly in need of reform.” [From a press release]

* Alone among major Midwestern states, Illinois places no restrictions on campaign contributions, allowing unlimited donations from any source.

* Disclosure laws, supposedly the bulwark against corruption instead of contribution limits, are easily evaded.

* The State Board of Elections has been hamstrung by partisan gridlock and has failed to enforce the law. Wary of conducting investigations and resolving cases that could have political ramifications, the Board has signaled that campaign finance laws can be evaded without repercussion.

* The report also finds that Illinois is the only state in the Midwest that has no public campaign finance system of any kind. Under a public financing system candidates agree to limit campaign spending in exchange for campaign financing provided by the state – either through matching funds or an outright grant.

* Mayor Daley’s last TV ad of the season…

- Posted by Rich Miller   3 Comments      

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Thursday, Feb 22, 2007

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Question of the day

Thursday, Feb 22, 2007

First, the setup

A Chicago Democrat wants Illinois to be the second state to legalize gay marriages.

State Rep. Greg Harris plans to introduce legislation today that will permit same-sex couples to get married. Although four states recognize civil unions among gays, only Massachusetts provides for gay marriages.

“It would extend the same rights and obligations of marriage to same-sex couples in Illinois as are previously enjoyed, or not enjoyed, by heterosexual couples,” Harris said. “If you look at recent polls … people of Illinois very thoroughly understand that same-sex couples deserve the same rights and benefits” as heterosexual couples.

David Smith, executive director of the Illinois Family Institute, disagreed.

Smith’s group collected over 300,000 signatures to put an anti gay marriage question on the November ballot. The group didn’t have enough valid signatures, however.

Anyway, to the question: Could you support this idea? Could you support a variation on this proposal, like civil unions? Why or why not?

And, please, keep it civil. Over the top stuff will be dealt with harshly.

- Posted by Rich Miller   110 Comments      

Beyond shocking

Thursday, Feb 22, 2007

I’ve been telling subscribers lately that Ameren’s gigantic electric rate increase last month is causing political heartburn all over downstate Illinois.

This is a typical story

After paying an average bill of $223 a month for the past two years, Huckelberry still is having a hard time believing his latest Ameren electric bill after the rate freeze was lifted was for $870 - a hike of nearly 300 percent.

Yesterday, a group of legislative Republicans held a press conference, but didn’t propose any solutions….

Convinced that Illinois is in the midst of an “electric rate crisis,” a group of Republican state lawmakers on Wednesday said Gov. Rod Blagojevich ought to schedule a summit to help consumers with their dramatically higher power bills.

Some electricity bills - especially for all-electric households - have more than doubled since a 10-year rate freeze expired at the beginning of 2007.

At a state Capitol news conference with more than a dozen fellow Republicans, Rep. Bill Black of Danville accused the Democratic governor of failing to show leadership on the electricity issue.

Black said the proposed “electric rate relief summit” should include Blagojevich, the four legislative leaders and the chairman of the Illinois Commerce Commission, which is the state’s utility regulator.

That’s the usual Springfield game. Punt the hot potato to someone else.

Meanwhile, down in Carbondale, the Southern Illinoisan has been hot and heavy on the rate hike beat, with columnist Jim Muir penning three columns in the past ten days or so about the issue. His latest takes Senate President Emil Jones to task…

A few days after the Nov. 7, 2006, election the Illinois House passed a measure to extend the rate freeze but Senate President Emil Jones refused to call the legislation for a vote. The Senate then passed some bogus legislation calling for a 42 percent rate hike scattered over three years. The legislation passed by the Senate looked like it was written by Ameren and ComEd and it was never called for a vote in the House. In the end, as we all found out when we received our electric bill this month, the General Assembly did nothing and the freeze was lifted.

As I was poring over the various campaign contributions I found it interesting that during a three-week period before Senate President Jones sat on his hands and did nothing to help Illinois residents, Ameren contributed $25,000 to “Citizens for Emil Jones” and another $10,000 to the “Illinois Senate Democrat Fund.”

Am I saying that Jones took a kickback? Certainly not. But, I am saying that those contributions combined with a do-nothing General Assembly created an appearance of impropriety. I challenge anybody, including Sen. Jones, to debate me that it didn’t. In my view this single issue has exposed Illinois politics for what it is - a land where “pay-to-play” has taken precedence over common sense, logic, decency and simply doing the right thing.

[Emphasis added]

One of the hottest spots of opposition to Ameren’s rate hikes is the St. Louis Metro East area. Ameren is beginning to respond to the crisis by hiring a longtime St. Louis TV anchor as its VP for public relations. That won’t be enough, however.

The Citizens Utility Board is doing its level best to fan the fires

As if being hit with skyrocketing utility prices was not enough, more than 20,000 Illinois residents may also become unemployed due to electric rate hikes by Ameren and ComEd, says a study released Monday by the Citizens Utility Board.

Even municipalities are feeling a pinch

But individual households aren’t the only ones suffering electric bill sticker shock. Illinois’ 93rd District Rep. Jil Tracy says that a number of communities in her district got big bills.

“Likewise I’ve heard from many municipalities–towns, very small towns, which have very small budgets. And they certainly did not anticipate these kinds of increases,'’ said Tracy. “I mean, some of them are looking at more than 300 percent increases for the streets lights and the like. And it’s an ongoing expense that’s vital to public safety.”

Right now, this is the biggest story in Downstate, and it’s political dynamite for all state legislators.

- Posted by Rich Miller   29 Comments      

“Popular vote” pact eyed

Thursday, Feb 22, 2007

I’m curious what you think of this idea

In light of the 2000 electoral debacle, some state lawmakers want Illinois and Missouri to join a movement in which states would agree to give all their electoral votes to the nation’s popular vote-getter in the presidential race.

The idea is to make sure the candidate who gets the most popular votes nationally also wins the election. […]

“It’s one man, one vote,” [the IL House sponsor of a similar bill last year Rep. Tom Holbrook said.] “You can muddy the water all you want. If you think every voter is equal, then you support this.”

Supporters of popular-vote measures point to the 2000 presidential victory of George W. Bush over popular-vote winner Al Gore. After a messy election dispute in Florida that went to the Supreme Court, Bush won a majority in the U.S. Electoral College. That group of electors, set up by the Constitution, cast ballots based on the popular vote within individual states. Their vote trumps the popular vote, and in 2000 it gave the election to Bush.

However, the new system being proposed would come with its own potential pitfall: A state could be forced to give all its electoral votes to a candidate who lost in that state.


- Posted by Rich Miller   31 Comments      

Local Elections Roundup

Thursday, Feb 22, 2007

* Bridget:

Today one of Alderman Berny Stone’s supporters called and told me that he was going to “firebomb” our office. When I asked him if he was threatening us, he said that he’ll “do whatever it takes to keep Bernard Stone in office” and reiterated his intention to “firebomb” the office. I hung up and called the police.

The bomb squad came and checked out the place and took a police report. While it was probably just some idiot running his mouth with no intention to do much more than that, I was not about to take any chances.

This is the same person who called on Feb. 16th after repeatedly sending us emails saying that Greg Brewer “had a lot of nerve to run against Bernard Stone”.

* Heated developments in the 2nd Ward

* Two aldermen endorse Walls over Daley:

Arenda Troutman (20th) and Howard Brookins (21st) are believed to be the only aldermen taking sides against Daley, the favorite in Tuesday’s election. The fact that Troutman and Brookins chose Walls over Dorothy Brown makes the endorsement even more surprising.

* Alderman complains of spliced youtube video showing drinking & driving

* Daley to pay college students $100 for election day help

* Last Day for early voting in Chicago

* Retail debate in Lidenhurst mayoral race

* Ex Daley foe, Del Valle, now an integral part of mayor’s ticket:

“Given the changing political dynamics in the city, this was a good time for the mayor to reach out to me,” del Valle said. “I’ve evolved too. I’m more of a policy person than when I started. One thing you need to learn is to be a consensus builder.”

* No fines issued against Villa Park president’s party

* Pradel And Krause Endorsed By Daily Herald In Naperville Mayoral Primary

[I’ll post Mayor Daley’s newest TV ad later this morning.]

- Posted by Rich Miller   9 Comments      

Morning shorts *** Updated x1 ***

Thursday, Feb 22, 2007

* Chiefs last hurrah; crowd mourns end of tradition

* Fred Couch: Fans left orange and blue

* Todd’s trash talk:

On the eve of his biggest day as Cook County Board president, Todd Stroger took to name-calling of elected officials he says have whined too much about having to cut their budgets. State’s Attorney Richard Devine and Sheriff Tom Dart are “prima donnas” who have complained about cuts on “just about every talk show,” Stroger said Wednesday.

* Daley’s Crosstown Expressway vision includes only trucks and a CTS lane: One day after House Speaker Michael J. Madigan (D-Chicago) put the Crosstown chip on the table in the game of legislative poker, Daley piled on with a more costly and elaborate proposal.

* Sun Times Editorial: Crosstown plan worth another look

* 1,000 Cook County workers given the notice on possible layoff:

* Editorial: Hold line on taxes, cut ‘exempt’ jobs, consolidate clinics

* Showdown comes for Cook Co. budget

* Eric Zorn: Tough fight over the Judicial Advisory Council, small slice of big pie

* Cook County lacks the votes to delay March 15th smoking ban

* Jesse Jackson Jr. rips Stroger’s budget plan

* Rosemont gaming license still in play

* Madigan files suit to end tow-truck scams

* Will County officials reject Jackson’ revised ALNAC plan

* Harvey still searching for missing records

* Experts: Boys should also get HPV vaccine

*** UPDATE *** Audio of Tuesday’s appellate oral arguments in USA v. Larry Warner & George Ryan have been posted online. Listen below…


- Posted by Rich Miller   2 Comments      

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Wednesday, Feb 21, 2007

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Wednesday, Feb 21, 2007

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Question of the day

Wednesday, Feb 21, 2007

Today is the last day for U of I sports mascot “Chief Illiniwek,” overshadowing the last home game for the Illini’s senior class. Media hordes are preparing to descend upon Assembly Hall, but they probably won’t find any protests by the anti-Chief crowd, and there’s still debate about what to do with the logo.

But I don’t care about any of that.

Question: Let’s come up with a new “mascot” for the U of I. Snark is heavily encouraged, debating the Chief’s demise is strongly discouraged. We’ve already been there, done that. It’s over. Let’s move on…

- Posted by Rich Miller   81 Comments      

Say it ain’t so, Doogie

Wednesday, Feb 21, 2007

I remember the first time I met Dick Kay. I had watched him on TV for much of my life so when I saw him at the Rathskellar (the cafeteria in the Statehouse basement) I cautiously approached him and told him how much I always enjoyed his hard-hitting political reports. He was gracious and kind, and after that we developed a pretty good relationship.

You may have heard that Kay has signed on as a spokesperson to help Gov. Blagojevich pass his health care proposals. Carol Marin, who knows everybody (she has George Clooney’s private number programmed on her cell phone, for crying out loud), replaced Kay as Channel 5’s political editor after Dick retired last year. Her Sun-Times column today (Marin has about fifty different jobs) is about Kay’s surprising move…

I am struggling to imagine Dick Kay on the other side, standing in front of a bank of microphones, facing a crush of cameras at a news conference, answering questions instead of bellowing them out.

It gives me a headache.

“Doogie,” as he is called by everyone who really knows him, has just left the retirement he only months ago entered, at age 70, to be hired this week by Gov. Blagojevich as his special advocate for health care.

Yes, that’s right: The guy who was a fixture on WMAQ-Channel 5 News for almost four decades reporting on politics in Chicago has gone over, as we who are still in the business like to say, to the “dark side.” The same Dick Kay who in 1985 won a prestigious Peabody Award for his investigation of government boards and commissions that served no public purpose other than loading the state payroll with the wives, girlfriends, husbands and kids of legislators, is now on the state payroll himself.


- Posted by Rich Miller   23 Comments      

Reform and Renewal - Canary blasts the guv

Wednesday, Feb 21, 2007

Cindi Canary was an outspoken proponent of Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s reform ideas early in his first term. She has since come to realize that Blagojevich is all talk, little action (I hate to say I told her so, but…).

Canary, who runs the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform, penned a column for Crain’s the other day which was headlined “As other governors tackle corruption, what is ours doing?” As Canary details, he’s not doing much. This is how her column ends, but go read the whole thing

Instead of asking government contractors for campaign contributions, Gov. Blagojevich could spend his time persuading legislators to vote for the comprehensive package of reforms he proposed more than a year ago.

Like Gov. Spitzer, Gov. Blagojevich could voluntarily live by the limits he has suggested: $2,000 per individual, $5,000 from political action committees and zero from corporations or labor unions.

Gov. Spitzer understands why action like this is important. “We are not going to play by the same old rules, because they are corrosive,” he has said.

Becoming a corruption-buster like Gov. Spitzer may be too much to expect from Gov. Blagojevich. But he should be able to follow Mr. Spitzer’s lead and stop playing by the same old rules of campaign finance in Illinois.

Hat tip: David at Illinoize.

Meanwhile, if you want to see how much gubernatorial candidates from 15 “key” states spent per vote, Governing Magazine’s blog has the list.

IL Topinka $6.80
IL Blagojevich $15.10


* Unsurprisingly, Michigan’s free-spending Republican nominee, Dick DeVos, spent the most at almost $26 per vote. But if I’d been looking at primaries too, California’s Steve Westly would have far surpassed him at $40.6 per vote. Both lost.

* Maryland was the most expensive state, with Republican Bob Ehrlich ($21.7 per vote) and Democrat Martin O’Malley ($15.9) both spending freely. Other top spenders included Nevada’s Jim Gibbons ($20.4) and Massachusetts’ Kerry Healey ($16.0).

* In contrast, Minnesota was the land of frugal candidates. Even though Governor Tim Pawlenty decided to decline public funding so he could break the state spending cap, he did so rather sheepishly, spending only $3.9 million or $3.8 per vote. His Democratic opponent, Mike Hatch, went even lower at $2.7 per vote.

- Posted by Rich Miller   12 Comments      

Local Elections Roundup

Wednesday, Feb 21, 2007

* Vi Daley announces her endorsements [press release]

* Roud’em up: In a sea of angry commuters Tuesday morning, one aldermanic hopeful couldn’t help but grin.

Scott Waguespack, a 32nd Ward challenger, was passing out campaign fliers alleging poor CTA service when the Blue Line’s inbound trains stopped running during the morning rush.

* Troutman in trouble with loss of support from Bishop Arthur Brazier

She may survive getting charged with bribery by the feds, and she may not need Brazier’s endorsement to win reelection against a couple of previously unknown candidates, but now that both have happened, I’ve got to think she’s a long shot to hold onto her seat.

* City Clerk candidates take aim at corruption

* Summing up the Chicago mayoral race

* Wheaton mayoral candidates look at city concerns

* Political power play roils 12th Ward

* So what does an alderman do?

* Natarus’ new TV Ad…

- Posted by Paul Richardson   23 Comments      

Morning Shorts

Wednesday, Feb 21, 2007

* Surprise push to bring first Mayor Daley’s expressway dream to life:

House Speaker Michael Madigan breathed new life Tuesday into Mayor Richard J. Daley’s unfulfilled dream of building a cross-town superhighway to ease traffic gridlock.

* Sun-Times Editorial: We need to get moving on public transit

* Dawn Turner Trice: Let us bury the Chief, not praise him

* Ryan lawyers highlight unfair jury management

Sending former Gov. George Ryan to prison would be “one of the great injustices in the history of the American legal system,” his attorney said Tuesday.

* Stroger, board near compromise: Todd Stroger and the commissioners who have just seven days left to pass a $3 billion budget.

* Tribune Editorial: Crunch time for Cook Co.

The question now is who’ll take the biggest hit from the county’s 2007 budget reductions: either frontline workers in such areas as health care and law enforcement, or layers of Democratic patronage lackeys in administrative jobs.

* Stroger and Devine battle it out

* Commissioners find ways to raise more cash

* Pollution tax eyed by Cook Co. Board

* Protests planned over Cook Co. medical cuts

* Cook Co. budget fight getting tough

* Commissioner goes without office to voluntarily cut own budget by 17%

* County breaks talks with hospital billing firm: Cook County has reversed course again and ended negotiations with a controversial consulting firm because it wouldn’t cut a nice enough deal for the cash-strapped county.

* Three alderman push for airline passenger’s bill of rights

* Illinois, other states Bush administration over mercury emissions

* Blunt hails bridge proposal, IL unsatisfied

Mike Claffey, a spokesman for the Illinois Department of Transportation, said the proposal calls for $3 tolls, even at rush hour. “We’ve said all along we’re opposed to a toll bridge,” Claffey said.

* Blagojevich calls IL a national leader in child support collection [press release]

* Transit ills fail to hurt Daley

* Businesses prepare for smoking ban

* Daley rebuts $14.8 million lawsuit from ex-inmates

* ComEd and the city to help with bills:

The new program will provide one-time grants of up to $400 and is expected to help 3,000 to 5,000 households. About 19,000 ComEd residential customers in Chicago have had their service cut for non-payment, although some might no longer live at the listed addresses, officials said.

* Springfield to expand public Wi-Fi, learns from California example

* David Broder: Early primaries blot out the sun

* Small Chicago paper given Polk award for Bronzeville Center probe

- Posted by Paul Richardson   12 Comments      

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* Pritzker defends "citizen legislature" concept
* Corruption roundup
* Scammers allegedly spoofing ISP phone numbers
* Question of the day
* Another Lincoln "artifact" called into question
* It's just a bill
* Another first in a newly legalized business
* *** UPDATED x1 *** More SoS glitch details emerge
* Senate President Harmon to leave his law firm after 15 years
* Yesterday's stories

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