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Thursday, Apr 26, 2007

I can’t tell you how many hours I’ve spent talking on the phone and exchanging e-mails with my hosting company about the site problems we’ve had this week. I’m very sorry for any inconvenience this may have caused you, but I’ve been assured over and over by the company that they’re working on it.

It seems to be running better now, so we’ll just have to wait and see. This morning, I threatened to call the CEO of the company’s corporate parent with my beef, and that may have done the trick.

- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      


Dispelling the “Deep Pockets” Myth

Thursday, Apr 26, 2007

(The following is a paid advertisement.)

*Dispelling the “Deep Pockets” Myth*

Insurance companies are leading a propaganda campaign against SB 1296.


SB 1296
is not about “deep pockets,” but merely responds to a recent Appellate Court case that would open a legal loophole allowing negligent manufacturers, reckless construction companies and even drunk drivers to dodge their responsibility when their negligence injures or kills someone.

Opponents of SB 1296 are hoping that recent Appellate Court case will overturn 21 years of legal practice, allowing wrongdoers to shift responsibility for their negligence to individuals and small businesses who have long ago been dismissed as defendants from a lawsuit, by placing their name on jury verdict forms and encouraging juries to assign damages against them.

Insurance companies falsely claim that dismissed defendants have_always_ appeared on jury verdict forms. Not true, says the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:

“Historically, juries have not been allowed to consider settling defendants when figuring out percentages of fault, since 1986, when that portion of the civil liability code was written.” (4/23/2007)

Before you buy into the “Deep Pockets” propaganda, keep in mind that 88% of all tort cases in Illinois are for $50,000 or less (Illinois Supreme Court annual report).

Learn more here.

- Posted by Capitol Fax Blog Advertising Department   Comments Off      


Question of the day

Thursday, Apr 26, 2007

First, the setup…

Beyond the obvious and wrenching tragedy for everyone involved, the Virginia Tech massacre became a Rorschach test of sorts as Americans tried to analyze how it happened and how it could have been prevented.

Many have asked how it was that no one in a position to act authoritatively heeded the numerous red flags that the gunman was a disturbed and menacing presence. Others have suggested that the shooting spree could have been cut short if even one of the students or professors had been armed. Still others have wondered how someone with the killer’s record of brushes with the mental health system was allowed to buy guns.

All of these questions and points of view are understandable to one degree or another. The last is being addressed — and appropriately so — by Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan. […]

Illinois law requires any individual buying a gun to possess a Firearm Owner’s Identification card. Prudently, state law denies a FOID card to anyone who has undergone inpatient mental health treatment. Federal law also bans the sale of guns to anyone deemed mentally ill. […[

Illinois law might not stop someone with a potentially homicidal tendency from legally buying a handgun. The FOID law prohibition is for those who have had inpatient treatment, not outpatient. […]

But Illinois law also says a FOID card may be denied to anyone with a mental condition who “poses a clear and present danger.” A gray area, to be sure.

Question: Do we need to do more to prevent the mentally ill from buying guns? Explain.

- Posted by Rich Miller   47 Comments      


Right back atcha

Thursday, Apr 26, 2007

* As I told subscribers this morning, a House committee will vote today on an amendment to Sen. Gary Forby’s bill that will reattach ComEd to the Ameren-only rate rollback and freeze legislation.

A House committee is scheduled today to take up the legislation to freeze Ameren electric rates, Senate Bill 1592. A spokesman for House Speaker Michael Madigan said it could be amended to include ComEd, passed in the House and returned to the Senate for reconsideration as early as Friday.

* People agitating for a freeze also delivered petitions to Senate President Emil Jones…

Advocates delivered what they said were more than 23,000 petitions calling for rate relief to Senate President Emil Jones’ office after the news conference.

* More

Rank-and-file lawmakers have grown increasingly frustrated with the battle between Jones, a major beneficiary of ComEd campaign contributions, and Madigan, who has supported a freeze since last fall.

Downstate lawmakers have been inundated with complaints from Ameren customers about skyrocketing utility bills they have received since a nearly 10-year-long rate freeze expired with the new year. A group of consumer advocates dumped petitions in Jones’ office Wednesday asking him to support a rate freeze.

“President Jones, do your job!” shouted Jeanne Lakin, a resident of Downstate Godfrey, who said her February electric bill nearly quadrupled to $717 from a year ago. “Be there for us! Enough politics have been played!”

Consumer groups also have warned that Chicago area ComEd customers are likely to see rapid increases in their bills once the summer air-conditioning season arrives.

* More utility-related stories, compiled by Paul Richardson…

* Disconnect notices sent out

* Comments made by angry Ameren customers prompt investigation

* Death threat of lawmaker spurred by electric rate hike

* Police could wrap up death threat probe this week

- Posted by Rich Miller   7 Comments      


Pay raises and pajamas

Thursday, Apr 26, 2007

The Statehouse was abuzz yesterday with word that Senate President Emil Jones had been seen walking into House Speaker Michael Madigan’s office. What could the two antagonists be discussing, people wondered.

It turns out, Jones wanted to see Madigan about the supplemental appropriations bill that Madigan had been holding up for weeks. The Pantagraph has more…

Illinois lawmakers approved billions in new spending Wednesday, including cash for their own pay raises and a windfall for hospitals.

Last year, lawmakers decided not to block a measure that awarded themselves and some state executives about 15 percent in pay raises. But the cash to pay them had never been approved.

A House panel voted 4-2 Wednesday to pay about $1.5 million for those raises and billions more for other programs.

The spending measure included a key provision that gives about $2.4 billion to the state’s hospitals in order to leverage billions of federal money. The state has to pay for the federal government to give its full amount.

Meanwhile, in another budget-related matter, DHS is stonewalling reporters who want the agency to back up its claims about the “Pajama Scandal.”

The state Department of Human Services refuses to turn over records to back up its claim that two highly paid aides had other duties besides chauffeuring their bosses.

Department officials said the decision to keep the documents secret was supported by the state’s top lawyer, Attorney General Lisa Madigan. But Madigan’s office disputed that Wednesday, calling the claim “completely inaccurate.”

Human Services Secretary Carol Adams has told lawmakers that Carlos Estes and Eugene Davis were not mere drivers. Their job descriptions also say they wrote articles to educate the public, delivered speeches and press briefings, conducted special studies and research, and handled agency correspondence.

But in response to a Freedom of Information Act request for such records from The Associated Press, DHS said the documents could be kept secret under the law because they were “drafts” meant for internal decision-making.

I spoke to an organization yesterday that gets much of its funding through DHS. I told them that lawmakers may be unwilling to give a lot more money to an agency when they don’t trust the director. This story won’t help matters much.

- Posted by Rich Miller   12 Comments      


Morning Shorts

Thursday, Apr 26, 2007

* “Request Denied” Series:

* Survey shows no improvement in FOIA compliance

* Governor criticized for concealing information

* One man’s expensive struggle for information

* Reporter: Journalists need to use FOIA more

* Loves Park city council votes unanimous to voice opposition to the GRT

* Panel OKs abortion notification changes

* McQueary: I’ve got pension envy

Almost every pension system in Illinois faces a frighteningly high unfunded liability, which I will be paying off until I’m old and creaky. And yet lawmakers tend to cave to special interests and beef up benefits year after year.

* Editorial: Gun access and the mentally ill

* Material on tax return not hazardous

* Local lawmakers back Giuliani

* Editorial: Unfair Illinois-Indiana tollway price disparity

* Committee backs bill protecting teachers from internet threats

* House votes for campaign finance reform

* House targets contractor donations

* House backs ban on contractor ban

* House approves bill targeting ‘pay-for-play’

“Our local newspapers would be much, much thinner but for stories of scandal and corruption in our state,” Fritchey said. “This is aimed at eliminating those stories.

* Illinois House cuts links between contracts and contributors

* Phil Kadner: Stephens’ miracle, a riverboat without a river

* Chicago school leaders seek to limit local council power

* Sun-Times Editorial: New system holds hope for transit riders

* Daily Show preparing spoof on Chief Illiniwek

* Aldermen: city should have cut off Rezko

* Clout lives on in hiring?

- Posted by Paul Richardson   15 Comments      


« NEWER POSTS PREVIOUS POSTS »
* On eve of campaign kick-off, Preckwinkle admits she fired her chief of staff for "inappropriate behavior"
* Pritzker distances himself from his pension proposal
* Question of the day
* FOP offers condolences to convicted felon's family
* Senger tries to explain her "blame Duckworth" e-mail
* You gotta look at the effective income tax rates, not the marginal rates
* I'm thinking the hat isn't gonna do well at auction
* The poisoning of Willowbrook
* Davis tries to counter claims that he won't defend pre-existing condition coverage
* "A metaphor for the state of Illinois"
* 5 questions for the governor
* *** UPDATED x1 *** House GOP Leadership, several conservative lawmakers call on Rep. Long to resign
* Candidates debate their TV ads
* Sanguinetti: "Bruce Rauner has been the only one to stand up to Mike Madigan"
* Rauner says Kavanaugh allegations should "disqualify" nominee if true
* "Vote early, vote often, whatever you can get away with"
* Dem poll has Casten leading Roskam by 3
* *** LIVE COVERAGE ***
* SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Today's edition of Capitol Fax (use all CAPS in password)
* Yesterday's stories

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