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Problem may be fixed

Tuesday, Apr 24, 2007

Some people have reported that they’ve tried posting a comment and are getting an error message saying that they can’t comment because there’s a time limit between postings - even when they haven’t yet posted a comment.

This is a WordPress feature designed to slow down spammers, but the problem is if several people from one IP root address (like AOL, for instance) are posting at the same time they’ve been getting blocked. I’ve finally figured out how to disable the blocking feature (I hope) so comment posting should be much less of a hassle now, particularly in the morning when many folks post at once.

Also, I’m now trying a new method for posting the news feeds which appears to be increasing page load speed.

- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      

Protected: SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Guns; Trial lawyers; Roads; Kindergarten; GRT; Jones; Mendoza; AT&T; Cross; Noland; Link; Veto (use all caps in password)

Tuesday, Apr 24, 2007

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- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      

Question of the day

Tuesday, Apr 24, 2007

The Daily Herald’s story on Mayor Don Stephens’ funeral includes this quote from former Gov. Jim Thompson about political patronage…

“How do you expect people in public office to use the political process to carry out the wishes of the people who elect them, unless they can bring into office those who believe in them and support them?” Thompson said. “The real world understands that.”

Agree? Disagree? Please explain.

- Posted by Rich Miller   40 Comments      

Backlash heats up over “Friday Massacre”

Tuesday, Apr 24, 2007

The Friday Massacre won’t be forgotten soon. Check out this quote from Sen. Gary Forby, whose amendment to attach ComEd to the rate freeze bill was killed when Senate President Emil Jones used an almost unheard-of parliamentary tactic…

“President Jones and the people from Chicago– they just back-stabbed me is what they’ve done. They’ve back-stabbed southern Illinois.”

* The Sun-Times also weighed in today with an editorial entitled, Trick makes rate-freeze vote look wired

…there is no defending the cheap parliamentary gamesmanship Jones and his close ally, Sen. Rickey Hendon (D-Chicago), engaged in Friday in undermining a one-year freeze proposed by a fellow Democrat, Sen. Gary Forby of Benton. […]

Consumers are under enough duress without having an unheard-of technicality determine their rate-paying future. Jones’ friendship with ComEd President Frank Clark demands he act openly and straightforwardly on this issue. His stunt was neither of those things.

* The Belleville News-Democrat’s editorial is headlined “Majority rules? Not in Illinois

In theory the Illinois Senate operates on majority rule. In practice Senate President Emil Jones runs it like a dictatorship when he wants to get his way.

* The Rockford Register-Star’s editorial board published this zinger today…

Jones may not know where Rockford is, but he sure knows who his friends are.

* SJ-R editorial: A cynical message from Sen. Jones

…this is Sen. Emil Jones, D-Chicago. The president of the Senate. The guy whose wife got a nearly $80,000 raise for her nearly $200,000-per-year job that she secured after state rules were changed to allow her to qualify for that job. The guy whose son received a nearly $60,000 state job that doesn’t require a college degree and apparently didn’t need to be advertised so others might compete for it. Oh, and the guy who has received more than $270,000 in campaign contributions from electric utilities.

Mr. Jones went to Springfield last week and played games with one of his own Democratic members of the Senate. But more importantly, he demonstrated to the people of Illinois that power is what matters. Might trumps right was Jones’ clear message.

* Decatur Herald & Review: Reform sorely needed in state government

The result of Friday’s sleight of hand is that a bill, supported by a majority of the Senate, is being held up by one man. ComEd executives have to feel pretty cozy with Jones protecting them in the Senate.

Friday’s activities point out the need for reform in state government. Legislative reform is needed to take some of the power away from legislative leaders and ensure that those elected to represent the people get a chance to do so. Campaign finance reform is needed so political contributors will have less influence on the legislative process.

It’s unlikely any of that will happen soon. More likely is that Illinois government will continue to be an embarrassment to the people of the state.

* And the Chicago Tribune’s editorial board? Nothing. Nada. Zip.

* Meanwhile, the Associated Press ran a story the other day that didn’t get the notice it deserved…

Not one of the 16 states – plus the District of Columbia – that have pushed forward with deregulation since the late 1990s can call it a success. In fact, consumers in those states fared worse than residents in states that stuck with a policy of regulating their power industries.

An Associated Press analysis of federal data shows consumers in the 17 deregulated areas paid an average of 30 percent more for power in 2006 than their counterparts in regulated states. That’s up from a 24 percent gap in 1990. […]

Utilities say markets are still adjusting to many years of artificially low rates that drove potential competitors away. They point to states like Illinois, where rate caps just recently were lifted and where there already is talk of reinstating them.

Consumer groups, however, say deregulation has had a chance to prove itself. In Texas, for example, competition did develop after rate caps ended – but the energy prices remained higher.

* And a couple of more stories from today…

* Governor wants electric rates frozen at ‘06 level

* Electricity suppliers offer relief

* By the way, that story at the top which included Forby’s quote was mainly about a woman in Forby’s district who is calling Emil Jones’ constituents asking for help.

Maps, street names, and a phone book… Gay Vaughn says these are the tools to get the ball rolling against Emil Jones. Calling the people in his region and telling them how Southern Illinois is hurting from the high rates.

“They don’t think southern Illinois will do anything. If they start hearing from their own constituents and get them to write him, maybe they might change their mind,” says Vaughn.

Vaughn hopes one day he’ll be voted out of office, but for now she’s staying on task until things change… losing sleep, and devoting days at a time to this project.

- Posted by Rich Miller   19 Comments      

“Request Denied”

Tuesday, Apr 24, 2007

If you are interested at all in the citizenry’s right to obtain documents from its government, then you have to check out the State Journal-Register’s newest series of stories. Entitled “Request Denied,” the series is a must-read.

A few exerpts…

* ‘We just want to know what happened to our son

A review of Freedom of Information Act requests made to Illinois State Police in 2005 and 2006 shows that most questions go unanswered. Insurance companies seeking information on traffic accidents or thefts are told records can’t be released because doing so would be a “clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.” Crime victims and their loved ones are told the same thing – even though criminals can get files on their cases. Lawyers are denied reports that concern their clients, even when the clients sign waivers authorizing the release of documents.

The zest for secrecy is evident at the bottom of blank forms used to chronicle crimes, traffic accidents and other incidents. Even before anything is written down, the forms show that police have already decided the information is secret, despite state law that says all government records are presumed open.

“The contents of this document are not to be distributed outside the Illinois State Police,” says a statement on field report forms used by troopers. Forms used by investigators charged with conducting follow-up interviews and in-depth investigations say the same thing: “This document contains neither recommendations nor conclusions of the Illinois State Police. It and its contents are not to be disseminated outside your agency.”

Besides withholding documents, state police are keeping poor track of FOIA requests, contrary to agency policy that says responses to each inquiry are supposed to be documented. In hundreds of cases, ISP files don’t show how a request was handled.

* ‘I felt like they blew me off totally

Elizabeth Flaherty’s request was polite.

“I am writing to you today, in hopes that you will send me a copy of your reports on the incident,” Elizabeth Flaherty wrote in a February 2004 letter to a state trooper who had investigated the beating of her father at a nursing home owned by Bureau County, about two hours north of Springfield. “It has taken me this long to come to the point in my life that I still feel the need to seek out the truth.”

The death certificate says congestive heart failure, but Flaherty says her 76-year-old father was never the same after he was assaulted by another nursing home resident in May 2001. He died two weeks later. […]

In a form letter, the state police told Flaherty that releasing the report “would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.” When Flaherty appealed the decision, sending the state police paperwork verifying that she had power of attorney for her deceased father, she got no response.

* Not just crimes and crashes that are kept secret

Crimes and traffic accidents aren’t the only things Illinois police keep secret.

Police are also slow to say how taxpayer money is spent. Just ask John Baker, a Springfield attorney who successfully sued the Illinois State Police for employment discrimination on behalf of a former state police officer.

Baker first asked in June 2000 how much money had been spent on defense attorneys in his client’s case. Police didn’t respond to his request, so he wrote again. And again. And again.

All told, it took five months before police finally revealed that more than $685,000 in public money had been spent on lawyers. Besides sending requests to Bridget DePriest, freedom of information officer for the state police, Baker said he sent five queries to Keith Jensen, chief legal counsel for the agency.

- Posted by Rich Miller   12 Comments      


Tuesday, Apr 24, 2007

I was told earlier this year by the State Fair people that we may have submitted our Grandstand lineup suggestions too late for consideration. Bummer. The State Journal-Register has the lineup today

Daughtry - a multi-platinum rock band fronted by bald, bellowing and beloved “American Idol” contestant Chris Daughtry - will perform Sunday, Aug. 12, at the state fair Grandstand. […]

Corbin Bleu (of Disney Channel’s tweener TV movies “High School Musical” and “Jump In!”) and Drake Bell (from Nickelodeon’s “Drake and Josh”) will perform Saturday, Aug. 11. […]

Three country acts were disclosed previously: Gretchen Wilson with Blaine Larsen, kicking off the fair on Friday, Aug. 10; Martina McBride with Carolyn Dawn Johnson on Friday, Aug. 17; and Sugarland with Joe Nichols capping off concerts, and the fair, on Sunday, Aug. 19.

A performer for the Saturday, Aug. 18, slot remains to be announced.

Let’s hope that last slot is a lot more musically interesting than the rest of this lineup. Oy.


- Posted by Rich Miller   24 Comments      

Morning Shorts

Tuesday, Apr 24, 2007

* Lakin now faces federal charges in sex-drug case

* Sun-Times Rezko series:

* Why didn’t City Hall stop him?

* Obama: I didn’t know about Rezko problems

* Funding in 3 steps

* A Rezmar who’s-who list

* By the numbers

* Rezmar’s corporate backers had to repay millions

* Part one: Obama and his Rezko ties

* Opinion: Making business the bad guy is a cheap political trick

* Two schools in state settle loan case

* Illinois gun reporting system examined

* Illinois Halal law controversial among Muslims

* Illinois wineries, beer distributors reach deal

The Associated Beer Distributors of Illinois, a consortium of 70 distributors, argued winemakers were bypassing the state’s alcohol distribution system by shipping directly to customers.

* Report chides Illinois on protecting kids’ legal rights

* Time tight for Rockford bill to collect tax in July

* Sun-Times Editorial: Study shows TIFs are ripe for reform

* State officials warn of lottery scam

* Kadner: Crazy talk about helping the mentally ill

But the state hasn’t provided enough community-based options to help those in psychiatric crisis.
There was a time when people with mental ailments were given lobotomies.
Now we just surgically remove them from the budget.

* Directors of Howe Developmental Center ousted by the state

* HillaryCare installment healthcare plan emerges as 2008 issue

* Jennifer Hunter: Legendary Hunter gets out the Latino vote

* Editorial: Olympics offer state a golden opportunity

* CTA expands tracking program to all routes

* ‘Larger than life‘ figure mourned; more here and here

* Daley picks 11th Chief of Staff, Lori Healy

* Daley denies Inspector General’s request for more staff

* Jackson Jr.’s ‘help’ questioned by winning aldermen

* Records detail Harvey mayor’s spending habits

- Posted by Paul Richardson   8 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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