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Weird day for Illinois Republicans - Froehlich flips, Dillard does Obama TV ad *** Updated x3 ***

Monday, Jun 25, 2007

* The Daily Herald now has a story up about Rep. Paul Froehlich (R-Schaumburg) switching parties. He’ll make the announcement Wednesday, when he moves to the Democratic side of the aisle. I’m keeping the Capitol Fax story, posted earlier this afternoon, hidden for subscribers only, but here’s part of the Daily Herald piece that just went online…

Republican state Rep. Paul Froehlich is switching political parties, becoming a Democrat and leaving behind the Schaumburg Township GOP organization he controlled for nearly a decade. […]

Froehlich, who represents the 56th House District, watched last fall as longtime Republican Rep. Terry Parke of Hoffman Estates lost his seat to Democrat Fred Crespo, who himself had defected from Froehlich’s GOP group.

Froehlich also had told allies he feared House GOP leader Tom Cross would back a primary challenge against him next February.

Froehlich had been mulling the move for months. He was unopposed last year in the General Election and won by about a 2-to-1 margin in the primary. But Froehlich watched Schaumburg Township vote for Democrat Melissa Bean over Republican David McSweeney last fall. (Bean scored 58.4 percent and McSweeney 37.6 percent.) President Bush also lost Schaumburg Township to Democrat John Kerry in 2004 by about four percentage points.

Froehlich was a conservative Republican who swept longtime township committeeman Don Totten out of power in March 1998. Froehlich was known for trying to exert tight control in his organization.

* I’ve moved this item from a previous post…

Paul Froehlich isn’t the only one playing footsy with the Democrats. Sen. Kirk Dillard, who until recently was chairman of the DuPage County Republican Party, has just cut a TV ad for Barack Obama.

Dillard: “Sen. Obama worked on some of the deepest issues we had and he was successful in a bipartisan way.”

“Republican legislators respected Sen. Obama. His negotiation skills and an ability to understand both sides would serve the country very well.”

You can click the pic to go straight to the video…

*** UPDATE - 3:23 pm ***
Statement from House GOP Leader Tom Cross’ spokesman David Dring

If the reports are true it is disappointing that Representative Froehlich has decided to switch parties. Our caucus has always encouraged members to vote their district’s best interest and Paul was no different. The House Republican caucus does not have a litmus test for our members. This seems to be a move made more for personal political gain than any belief on issues.

*** UPDATE 2 - 4:12 pm *** From Jack Darin, Director of the Sierra Club, Illinois Chapter on the Froehlich move…

We were with Froehlich in his primary last year. He has been a very solid vote on the environment, and not just a vote. He has been a real leader on some tough issues with a lot of business opposition.

*** UPDATE 3 *** I gave ArchPundit permission to reprint this paragraph from my subscriber-only story, so I figured I ought to post it here as well…

The state’s newest Democrat said his dissatisfaction with the Bush administration also played a role in his decision. Froehlich claims to have been against the Iraq War since before it began, said he is horrified at President Bush’s abuse of Habeus Corpus (which Froehlich claimed is the thing that “separates a free system from an unfree system”), has been very bothered by the national party’s “harsh rhetoric” on immigration issues and has disagreed with his fellow Republicans on environmental issues.

- Posted by Rich Miller   68 Comments      

Protected: SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Froehlich to switch parties. Exclusive interview.

Monday, Jun 25, 2007

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This just in…

Monday, Jun 25, 2007

* 10:25 am - The House has canceled tomorrow’s session. The Senate will be in, however. Not sure what time the leaders meeting is scheduled for tomorrow.

* 10:51 am - Have you purchased a t-shirt, golf shirt, button etc. from our charity project site yet? If you haven’t, get on over there now!

If you have, send me a pic of yourself wearing the swag and I’ll post it here. The first three people who respond (with publishable photos, of course) will get another piece of our merchandise from me. Their choice.

Send your photo as a jpg attachment to capitolfax (at) aol (dot) com. Thanks!

* 11:11 am - So, you think legislative redistricting is easy? Try the Redistricting Game and see for yourself.

* 1:40 pm - Based on some of the calls I’ve received and talks I’ve had with various higher-ups, I was assuming that the folks who run the State Police and the governor’s office have been worried about leaks within the governor’s security detail for quite some time. Neil Steinberg’s column yesterday provided a bit more evidence

…I wouldn’t want to get any of the troopers feeding gossip to Judy into trouble.

* 2:10 pm - The Senate has canceled tomorrow’s session.

* 2:56 pm - The post on Republican Sen. Kirk Dillard doing a TV ad for Barack Obama has been moved here.

* 2:59 pm - If you use Insight Cable for your broadband access (as I do), and your service has been unreal slow all day, it should be over soon. I called them several minutes ago and there was a problem with a fiber optic line up north. The estimated finish time is supposed to be sometime after 4 o’clock.

- Posted by Rich Miller   23 Comments      

Question of the Day

Monday, Jun 25, 2007

Capitol Fax Blog commenters are being asked for their expertise.

The Institute of Government and Public Affairs at the University of Illinois is looking to tap into the wealth of knowledge, instinct, experience and intuition of Capitol Fax Blog commenters.

Specifically, researchers at our flagship institution are interested in knowing what topics CapFax readers think the University should be focusing on in the upcoming year.

In other words, what policy areas do you think we need to know more about for 2007-2008?

The Institute has provided a short list of possible topics and has suggested that commenters select up to three to help narrow the field, or come up their own. The suggested topics:

-Alternative fuels and energy
-School finance
-Measuring educational achievement
-Medicaid reform and outlook
-Higher education: is there a funding crisis?
-Economic development in high tech world
-Illinois and world global competition
-Ethics regulations around the world
-Regional/metropolitan planning
-Utilities regulation and pricing
-Health care—universal coverage v. affordable care
-Streamlined sales tax and Internet sales
-Demographic projections and public policy

Please offer your thoughts to help guide the University’s agenda next year. A few randomly selected commenters will receive a copy of Institute Professor Jim Nowlan’s latest book,
The Editor’s Wife

Let’s put on our thinking caps and help out the Institute. Please, no snark. Thanks!

- Posted by Paul Richardson   55 Comments      

Reform and renewal - The Tollway’s helping hand

Monday, Jun 25, 2007

It looks like Gov. Blagojevich has his own “Cellini Hotel” situation to deal with. The master developer at the state Tollway’s oases isn’t making its rent payments, and the Tollway allegedly bent over backwards to help it out of a negative media situation, which seems even worse than the slow-motion controversy at the Renaissance Hotel (now the Abraham Lincoln something-or-another)…

Under terms of its lease with the tollway, Wilton is supposed to pay a base rent of $61,917 a month, or $743,000 a year, into the tollway’s general operating budget. But documents showed Wilton stopped making scheduled payments after June 1 of last year. […]

Wilton also has fallen behind on payments it is required to make into a special maintenance fund for oases repair and renovation based on 1 percent of sales at the oases. The tollway threatened Wilton with default after it missed nearly a year of payments, and the firm resumed making its scheduled monthly maintenance payments in January. It still owes the tollway $532,000, tollway officials said. The tollway contends it is also owed $88,000 for parking lot repairs.

In addition to the rental and repair payments, records show Wilton has not paid more than $51,000 in oases real estate taxes in Cook and DeKalb Counties as required by the lease. Tollway officials said they were unaware of the problem.

The Tollway Authority tried to help Wilton Partners look better after the Trib started poking its nose into the matter a few months ago…

When the Tribune asked the Illinois State Toll Highway Authority about rent payments made by Wilton Partners for operating the seven tollway oases, agency officials alerted Wilton to the request.

The tollway suggested that Wilton would “look better” if it allowed the tollway to apply a construction security deposit to some of the unpaid rent it owed going back to mid-2006.

The Trib has a copy of an e-mail exchange between the Tollway and Wilton after the Tribune filed a Freedom of Information Act request.

According to the excerpts, Tollway attorney Thomas Bamonte told Wilton President Scott Mayer that the Tollway would delay providing the requested documents to the newspaper until the Tollway and Wilton had agreed to apply part of Wilton’s security deposit to the back rent payments.


By the way, Wilton has contributed almost $85,000 to the guv’s campaign fund.

- Posted by Rich Miller   20 Comments      

Hot points and airplanes

Monday, Jun 25, 2007

* Without actually saying so, Molly Parker put her finger on the most likely pressure point that could force an end to the overtime session: Moving the primary date up to February. Doing so moves up the petition circulation date to August 7th…

Thanks to the change, Illinois candidates will begin circulating petitions on Aug. 7, as opposed to Sept. 18, which means serious contenders are likely to start piecing together campaign strategies this summer. […]

Candidates will be allowed to file petitions between Oct. 29 and Nov. 5, compared to the Dec. 10-17 filing dates that would have existed under the March primary date, according to the Illinois State Board of Elections. […]

“You want to start right now,” said Peoria County Democratic Party Chairman Billy Halstead. “It’s the end of June, so you have one month to get ready and to gear up and get your campaign going.”

Halstead said he met with a candidate for office late last week, though he wouldn’t say who it was or what office was in discussion.

Incumbent legislators are gonna get awful nervous when they hear about activity in their districts while they’re stuck in this goofy overtime session.

* Meanwhile, Bernie Schoenburg remembered a tidbit from the 2002 Democratic gubernatorial primary race that seems apt today…

One of [Rod Blagojevich’s] campaign attacks against primary rival Paul Vallas was that the former CEO of Chicago Public Schools had used “chauffeur-driven limousines” in that education job. At the time, a spokesman for Vallas had said there were six sedans for top administrators of the district of nearly 600 schools, and Vallas reluctantly accepted the service at the request of Chicago police because he was often working long hours in blighted neighborhoods.

So I asked Blagojevich - then a member of Congress and a former state representative - if he would use a state police driver when governor.

“I don’t know,” he said then. “Do you get one? I never even thought about that.”

“I hope not,” he added about having a driver. “I’d like to be my own person.”

Bernie also asked Paul Vallas about the current airplane controversy…

“That wouldn’t have been a problem with me,” he said. “You know I hate to fly.”

* I’ve been joking about this possibility for years in private, but Judy Emerson put it into print today…

Since Gov. Rod Blagojevich isn’t using the Executive Mansion, it makes sense to turn it over to somebody who will. […]

We could turn the governor’s mansion into a casino and really cash in. We have the Grand Victoria in Elgin. How about the Grand George in Springfield? The historic 16-room modified Georgian style manor, completed in 1855, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. According to the state’s Web site, it is the oldest historic residence in the state and the third oldest governor’s mansion in the country.

* Related stories…

* Politics seems at play in Rockford early tax collection veto

* Giving Rockford a jump on collecting the higher sales tax wouldn’t be fair to many retailers, state-revenue leaders say.

* Opinion: Fix school funding now

* Statehouse Insider

* Herald-Whig: llinois will change how it pays for services provided to people with mental illness or developmental disabilities starting July 1, but apparently will continue to underfund those services.

* Tribune editorial: Wake us when it’s over

- Posted by Rich Miller   8 Comments      

More on the threats to Kotowski *** Updated x1 ***

Monday, Jun 25, 2007

The abominable silence by the Illinois State Rifle Association and some of the weirder comments posted at this blog and others convinced me on Friday that I needed to write about the Dan Kotowski controversy in my syndicated newsaper column, which is published in over a hundred papers in Illinois…

The war of words between state Sen. Dan Kotowski (D-Park Ridge) — a fierce gun control advocate — and the Illinois State Rifle Association apparently has escalated to the point where the nutballs are coming out of the woodwork.

Sen. Kotowski’s office claims it has turned over to the Illinois State Police information about 10 or so contacts from apparent pro-gun people, including a call during which somebody allegedly said, “I have a gun. I am going to come and kill you.”

The column then goes over much of the stuff I told you about last week, and concludes thusly…

Several weeks ago, the ISRA was all atwitter after Chicago priest Michael Pfleger called for pro-gun legislators and a gun shop owner to be “snuffed out.”

I seriously doubt that Pfleger wanted to actually kill a pro-gun legislator, but his remarks were irresponsible. Chicago’s Cardinal Francis George was right to publicly rebuke him for his stupid statements.

After complaining about Pfleger, however, the rifle association has not — as of this writing — condemned the threats on Kotowski’s life. It has expressed zero concern for the senator’s safety or the safety of his staff and his family.

The group’s silence is deafening — and informative. It’s Johnny on the spot when a priest makes inflammatory remarks about the group’s own allies, but looks the other way when somebody on the opposite side of the political fence is threatened.

As Pfleger prepared to speak at another antigun rally last week, the ISRA sent out a news release whining that the state police exhibited a “double standard” when they refused to investigate the Catholic priest, but did check in on people who contacted Kotowski’s office. Later in the release, the gun group asked whether Pfleger would show some “dignity” at the antigun rally or once again behave like “an absurd — yet malevolent — cartoon character.”

But over the past several months, when I, and others, repeatedly pointed out that “malevolent” comments were popping up all over the Internet about Kotowski, the rifle association remained mum.

One person wrote on a pro-gun Web site the other day: “Sounds to me like Sen. Kotowski deserves to be threatened. Why, if he were to commit suicide by shooting himself in the head three times, it wouldn’t surprise me one bit.”

The people who run the rifle association ought to look in the mirror the next time they scream about “double standards.”

Semi-related stories: Rev. Jesse Jackson arrested at gun shop demonstration; more here

*** UPDATE 1 *** Kotowski just issued a press release…

“I was elected to serve as your voice in Springfield to improve our communities and help families in the 33rd Senate District. I have been thankful for the support of district residents as I have moved forward on a broad array of initiatives to make sure that our children, working families, veterans and seniors receive the support they need from state government.

As you are probably aware by now, the Illinois State Rifle Association, which lobbies for gun manufacturers, sellers, and some gun advocates, has chosen to target me for my stand on gun safety measures. That is their right in our democracy. It is even allowable in a democracy like ours, which I believe we are blessed to have, to deceptively portray my work on gun safety. That is part of the political process. They are entitled to their say, and the community is entitled to then sort out the truth from what are the dishonest attacks on my record.

However, when it comes to threats against my staff and family, I will stand up to protect those who are threatened as best I can, as any father, husband and employer would do. Let me share with you one comment on a website, which was inspired by the State Rifle Association’s targeting of me: “Sounds to me like Senator Kotowski deserves to be threatened. Why, if he were to commit suicide by shooting himself in the head three times, it wouldn’t surprise me one bit.” We have also received threatening calls at our office. And I don’t need to remind people that when George Ryan was Lieutenant Governor, gun criminals made an effort to shoot up his Springfield home because he supported protecting our police from assault weapons.

I will not hesitate to do whatever it takes to protect people around me from such threats. I also will not stop for a moment to vigorously advance issues of concern to the 33rd Senate District. My job is to work on numerous important issues like providing greater opportunities for veterans, ensuring insurance coverage for women at risk of breast cancer, capping property tax assessments for homeowners, as well as helping improve the lives of neighbors, friends and all the constituents whom I am privileged to represent.

No one-issue lobbying group will keep me from continuing to do what I promised when I was elected to the Illinois State Senate: represent the broad needs and interests of the district that I am so proud to serve.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   49 Comments      

Morning Shorts

Monday, Jun 25, 2007

* Sticking together: Female legislators say job is more than mere representation

* Chicago Public Radio: Lawmakers tackle overcrowded schools

* Will bill tilt cable rates?

* Editorial: Governor should sign tow law, protections for college news

* Wage hike law set to take effect July 1st

* Illinois House to take up casino smoking ban issue

The American Cancer Society last Thursday released the results of a statewide poll it commissioned that showed only 29 percent of Illinois registered voters approve of exempting casinos from a statewide smoking ban, while 62 percent disapprove.

* Editorial: Nix smoking ban exemption for casinos

* Aaron Chambers: Syverson gets his moment as life of the party

* Lawsuit reform battle heats up again at state capitol

* Fewer buyers opt for state’s prepaid tuition program

* Illinois launches meth database

* Obama to get rid of 2 campaign donations

* Dawn Turner Trice: For a patient, Stroger seems quite political

* Chicago Public Radio: Stroger’s personal attorney still of public defender’s payroll

* Opinion: Stroger misses an opportunity to educate the public

* Cameras might be set up to monitor public housing

“You don’t want them to be manipulated and magnified in a way that you could see into someone’s personal belongings, which would violate their privacy,” he said. “You wouldn’t want them to train them on women or stare at women.

“Law enforcement officials have a responsibility to ensure systems aren’t used in that way.”

* Scandals, legal fees cost taxpayers $13M in Chicago

* Sun-Times Editorial: Are city red light cameras about safety or revenue?

* Illinoize: Gordon vs. Moore vote fraud case proceeds

* Cicero town president hit with order of protection

* Water commission bill may go into effect unsigned

- Posted by Paul Richardson   1 Comment      


Friday, Jun 22, 2007

One. Two. You know what to do.


- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      

Question of the day

Friday, Jun 22, 2007

MSNBC looks at journalists who have contributed to campaigns, and Phil Luciano talks about a political ethics survey of reporters by Syracuse University.

My question, however, is this: Do you think political reporters should or should not vote in partisan primary elections? Why or why not?

- Posted by Rich Miller   30 Comments      

The merry-go-round

Friday, Jun 22, 2007

* Some of you were outraged at the reports of the governor’s high-flying expenses. I was, too, but I have a different outlook on the controversy in my Sun-Times column today…

The big story in Springfield this week was about how Gov. Blagojevich is spending $6,000 a day to fly back and forth to the Statehouse a few days a week. The revelations sparked an outcry from those who believe the governor should stay in Springfield until the problems that caused the overtime legislative session are solved.

Others have a different idea. Instead of flying in for a couple of hours of negotiations that are going nowhere, perhaps the governor should just stay home.

The idea is to cut the governor out of the process and do a deal without him. I don’t have much hope that it will happen, but it’s worth a shot.

* Meanwhile, the leaders did finally agree late yesterday to a one-month budget. Actually, they agreed in principle to put one together. Details can be funny little things…

Despite major differences over the state budget, Gov. Rod Blagojevich and the state’s legislative leaders finally agreed on something Thursday: They all want to avoid a government shutdown. Blinking for the first time in months, the governor and the leaders backed away from the ongoing stare-down that has kept them in Springfield three weeks longer than scheduled.

They emerged from a nearly three-hour, closed-door meeting to announce they would put together a bare-bones budget that will keep government operating for an extra month or until an overall budget agreement is reached.

* As Bethany Carson reports, it’s not a completely done deal

The leaders aren’t exactly holding hands and singing “Cum Ba Ya,” however. Madigan said there’s “a five-way agreement in concept” to enact a temporary budget, but “there are items to be negotiated.”

* Bethany also had this tidbit…

(W)hen the leaders went around the room to state their priorities for this “clean slate” budget, here’s what they reportedly said:

Blagojevich — affordable health insurance for all
Jones — education
Madigan — a “workable” budget
Watson — to “live within in our means and pay our bills”
Cross — unfunded pension liability and an infrastructure program

* The governor just couldn’t help himself yesterday, and made it a point to jab Madigan at almost every opportunity…

Blagojevich, a Chicago Democrat, praised the Democratic-controlled Senate for rejecting a budget approved by House Democrats. Blagojevich and the Senate say the House plan doesn’t spend enough on education and health care, accusing House Speaker Michael Madigan of shortchanging children and the needy.

The Senate stood up for “fundamental Democratic values,” the governor said. That’s a thinly veiled slap at Madigan, who’s also chair of the Illinois Democratic Party.

Blagojevich went on to compare the rejection of Madigan’s budget to Londoners surviving Nazi bombing in World War II.

* But, as he often does, he botched the reference…

“And this is, in many ways, not unlike what Winston Churchill said, after England and Britain were able to sustain the first wave of the Nazi bombing, that this is ‘not the beginning of the end, but it is the end of the beginning.’ ” […]

But the governor got the context of Churchill’s declaration wrong. The British prime minister made the remarks after an Allied victory over German forces in North Africa in 1942, two years after the German bombing attacks in the Battle of Britain.

* And after expressing outrage that Madigan’s spokesman had called the governor’s behavior “sexist” last week, Deputy Gov. Sheila Nix defended the comparison to Hitler’s Nazis…

Madigan spokesman Steve Brown said “it certainly was an unfortunate choice of words to invoke the invasion of the Nazi forces in comparison to the budget” negotiations. Deputy Gov. Sheila Nix said Blagojevich was citing Churchill’s words and giving context to when they were said but not “in any way” comparing the budget negotiations to the Nazi bombings.

“He’s just saying when Churchill said it,” Nix said.

Whatever. They should probably forgetting about releasing those letters that they ginned up from a few feminist activists demanding a retraction from Madigan. Calling the governor’s behavior “sexist” for refusing to negotiate with House Majority Leader Barbara Currie is one thing, falling into the Godwin’s Law trap is quite another.

* CBS2 had this observation about yesterday’s events…

It was the governor’s first appearance in weeks in front of news cameras. It ended when reporters tried to ask about the ongoing FBI investigation of his allegedly corrupt fundraising.

Blagojevich left the room under a hail of unanswered questions.

It was the way all of the governor’s meetings with the media end, and why he usually goes to great lengths to avoid news cameras. The political effect is that he is much weaker than during previous budget stalemates, when the governor made effective use of the media to verbally pummel his foes.

* What’s ahead?

Asked about the likelihood of another one-month budget for August, Cross said, “I think it’s a possibility. If things continue the way they have been, I think the odds are great.”

* Related stories…

* State leaders looking for short term fix

* Budget process is only temporary

* Gov, leader move to keep state government running

* Editorial: Governor should do more than ‘visit’ the Capitol

* Stateline: Illinois governor runs up travel tab

* Editorial: Waiting for Blago

* Lack of budget hangs up planning by community agencies

* Krol: Hynes play politics with information on state pay

- Posted by Rich Miller   31 Comments      

Huntley on the Con-Con

Friday, Jun 22, 2007

Steve Huntley at the Sun-Times has a column today about the upcoming vote on a Constitutional Convention. He has high praise for the drafters of the state’s current Constitution…

Though some of the lofty goals of the reformers would ultimately fail, it’s a measure of the Con-Con’s success that some of the debates that so convulsed the delegates then — such as modernizing state finances, allowing branch banking and abolishing the personal property tax (for most people that was a car tax) — were resolved well enough that few today remember the issues. Others, like ending the election of judges and guaranteeing state responsibility for school funding, did not fare so well and plague Illinois to this day.

And takes a look ahead…

[Lt. Governor] Quinn believes a new Con-Con would attract the same quality of delegates. “I have total confidence in the everyday people of Illinois,” he said, to live up to the wisdom of Thomas Jefferson that “it’s healthy for every generation to review its organic document.” [Cook County Commissioner] Suffredin sees a new Con-Con as the best chance for fundamental reforms, such as ending the state’s egregious system of electing judges, which Springfield hasn’t been able to address.

[Chicago attorney Wayne Whalen] acknowledges the train wreck that is government today — gridlock in Springfield although the Democrats run everything and the ongoing soap opera of county government under Todd Stroger — may anger voters into choosing to “ventilate” through a constitutional convention but believes it would be a bad idea. Netsch agrees: “I just don’t know that we would get merit selection [of judges] but we sure would get other things we weren’t looking for.” Like maybe a prohibition of stem cell research.

There are powerful arguments on both sides, but in the end it’s difficult to dismiss worries about the potential for single-issue disciples to damage the good work done in 1970.


- Posted by Rich Miller   22 Comments      

“I have a gun. I’m going to come and kill you.”

Friday, Jun 22, 2007

I’ve been keeping this in the subscriber-only section and in the Capitol Fax, but I think it’s time to bring it out in the open here.

As I’ve told you before, Sen. Dan Kotowski (D-Park Ridge) has been taking a public beating from the Illinois State Rifle Association since before he was elected last year. Kotowski was a gun control activist for years, and it rankles ISRA to no end that he was elected. Many of the group’s attacks have been way over the top (see here), and the breathless posturing may be bringing out the kooks.

The latest bit of drama came when Kotowski’s life was threatened. According to a spokesman, Kotowski turned over information, including copies of faxes, to the Illinois State Police, that his staff believed contained threatening material. Most of the calls and faxes were received by Kotowski’s staff (and volunteers, including his mother), so he left it up to them to decide which material to forward to the coppers, the spokesman said.

Some of those faxes were sent by a guy who didn’t actually threaten Kotowski. That person was visited by the police and ISRA tried to get out in front of the story earlier this week by claiming that Kotowski was infringing on its members’ First Amendment free speech rights. From an ISRA press release

The ISRA is expressing great concern over reports that Illinois State Police (ISP) detectives have been visiting the homes of people who phoned or faxed Sen. Dan Kotowski (D-Park Ridge) to express opposition to gun control legislation sponsored by the senator. The ISRA has recently conducted a thorough investigation into one complaint, and is gathering additional information on as many as several dozen other reported incidents of police questioning citizens who have spoken out against gun control legislation.

In the case investigated thus far, the respondent reports that ISP detectives arrived at his home, unannounced, and informed him that their visit was in response to faxes he sent to Sen. Kotowski. The detectives then went on to ask the citizen questions about his mental health and other personal matters. Although the citizen was not arrested, he reports that he feels that the detectives were there to deliver the message that it’s not a good idea to criticize Dan Kotowski or the gun control measures Kotowski supports.

Trouble is, that person wasn’t the only one calling or faxing Kotowski’s office. Kotowski himself sent out a release the other day that provided more details [emphasis added]…

llinois State Senator Dan Kotowski (D- Park Ridge) says threatening phone calls, faxes, and letters his office received during the past few months were handed over to local law enforcement including the Illinois State Police.

Kotowski says, “When someone calls my office saying, ‘I have a gun. I am going to come and kill you’, I have to worry about my safety, and the safety of our staff.” Kotowski added, “That is why I followed proper procedure and forwarded any correspondence with threatening material to the Illinois State Police.”

Kotowski also took a swipe at the Rifle Association…

Kotowski and his office staff received threats during the first few months of the Spring Legislative Session, most of which specifically referred to his sponsorship of gun safety legislation. “If Illinois State Rifle Association members were as law abiding and anti crime as they claim, then they would be the first to condemn these threats and help to champion the cause for measures designed to get guns away from those with criminal intent.”

The Rifle Association’s attack was picked up by several pro-gun blogs. Illinois Reason, a Democratic blog, has been following their activities and pointed readers to this particular quote from someone calling himself Bill St. Clair over at Claire Files….

Sounds to me like Sen. Kotowski deserves to be threatened. Why, if he were to commit suicide by shooting himself in the head three times, it wouldn’t surprise me one bit.

You can see more of this type of vitriol here (Kotowski treating the state police as “his personal goon squad), here (”Commissar” Kotowski), and here (numerous references to Nazis)

I’ll give Illinois Reason contributor Rob Nesvacil the last word

It’s clear from this that the ISRA press release earlier in the week (and the follow-up release ostensibly condemning Father Michael Pfleger, but also throwing a false low-blow Sen. Kotowski’s way) were simplistic attempts to distract attention from the real heart of the police investigation — death threats against the Senator.

Here’s a reminder from junior high civics — the First Amendment doesn’t cover death threats. And the police take such threats damn seriously, especially in the wake of 9/11, etc.

Sen. Kotowski, despite the ongoing police investigation, has answered the ISRA’s petty demand for details as to why ISRA members received police visits.

It’s time for Richard Pearson and the ISRA to make good on their word and condemn the ne’er-do-wells who have allegedly threatened the Senator’s life. After months of heated vitriol, petty smears and outright lies from gun lobbyists attacking Sen. Kotowski’s work representing his constituents in our state capitol it would be a respectable change of pace for the ISRA and others to come out strongly against those making such death threats.


By the way, as far as I can tell, the mainstream media has completely ignored this story. Shame on them.

Also, just so there’s no misunderstanding if some lazy extremists decide that I’m an anti-gun partisan, I was one of the first to write about Father Pfleger’s over the top remarks about “snuffing out” pro-gun legislators and a gun shop owner. I backed up the Rifle Association on that debate, but turnabout is fair play. ISRA needs to denounce these threats against Kotowski, and it needs to do it now. Period.

- Posted by Rich Miller   89 Comments      

Morning Shorts

Friday, Jun 22, 2007

* NEW Animal Farm: Tidbits for this week’s GOP meeting

* Opinion: Gambling threatens our security

* State prison’s management woes continue

* Drunken driving is focus of state campaign

* State offering a break on student loans

* Illinois Supreme Court scolds prosecutor over closing arguments

* Sun-Times Editorial: Newborn testing bill deserves quick action

lllinois, like other states, already tests newborns for a variety of diseases, especially those that can be cured or treated if detected early enough. Until recently, there were no early detection tests for the five lysosomal disorders, a family of diseases caused by an inherited deficiency of a particular enzyme. Those tests now are available, and Illinois would be the first state to adopt all of them. Backers say the tests could save or improve the lives of 20 children a year.

* Tribune Editorial: A look at earmarks of Illinois national delegation

* Capitol evacuated after fire alarm goes off

* Judge to determine fate of juvenile center

* Editorial: Todd Stroger’s health vs. public’s right to know

* CPS minority students beat the odds; more here and here

* Burke wants device that reveals cameras banned; more here

* Friday Beer Blogging: Prom edition, pt. 2

- Posted by Paul Richardson   14 Comments      

* *** UPDATED x5 - Groups are still opposed *** Kaegi says deal reached on property tax assessment reform bill
* Reader comments closed until Sunday afternoon
* Illinois separatist interviewed on Fox News show
* House's newest freshman ponders tax vote
* Gatehouse cuts jobs to the marrow while spending $100 million on stock
* Leader Brady upbeat on budget talks
* Capital bill roundup
* Cannabis roundup
* House Revenue Committee approves Senate income tax rate bill
* The Credit Union Difference
* Congratulations, Rhiannon!
* Read the Lightfoot tea leaves
* SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Today's edition of Capitol Fax (use all CAPS in password)
* *** UPDATED x1 - Pulled *** Rate the new FanDuel/DraftKings TV ad
* Yesterday's stories

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