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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      

* 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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