I don’t know if you remember me telling you this or not, but the Daily Southtown has been running excerpts from the comments here in the paper. Lately, they’ve been putting those excerpts online. Go check it out. You’re famous.
It was a short, but productive week. Had a couple of good scoops in the subscriber-only Capitol Fax and we had a lot of interesting comments here. Have a great weekend, and don’t forget about Illinoize. It’s a great place to visit…
And for your video enjoyment, Hesitation Blues by Hot Tuna…
This could be a fun debate here. Let’s consider it our second question of the day. From a press release…
Governor Rod R. Blagojevich’s top transportation officials were joined today by traffic safety and law enforcement advocates in urging legislators to sustain the Governor’s veto of Senate Bill 540, which would have raised the speed limit for trucks in Illinois to 65 miles per hour. The Governor has fought to keep the 55 mph speed limit in place for trucks on Illinois highways for the safety of everyone who travels our roads. During Gov. Blagojevich’s administration fatalities on state roads have dropped by 200 a year, the lowest levels since 1924.
“Raising the speed limit for trucks means more people will die in accidents. It takes a large truck traveling 65 miles per hour 40 percent longer to stop than a truck traveling 55 miles per hour. And that same truck traveling 65 miles per hour has an impact that is 40 percent more destructive than a truck at 55 miles per hour. That’s why I urge the Legislature to sustain my veto of SB 540.” […]
According to AAA and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), when tractor-trailer trucks travel at speed rates of 55 mph or higher, it significantly increases the likelihood the truck will either jackknife or rollover. The vast majority of persons killed in crashes involving trucks are occupants of passenger vehicles, not trucks. […]
In 1996, the year after Missouri increased the speed limit for trucks, it recorded 70 more fatalities caused by large trucks, increasing from 97 to 167. If Illinois had a corresponding 72 percent increase as Missouri did, that could translate to 114 more fatalities in one year.
How do you feel about this one?
* Also, as an aside, that line about how traffic fatalities are at their lowest levels since 1924 is something that’s always fascinated me. Check this out from 1999…
Six times as many people drive today as in 1925, and the number of motor vehicles in the country has increased 11-fold since then to approximately 215 million. The number of miles traveled in motor vehicles is 10 times higher than in the mid-1920s. Despite this steep increase in motor-vehicle travel, the annual death rate has declined from 18 per 100 million vehicle miles traveled (VMT) in 1925 to 1.7 per 100 million VMT in 1997 - a 90% decrease.
* Here are some more Illinois stats, taken from the guv’s press release…
There were 1,454 total fatalities in 2003 and by 2006 the number of fatalities in Illinois was down to 1,254, the lowest number of fatalities since 1924, when there were 1,065.
* It appears that Gov. Blagojevich has found a new way to spin his budget vetoes. If you oppose him then you’re against breast and cervical cancer screening and treatment for hundreds of thousands of women. But, in the end, as you’ll see, it’s a bunch of empty rhetoric based on a hugely inflated promise.
Gov. Blagojevich on Thursday announced plans to provide free mammograms and breast cancer treatments to all uninsured women over age 40. The state also will offer free pelvic exams and Pap tests to uninsured women over age 35, and pay for cervical cancer treatments.
“If they’re not going to give us a budget that provides enough money for the important priorities, then you have to make decisions on what’s more important, and I defy any of the men and women of the general assembly to tell me that there’s a more important priority in providing women a chance to get mammograms,” the governor said.
The governor told a reporter the women of Illinois should thank state Rep. Tom Holbrook, D-Belleville, and state Rep. Dan Beiser, D-Alton, for indirectly providing the funds to expand the cancer screening program.
“I vetoed their pork barrel projects to pay for this,” Blagojevich said.
Blagojevich said expanding the women’s cancer screening program could cost about $50 million. His spokeswoman Abby Ottenhoff said that would be the total cost of the program if all eligible women get screened and treated.
* And even that’s misleading, as the Tribune points out…
…Blagojevich said up to 260,000 more women will be covered by expanding the existing Illinois Breast and Cervical Cancer Program. But spokeswoman Abby Ottenhoff said the state expects about 5,000 of those 260,000 women to get screenings in the next year, with about 50 needing treatment.
* So, once again we have a huge splash, but little benefit. And there’s more…
It was unclear Thursday how the program, which at full capacity would cost about $50 million a year, will be funded. Blagojevich said it would be paid for by his recent cuts of so-called “pork” from the state budget, while Ottenhoff said the program would be supported primarily through an additional $1.75 million set aside in the budget for public health.
Incredibly enough, the spin appears to be completely false. Imagine that.
My column in today’s Sun-Times attempts to answer those questions and more. The bottom line for Daley, his raison d’être, if you will, is his quest for the Olympic games…
Politicians love it when a fellow politician wants something really big. They’re called ‘’pigeons'’ because they’re ripe for the plucking.
Mayor Daley is now a pigeon.
Daley’s overriding lust to land the Olympic Games has put him at an extreme disadvantage in dealing with Gov. Blagojevich, who is playing the mayor for all he’s worth.
Several months ago, Daley used both barrels to blast Blagojevich’s proposed gross receipts tax on business, saying if the tax were enacted we could all wave goodbye to businesses as they moved out of state. The two men went out to dinner not long afterward, and Daley subsequently toned his comments way down.
I’m told on high authority that Blagojevich laid it out for Daley. The mayor needs strong support from the state to convince the Olympics committee that Chicago is a viable siting option. The governor knows the same thing and told him so. The implication was clear: ‘’Mess with me and I mess with you.'’
Anyone who has watched this governor for any length of time understands that Blagojevich is just crazy enough to go all populist on the Olympics and announce that the cost is not worth the benefits.
So, despite the occasional mumbles and grumbles about the lack of comity in Springfield, Daley has done his best to stay mum.
Retiring Republican Jerry Weller’s seat is listed as “No Clear Favorite,” which seems to be a growing consensus these days. Perennial targeted Democrat Melissa Bean’s district is listed as “Leans Democratic.”
CQ has Mark Kirk’s seat and retiring GOP Congressman Denny Hastert’s district as “Leans Republican.” Two districts are ranked as “Republican Favored,” including freshman Peter Roskam and retiring Congressman Ray LaHood’s seat.
* Bob Novak, who has claimed that Weller’s district leans toward a Democratic takeover, has a different take on LaHood’s seat. While Novak eventually concludes that the outlook leans towards a Republican retention, he also says it’s nearly a tossup because of a celebrity Democratic candidate…
Illinois-18: The entrance of former basketball coach Dick Versace (D) brings to a near tossup the race for the Peoria-based seat left open by the retirement Rep. Ray LaHood (R).
Versace was the head basketball coach in the 1980s at Bradley University in Peoria, the golden era of the program. He later coached the NBA’s Indiana Pacers, worked as an on-air commentator and served as the head coach of the NBA’s Memphis Grizzlies. The other Democrat in the rate is retired Navy Captain Chuck Giger (D).
The Republican field features 26-year-old State Rep. Aaron Schock (R), Peoria businessman Jim McConoughey (R) and former Peoria City Councilman John Morris (R). Rep. LaHood’s son, Darin LaHood (R), took a pass and is instead challenging the incumbent state’s attorney.
Versace’s wide name recognition combines with a likely strong Democratic year in Illinois to wipe out the generic advantage a Republican has in this district, which Bush won by 5.5 points in 2004 and which has been in Republican hands for 70 years (including former Minority Leader Bob Michel). Versace has media experience, but as a political rookie, possibly facing more seasoned (although much younger) opponents, he faces many likely pitfalls. This one could swing the other way if Versace proves to be a strong candidate, but right now it is still tilting towards the Republicans. Leaning Republican Retention.
Burke gets a lot of legislative ideas from New York City, and the crackdown he introduced at Thursday’s City Council meeting was no exception. The Big Apple has launched its own crackdown against “illegal hotel conversions” after residents complained.
Burke’s ordinance would require short-term renters to buy $400-a-year city licenses and secure $300,000 worth of general liability insurance. Violators would face fines as high as $100 a day.
Conservative commentator Robert Novak said Thursday that his Washington colleagues were stunned to learn that a University of Illinois alumni group was setting up an organization to encourage and finance conservative studies on campus.
They asked, “Capitalism and limited government at a public university? How can that be?” Novak, an Illinois graduate, told about 250 people gathered for the launch of the Academy on Capitalism and Limited Government Fund.
Some U of I faculty members fear that the group’s plans to raise money to pay for classes and research on free-market capitalism and limited government would create an undue conservative political influence on campus. They also complain that the new group was formed without faculty input.
I noticed in our sometimes controversial QOTD yesterday that many of you said that as long as Lisa Madigan promised to live in the governor’s mansion there would be no issue made of her family in the campaign.
As most of you know, I find this mansion argument completely bogus. Jim Thompson moved out of the mansion as soon as his daughter was old enough to go to school. Jim Edgar moved to a “log cabin” after his wife complained about hearing gunfire at night. George Ryan spent time in the mansion, but he also had a condo in Chicago and a house in Kankakee.
There is no law that requires the governor to live in Springfield full time. The executive mansion is not like the White House - it’s not a place of work.
Should Gov. Blagojevich (and future governors) spend more time in Springfield? Without a doubt. However, I wouldn’t want my kids going to school in Springfield if I was governor. There’s no way they could get fair (or decent) treatment.
So, here’s the question: Convince me that I’m wrong. No goofy emotional drive-by comments, please. Use some reasoning and logic or find yourself deleted.
The Blagojevich administration’s efforts to promote a capital spending bill came to Springfield Wednesday, touted as a way to build a $10 million simulated hospital at the Southern Illinois University School of Medicine. […]
In Springfield on Wednesday, labor leaders, educators and others touted the simulated hospital that would give physicians training in situations they will encounter in emergency rooms, operating rooms, intensive care, obstetrics and other areas before dealing with patients.
* Why the hypocrisy? Check out what’s buried way down in that SJ-R story…
Michael Boer, chairman of the commission that oversees Springfield’s medical district, also attended Wednesday’s event, even though Blagojevich cut $350,000 from the state budget that would have allowed the district to hire full-time staffers.
“Because we don’t have staff doesn’t mean we aren’t concerned with accomplishing the purposes we were created for,” he said. “The most important one is creating health-care-related economic development in the (district).”
* Speaking of hypocrisy, the Daily Herald looks at the governor’s flip-flops on gaming…
When Gov. Rod Blagojevich backed a casinos-for-construction deal last week, it marked the second time in recent months he’d reneged on a campaign promise to oppose gambling expansion.
He first broke that promise in May when he offered his support for a Senate casino deal that would have funded the governor’s coveted health care expansion. At the time, Blagojevich said he wasn’t thrilled with more casinos, but he’d make the sacrifice if it meant health coverage for needy families.
“Without health care, I’m not going to accept any new gaming proposals,” Blagojevich said in late May.
That plan never came to fruition.
Now, he’s backing the biggest gambling expansion since the state first legalized riverboat gambling even though it has nothing to do with health care.
* While we’re on the topic of gaming, last fall the governor’s budget honcho John Filan wrote a guest piece for this blog trashing Judy Baar Topinka’s gaming plan, which was smaller than the governor’s plan now on the table…
When you increase the gaming opportunities in the State as much as Topinka has suggested, these opportunities begin to become counterproductive. That is, casinos are luring the same dollars statewide, and these dollars will begin to be split among facilities, rather than moved from other facilities. Some market share will be taken from Indiana and Wisconsin casinos, and as a result, we estimate based on studies by Deloitte Consulting, LLC and the Illinois Department of Revenue that about $600-700 million annually may be obtained from recurring revenues, about half the $1.25 billion annually that Topinka predicts. There is absolutely no empirical support for an additional $1.25 billion in revenue per year.
* And despite all the talk of a massive infusion of immediate cash from the governor’s proposal, Filan had this to say about the timeline of getting a Chicago casino built and operating…
As most of us know and as suggested in the discussion about capital above, it takes time to build additional space, we estimate very aggressively no less than 9 months for existing casinos and 18 months for the Chicago casino. This means that the full value of the gaming expansion won’t be available until 2010 or 2011- at the earliest. And this doesn’t even take into account the amount of time the 10th license will remain in limbo.
* As you already know, the governor vetoed all of CeaseFire’s appropriation for the current fiscal year. The group has been holding demonstrations across the state and did another one in Chicago yesterday…
Supporters of the violence intervention group CeaseFire said Wednesday that shootings will increase if the Chicago-based organization does not receive the $6.2 million that Gov. Rod Blagojevich vetoed from the state budget last month. […]
The governor cut $463 million intended for an assortment of projects. Blagojevich spokesman Justin DeJong said that CeaseFire has done good work but that the organization should find different sources for money to pay for its operations.
Cease Fire uses former gang members as neighborhood liaisons to intervene in gang feuds. They say there have been six fatal shootings since Cease Fire lost its funding.
“There’s a general feeling among gangs that if Cease Fire is not out there, it gives us a free reign,” Cease Fire outreach worker Melvin Santiago explained.
* And from the same story comes perhaps the harshest rhetoric I’ve ever seen used against Gov. Rod Blagojevich…
State Sen. Martin Sandoval (D-Chicago) had some strong words for the governor. “The caskets and the killings partly lay at the door of Governor Rod Blagojevich,” Sandoval said.
* Despite the rhetoric and the dire predictions, this is not a black and white issue. The group has more than its share of critics and was whacked but good in a recent auditor general report. Then there’s this…
The Chicago Police Department has supported CeaseFire’s work for years, with former Police Supt. Philip Cline and other officials calling for an expansion of the program. On Wednesday, though, police spokeswoman Monique Bond said the department can’t back a claim that CeaseFire helps reduce crime. ‘While CeaseFire has made significant contributions to the community and has been recognized by their presence and anti-violence programs, it would be difficult to quantify operationally how those programs translate into reduced homicides, shootings and violent crime,’ she said.
The audit found that of $6.5 million the legislature promised to communities over a two-year period, CeaseFire disbursed $5.4 million, using the rest on expenditures not specified in state documents, Holland said.
Usually, the legislature could demand that CeaseFire return that $1.1 million because the program didn’t spend it as intended, Holland said. But that law doesn’t apply because most of CeaseFire’s money was doled out through the “member initiative” process that lets lawmakers fund pet projects in their districts.
That last point is really why the funding was vetoed. The program was supported mostly by House Democrats and had some powerful opponents among Senate Democrats, so Blagojevich axed the cash. Simple as that.
* Pundit and prognosticator Bob Novak classifies retiring Republican Congressman Jerry Weller’s seat as “Leaning Democratic Takeover” in a recent newsletter update…
Illinois-11: Rep. Jerry Weller (R), another Republican under a cloud of scandal and suspicion of corruption, will retire from Congress at the end of this term. Weller is married to a Guatemalan lawmaker and says the long-distance relationship was becoming a strain.
This district stretches West from Chicago’s South Side, including Joliet and Ottawa, and reaches South to Bloomington. It was a near tie in the 2000 elections, but Bush carried it by seven points in 2004. It is wedged between the districts of retiring Representatives Dennis Hastert (R) and Ray LaHood (R), and politically it lies between them — slightly more Democratic than Hastert’s 14th District and slightly more Republican than LaHood’s 18th.
While the district leans slightly Republican, the shadow of Weller’s corruption could give Democrats an edge. Early Democratic candidates include Kankakee Community College President Jerry Weber (D). The Republican field is still nascent. Depending on the nominees, this could go either way, but unless Weller’s shadow departs quickly, this one looks like the Democrats’ strongest chance in Illinois. Leaning Democratic Takeover.
* The Joliet Herald has more potential candidates in a story today…
Joliet Mayor Art Schultz is talking to his family about whether he should run for Congress.
State Sen. Debbie Halvorson plans to spend this weekend in Washington, D.C., as she explores whether to make a bid for the U.S. House. […]
State Sen. Christine Radogno, a Republican who made an unsuccessful bid for state treasurer last fall, is considering a bid. She lives in Lemont, just outside the 11th district, and her Senate district covers part of Will County.
Other Republicans mulling a bid are New Lenox Mayor Tim Baldermann and Chris McNeil of Frankfort, who made an unsuccessful run last year for the Legislature.
Democrats who might run include candidates who lost to Weller in past elections, John Pavich, a Beecher lawyer who ran a year ago, and Tari Renner, an Illinois Wesleyan University professor who ran in 2004. Jerry Weber, the president of Kankakee Community College, might also run.
Another potential candidate is former state Sen. Patrick Welch, a Democrat who was defeated in his 2004 re-election bid, said several Will County Democrats. Welch, of Peru, had served in the Senate leadership team during 22 years in the chamber.
Welch is one of the newest names on that list. Also, state Rep. Brady says he’s undecided on whether to run for Rep. Weller’s seat.
* Meanwhile, I kinda doubt that Mark Pera can defeat conservative Congressman Dan Lipinski in the Democratic primary, but his campaign is drawing national attention from some influential blogs and websites. Faithfully Liberal has an interview with Pera…
This campaign is receiving more blogger support than any other primary campaign in the country as far as I can tell. As an example, on Sept. 23, Markos Moulitsas wrote a piece on DailyKos endorsing our campaign. Over the next 24 hours, we received more than $10,000 from more than 200 people. In early September, we had a similar experience. That kind of response tells us that our message is resonating and gives the campaign a big lift.
The blogs, sites like Act Blue, these are communication modes that were in their infancy in 2004, made a major impact in the mid-term elections in 2006 and are now an invaluable tool for campaigns. We’ve made a quality, up-to-date Web site and blogger communications a campaign priority. That sets us apart from other candidates.
A number of folks out there, such as the people at Prairie State Blue, Larry Handlin, Howie Klein, Eric Stoller, David Sirota and others, deserve credit for boosting this campaign’s profile. They’ve helped get our message out and clue people in on Congressman Lipinski’s background and voting record. Their hard work compliments the work we do everyday at our campaign office. We hope they keep it up in the months ahead.
And today, the machine is spitting out primary challengers in the district to dilute the anti-Lipinski vote. One of the other primary challengers, Palos Hills mayor Gerald Bennett, has a history of lauding Lipinski, including in Lipinski’s press release announcing his reelection […]
Now, suddenly, when it looks like Lipinski could go down in a primary, this huge Lipinski ally somehow decides it’s time to get into the race? It couldn’t possibly be more transparent. Not that the Chicago machine ever played things deftly.
So here’s our chance to fight back against an undermocratic machine, against an unDemocratic Democrat.
* ActBlue, a website devoted to raising funds for Democratic candidates, reports over $40,000 in contributions to Pera so far. That pales in comparison to the $136,000 raised on behalf of Dan Seals, one of two Democratic candidates who want to challenge Congressman Mark Kirk, but it ain’t bad.
“I’ve never seen a government leader ask for a tax increase to pay for a budget that doesn’t exist,” said Commissioner Forrest Claypool. “It’s unprecedented.”
Yet a majority of the County Board is indicating they can support some kind of tax hike for government operations, and first up will be a sales tax discussion at a board meeting Monday.
* Kane Co. agrees to provide more aid for Hispanic voters
* Crain’s: Sun-Times Media Group, which owns the Chicago Sun-Times newspaper, said on Wednesday it named a new chief operating officer, replacing the prior COO who left the company to join the Canadian Broadcasting Corp.
Homespun diva Martha Stewart gushed and made Mayor Daley blush Wednesday after the two met privately after a Stewart speaking engagement at Navy Pier.
• • Gush ‘em: “My goodness mayor, the city is more beautiful than ever,” Stewart told Daley.
• • Blush ‘em: Called the “Martha Stewart of mayors” because of his efforts to beautify the city, Daley responded with a laugh and “really blushed,” said a Sneed source. Then the duo had a 15-minute chat, but I don’t think it was about recipes.