“We are not going to vote for anything this week,” said Rep. Julie Hamos (D-Evanston), who has led two failed efforts to find money for the region’s transit agencies.
Though Gov. Rod Blagojevich issued his call for a special session before Christmas, many lawmakers are not expected to show up for Wednesday’s scheduled meeting. Included on that list is Senate President Emil Jones (D-Chicago), who has tickets for the Rose Bowl pitting University of Illinois against the University of Southern California in Pasadena. Jones’ spokeswoman did not return calls. House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago) also is not expected to turn out Wednesday.
As for the governor, he’s planning on holding a news conference in Chicago Wednesday to talk up the mass transit issue before heading to Springfield. Blagojevich has not yet scheduled any meetings this week with legislative leaders, his spokeswoman said.
“We’re in a position now where it is only going to take a simple majority of Democrats to pass a bill, but it is really going to require Democrats coming together,’’ said Abby Ottenhoff, Blagojevich’s spokeswoman. “That means everyone needs to show up and be prepared to work because this time we’re facing a very real and serious transit crisis if something is not done until Jan. 20.” [Emphasis added]
They can’t come together if they’re not even present. The earliest we can likely expect anything “real” will be next week, and maybe not even then.
* Also today, the governor used his amendatory veto power on SB 120. No veto message was available at 6 o’clock Monday night (when I happened to check my e-mail), but here’s the bill synopsis…
Amends the State Finance Act. Provides that for personnel under the jurisdiction of the State travel control boards, the allowance rate for automobile travel mileage reimbursement, which is the same as the rate set by federal regulations, shall be increased or decreased during the State’s fiscal year as of the effective date of the federal regulations (now, increases do not take effect until the next July 1).
*** UPDATE *** Here’s the veto message…
on page 2, line 10, after “rate.”, by inserting “However, in the event the rate set under federal regulations is an increase of 3% or greater, the effective date of the new rate shall be the July 1 immediately following the change in the federal rate.”
Gov. Blagojevich told a prominent Democratic fundraiser that the governor “could award contracts, legal work and investment banking to help with fund-raising,” according to a federal court document released Friday.
The court filing offers a detailed overview of the evidence federal prosecutors expect to introduce in the upcoming trial of Antoin “Tony” Rezko, a former key fund-raiser and adviser to the governor. […]
Blagojevich allegedly told [prominent fundraiser Joe Cari] he “had a lot of ways of helping his friends and that Rezko and Co-Schemer B were his point people in helping his friends and coordinating fundraising,” according to the court document.
“Co-Schemer B” has previously been reported as being Chris Kelly.
Comments are closed because I’m shutting down in a few minutes.
*** UPDATE *** From Abby Ottenhoff…
No such conversation ever occurred. This Administration does not do business that way.
* 1:17 pm - AP: Kelly to remain free and was ordered to get treatment…
Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s chief campaign fundraiser pleaded not guilty to federal tax charges Friday and was allowed to stay free on bond provided he gets treatment for his gambling problem.
Christopher Kelly, 49, a roofing contractor who was Blagojevich’s chief fundraiser in both of his campaigns for governor, appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Sidney I. Schenkier to enter his not guilty plea.
* 1:39 pm - Kelm & Kirk at WMAY radio have recorded one of the songs that won Eric Zorn’s parody songwriting contest. “Get packin’, Rod Blagojevich” was written by John McHugh and is sung to the tune of “God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen”…
Get packin’, Rod Blagojevich
The state’s in disarray
The Tribune wants you unemployed
At least by Christmas Day.
The TV pundits want your head
Could there be pay to play?
Oh, tidings of comfort and joy
Oh, tidings of comfort and joy.
Good riddance Rod Blagojevich
Your Elvis look’s inane,
The Senate’s mad, so’s Lisa’s dad.
You drive us all insane.
Our transit’s broke, the state’s a joke,
The Tollway’s one big pain.
Oh, tidings of comfort and joy
Oh, tidings of comfort and joy.
Good luck old Rod Blagojevich
The feds have quite a place.
Fitzgerald’s poked his nose around
And if he has a case,
George Ryan’s moving stuff around
Creating extra space.
Oh, tidings of comfort and joy
Oh, tidings of comfort and joy.
* 1:52 pm - 3rd Congressional District Democrat Mark Pera has a new mailer that whacks incumbent Dan Lipinski for siding with “Big Oil.” Click the pic for the full mailer…
By the way, some of the Daley people are much more worried about Jerry Bennett’s Democratic candidacy in this district than Pera’s. Bennett has lined up a ton of suburban mayors and that’s grabbing plenty of attention.
* 2:17 pm - The IL GOP has announced the schedule for its “Governor For a Day” contest winner, Mike Messuck…
GOVERNOR FOR A DAY SCHEDULE
Wednesday, December 26, 2007
Arrive Kiva Day Spa
196 East Pearson Street, Chicago
50 minute Deep Tissue Massage for Mike Messuck
Manicure for Ms. Messuck
Lunch at RL – Ralph Lauren Restaurant
115 E. Chicago Ave., Chicago
Free time to browse Michigan Avenue
Metropolitan Limo Tours
Driver will meet Messucks at the Wrigley Building circle
410 N Michigan Ave., Chicago
Chicago Black Hawks vs. Nashville Predators game
United Center, 1901 W Madison St., Chicago,
They’ve included Messuck’s daughter in the festivities, which may end up being characterized as an unnecessary cheap shot at the guv’s family.
UPDATE: From a pal at the IL GOP…
We allowed Mr Messuck to bring a guest - he chose his daughter. Simple as that.
Christmas should be a joyous occasion, but sometimes life throws you a nasty curveball.
* My brother Doug lost one of his best friends this week. I feel terrible for my bro. I wish I could hug him right now, but he lives in Texas.
* Rockford Mayor Larry Morrissey just had a baby, but the little guy had all sorts of problems…
The baby boy born prematurely 10 days ago to Mayor Larry Morrissey and his wife, Stacy, suffers from a rare heart defect and a chromosome disorder that likely will result in moderate to severe mental disabilities and other physical challenges for the child.
Michael Joseph Morrissey has a rare heart defect known as Ebstein’s Anomaly, the mayor said Monday in a letter to the City Council. The tricuspid valve on the right side of the heart is misplaced, making it difficult for blood to be properly pumped through the heart, oxygenated and distributed through the infant’s body. After performing genetic tests, doctors also discovered the baby has a chromosome abnormality called an “18q deletion.”
“Right now, baby Michael is hanging in there, but he is in a very tough fight, and he has already been through a tremendous struggle,” Morrissey said in the letter. “We appreciate and cherish every moment we have with our baby.”
* And then there’s my friend Brian Cross. Brian’s wife Sandy died shortly after giving birth to their baby girl, Kennedy Catherine. KC is doing fine, and Brian is doing his best to carry on, but his heart is broken. So is mine.
Here is little KC…
Info on KC’s trust fund…
Kennedy Catherine Cross Trust Fund
c/o Chase Bank
11211 Cermak Road
Westchester, IL 60154
* And then there are my friends at the Daily Southtown, including my longtime editor Ed Koziarski, who are facing the grim reality of unemployment in the new year because of staff cutbacks, and my friends at the Sun-Times who might get laid off next year. Chin up, everybody, and don’t hesitate to call if you need help.
I’d also like to say that it’s been an honor to work with Koziarski over the years. He’s a great guy and I’m gonna miss him terribly.
Sorry to be such a downer on Christmas, but keep all these people in your thoughts and prayers, please. Thanks.
* I’ve long believed that the best way to beat Sen. Chris Lauzen in the upcoming Congressional race is to poke, poke, poke at him until he loses his temper. His temper is infamous among people in the know at the Statehouse. And that temper was on full display this morning when the Tribbies asked him about scoring Rose Bowl tickets (see below for more on this subject)…
Lauzen called it “horrible” that “you would judge that there is anything inappropriate.”
“If you’re asking a question, it becomes a story,” Lauzen said.
Lauzen said he made a mistake running for office 16 years ago, saying politics is a “crappy business” that has cost his family millions of dollars.
“So I’ll, I don’t want any more trouble for me or my family,” Lauzen said. “This is really a horrible, horrible business. This is horrible.”
Lauzen also referred to his Republican opponent, Jim Oberweis of Sugar Grove, in the race to succeed former U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) in the 14th Congressional District.
“Just think what Oberweis will do with this,” Lauzen said.
Saying he was a “little bit sensitive,” Lauzen provided his home phone number to a reporter who asked how to reached him with any follow-up questions.
“Why don’t you call me at home and then maybe you can talk to one of my family members who won’t be going?” Lauzen said.
He called back later and softened his approach, but the damage was already done.
* This isn’t the first time that Lauzen has gotten snippy on the congressional campaign trail. Remember his somewhat weird press release after Denny Hastert endorsed Jim Oberweis?
At first, I was very concerned that your health was failing somehow, and I sympathized with you and your family. But, you have assured us repeatedly that there is no health problem and we are relieved on your behalf.
*** UPDATE *** In another congressional race, Billy Dennis has a post this morning on Aaron Schock’s latest poll. The following is from a press release which is posted in full at PeoriaPundit…
1. Aaron Schock has an excellent image among Republican primary voters.
Eighty-six percent (86%) of likely Republican primary voters have heard of State Representative Aaron Schock, with 64% having a favorable impression of Schock and 4% having an unfavorable impression. Encouragingly, Aaron’s name recognition and image have grown since August, when his image was 59% heard of/49% favorable/1% unfavorable.
Even more encouraging is that Schock’s favorables are more than twice that of his nearest Republican opponent. Jim McConoughey’s image is 65% heard of/25% favorable/2% unfavorable, while John Morris’s image is 42% heard of/15% heard of/3% unfavorable. McConoughey and Morris face an uphill battle trying to match Schock’s name recognition and favorables in the final weeks of the primary campaign.
2. Schock holds a commanding lead on the Republican primary ballot. Fifty-eight percent (58%) of Republican primary voters back Aaron Schock on the ballot. McConoughey polls 14%, followed by Morris with 4% of the vote. Twenty-three percent (23%) of primary voters are undecided. By intensity, 35% definitely vote for Schock, while just 3% definitely back McConoughey and 1% are committed to Morris.
Blagojevich also appeared to try to put some pressure back on Mayor Richard M. Daley, saying he’d discussed with Daley the idea of tapping into the city’s cash reserves from selling the Skyway as a way to stave off the Jan. 20 CTA cuts.
* I was out of the office yesterday afternoon when the guv’s office called to ask that I put up a “clarification.” I told them to send it to Paul, and this is what they wrote…
The Governor didn’t say he’d discussed with Daley the idea of tapping into the city’s cash reserves from selling the Skyway as a way to stave off the Jan. 20 CTA cuts. He said downstate lawmakers have been grumbling about how Mayor Daley keeps insisting the state should bail out the CTA and not tie it to funding for downstate infrastructure projects; but meanwhile the city of Chicago - which has millions in the bank from the Skyway deal - hasn’t stepped up to help meet the CTA’s needs.
* But then the Tribbies put this Blagojevich quote up on their website…
“Perhaps the mayor and I could do something unilaterally,” the governor said. “The mayor has $500 million in his budget from the Skyway. We’ve looked at some alternatives, if the legislature fails to act.”
Madigan spokesman Steve Brown said there are still talks under way among legislative staffers, but he said there remains no agreement on the massive proposal, which could generate enough cash to bankroll a $20 billion-plus statewide construction program.
Brown described some of the talks as “circular,” meaning some of the same issues that have stymied progress throughout the year remain sticking points.
Among them are details on how money from the gambling expansion would be divvied up by lawmakers for use in local construction projects.
Postponing action until the calendar flips greatly alters the political dynamics of transit funding negotiations. Come the new year, it will take just a simple majority to pass legislation. If action was taken this year during a special session, a super-majority would be needed to approve a bill.
All of which means that Republicans, who had been actively involved in negotiations since June, would effectively lose their seat at the table. Democrats control both legislative chambers and the governor’s mansion, and they could provide all the necessary votes for passage of a bill.
That last line is a hoot. Don’t get too wrapped up in this simple majority stuff. The lowered passage bar means that the Republicans will be under pressure to reach a deal or get cut out. But the Democrats, particularly in the House, will want to put as many GOP votes on the gaming bill as possible, and the Repubs know this.
Asked Thursday whether parents who stood in long lines trying to buy their kids tickets to the Dec. 8 “Hannah Montana” concert at the Allstate Arena should be upset that he and his daughters ended up with free tickets and a backstage visit — all courtesy of his buddy, state Sen. James DeLeo — Gov. Blagojevich said:
“I have two daughters and being a good dad is a heck of a lot more important to me than being a good politician. And when my little girls ask their dad how to find a way to get them to see Hannah Montana, I do everything I can to get them to see Hannah Montana. […]
“I got tickets the way a lot of people get tickets: You call a friend and say, ‘Hey, can you find some tickets?’ In that particular case, Sen. DeLeo did. I said, ‘How much do I owe you for the tickets?’ He said, ‘Don’t worry about it. You can get dinner next time.’ That’s what friends do.”
I know that some parents may be furious that he was able to score good seats while they got frozen out. But, I don’t have much sympathy. Regardless of his standing in the polls, he is the governor and he had a legit reason. Plus, he didn’t directly clout his way to the show. He asked a friend to help score some tickets and his friend (who has a longstanding relationship with the Rosemont folks) complied.
I did have a big problem when then Gov. George Ryan and a big entourage snagged a ton of tickets to see the Rolling Stones play a small venue in Chicago. It’s not like George was a huge Stones fan or anything.
* Overall, this isn’t a problem for me, either, but there are exceptions…
When tickets to the Rose Bowl went on sale to the public, they sold out in half an hour.
But a bevy of public officials and donors who hold the University of Illinois’ purse strings managed to get to the head of the line, and trustees — including Gov. Rod Blagojevich — didn’t have to pay a penny for seats at the hottest game of the year for the state’s football fans.
Administrators made sure there were tickets for Senate President Emil Jones (4), House Minority Leader Tom Cross (6), state Sen. Chris Lauzen (6), and 17 other public officials who paid face value. When contacted by the Tribune, Lauzen said he would rescind his request. […]
Blagojevich was offered four complimentary tickets for the game against the University of Southern California, but a spokesman said he will be staying in Illinois for a legislative session Jan. 2. But the governor’s general counsel used the connection to buy four $135 tickets through the university president’s office.
The governor’s general counsel should give those tickets back. [See the update below for explanation.]
As for the elected legislators, this is a bit of a gray area. They are VIP’s, so if other bigshot alumni are getting preferential treatment they should as well. And it appears that’s the case…
In all, the university set aside about 500 of its 26,000 tickets for use by the offices of the president, chancellor and development. Some of those were designated for purchase by major donors, lawmakers and other VIPs.
People often like to use these sorts of news events to tee off on politicians they don’t like. Try your very best to avoid that in comments today. Stick to the topic at hand. Overly zealous partisans and complete cynics will be deleted. I mean it. Don’t test me. It’s Christmas and I’m not in the mood for goofy drive-by commenters. Thanks.
*** UPDATE *** I just received the following statement from the guv’s office. Apparently, Quinlan, the governor’s chief legal counsel, didn’t score his tix as part of the governor’s deal, so I’ve changed my mind about his situation.
Bill Quinlan, an alumnus, was invited by the University of Illinois. He paid full value for the tickets, but doesn’t think he’s going to be able to go.
* Deadline for certain veteran tax breaks quickly approaching
* Editorial: Illinois town chosen at spot for experimental plant
Research indicates energy produced through the FutureGen process would be significantly more expensive than current energy production prices - perhaps 20 percent to 40 percent more expensive. But as oil prices continue to rise and the wars in the Middle East continue to apply upward pressure, investment in alternative, cleaner energy research needs to continue.
That includes sources such as wind and solar energy, as well as efforts like FutureGen’s to find ways to use traditional fossil fuels without exacerbating global warming.
* Editorial: Mattoon site selection is a giant Christmas present for all
Though Illinois has not yet decided whether to adopt the California standards, it will be among the states joining in the lawsuit. “We do like the flexibility individual states have been able to have under the Clean Air Act,” Illinois EPA spokeswoman Jill Watson said. “It’s like when you try on your brother’s pants, they may not fit. Not every state is an industrial state. Not every state is an agricultural state.”
The federal government is no longer in a state of denial about global warming. But in holding back efforts to fight the threat, the EPA remains in a sorry state of suspension.
* Illinois tollway board looks down road to new projects; more here
Among these major projects are the Prairie Parkway in Kane, Kendall and Grundy counties; the Elgin-O’Hare Expressway; and the extension of Illinois Highway 53 through Lake County, some of which have been on the drawing board for decades.
Illinois law already bars sexual predators and con artists from plying the Internet, but the latest measure, filed in Springfield last week, would attempt to expand those protections to include virtually any kind of potentially damaging Internet conversation with a minor. It would make it a felony for an adult to have any electronic contact that “demonstrates a knowing disregard for the health, safety and welfare” of the child
* Editorial: Smoke-free will soon be the law, ready or not
This study employs an online survey to examine U.S. politically-interested Internet users’ perceptions of the credibility of blogs. The article focuses on the influence of blog reliance compared to motivations for visiting blogs in determining blog credibility.
The study found that blogs were judged as moderately credible, but as more credible than any mainstream media or online source. Both reliance and motivations predicted blog credibility after controlling for demographics and political variables. Reliance proved a consistently stronger predictor than blog motivations. Also, information-seeking motives predicted credibility better than entertainment ones.
You’re probably wondering how a guy with half a fevered brain could be so certain that the mayor is telling the truth when so many don’t believe him.
They don’t know the mayor like I do. As a teenager, Daley used to shoot spitballs from a booth in my uncles’ restaurant on Halsted Street. I know his ways. The last thing the mayor of Chicago wants is his son making an easy score. Scarfing up taxpayer money in City Hall deals, that’s what cousins and brothers and nephews and lots of friends are for — but not your own kid.