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This just in… Special session for January 2nd *** Blagojevich to Daley: Consider using Skyway cash *** Guv sends letter to members ***Skyway cash idea clarification***

Thursday, Dec 20, 2007

*** 1:13 pm *** This has been rumored for days

Governor Rod Blagojevich says he’s calling lawmakers back into session on January 2nd to work on finding a way to pay for the Chicago Transit Authority.

Blagojevich says he considered calling lawmakers back into session this week but decided to wait until after the holidays on the advice of some legislative leaders.

The advice was: “Nobody’s gonna show up and don’t mess with our holidays.”

*** 2:00 pm *** From the Tribbies

“They need to come back and get to work and fund the CTA,” Blagojevich told reporters at a news conference. […]

“They need to be prepared to be there every to work,” Blagojevich said.

The political dynamic changes in Springfield come the new year, when once again a simple majority is all that’s required to pass legislation. That also means the influence of Republicans, who’ve had a seat at the table since the start of June, once again wanes. Democrats control the House, Senate and governor’s mansion.

He also had this to say, which I find very interesting…

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. [Emphasis added]

*** 2:07 pm *** Statement from Speaker Madigan’s spokesman…

“The governor has not informed the office of this decision. I am certain the members of the House will be ready to fully consider all the legislation he plans to introduce for this special session.”

*** 2:25 pm *** Letter the Governor sent to legislators…

OFFICE OF THE GOVERNOR
SPRINGFIELD 62706
Rod Blagojevich
GOVERNOR
December 20, 2007

Honorable members of the General Assembly:

As you know, despite the immediate and growing need to fund the Chicagoland mass transit system, Speaker Madigan decided to cancel session this week. This delay leaves millions of people waiting in uncertainty. I had hoped to receive legislation on my desk before the end of the calendar year. I considered calling a special session this week, but was informed by the legislative leaders that many of their members would be unavailable, and that it would be counterproductive to call them in right before their holiday break.

It has been ninety-two days since the Senate approved a capital plan with bipartisan support. That plan also provided for $200 million in interim relief for mass transit. In the three months since, the House has taken no action. Additionally, twice in the past four months I have been forced to bail out the Chicago Transit Authority to avoid crippling service cuts and fare hikes. In the absence of a permanent funding source, these bailouts have totaled almost $100 million.

Transit riders deserve better. The people of this state deserve better. As such, I am writing to notify you that I will call for a Special Session after the holiday break, beginning January 2, 2008, and to ask you to work quickly to pass a statewide infrastructure plan, so that there is also sufficient support for a long-term solution to mass transit funding. As I have said before, I support Representative Saviano’s plan, or a comparable plan, to provide mass transit funding by redirecting the sales tax on gasoline in the RTA region. This legislation received a near-majority of 57 votes on November 28, even though many members were absent or failed to vote on the measure.

With the RTA prepared to implement drastic layoffs, service cuts and fare increases on January 20 if no agreement is reached, our time is running out. You must focus on passing legislation in this short timeframe. There will be only 18 days to work before the transit doomsday, so you should be prepared to meet as often as needed during that period.

I am providing this notice now so that all members of the General Assembly can make arrangements to be present, and be prepared to vote. Let’s start the New Year on a great note by passing a long-term solution for mass transit. The citizens of Illinois are relying on us to get the job done.

Sincerely,

Rod Blagojevich

*** 5:05 pm *** Email thoughts from Blagojevich spokeswoman Abby Ottenhoff commenting on the line in the Tribune story…

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. We are pushing for passage of a long-term solution for mass transit, but the City-state funding disparity combined with the City’s reluctance to back a statewide capital plan, contributes to the challenge of winning support for transit funding in Springfield.

- Posted by Rich Miller   77 Comments      


And the winners are…

Thursday, Dec 20, 2007

* Here are the winners from our final round in the annual Golden Horshoe contest…

* JoAnn Sullivan was an easy winner in the “Best legislative secretary” category. She always gives above and beyond the call of duty and is one of the nicest human beings you’ll ever meet, which is somewhat ironic considering that she works for Speaker Madigan.

* I’ve met Beth Goncher from Rep. Tim Schmitz’s district office and dealt with her on various matters and she definitely lives up to the hype in comments yesterday. She gets the “Best district office administrator” award hands down.

Thanks to all who voted.

By the way, Linda Brown, Dan Brady’s Springfield secretary, is retiring at the end of this month. Her party is at the Pasfield House tonight.

* Someone asked yesterday for a list of all our winners. Here it is…

* State legislator who best empitomizes public service: Tie - Rep. Frank Mautino and Rep. Julie Hamos

* Most effective local mayor of a city with less than one million people: The late Rosemont Mayor Don Stephens

* The Illinois US Congressman who shows true statesmanlike qualities of putting country over party: Ray LaHood

* The Illinois union, association, etc. that has the most positive impact on Illinois government: CUB

* Best political bar/restaurant in Springfield: Boone’s Saloon

* Best statewide officeholder: Lisa Madigan

* Best state legislative staffer: Tie - Ellen McElroy-Kenworth and Liz Brown

* Best press spokesperson: The “Spin Sisters” (Abby Ottenhoff and Rebecca Rausch)

* Best lobbyist: Bill Anderson

* Best Capitol Fax Blog commenter: “Bill”

* Best legislative secretary: JoAnn Sullivan

* Best district office administrator: Beth Goncher

- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      


Question of the day

Thursday, Dec 20, 2007

What are you doing for the holiday season?

- Posted by Rich Miller   29 Comments      


Expand gaming to Springfield?

Thursday, Dec 20, 2007

* Mayor Davlin mentioned this idea to me a week ago, but it didn’t seem like it was going anywhere, although Davlin was very hot on the concept…

[Rep. Raymond Poe], a Springfield Republican, is pushing the idea of holding harness races — and the betting that goes with them — at the Illinois State Fairgrounds beyond the limited run of the 10-day fair itself.

“The facility is there,” Poe said. “Someone could come in and make it work. I think it would be a great revenue source.”

Poe’s idea has already been raised in gaming discussions between House Minority Leader Tom Cross, R-Oswego, and House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago.

“I brought it up with the speaker,” Cross said Wednesday. “It was not rejected.”

But neither is it on the front burner, Cross said. A number of other gambling issues have been on the table longer, and negotiators think they are closer to resolving those without injecting a new element into the debate.

The racing wouldn’t be year-round, but I’m wondering whether they’d put a year-round “racino” at the facility, with slot machines, etc. They could really upgrade the fairgrounds with revenue like that. Plus, it would give us somewhere else to go after long session days.

* Meanwhile, the Sun-Times editorial board comes out all the way for expanding gamling…

Experts will tell you gambling is a lousy way for the state to raise money. It’s not stable, doesn’t grow with the economy and isn’t progressive. But gambling is the only revenue-raising plan with a prayer of passing, and even then, it’s a long shot. Unfortunately, our hopes have to rest on a gambling boom to avert the CTA’s day of doom.

- Posted by Rich Miller   14 Comments      


Rate the ads

Thursday, Dec 20, 2007

* Remember during the 2001 holiday season when Corinne Wood was running for the GOP nomination for governor? She ran a TV ad of her sitting in what I remember was her beautifully decorated home, wearing a red dress. I don’t remember all she said, but she ended with something like: “And have a merry Christmas”

Pundits jibber-jabbered over the appropriateness of wishing voters “Merry Christmas” in a political ad. Some were shocked, as I remember it, some were underwhelmed with Wood’s presentation.

Well, the extremely early Iowa caucuses have prompted several presidential candidates to run their own holiday season ads. Let’s look at some of them, shall we?

…Adding… As I write this, there’s a slight problem with YouTube. Just hit the “play” button and the videos will load.

* There’s something about Mike Huckabee that I really like. Yeah, I know there are issues with his background, but the man is a born communicator. Still, anyone who knows anything about bigtime television ads knows that every tiny detail is taken into consideration. So it bothers me that Huckabee would so obviously lie that there is no Holy Cross in this spot when his TV Cross is as visible as that gigantic Cross near Effingham off of I-57. Anyway, here’s the spot…


* Giuliani wishes for “Peace with strength” and “secure borders” in his ad, which is a bit weird, but here it is…

…Adding… I used the wrong ad. LOL. Oops. Here’s the “real” one, sans pentagram…

Sorry about that, and thanks to a commenter for setting me straight. That ain’t always easy. :)

* Obama’s is next. Is that the word “Christmas” in a liberal Democrat’s ad? What will the atheists say?

* And, finally, Hillary Clinton, alone with her presents…


Thoughts?

- Posted by Rich Miller   55 Comments      


Subsidizing Wrigley

Thursday, Dec 20, 2007

* Jim Thompson called yesterday to bust my chops about something. I gave as good as I got, as you might imagine, but it was mostly in fun. I really let the profanity fly, though, about his goofy idea to have the Illinois Sports Facilities Authority buy Wrigley Field and then lease it back to the billionaire(s) who buy(s) the team from the Tribune Co.

One of Big Jim’s arguments was to point out that the state helped subsidize the Soldier Field renovation (a publicly owned stadium, by the way), helped build the United Center and, of course, there was that White Sox deal that Thompson, himself, played such a large role in bringing to fruition. So why not help the Cubs?

What I didn’t know at the time was that taxpayers are already subsidizing the Cubs. From Mark Brown’s column today

I can’t tell you what Wrigley Field is really worth, but I can tell you what the team claimed it was worth earlier this year in an appraisal submitted to the Cook County assessor’s office: $12.3 million.

Yep, that’s all, barely more than the $7.9 million that former Sox slugger Frank Thomas got on the sale of his Oak Brook mansion a few years ago, or almost equal to the $12 million the Cubs will pay new Japanese outfielder Kosuke Fukudome for his salary for each of the next four seasons.

The assessment was submitted to Cook County Assessort Jim Houlihan, whose own laughably low assessment of just $20.5 million ought to be remembered by every property tax payer in the county whenever they write that annual tax check.

And how much did the Cubs pay in property taxes this year? $1,151,487, according to Brown.

The park is essentially off the roles, no matter how much Mother Tribune whines about its assessment. The team is already heavily subsidized by taxpayers. They don’t need and shouldn’t get another subsidy.

* More from the Rockford Register-Star

If the state were paying its bills on time, if its roads were in decent shape with a long-term plan for keeping them that way, if its school system had a fair method of doling out tax dollars and if there were adequate funding for mass transit systems, maybe — maybe — we could find some merit in this plan.

Yet all we see is another error in the score book.

- Posted by Rich Miller   21 Comments      


Morning shorts

Thursday, Dec 20, 2007

* Steroid tests for students could happen next year

The high school football teams vying for state championships next fall may be the first ever tested for steroids in Illinois.

IHSA officials say they expect a final decision as soon as next month on whether to begin steroid testing, with the first such tests likely administered during state playoffs in the 2008-09 season.

* State hiring goes online, but doubts remain about clout

* Editorial: Governor should stay grounded

* Tribune Editorial: The future of Illinois coal

* Can the FutureGen coal plant work?

* FutureGen developers wonder what they can do next

* Federal lawsuit filed over Chicago’s cell phone ban

* Duncan defends closings as best course for Chicago school district

“While generally I’m a fan of small schools, you have to have some critical mass to run a viable school. When you get down to 150 or 175 students, you don’t have enough students in each grade to run a full menu of activities,” Duncan said. “Educationally [consolidation is] the right move.”

* Editorial: Smoke won’t clear by New Year’s

* McQueary: All I want for Christmas is pension reform; more here

A report released this week by the Pew Charitable Trusts, a respected Pennsylvania-based policy institute, describes Illinois’ pension liability as among the worst in the nation. The report is significant because it compares the pension health of all 50 states, providing context to the political kaleidescope through which Illinois’ pension health often is viewed. Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s office will give a sunny perspective of the state system; his opponents’ view couldn’t be more bleak.

So here is what Pew said:

“Illinois has double the trouble of most states: a severely underfunded pension system and some of the steepest bills in the country for retiree health care benefits. On the pension side, Illinois has one of the poorest-funded systems in the country.”

* Clout Corner: Rezko a tax deadbeat

Rezko — the indicted businessman and political fund-raiser accused of demanding kickbacks from state contractors — owes $76,864.60 in property taxes on his home, which is in foreclosure.

* Ald. Stone’s son says even he can’t get a fair shake because of city hiring

* Tribune Editorial: Patrick Daley’s investment doesn’t pass the smell test

* Few county budget cuts offered

* Tribune Editorial: Moving past the tax myth

Oh, and the day offered one New Year’s present from John Daley. He wants a report on how much money officials have spent over the years to modernize the technology in their offices. Which suggests that, come 2008, Daley will ask those officials two crucial questions:

How many actual jobs have you eliminated because of all the automation money you’ve spent?

And how much new revenue has all that new technology generated for Cook County?

* 10% budget cuts would be a disaster, Cook Co. officials tell board

One by one, Cook County officials on Wednesday described a dim future for the public if the County Board forces them to cut spending by 10 percent.

Patients will die, the head of the health system warned. Criminals could run free, State’s Atty. Richard Devine said.

* Over 100 Olympians coming, may boost city’s bid

- Posted by Paul Richardson   14 Comments      


« NEWER POSTS PREVIOUS POSTS »
* Jimenez wants Sangamon County to get priority for most new state jobs
* Ives' state budget solution: Slash CPS funding and repeal Obamacare expansion
* *** UPDATED x1 - Ives responds *** Rauner promises to patch $2.3 billion hole, balance next year's budget, start rolling back the tax hike and provide "record funding" for K-12
* Dick Uihlein gives Proft group another $3 million
* Legionella bacteria might have been found at Capitol Complex
* *** UPDATED x1 *** Unclear on the concept
* Yesterday's stories

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* Bill would require state jobs be located in San.....
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* Rauner Pledges Tax Rollback - Peoria Public Radio..


* Retrial to begin in 1995 arson, murder case
* Popular Lincoln sculpture in Bloomington needs cleaning
* Bill would require state jobs be located in Sangamon County
* Legionella bacteria possibly at Illinois Capitol Complex
* Legionella bacteria possibly at Illinois Capitol Complex
* Board approves plan to create Will County's 1st solar farm
* Democratic governor candidates to have 1st televised forum
* William Cousins, prominent in Illinois law, dead at 90
* Officer who killed 2 charged with misdemeanors for bar fight
* Rauner: Cut taxes, 'wasteful spending' to curb deficit

* Popular Lincoln sculpture in Bloomington needs cleaning
* Legionella bacteria possibly in Capitol Complex water system
* Rauner wants to 'step-down' income tax increase
* Sangamon County should get first dibs on state jobs, lawmaker says
* Report: State agencies holding nearly $2.5 billion in bills
* Illinois lawmakers hold hearing on marijuana legalization
* Illinois hunters harvest 2 percent more deer than last year
* New session will bring new efforts at pension reform
* New report shows state agencies holding nearly $2.5 billion in bills
* Rauner order bars lawmakers from property-tax appeals

* Chicago Stock Exchange bidders may seek extension
* Naf Naf to debut new stores, franchise program
* Test
* State insurance chief gets new national slot
* Raoul, Biss, Garcia land significant endorsements


* Do e-cigarettes help or harm? Report says not clear yet
* 1 dead, suspect held in Kentucky school shooting
* Bulls’ Nikola Mirotic calls Rajon Rondo his ‘best teammate ever’
* Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy closes campus because of flu outbreak
* Kobe Bryant, Greta Gerwig: Some fun facts about the 2018 Oscar nominations
* Chicago After Dark: 9 shot Monday, fatal Evanston fire | Jan. 23, 2018
* Americans killed, injured in attack on Kabul hotel: official
* Firefighters put out penthouse fire at Lincoln Park high-rise
* People think Lovie Smith looks like Uncle Drew
* AG Sessions interviewed last week in special counsel’s Russia probe


* Police: 1 dead, suspect held in Kentucky school shooting
* 'The Shape of Water' leads Oscar nominees with 13 nods
* Jeff Sessions interviewed by Mueller team in Russia investigation
* 3 Norge Ski Club members make U.S. Olympic ski jump team: coach
* Two of four suspects in custody after Elmhurst College carjacking: police
* Alaska hit by 7.9 earthquake; tsunami warning canceled
* Museums cost too much? Chicago Museum Week offers bargains but no blockbusters
* A guitar made from a shovel? Musician's instrumental oddities coming to Orland Park
* Donald Trump has never been a great dealmaker
* Joe Walsh — who promises to vote for Chuy Garcia if he's proved wrong — is proved wrong


» State Pays $1 Billion In Late-Payment Charges
» CHA To Add More Mixed-Income Housing In Bronzeville
» National Study Hammers Illinois Budget Practices
» Hundreds Of Thousands Gathered For Women's March In Chicago
» Women's March Chicago Stays on Message - Get to the Polls
» Chicago Schools Chief: Cost A Driver In Special Ed Overhaul
» One Year Later, Women’s March Demands More Than Attendance
» State Week: Education Funding, Pritzker-Blagojevich, Rauner-Duke
» Sheriff Offers To Help Review Police Shootings In Suburban Cook County
» A Prescription For Fruits And Veggies: One Solution To Food Insecurity in Illinois


* Popular Lincoln sculpture in Bloomington needs cleaning
* Legionella bacteria possibly in Capitol Complex water system
* IBHE: There is a need for bold changes for Illinois' higher education system
* Rauner wants to 'step-down' income tax increase
* Sangamon County should get first dibs on state jobs, lawmaker says
* Report: State agencies holding nearly $2.5 billion in bills
* Illinois lawmakers hold hearing on marijuana legalization
* Illinois hunters harvest 2 percent more deer than last year
* New session will bring new efforts at pension reform
* New report shows state agencies holding nearly $2.5 billion in bills


* Yoakam set to play Virginia
* Man drove stolen RV through Southern Illinois during chase, police say
* Figge to exhibit works of French Moderns
* Latest Macon County restaurant inspection scores, Jan. 11 to 18
* A mild late-January pattern ahead
* Truck driver suffers serious injuries in 180th crash in the area this year, police say
* Central A&M rallies around 3 students hurt in ATV accident
* Popular Abe sculpture in need of a cleaning
* Rules of the Road
* Habitat executive director to retire


* Lawsuit: Dundee Twp. park president took millions from late aunt, cousin over decades
* AP source: Cavs' meeting centered on overall frustration
* AI can read! Tech firms race to smarten up thinking machines
* Police: 1 dead, suspect held in Kentucky school shooting
* The Clubhouse restaurant in Schaumburg closes

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* Documentary on violence in Roseland
* Martin D. Reggi fundraiser set for January 25
* Moore withdraws from countywide McGinnis race
* In 1924 Maxwell Street regular Daddy Stovepipe became one of the first bluesmen ever recorded
* It's snowy owl season, motherfuckers
* Judge Elizabeth A. Karkula removed from the ballot
* 9,000 teachers are among those that face deportation without DACA.
* Democratic leader, Chuck Schumer. Worst. Negotiator. Ever.
* January 25 fundraiser for Judge John A. O'Meara
* Celebrate New Orleans Style Mardi Gras In Uptown


* Illinois Awarded Funds to Offer Advanced Training on Detecting Impaired Driving
* Illinois EPA Announces Upcoming Household Hazardous Waste Collection Events
* IEMA Highlights Emergency Preparedness for People with Access and Functional Needs in May - Ready Illinois website offers preparedness tips for people, caregivers
* First Lady Launches Illinois Family Connects
* Governor and Lt. Governor Unveil 2016 Journal of Local Government Shared Service Best Practices

  
* DJI Announces Mavic Air Drone to Combine 'Best Features' of Mavic Series With Portability of Spark
* Samsung details new camera tech that we’ll likely see in the Galaxy S9
* Apple Details HomePod's Gesture Controls for Siri and Music Playback
* Android 8.1’s new speed labels rate public WiFi networks before you connect
* Snapchat to Start Letting Users Share Discover Stories Outside of App, Personal Stories Remain in App Only
* New report backs up Galaxy S9 announcement date, rejects Huawei P20 MWC possibility
* HomePod's Multi-Room Audio and Stereo Features Will Not Be Available at Launch

* Burger third among top third-base prospects
* Burger among MLB's Top 10 3B prospects
* Kopech, Jimenez among White Sox NRIs
* Baseball America top 100, Sox-Brewers rumors, and other reading
* Advocating for retired non-numbers
* Getting ready for Soxfest 2018
* White Sox seeking new flagship radio home


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