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Question of the Day

Wednesday, Mar 26, 2008

* Oliver Stone is directing a movie about George Bush called “W,” and Josh Brolin will be playing the embattled President.

Our Question of the Day consists of two parts. If a movie was made about Governor Blagojevich….

a) Who would you cast to play our embattled governor?

and

b) What title would you give the film?

* Let’s have some fun with this one…

- Posted by Kevin Fanning   81 Comments      


Your Daily Dose of Blago Blunder

Wednesday, Mar 26, 2008

* The administration was doing so well today. No slip-ups, and some praise for the ‘deadbeat’ parent program. Then I came across this little diddy:

The Illinois auditor general says the state Public Health Department overpaid seven grants for stem-cell research by $863,000.

Auditor William Holland claims that more than half of the grants given by the administration were for more than originally agreed. Additionally, He says Public Health officials have no documentation explaining the overpayment.

The seven grants were supposed to amount to about $6.4 million. Instead, the recipients got $7.3 million. It gets better:

Holland also says there’s nothing to indicate the method used to determine how much Public Health would pay toward the governor’s failed court defense of restrictions on violent video games.

Public Health paid 14 percent of the total bill, plus some attorney fees. Administration spokeswomen haven’t returned calls for comment.

* In 2005 the governor made the controversial move of inserting millions of dollars into the state budget for stem cell research without telling lawmakers in advance.

Department of Public Health spokeswoman Melaney Arnold says that the state doesn’t currently have a budget for stem cell research, but doesn’t know what the next year could bring. Arnold and a spokesman for state Auditor General Bill Holland’s office both agree that the appearance of being over budget is a paperwork error:

“It is simply a difference in documentation,” Arnold said.

For lawmakers’ part, they’ve in past years considered various proposals concerning stem cell research, but Blagojevich moved largely on his own to begin awarding grants for such work.

That doesn’t sit well with some.

“Taxpayers shouldn’t be paying for private medical research,” said Dave Smith, director of the Illinois Family Institute.

* It’s a shame too, I had my fingers crossed that we could go 24 hours.

- Posted by Kevin Fanning   16 Comments      


Misdirected woes over Stateville

Wednesday, Mar 26, 2008

* The Chicago Tribune published a story today about the possible effects of Stateville Prison’s closing of its maximum security wing on the families of the inmates.

Stateville is home to 3,280 prisoners and is the closest state correctional facility to Chicago and its growing suburbs. Rather than spend an estimated $100 million to renovate Stateville to the level of other maximum-security prisons, Blagojevich wants to close the section that houses the most violent criminals and ship them to more secure rural prisons hours away.

Some of the families have begun writing letters and speaking to lawmakers at budget forums, such as one held Tuesday at Kennedy-King College. They are organizing a bus trip to Springfield, where legislators will vote on the governor’s budget proposal for the coming fiscal year.

* Department of Corrections spokesman Derek Schnapp said, “We understand families are a very important part of an inmate’s success when they go out. That’s part of what makes this so tough. But the No. 1 issue for us is safety and security.”

If Stateville closes, some prisoners will be sent to the maximum-security wing of the next closest facility in Pontiac, 100 miles from Chicago. But others could be transferred to Thomson, which is 150 miles away from Chicago; to Menard, 350 miles away; or Tamms, 363 miles away.

The article cites the difficulties that will be placed on the families who would be affected by a transfer:

“I’m honestly afraid we’ll lose my brother if we can’t see him and talk with him face to face,” said Paula Carballido, 25, of Waukegan, whose 21-year-old brother, Juan, is four years into a 35-year murder sentence. “We don’t want him to disconnect, to break off from the family.”

and:

Similarly, Cicero resident Pearlie White frequently comes to Stateville to visit the father of her 17-year-old son. The man, Steve Robinson, has been serving a life sentence, but White often brings her son so the two can have some kind of a relationship. Despite his incarceration, Robinson is a “father figure” for her son and teenage daughter, she said.

“They would not have a man in their lives if not for [Robinson],” White said. “It might not be the best situation, but it’s all we’ve got.”

* Buried in the article, however, is this caveat:

While the closing could mean the loss of hundreds of jobs at Stateville—and deal a financial hit to the communities around it—state officials acknowledge the blow to families could have the most far-reaching effect.

While I am sympathetic to the families that would be inconvenienced by this proposal, I think the focus of the article is on the wrong subjects. How about those hundreds of people who could lose their jobs?

This could result in the most far-reaching effect. In an economy that is inarguably in a recession this would be devastating to these families, and the surrounding community. Discuss.

- Posted by Kevin Fanning   31 Comments      


Millions for the cloutless

Wednesday, Mar 26, 2008

* It’s a good day for ex-employs of City Hall who lost their job to a rigged hiring system. Federal hiring monitor Noelle Brennan plans to send out letters notifying around 1,400 plaintiffs of their awards:

To qualify for cash, claimants had to prove they were bypassed for jobs and promotions since Jan. 1, 2000.

“We ended up with about 1,500 submissions. Somewhere between 1,350 and 1,400 will be eligible for some award,” Brennan said last week.

The monitor refused to say whether anyone would receive the $100,000 maximum. With 1,400 claimants, the average award would be $8,571.

* Michael Shakman filed the landmark lawsuit that was supposed to end political hiring and firing.

Shakman said Tuesday he’s not surprised that Brennan has exhausted the $12 million fund. “The scale was massive,” he said. “There were wholesale violations of the rules on political hiring, promotions and discharge.”

* Over 1,500 people applied to be eligible to part of the $12 million fund created to compensate victims. Thoughts?

- Posted by Kevin Fanning   12 Comments      


State program cracks down on ‘deadbeat’ parents

Wednesday, Mar 26, 2008

* A new state program is matching up hunting licenses against lists of parents behind on their payments is the state’s newest way to chip away at the long-standing problem of child-support collection. In the six months the program has been in effect, the state has collected nearly $130,000 from 90 parents.

Gov. Blagojevich vowed to improve on Illinois’ ranking among the nation’s worst at child support collection when he took office in 2003. Last year, the state collected a record $1.2 billion in payments. Despite some improvement in the last few years state officials say custodial parents, mostly women, still are owed $3.2 billion in back child support.

The new program is just one way to help chip away at the problem. A program launched several years ago withholds professional licenses, such as medical or accounting licenses, from parents behind in their child support.

In January, the state began sending warning notices to deadbeat parents threatening to suspend their driver’s licenses if they fail to start paying up within 60 days. More than $127,000 has been collected since.

llinois is trying to duplicate the success of other states, where people have paid large amounts to hunt. In Maine, one hunter paid $30,000 in back child support after being selected in an annual lottery for one of only 3,000 coveted licenses to hunt that state’s majestic moose.

The program seems to be working, and many are singing its praises:

“We think the program is good if the intent is to collect child support due to dependent minors,” said Jered Shofner, president of United Bowhunters of Illinois. “If that’s what they have to do to track them down, it’s a good thing.”

* What other avenues do you think the state could pursue to aid the problem?

- Posted by Kevin Fanning   25 Comments      


Morning Shorts

Wednesday, Mar 26, 2008

* Transit backers seeking money

* Cops may face fitness tests

* Harassment suit against state fails

* Rule aims to limit non-medical laser use

* Naperville to dole out millions to cultural events, projects

* Skunks appear to be making a comeback in Illinois

“There aren’t too many things that really care to tangle with a skunk,” Bluett said. “Some of the raptors will, particularly owls. Skunks are nocturnal for the most part. Owls are nocturnal. They’re the ones that are more likely to pick them off and they don’t have a sense of smell so it doesn’t bother them.”

* Bottled water tax brings less revenue than expected

* Facebook Activism Adopted By IL State Rep Greg Harris - Civil Union LegislationPalatine Opportunity Center

* Lakeview Museum V.P. joins race for 18th District

* GOP congressional hopeful has history of giving to Democrats

* Republican Seeks Vacant House Slot in Illinois — Amid Democratic Flak

* Throwing big rocks

For sheer mean ignoramus-osity, we give the nod squarely to 8th District Republican congressional whizbang Steve Greenberg who has stirred up a 1,500 year blood feud by arguing his foe, Melissa Bean, is a secret friend and agent of Serbian Neo-Fascist terrorists.

- Posted by Kevin Fanning   12 Comments      


« NEWER POSTS PREVIOUS POSTS »
* Open thread and another LSSI reminder
* In defense of Mary Todd Lincoln on her 200th birthday
* Caption contest!
* Rauner says he'll file end of term report, clear clemency backlog
* Question of the day: Golden Horseshoe Awards
* Pritzker roundup
* Cook County Public Guardian sues DCFS: "Abject moral and human rights failure"
* Mendoza signature clearance rate is high during first round
* Your holiday season moment of Zen
* Pritzker criticized over lack of Active Transportation Alliance members on his transition committee
* Color me skeptical
* Pritzker heading to White House today
* Sen. Schimpf wants Satanic sculpture removed from rotunda as Rep. Bryant introduces condemnation resolution
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