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Friday, Apr 25, 2008

* What a pleasant week this was. No session, the boat was in the water at my secret blogging location. Things were just peachy. That ends next week when the General Assembly returns to town. I’m gonna have some fun this weekend, and I hope you can do the same.

Meanwhile, we have newbies at Illinoize, so go check ‘em out.

* This seems appropriate. Turn it up…


Don’t believe a word
For words are only spoken
Your heart is like a promise
Made to be broken

- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      


Must-see video

Friday, Apr 25, 2008

* Things got pretty rough on Chicago Tonight last night as two current and one former state legislator went back and forth about impeaching the governor. Click on the pic for the video…

“There is an unfair standard being applied here… They’re applying a standard to the governor that they’re not applying to others.” - Former Sen. Carol Ronen, now an administration official.

“The governor created the standard for himself.” - CLTV reporter Carlos Hernandez Gomez

It gets kinda nasty, with Ronen claiming that Rep. John Fritchey was lobbying for the payday loan industry and dredging up allegations about Rep. Jack Franks and his father.

If last night’s show is any indication of the future, they’re not going down easy, campers.

…Adding… Larry has some commentary of his own.

- Posted by Rich Miller   59 Comments      


Purity lesson of the day: Nobody, but nobody can possibly be 100 percent pristine

Friday, Apr 25, 2008

* I’ve been taking a tiny bit of amusing heat from another blog about my post this week on former Sen. Steve Rauschenberger. It was no big deal, and I got a nice chuckle out of it, as did a few other bloggers.

Their love for their hero of political cleanliness is commendable, but it got me to thinking about this whole idea of holier than thou purity that we hear so often from the self-described “reform” wing of the Republican Party. So I did about 30 seconds of checking and found something curious.

* Four years ago, Tribune columnist John Kass wrote the following about Sen. Rauschenberger, who was at that time attempting to move up the ladder to US Senate. Kass was referring to Rauschenberger’s quest to kick Bob Kjellander out of a top GOP slot for, among other things, working with the Democrats on bigtime money-making deals…

He’s the the only one of them willing to stand up and oppose the combine.

* Indeed, Rauschenberger continues to this day in his role as tireless spokesman in the fight against “The Combine” and the harmful influence of Chicago politics. He was on a radio program this week and made this stark comment…

“In Illinois, we all should remind people that ‘change’ means kicking the Chicago Democratic Machine out of Springfield.”

Listen to the whole thing…

He had quite a few good things to say on that program. That’s not a surprise. Sen. Rauschenberger has done a lot of good things over the years. He was a decent, competent legislator.

* Rauschenberger is now a registered lobbyist in Illinois. You can view a screen cap of his official lobbyist disclosure form by clicking here.

* Notice that one of Rauschenberger’s clients is Advanced Practical Solutions. APS is run by Milan Petrovic, Gov. Blagojevich’s most prodigious fundraiser

FBI Agent Charles Willenborg testified that internal documents from the campaign showed Rezko’s bundles [for Blagojevich] totaled $1,437,350 from 2000 to December 2004 — making him the No.2 bundler after lobbyist Milan Petrovic.

Petrovic’s bundles totaled $1,963,485, by the FBI’s count.

* You can read more about Petrovic here.

* As far as I know, Petrovic has never been accused of anything untoward at the Statehouse. But you won’t hear Petrovic talking about kicking the Machine out of Illinois because, well, Milan Petrovich is part of that Machine. And now he and Steve Rauschenberger have hooked up to lobby the Statehouse.

Don’t get me wrong, this is a very positive move for Petrovic. He’s known as a Democrat and a “Rod guy,” so it’s always a plus to have an “in” with the Republicans if you want to have a fuller, rounder Statehouse operation. And because of his years of experience, Rauschenberger has an intimate knowledge of how the General Assembly runs and how to best construct legislation. All good.

Rauschenberger asked not to talk on the record when we spoke yesterday, but it was clear from our (mostly pleasant) conversation that he sees nothing at all wrong about this. He obviously respects Petrovic and believes him to be on the up and up. I don’t disagree. In Statehouse terms, or even in my own terms, this is just good business for both men, little more.

* But considering the inflamed environment within the way over the top “reform” wing of the GOP, and its repeated purge attempts against accused “Combine” members who appear to be hiding under every bed, you wonder how Rauschenberger’s impassioned anti-Combine admirers are gonna feel about this admittedly smart career move.

Hopefully, they’ll be understanding and kind.

As for me, I wish him the best of luck.

- Posted by Rich Miller   10 Comments      


Calling all potential pundits

Friday, Apr 25, 2008

* Ocasionally, I like to inject some new life into Illinoize, so if you think you have what it takes to post over there, click the “Contact Me” link just under the banner. Let’s talk.

- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      


Question of the day

Friday, Apr 25, 2008

Caption?

…Adding… I think this was too easy. Please, try harder. I haven’t laughed yet.

- Posted by Rich Miller   104 Comments      


More pressure on Oberweis, and Ozinga’s uphill climb

Friday, Apr 25, 2008

* RealClearPolitics takes a look at some Illinois congressional races. Here’s one…

llinois 14: Former Speaker Dennis Hastert was replaced by Democrat Bill Foster in a special election in early March, and a rematch in November will again pit Foster against Republican Jim Oberweis, a candidate many in his own party blamed for losing the seat. Both candidates spent more than $3 million in their bids, and both have a long way to go to rebuild their war chests. Foster had $262,000 in the bank after March, while Oberweis had $132,000 lying around.

In three previous contests, Oberweis has had to largely self-fund, and if donors don’t kick in contributions now, he will either defer to another candidate or start writing checks again. Watch next quarter’s report to see how serious Oberweis will be this Fall in a district that, despite the Obama-mania, McCain should carry.

I’m told House Republican Leader John Boehner said at a recent event that he wants Oberweis out of the race. Boehner’s campaign office did not return a call asking for comment. I’m not sure Oberweis will ever drop out, but the pressure continues.

* They also looked at the 11th

[Likely GOP candidate Martin Ozinga] will face State Senate Majority Leader Debbie Halvorson, who has already raised $861,000 and still has $673,000 left in cash. Not only will Ozinga have catching up to do, but national Democrats have already hammered him for his business dealings. If Ozinga doesn’t respond by defining himself soon, Democrats will remain strong favorites to pick up this seat based largely southwest of Chicago.

* Halvorson has her problems, but Ozinga surprised some observers by saying recently that he will limit the spending of his own money…

Part of Ozinga’s appeal to GOP leaders is that he has enough money to pay for his campaign, but Tuesday, Ozinga said he would not spend more than $350,000 of his own money—the federal benchmark that would allow Halvorson to ask donors for more than the $2,300 individual limit.

But Ozinga said it was philosophical strategy, not political strategy, that persuaded him not to dip into his personal account if he is chosen as the nominee. He said he intends to generate broad-based support, including friends and business associates from all over the country, which would demonstrate to voters he has the political will to win the seat.

It’s not a bad concept if it works. But that will be tough if the analysts continue to place this R seat in the Likely D category.

Also, it would help if he tried to get a grip on his campaign staff. [Language warning]

…Adding…. It turns out that the comments mentioned immediately above appear to be coming from Ozinga’s business, not the campaign site.

- Posted by Rich Miller   23 Comments      


Reform and Renwal, Part 947,496

Friday, Apr 25, 2008

* We somehow missed Bernie’s column yesterday. The top item was about confessed briber Ali Ata and his long relationship with Gov. Rod Blagojevich…

“He’s a friend,” Blagojevich said [in 2003], adding that they had been acquainted for 15 years. […]

“He’s totally committed to our mission of change and reform,” the governor said.

Unfortunately, that “mission” apparently wasn’t about the sort of “change and reform” that we normally associate with that phrase.

* The governor, by the way, “postponed” an appearance set for today. It’s not hard to wonder why…

A half a century after former U.S. Congressman Ken Gray was working on plans to help build a major highway right through West Frankfort, the retired legislator will have to wait just a little longer for the unique honor of having this area’s portion of the Interstate named after him.

Original plans called for the official ceremony to take place on April 25, at the southbound rest stop near Benton. However, to accommodate the governor, the date for the event has been changed to May 8, at 3 p.m., at the same location, according to the office of Illinois Senator Gary Forby

* Meanwhile, Mike Lawrence had this to say when asked whether the Rezko trial was making it more difficult for the governor to get anything accomplished this year

“I think it is reaffirmation for legislators that he’s not someone they want to get close to.”

* The Tribune editorialized today that passing a capital plan depends on trustworthy leaders

When the Blagojevich administration pushed through a $10 billion pension bond deal in 2003, it selected a bond house that paid a mysterious $800,000 consulting fee on the deal to Republican power broker Robert Kjellander.

You may have read about him this week. A federal prosecutor said a former buddy of Rezko who pleaded guilty to corruption charges this week is prepared to testify that Rezko told him in 2004 that Kjellander was pushing White House operative Karl Rove to remove Patrick Fitzgerald as U.S. attorney in Chicago. The ostensible goal: take the heat off the pols in Illinois. Rove and Kjellander deny there was any such effort.

Meanwhile, under the direction of a federal judge, $12 million in Chicago tax money is being paid to 1,427 people who were victims of political discrimination by the administration of Mayor Richard M. Daley.

Illinois needs billions for roads, schools, bridges and more. But just as surely, it needs political leaders whom the people of Illinois think they can trust with 25 billion of their dollars.

I’m not sure how we get from Point A to Point B with the players we have, but maybe the Tribune will inform us later how that might be accomplished.

* Over at the Rezko trial, Hollywood producer and real estate mogul Tom Rosenberg testified yesterday about an alleged shakedown attempt to squeeze $1.5 million in campaign contributions for Gov. Blagojevich’s campaign. Rosenberg has immunity from prosecution, so he was quite blunt about his alleged conversation with Bill Cellini over how much he would make from an investment deal with the Teachers Retirement System…

“I expected Mr. Cellini to offer a solution,” Rosenberg said, “and to give me an amount that would be necessary to pay to the Blagojevich campaign.”

* Rosenberg also claimed that he could see the future, and it wasn’t pretty

[Rosenberg once predicted to] GOP power broker Bill Cellini that the way a state board operated, people could end up in court. Rosenberg called up Cellini when he had business stall with the Teachers’ Retirement System board. Rosenberg had a feeling that his old nemesis Stuart Levine, who was on the TRS board, was behind torpedoing the deal. […]

Cellini allegedly told Rosenberg in Feb. 2004 that TRS executive director Jon Bauman was under “serious stress.”

“Bauman was having serious stress issues because he was being pressured by the governor’s people to invest TRS money into incompetent companies or risky ventures,” Rosenberg said he told Cellini. “I said, tell him not to do it. He said: ‘Jon is not that strong,’ Rosenberg said.

“One day, Jon Bauman is going to be raising his hand under oath and he’s going to tell what happened and that day is going to be very bad for Mr. (Chris) Kelly and Mr. Rezko.”

* Rosenberg also claimed to have said this

“And if there isn’t a grand jury already on Mr. Rezko and Kelly, there shortly would be,” [Rosenberg] said he warned.

* Related…

* ‘Men With Broken Hearts’

* Hollywood mogul says he didn’t like being squeezed

* Give me a million dollars, baby

* The Human Stain — an Allison Davis sidenote

* Let the people vote on recall measure

- Posted by Rich Miller   16 Comments      


Supremes live large

Friday, Apr 25, 2008

* The justices like them some food

Illinois’ auditor general is again rapping the state Supreme Court for costly food tabs on taxpayers’ dimes — with some meals hitting nearly $50 rather than the recommended $8 per person.

The court far overspent for breakfasts and meals at five conferences for judges, with a combined tab of more than $200,000, according to Auditor General William Holland’s report released Thursday. That includes $78,000 for 1,700 meals at a February 2006 conference in Chicago.

Lunch at one conference ran $48 per person for 958 attendees, with breakfast at the same event costing $40 apiece for more than 800 people.

Travel guidelines limit judges’ reimbursement to $8 for breakfast or lunch when traveling to Chicago and $7 per meal downstate, Holland said. He recommends judges either follow the smaller meal limits or increase the guideline limits.

Forty bucks for breakfast? Did that include the Bloody Mary’s?

And the Supremes are unrepentant. The Court refuses to comply with the Auditor General’s recommendations, claiming that conference costs shouldn’t be compared to daily reimbursement allowances.

Read the full report here, or the summary report digest here.

- Posted by Rich Miller   41 Comments      


Morning Shorts

Friday, Apr 25, 2008

* Rauschenberger vs. Obama: Round 5

* Golly, Mr. Barron, are you gutsy

* Many states appear to be in recession

“Whether or not the national economy is in recession — a subject of ongoing debate — is almost beside the point for some states,” said the report to be released today by the National Conference of State Legislatures.

* State Budget experts say finances in sorry state

* Coalition pushes for support of governor’s $25 billion capital plan

* Chicago State burned again

On learning that a new state audit of Chicago State University will once again show questionable financial practices by President Elnora Daniel, several members of the school’s Board of Trustees got mad. Real mad.

* House GOP launches audio outreach

* Court says Neuqua student can wear anti-gay T-shirt

* Chicago Plans to Limit Annual Building Inspections

* Committee OKs corporate sponsors for seminars

But, should the city department that licenses and regulates businesses take money from them?

“I don’t think there’s a conflict … We’re very focussed on what the law requires and we require all businesses to uphold that law — whether they’re sponsoring our events or not,” Eisenhauer said.

* City Hall to revamp new code of conduct

New language suggested by Hoffman will be included “in the next revision,” said Anthony Boswell, Daley’s pick to head the Office of Compliance. Reached on vacation, Boswell said he did not know how many already had been printed or how soon new copies would go to press.

* Women’s advocates fight Daley merger plan

* Stroger’s goofs no secret

* Want to polish your image, Todd? Just do a good job.

* Daley to host private anti-violence meeting Friday

* Tribune smokers have rebate coming

* ITRS seeks to dismiss Chicago Board of Ed suit

* Exelon shifts from merger mode

* Attorney, former journalist to head Pa. open records office

* Distinguished Young Alumni Bethany (Carson) Jaeger

* AT&T service gains support

* Friday Beer Blogging: Internet Carding Edition

- Posted by Kevin Fanning   8 Comments      


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Friday, Apr 25, 2008

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- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      


« NEWER POSTS PREVIOUS POSTS »
* Two Burke-related scoops by the Sun-Times
* Today's must-read
* More details emerge about cannabis legalization
* Did Pritzker defeat an incumbent Illinois governor by the biggest margin ever?
* Question of the day: Golden Horseshoe Awards
* Caption contest!
* Sun-Times begins to hold candidates' feet to the fire
* CTBA responds to Fitch Ratings
* Unclear on the concept
* So far, so good for Illinois auto jobs
* *** UPDATED x1 *** Tax credit could help small biz deal with minimum wage hike
* *** LIVE COVERAGE ***
* Yesterday's stories

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