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This just in… Blagojevich to announce jobs move

Thursday, Jun 26, 2008

* 3:46 pm - Gov. Blagojevich is expected to be in Harrisburg, Illinois tomorrow to announce the move of about 150 IDOT jobs from Springfield to that far southern Illinois community.

SIU has reportedly done an economic impact statement that shows as many as a hundred spin-off jobs could be created in the area. Southeastern Illinois College Foundation will be partnering with IDOT in the move.

Harrisburg is in Sen. Gary Forby’s district, as well as Rep. Brandon Phelps’ district.

* 4:15 pm - The SJ-R now has a story online

Rep. Brandon Phelps, D-Harrisburg, said he was notified Thursday afternoon of Blagojevich’s appearance. He said IDOT is planning to move the division into a former Wal-Mart building that’s been converted to office use. The building is owned by the Southeastern Illinois Community College Foundation, Phelps said.

- Posted by Rich Miller   59 Comments      


Question of the Day

Thursday, Jun 26, 2008

[Posted by Kevin Fanning]

The Setup

GOP grrr: Sneed hears there’s trouble brewing in the Republican caucus.

• • The great chagrin: Word is caucus member/state Sen. Christine Radogno (R-Lemont), who lost her bid for state treasurer to Alexi Giannoulias, is making moves to run for governor.

• • Headache heaven: State Sen. Bill Brady (R-Bloomington) has already announced he’s running. It ought to make for interesting gruff sessions in the fishbowl caucus of 22 members.

* The Question: We’ve had some fun here at the blog speculating on a Gubernatorial run by Bill Daley. What do you think the chances are that Sen. Radogno runs? What do you think the chances are of her winning the primary?

- Posted by Kevin Fanning   85 Comments      


Attorney General sues Countrywide

Thursday, Jun 26, 2008

[Posted by Kevin Fanning]

* Lisa Madigan has been getting a lot of press over a new lawsuit against Countrywide Financial. The suit shows how Illinois residents have suffered, and has attracted national attention as an overall critique of companies who have helped to spur the mortgage crisis:

The lawsuit offers a comprehensive look at how the company allegedly ripped off homeowners by pushing them into loans they couldn’t afford while not telling them what they were getting into.

One Countrywide customer in Illinois, a 64-year-old widow on a fixed income, was paying about $300 a month on her mortgage. After Countrywide refinanced her loan, her payments shot up to $800 a month, the lawsuit says.

Nor was Countrywide straightforward about loan terms, the lawsuit alleges. Details were in tiny type, and consumers who actually read footnotes were at times referred to footnotes of footnotes.

Madigan says Countrywide should pay back borrowers who lost their homes, and she’s also asking a court for a temporary stay on new foreclosures.

Bethany Jager has more

The Chicago area had the most subprime loans of any metropolitan area in the country, according to a 2006 study by the Chicago Reporter, an investigative magazine. And Countrywide held more of those loans than any other lender. The Chicago area also has one of the highest foreclosure rates in the country.

The attorney general also says her office has received more than 200 complaints about the company since 2005.

In early 2007, the company issued nearly $8 billion in risky subprime loans, which generally are given to borrowers with poorer credit histories and lower incomes than those given standard loans.

* You can view the Attorney General’s complaint here.

Whatever the results of the suit are, I’m sure that Madigan will continue to receive accolades from angry Illinoisans for trying to hold companies accountable for the mortgage mess.

- Posted by Kevin Fanning   19 Comments      


Sound the Alarm***Updated x1***

Thursday, Jun 26, 2008

[Posted by Kevin Fanning]

* The Governor is continuing to gear up his PR blitz on the disastrous impact of budget cuts:

Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s administration is escalating its public-relations blitz for more state budget money, pressing legislators directly and through the media to approve $1.5 billion in new revenue sources –- and warning that everything from Amtrak riders to AIDS patients will suffer debilitating budget cuts if they don’t.

“The House . . . (should) come back and finish what they started,’’ Deputy Gov. Bob Greenlee said today in a conference call with the Post-Dispatch editorial page. It was one of several such meetings administration officials are conducting this week around the state with newspapers, social agency heads and lawmakers themselves, in an attempt to pressure the Legislature into providing more money to the budget.

In newspaper meetings, and in an unusual mass conference call with lawmakers yesterday, Greenlee pressed House Dems to rethink their opposition to those revenue sources.

The administration has listed numerous potential cuts in areas like transit, health care, and education that he’s poised to make if the revenue sources aren’t approved early next month. And it looks like many in the media are eating it up

Joe Szabo, with the United Transportation Union, said the $28 million subsidy being threatened by Gov. Rod Blagojevich if revenue streams for the state’s FY09 budget aren’t delivered would wipe out all but the City of New Orleans train, which only arrives in Carbondale from the Louisiana city in the early hours of the morning.

And

All spring, the Illinois House rejected those ideas. The House then adjourned having passed plenty of new spending bills but none of the governor’s proposed revenue bills. It sent the governor a budget he claims is $2 billion out of balance. As promised, the governor this week released a list of cuts he plans to make to the budget. Unless, of course, the House changes its mind and passes all the things it rejected all spring.

THAT IS not going to happen, and that’s why we believe the only solution begins with the governor ordering the General Assembly back to Springfield for a special session.

* Rep. Washington, who participated in a conference call with other legislators and the governor’s office on Wednesday, jumped in the mix saying thats he’s leaning toward a vote on funding before the July 9 deadline:

“They’re reeling us in over Madigan’s objections,” he said. “They’re trying to weaken his leadership in the House and break the unity of the House. The speaker should really consider letting the proposal (seven bills proposed to offset the deficit) come to the floor and letting it fall or rise on its own merits.”

* However, many legislators aren’t buying it:

“I don’t think he’s capable of that,” said Righter, R-Mattoon. “He’s had six years to demonstrate he can be prudent with state money. Unfortunately, what he has done is demonstrate an eagerness to cut the budget in smaller areas that are particularly sensitive to downstate Illinois.”

[…]

“He goes after these popular programs to strike fear into people,” said state Rep. Pat Verschoore, D-Milan. “He’s blaming the House, but we passed a barebones budget and there were even some modest increases in the barebones one.”

The question is, who blinks first in this game of chicken?

*** UPDATE *** The Governor plans on announcing a $14 million, statewide summer-jobs program today for 10,000 teens and young adults in violence-prone neighborhoods.

Steve Brown, a spokesman for House Speaker Michael Madigan, quipped:

“He made the statement . . . about approving this budget would be like signing a bad check. How can a man make that statement and 48 hours later announce a new spending program?”

* It makes a doomsday scenario of deep budget cuts a little harder to swallow when you roll out a new $14 million dollar summer-jobs program for teens…

*Related…

* Blagojevich in full-court press to get new funding

* If Blago cuts Amtrak, we’d have only an after-midnight train

* Blago’s Budget Cuts Would Hit All Over State

* Governor’s flip-flop on Pontiac prison closure draws skepticism

* Construction officials push to pass bill

* Odds are against using gambling revenue

* State Senator Steans Comments On Uptown Gang Violence

* Rep. Harris on Governor’s Budget Cuts

- Posted by Kevin Fanning   50 Comments      


This just in… Supremes overturn “Millionaire’s amendment”

Thursday, Jun 26, 2008

*** 10:16 am *** This may get lost in the shuffle because of the gun ruling, but it could greatly impact congressional and US Senate races throughout the country

The Supreme Court has struck down the “millionaire’s amendment” as an unfair way to help opponents of wealthy candidates who spend from their personal fortunes.

The law allows candidates to receive larger contributions when their wealthy opponents spend heavily from their personal fortunes.

The court says by a 5-4 vote that the law violates the First Amendment.

The law was challenged by Jack Davis, a New York Democrat who has so far spent nearly $4 million of his own money in two losing campaigns for Congress and says he will spend another $3 million this year.

* More

The majority overturned both the contribution limits for opponents of affluent candidates and a requirement that millionaires report every $10,000 expenditure within 24 hours. [emphasis added[

* More

At least 24 House candidates have triggered the millionaires’ amendment this cycle. Of those, 10 remain active — while others either lost a primary or dropped out.

In the Senate, at least four candidates had triggered the amendment by April, two of whom are still active.

*** 10:26 am *** The ruling can be viewed at this link.

* From the opinion

This Court has never upheld the constitutionality of a law that imposes
different contribution limits for candidates competing against each other, and it agrees with Davis that this scheme impermissibly burdens his First Amendment right to spend his own money for campaign speech… While BCRA does not impose a cap on a
candidate’s expenditure of personal funds, it imposes an unprecedented penalty on any candidate who robustly exercises that First Amendment right, requiring him to choose between the right to engage in unfettered political speech and subjection to discriminatory fundraising limitations. The resulting drag on First Amendment rights is not constitutional simply because it attaches as a consequence of a statutorily imposed choice.

*** 10:43 am *** And here’s the Court’s message to Congress…

If the normally applicable limits on individual contributions and coordinated party contributions are seriously distorting the electoral process, if they are feeding a “public perception that wealthy people can buy seats in Congress,” and if those limits are not needed in order to combat corruption, then the obvious remedy is to raise or eliminate those limits. But the unprecedented step of imposing different contribution and coordinated party expenditure limits on candidates vying for the same seat is antithetical to the First Amendment.

- Posted by Rich Miller   13 Comments      


This just in… Supremes rule on guns *** Daley suggests requring extensive insurance for handgun owners *** Rifle Association files suit against Chicago ban ***

Thursday, Jun 26, 2008

*** I strongly recommend that you read this excellent SCOTUS Blog post and this one all the way through before commenting. Thanks. ***

*******************************

* 9:51 am - This could get interesting

Chicago’s handgun ban, which has lasted for more than a quarter-century, came under threat Thursday when the Supreme Court decided that Washington D.C.’s law against handgun ownership is unconstitutional.

In a 5-4 decision, the high court determined that Americans have the right to own guns for self-defense as well as hunting. The decision, which had been expected, is a win for gun rights advocates and provides a better definition of the rights of Americans to own firearms.

Illinois gun-rights activists have said they expect to mount a quick legal challenge to the Chicago Weapons Ordinance.

It was the first time in nearly 70 years that the court had taken up broad questions about the 2nd Amendment’s protections of the right to bear arms. The city of Chicago, which has had its own ban on handgun ownership since 1982, had filed a brief with the court in support of the ban in January.


* 10:06 M -
The opinion can be read here.

More

Justice Scalia’s opinion stressed that the Court was not casting doubt on long-standing bans on carrying a concealed gun or on gun possession by felons or the mentally retarded, on laws barring guns from schools or government buildings, and laws putting conditions on gun sales.

* More

The Second Amendment protects an individual right to possess a firearm unconnected with service in a militia, and to use that arm for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home […]

The handgun ban and the trigger-lock requirement (as applied to self-defense) violate the Second Amendment. The District’s total ban on handgun possession in the home amounts to a prohibition on an entire class of “arms” that Americans overwhelmingly choose for the lawful purpose of self-defense. Under any of the standards of scrutiny the Court has applied to enumerated constitutional rights, this prohibition—in the place where the importance of the lawful defense of self, family, and property is most acute—would fail constitutional muster. Similarly, the requirement that any lawful firearm in the home be disassembled or bound by a trigger lock makes it impossible for citizens to use arms for the core lawful purpose of self-defense and is hence unconstitutional.”

* More from the opinion

Like most rights, the Second Amendment right is not unlimited. It is not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose: For example, concealed weapons prohibitions have been upheld under the Amendment or state analogues. The Court’s opinion should not be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms. Miller’s holding that the sorts of weapons protected are those “in common use at the time” finds support in the historical tradition of prohibiting the carrying of dangerous and unusual weapons.

* Doesn’t this look a lot like legislating from the bench?

It is no answer to say, as petitioners do, that it is permissible to ban the possession of handguns so long as the possession of other firearms (i.e., long guns) is allowed. It is enough to note, as we have observed, that the American people have considered the handgun to be the quintessential self-defense weapon. There are many reasons that a citizen may prefer a handgun for home defense: It is easier to store in a location that is readily accessible in an emergency; it cannot easily be redirected or wrestled away by an attacker; it is easier to use for those without the upperbody strength to lift and aim a long gun; it can be pointed at a burglar with one hand while the other hand dials the police. Whatever the reason, handguns are the most popular weapon chosen by Americans for self-defense in the home, and a complete prohibition of their use is invalid.

* McCain reacts

U.S. Sen. John McCain said Thursday that the Supreme Court ruling in favor of gun ownership showed that the Chicago handgun ban has “infringed on the constitutional rights of Americans.”

The presumptive Republican presidential nominee called the ruling a “landmark victory for Second Amendment freedom in the United States.”

* Daley reacts

An angry Mayor Richard Daley on Thursday called the Supreme Court’s overturning of the Washington D.C. gun ban “a very frightening decision” and vowed to fight vigorously any challenges to Chicago’s ban.

*** 12:08 pm *** Mayor Daley has already come up with a way around the ban on handguns in the home: Require gun owners to carry extensive insurance.

*** 3:16 pm *** From the Illinois State Rifle Association home page

The Illinois State Rifle Association, together with Second Amendment Foundation and several individual plaintiffs, filed suit against the City of Chicago in federal court this morning at 9:15 CDT. More information will be made available in a statement from the attorneys tomorrow.

- Posted by Rich Miller   119 Comments      


Morning Shorts

Thursday, Jun 26, 2008

* National Urban League conference may boost Olympic hopes

* Chicago’s Olympic bid going for the green

The program will demonstrate a “commitment to climate action,” said bid leader Patrick Ryan, who announced the initiative. “We know, for example, that Tokyo is going to be emphasizing the environment very significantly, but we don’t think they will have any more commitment to it than we do.”

* Buyers question value of Wrigley

* Tribune Co. puts tower on the block

* Daley friend buys controversial Bubbly Creek property

* Chicago budget director may owe more for office shower

* What’s the recipe for good teaching?

During the five-year period of the study, teachers at schools with the state’s highest poverty levels made the greatest gains in academic capital, narrowing by 27 percent the gap between Chicago and the east central region of the state, where the educators with the highest academic index teach.

The gains were largely a result of hiring inexperienced teachers with stronger academic backgrounds, the study found.

* What is your superintendent driving?

* Gettysburg Address going back on display in Springfield

* Central Illinois regional airports on list of industry ‘losers’

The gloomy forecast is in a report released Wednesday by the Business Travel Coalition of the 100 regional airports nationwide most likely to lose some or all service as a result of industry turmoil.

All the central Illinois regional airports made the list.

* Reaching Out To Veterans

State Sen. Dan Kotowski (D-33d) of Park Ridge attended. His bill helped fund the program.

Physicians at Wednesday’s press conference explained that new state of the art equipment recently brought online at the hospital is helping doctors tell the difference between PTSD and traumatic brain injuries.

* High-tech testing for war vets with post-traumatic stress disorder

* Chairman McKenna on City Desk Part I

* Chairman McKenna on City Desk Part II

* State probing local hiring practices

The attorney general’s Civil Rights Bureau has informed Joliet officials that it has received a complaint alleging discrimination in the hiring of patrol officers and firefighters. City officials said they do not know the origin of the complaint, and an attorney general spokeswoman could not be reached Thursday for comment.

* State looks to ease worker transitions with new site

* Double-duty Davis

There were questions about the legality of the dual roles. According to Illinois law, “No member of the board shall have any interest in any brokerage fee, commission or other profit or gain arising out of any investment made by the board.”

* Bernard Schoenburg: Governor just not much for contact with state workers

* Saturday rally planned against railway takeover

U.S. Rep. Melissa Bean, a Barrington Democrat, opposes the sale but said she won’t be able to attend Sunday’s rally.

“But I look forward to meeting with (Darch) further as we continue to work together to stop this transaction,” Bean said.

* Dan Seals’ Roll Call Carpetbagger Debut On Video

* Obama says he avoided city, state corruption

* Obama campaigns in Chicago

* Meet the make-believe strategists of TV

- Posted by Kevin Fanning   9 Comments      


« 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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