* Retiring Congresscritter Jerry Weller finally surfaced this week. Weller missed last week’s vote on the financial system bailout bill and wouldn’t return reporters’ calls. He was the only member of the US House who missed the vote. At one point this week, GOP state Rep. Bill Mitchell called on Weller to resign if he couldn’t handle his duties. Weller also missed an important vote on the EJ&E Railroad expansion issue. Not a good thing. Last month alone, Weller missed 71 votes.
Anyway, like I said, Weller finally returned somebody’s call yesterday….
“In hindsight, missing votes over the past week was a mistake, and I apologize to my constituents for missing those votes,” Weller said in a phone call from Washington, D.C. […]
Weller…said he stayed home in Morris because of a medical matter concerning his family, reiterating an explanation given earlier by his staff. Weller was in Washington on Thursday, waiting for a vote on a new version of the rescue plan. […]
Several local political and community leaders said they have not talked with Weller or seen him in months. Among those was Frankfort Mayor Jim Holland, who said he tried repeatedly to talk with Weller about the Canadian National proposal.
Weller said he was puzzled by Holland’s inability to reach him.
“If Mayor Holland has called me, I didn’t know he was trying to reach me,” Weller said. “He has my personal cell phone number.”
Maybe so, but Weller could’ve at least called the guy back. I’m sure Weller’s office also has his cell number.
* Weller is in DC and will vote today. The US House will vote on the Senate-approved and renamed “financial rescue” proposal sometime today. But two central Illinois members won’t change their “No” votes to “Yes”…
“I’m a ‘no.’ I haven’t moved,” [GOP Rep. John Shimkus] said. “It fundamentally destroys, or has the possibility of destroying, the free market system in this country.” […]
[GOP Rep. Tim Johnson] spokesman Phil Bloomer said the congressman also won’t veer from his earlier “no” vote.
“He’s even more angry about it than he was before,” Bloomer said, citing the legislation’s inclusion of “special interest tax breaks” such as one targeting rum production in Puerto Rico.
* Meanwhile, Democrat Debbie Halvorson debated Republican Marty Ozinga and Green Party candidate Jason Wallace yesterday, and the bailout/rescue plan was the first question out of the box…
During his answer to the first question of the debate — how the candidates would vote on the bailout bill — Ozinga said, “My opponent (Halvorson) doesn’t understand the seriousness of the situation.”
Ozinga, president of a concrete and material supply company, said he would have voted for the bill.
Halvorson said she did understand the situation, but she would have voted against the bill as presented to the U.S. House on Monday.
In addition to giving her time to answer the question, the debate moderators gave Halvorson the only 30-second rebuttal opportunity of the evening to answer Ozinga’s claim.
“It’s just a shame to continue to point fingers,” Halvorson said in her rebuttal. “Let’s talk about what we are for instead of trying to play the blame game.”
* In another race, Republican incumbent Mark Kirk is piling up the cash…
U.S. Rep. Mark Kirk (R-Highland Park) said he raised another $850,000 over the summer as he continues to pile up cash in a rematch race against Democrat Dan Seals.
The fundraising totals Kirk’s campaign released say the four-term congressman has collected $4.6 million so far. The campaign says that’s $1.4 million more than it raised during the 2006 race.
* Oberweis makes economic bailout suggestions
* Nursing Home Transparency Act surfaces in House
* Candidate forum to be held Sunday
* GOP’s Greenberg launches TV campaign