* 5:04 pm - The Service Employees International Union is reportedly in the process of reserving about $250,000 in TV ad time for Rep. Sara Feigenholtz’s congressional campaign. This will be an independent expenditure. I’m told by several people that $50,000 will go towards cable TV and the rest will go towards broadcast. So far, here’s what’s been reserved on broadcast with more apparently to come…
*** UPDATE *** The House Republicans say Cross did not support a motor fuel tax increase at the Daily Herald edit board meeting and claim the Daily Herald is updating its story.
* 4:04 pm - There are still many hills to climb, but the obstacles may be getting smaller…
Illinois Republican are open to a gas tax hike to fund a major public works package this year - but they want it to be smaller than one floated by Democrats.
“I think it would be a good way to jump start the economy,” said House Republican leader Tom Cross of the construction jobs during a meeting Monday with the Daily Herald editorial board.
Senate Republican leader Christine Radogno of Lemont said some in her caucus may be open to a gas tax hike that falls under the 16-cent increase identified by Senate President John Cullerton, a Chicago Democrat. […]
Radogno indicated the GOP side of the Senate aisle wants to cap the state sales tax on fuel when prices reach $2.50 or $3 a gallon.
Both the House and Senate GOP caucuses have yet to formulate an official proposal as they wait for Democratic leaders and Gov. Pat Quinn to make the first budget moves.
* Greg Hinz follows up on something I told subscribers last week. As you already know, Gov. Quinn has suggested that the General Assembly move the February primary to September next year so everyone could focus on governing instead of politics. Well…
Anyhow, according to Capitol Fax, Speaker Madigan recently had a chat with Senate President John Cullerton and suggested to him that no change [in the primary date] was needed. Mr. Cullerton’s Democratic caucus then met Friday, and agreed to the status quo. Ergo Mr. Quinn’s proposal is shelved, at least for now.
Spokespeople for the Speaker and the President won’t admit to a deal. But Mr. Madigan’s spokesman says, “I don’t think the Speaker ever felt the primary date ought to be changed on his own.” And Mr. Cullerton’s spokeswoman says the caucus reached its own opinion, and that changing the primary date “never was in the reform agenda that he laid out.”
So, all of the incumbents in the House and Senate get an insurance policy protecting them against challenges. And, in the process, Ms. Madigan gets to run at a time of year when her father’s organizational strength can be most effective. Ain’t life grand!
The only ones who lose are Mr. Quinn and those who believe that elections ought to serve the interests of voters and not those they vote on.
Why is Gov. Quinn perhaps the biggest loser?
Mr. Quinn obviously has a personal interest in wanting to move the date of the next primary back to September 2010 from February 2010. Doing so would give him more time to establish a record before quite possibly facing Ms. Madigan in the Democratic primary. And there’s nothing sacred about September as opposed to, say, April or May.
Anyway, the bottom line is the February primary will almost certainly stay right where it is.
* Cook County Commissioner Mike Quigley has a new TV ad which blasts Todd Stroger and touts his endorsements…
The ad buy is said to be slightly smaller than Rep. John Fritchey’s purchase, which was around $120,000.
* SEIU weighed in over the weekend with about $24K in phone calls for Rep. Sara Feigenholtz’s campaign. The union has a predictive dialer that it uses a whole lot in campaigns.
* Recent endorsements via press releases…
* Dan Hynes for Feigenholtz
* Dick Devine, Ed Kelly for O’Connor
* Marty Oberman, Abner Mikva, Dr. Quentin Young, and Leon Despres for Geoghegan
*** UPDATE *** From a Feigenholtz press release…
The United Auto Workers (UAW) Illinois State Community Action Program today endorsed State Representative Sara Feigenholtz in the special election to fill the seat vacated by former Congressman and Chief of Staff to President Obama, Rahm Emanuel. […]
The UAW Illinois State Community Action Program Council is the political organization of the United Auto Workers. It represents almost 70,000 members in Illinois.
That’s her third big labor endorsement, after SEIU and UNITE/HERE.
Voters in the 5th Congressional District probably can thank federal prosecutors for the unusually large field of candidates in the March 3 special primary for a vacant seat in Congress.
The last time the district had to pick a new lawmaker seven years ago, political workers came from across Chicago to help Rahm Emanuel win the Democratic nomination.
The 2002 Democratic primary that Emanuel won featured 8 candidates. There are 12 Democrats this time. A big jump, for sure, but not exponential.
Since then, U.S. Atty. Patrick Fitzgerald’s City Hall hiring fraud probe effectively neutered the patronage armies directed by Daley’s top aides.
Daley supported Rahm all the way and openly, which was pretty much a rarity at the time and still is today. He usually plays his cards close to his vest.
Now the mayor says he’s unlikely to endorse any of the candidates who want to replace Emanuel, President Barack Obama’s White House chief of staff.
Yeah, but Daley’s city council floor leader Ald. Pat O’Connor is running. That’s most likely a message from Daley that he’d prefer it if Rep. John Fritchey didn’t win.
Seeking to fill this post-patronage power vacuum are…
Um, did they forget the ward organizations which are involved in this race? They still have captains. Not as many as before, but those remaining captains will be a factor.
Voters probably won’t vote in this special election unless they are dragged to the polls. They’ll be far more likely to succumb to the pleas of captains they’ve known for years than to volunteers they just met on election day. So, having even a few captains is a very distinct advantage.
That above linked piece was a essentially a concept in search of a story, and neither worked.
* I honestly don’t know if I was invited to attend the Chicago Journalism Townhall meeting yesterday, but I doubt I would’ve gone if they had requested my attendance. Here’s a big reason why…
Chicago’s elder statesman of journalism, John Callaway, started out by announcing that “Newspapers as we know them are dead.” His contention was that now it’s up to journalists to find the new model that will give people the news they need.
What a silly idea. Jesse Greenberg sums up my problem with this concept quite well…
A quick glance at the experienced and talented panel kind of said it all. A lot of big names in Chicago journalism were up there. Glaringly absent though were advertisers, managers and any academics from some of the fine Chicago j-schools. Basically, what was needed to have a thoughtful conversation looking at different angles of the journalism business was not included… Instead, we got what was to be expected from a room full journalists and PR pros in a crumbing industry - a lot of complaining.
* Newspaper content is beginning to evolve. The Tribune, for instance, is starting to aggregate content from other newspapers on its breaking news page. The Trib, the Sun-Times and several other papers have been breaking stories throughout the day for quite some time now, rather than waiting until they can publish scoops in their paper editions. The city’s newspapers and several Chicago TV stations are offering up far more live video and audio feeds of events, particularly since the Rod Blagojevich disaster began. Both Chicago papers and most of the TV stations are on Twitter.
The good journalists have taken as much advantage as possible of this new technology and have pushed their editors hard to modernize. The lazy ones still complain about the extra work, whine about blogs “stealing” their stories, and try to lay blame where it doesn’t belong, but that’s expected.
* The problem isn’t so much with the newspaper websites, it’s the advertising. Classified ads, which once accounted for something like 40 percent of a newspaper’s profits, have all but disappeared. There may not be a solution to that problem, unless they go to micro-targeting. But after a very promising start, InsiderzExchange is now struggling with that issue as well. So I know whereof I speak when I say this idea may not work.
The other impediment to turning a profit online is the structure of display advertising revenues. Big ads in the print edition pay the highest commissions, and online ads are at best a red-headed stepchild. The papers just aren’t charging enough for their online ads, despite ever-rising traffic and far more creative presentations. That’s gonna kill them if they don’t change soon. Kiyoshi Martinez adds…
I took the opportunity to point out that Web sites for both the Chicago Tribune and Chicago Sun-Times offer really poor advertising solutions for advertisers, which means they’re not going to get high advertising rates and therefore not capitalize on the vast amount of ad inventory they have but can’t sell.
First, innovate, then raise the darned rates. Look, I know we’re in a deep recession, but online newspaper rates are so low that they’ve become toxic to the industry’s very survival. Worry far less about giving online content away and worry a whole lot more about ridiculously cheap and poorly executed online advertising.
Stop allowing comments that are inflammatory, outright lies, flamebait and generally bring down the value your site offers. Bad comments are bad content. Encourage good comments and a sense of real discussion.
Who’s gonna advertise on your website if you allow racists, homophobes and tinfoil hat crazoids of all stripes to flood your comment sections with hateful, stupid rants?
* All the rigamaroll about whether newspapers should give away their content online for free is ridiculous, and the debate at yesterday’s event shows that too many people just don’t understand the realities of the newspaper business, nor the new reality of online.
The price you pay for a newspaper only rarely covers the actual cost of printing and delivering. They’re already essentially giving it away. In fact, they’re taking a loss on the transaction. Ads are supposed to make up the difference and provide the profit. That ain’t happening online.
Plus it’s extremely difficult to get consumers to pay for anything online, unless it’s highly specialized content like Capitol Fax or Crain’s Chicago Business.
Yes, changes in newsroom groupthink are essential. But it’s the people at the very top of the food chain who are going to have to change the ad sales culture and their own view of what a newspaper really is.
* Far too many of those top tiered executives believe that cutting reporters is the way to go rather than restructuring their 19th Century business model. This will lead to one end: Oblivion.
Take a look at most small market TV news websites and you’ll see what I mean. After years of hiring cute kids right out of college to stand in front of the camera and smile pretty, those stations are now ill equipped to produce any sort of halfway literate online content. And since everything’s going online, they’re in no position to compete. This is a huge advantage for newspapers, as long as their newsrooms stay smart. Seize it.
As the title suggests, this is incomplete. Your thoughts would be appreciated.
* Lynn Sweet has the story of a comically self-serving attempt to pass blame…
Bud Jackson is a political consultant who has worked campaigns for Roland Burris in the past. When Burris was appointed to the Senate, he was helping out a bit, pro bono, he told me. Now he is dumping on others who, he said, ill advised the junior senator from Illinois.
But Jackson, who makes a living in political communication, wants everyone to know he has nothing to do with the hole the senator has dug himself with his changing stories about his relations with people in ousted Gov. Blagojevich’s orbit.
* The letter…
Concerning Senator Roland Burris
Dear Friends, Colleagues, and Members of the Media:
As many of you may recall I actively helped my former client, Roland Burris, during his run-up to being successfully seated in the United States Senate.
Since that time, well … his team’s public relations efforts have been less than stellar. Turns out that, because my business is political communication, I need to let folks know that I have not been involved in the decisions that have led to the public relations fiasco over the past week. In fact, I actively counseled his team to take very different actions, to no avail.
I have not returned countless calls from my friends in the media, partly because my role no longer includes responding to media queries, now that the Senator has his own official staff. If you are a member of the media, please contact Jim O’Connor, the new communications director (being shot out of a cannon) for Senator Burris at his Washington, DC office (202) 224-2852.
I know based on my own private conversations and experience that Senator Roland Burris has been the victim of bad advice and, when set-up to fail, he certainly shall we say, has had less than adeqaute attempts to better and more clearly inform the public at a press conference, or two. It has ben painful to watch. Regardless, the senator has more than 30 years of public service and his integrity has never been questioned. I know that he has done nothing inappropriate despite the impression that has been left.
Despite what may or may not happen as a result of the mess that has been made, I stand behind my former client. To quote the movie Oh, Brother Where Art Thou Senator Burris is “in a tight spot.” It’s an unfortunate distraction for Illinois people who are most concerned about their jobs and their homes. It’s not so bad if you’re a Republican, a Democrat gunning for his seat, or if you’re trying to sell newspapers — they all benefit by painting everything in its worst possible context.
So to sum it all up: it’s complicated.
So, to “sum it all up,” Jackson says that Burris has been the victim of bad advice, but the stories resulting from all that bad advice are “painting everything in its worst possible context.” Should Burris have just dummied up about his prevarications? I’m not clear about what Jackson believes Burris should’ve done.
I prefer a different quote from Jackson’s favorite movie…
“I slaughtered this horse last Tuesday. I think it’s startin’ to turn.”
* Meanwhile, Rod Blagojevich’s former press secretary Lucio Guerrero spills a few of his guts…
For the first time, a key advisor to impeached former Gov. Rod Blagojevich is providing an insider’s account of life inside the administration after Blagojevich’s arrest. […]
On the day the Senate trial convened, Blagojevich began a media blitz that his press secretary advised against.
* And Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr. attempts to explain…
“During that very lonely period, (I was) trying to defend my character and my integrity against allegations I had absolutely nothing to do with,” he said. “I still have not talked to federal authorities. I am not an informant. I’m not a snitch.
“I’m not any of those things, and yet I’ve been maligned, besmirched, through that process, and I still have some mental trepidations associated with the things I read about myself and would think, ‘That can’t possibly be me.’ But it is what it is.”
So, when he does talk to the feds, does that then make him a snitch?
* Plenty share blame for Burris debacle: Urging him to resign assumes he carries a conscience.
* Should he stay or should he go now? This is a different problem. It’s with how he laid out the wording on the monument. There’s a heading “Trail Blazer,” and then it says “First African-American In Illinois to Become:” and after that he leaves some space before listing his accomplishments — Illinois Attorney General 1991-95, Illinois Comptroller 1979-1991, all the way to SIU Exchange Student to University of Hamburg, Germany 1959-60.
Ald. Patrick Levar’s brother, who once oversaw construction contracts at O’Hare Airport for Mayor Daley, is a focus of a massive investigation of city aviation deals — a probe that’s also looking into possible women- and minority-owned business fraud, the Chicago Sun-Times has learned.
The airport investigation — first disclosed by the Sun-Times on Feb. 12 — is also looking into campaign contributions Ald. Levar (45th) got from airport contractors, sources said.
Mayor Daley’s O’Hare Modernization Program could end up costing as much as $15 billion. So far, $751 million has been paid, under 18 construction contracts, to 227 contractors.
Most of the top contractors, listed below, have been involved in multiple construction contracts awarded by City Hall. The list shows which companies have been certified by the city as businesses owned and operated by minorities (MBE) or owned and operated by women (WBE). Also shown: political contributions by the businesses, their owners and affiliated companies since the mid-1990s.
* Report warns of flooding risk from lock failures in Illinois: One lockmaster says ‘People in Joliet probably wouldn’t be able to sleep at night if they knew how devastating the flooding would be because of a breach’
Starting tomorrow, 450 workers for ArcelorMittal Steel Company in East Chicago will begin a temporary layoff of two to three weeks. The layoffs are a result of worldwide weak demand for steel products, primarily in the auto industry.
* Comptroller Dan Hynes endorsed Rep. Sara Feigenholtz in the 5th Congressional District today. From a press release…
“Sara Feigenholtz is the right candidate at the right time to represent the needs of residents and families of the 5th district in Congress,” Hynes said. “Sara has consistently rejected political gamesmanship in Springfield in order to get things done for people and her passion for health care will make her a great partner for President Obama in Congress to help all Americans get the health care they deserve.”
Hynes is not the first statewide official to endorse in the contest. According to the Tribune, Treasurer Giannoulias is backing Rep. John Fritchey.
* Rep. Feigenholtz’s campaign loan has become a minor issue…
Feigenholtz announced Friday she was lending her campaign $100,000. She has raised the most money of any candidate in the race — $550,000. But Fritchey and others who got into the race later are now outraising her.
“I find it pretty ironic that someone who made it a major selling point of her campaign that she could raise so much money now has to dig into her own pockets,'’ Fritchey said Saturday at a candidates forum.
“At the outset of this campaign, I knew I was going to make this kind of loan for a final push to get our mesage out,” Feigenholtz said.
Including the loan, Feigenholtz has a $634K $734K to $522K total cash lead over Fritchey…
There’s been a lot more coverage of the Chicago Auto Show than there has of the special election.
All this editorializing by the Tribune and the political chatter from others about holding a special US Senate election is hugely ironic, considering that the media has not given this congressional special election the coverage it deserves and the voters are showing almost no interest, either.
* Jesse Greenberg has some new Fritchey mail, and posted a new Charlie Wheelan campaign video.