* 2:02 pm - The federal jury in Al Sanchez’s corruption trial has reached a verdict. Expect an announcement soon.
* 2:07 pm - The Sun-Times is Tweeting the verdict…
Verdict in Sanchez case…lawyers, etc. are assembling.
11 minutes ago from web
* 2:23 pm - Guilty on four of seven counts…
Former Chicago Streets and Sanitation Commissioner Al Sanchez guilty on 4 of 7 counts
Al Sanchez, the former commissioner of the city’s Streets and Sanitation Department in the Daley administration, was convicted this afternoon on charges he rigged city hiring by trading jobs for campaign work.
Sanchez, 61, is the highest-ranking aide to Mayor Richard Daley to be found guilty in the federal corruption probe of City Hall hiring. A federal jury convicted Sanchez on four counts of mail fraud and acquitted him on three other mail fraud counts.
The jury also convicted Aaron Delvalle, Sanchez’s former assistant, on a perjury charge for lying to a grand jury about the rigged hiring.
***Update 1x*** [Posted by Mike Murray]
* Sanchez’s reaction to the verdict(s) as reported in the Sun Times…
“Today is not a fair day,” Sanchez told reporters.
“I did my job as I was supposed to do. I don’t think I should be in this position.”
* The Trib elaborates on Sanchez’s comments
“I just did my job the way I was supposed to do it,” Sanchez said as he left the Dirksen U.S. Courthouse after jurors convicted him on four counts of mail fraud and acquitted him on three other mail fraud counts.
Sanchez insisted he was trying to ensure that the city’s work force was representative of its diverse population. “I guess it’s a federal crime.
“I just don’t even think I should be in this position,” Sanchez added. “We all had a job to do, and we did it.”
* Thomas Breen, Sanchez’s attorney, also did some gripping to the media and continued to to point the figure at City Hall and Mayor Daley. From the Sun Times…
His defense lawyer had argued Sanchez was just the “poor jerk” indicted for a corrupt hiring scheme that was controlled by the mayor’s Intergovernmental Affairs Office.
“We are a little mystified at the verdict,” lawyer Thomas Breen said today. “It’s not a happy day for Al Sanchez … He’s a decent, decent human being.”
“He has to wear the jacket for it,” Breen said. “There was no crime committed here.”
* More of the same from the Trib…
Breen said it was “hypocrisy” for city officials higher-ranking than Sanchez to skate by. “No one has had the guts to come forward and take responsibility for it (the hiring system),” he said.
“I don’t understand why Al Sanchez has been singled out,” Breen told reporters.
* One of the jurors dismisses Sanchez’s claim that he should not be punished for doing what is business as usual in Chicago politics. She also explains that the jury was split over the verdict and finally settled upon guilty convictions for only those charges that were supported by a testifying witness…
One juror, Arlene Kaminski of the western suburbs, said the jury was split when deliberations began, though a majority favored conviction. The jury then went count by count, flipping through their notes to recount testimony, she said.
The jury ended up convicting Sanchez on counts where there were witnesses who were able to testify with specifics.
Kaminski said she was aware of hiring issues in the city as a whole. “It’s been going on from way back. It doesn’t make it right,” she said.
Asked about Breen’s argument that city higher-ups should also face scrutiny, Kaminski said, “The buck has got to stop somewhere.”
She said she hoped the verdict would send a message to City Hall.
- Posted by Rich Miller
|Quinn pulls a Rod
Monday, Mar 23, 2009
* I wondered when he’d get around to doing this…
Gov. Pat Quinn said today that lawmakers should not take their scheduled two-week Spring break unless they’ve passed parts of his construction plan to get people back to work.
Quinn stopped short of saying he would call lawmakers back to Springfield for a special session if they did not approve at least some portions of his plan, a tactic predecessor Rod Blagojevich employed several times during previous budget disputes.
“I don’t think the legislature should go home with people out of work in Illinois,” Quinn said in Chicago today. “We need our friends in labor, friends in business, friends everywhere to let our legislature know that you can’t just sit outside and sniff rosebuds while people are out of work.”
And he’s at it again on another issue…
Governor Pat Quinn says it would be a show of good faith if state lawmakers would cut their pay.
* Meanwhile, Senate President John Cullerton spoke to the SJ-R editorial board today. The paper has lots of highlights online…
“There is no public support for the unions to have the pensions that they have so far. Everybody in the private sector is getting hit,” Cullerton said.
That’s about as blunt as blunt can be.
* Translation: John Filan…
[Cullerton] says House Speaker Michael Madigan, whose fights with Blagojevich over the budget and other issues dominated the legislature for several years, is “very wary of the continued influence of certain policy folks” who worked for Blagojevich and now work for Quinn. He did not name any names.
* By the way, Cullerton and others have suggested that the General Assembly pass a temporary income tax, but Quinn wants no part of it…
Quinn also said he would not support a temporary income tax hike, saying it doesn’t solve “permanent problems.”
* In other news, the Tribune leaves unchallenged Gov. Quinn’s assertions that newly resigned State Police Director Larry Trent was not forced out of his job…
The governor disputed suggestions that former state police Director Larry Trent, who resigned Friday, had been ousted from the post. Trent
But Trent tells the Alton Telegraph that he no longer felt the love…
One issue that surfaced this month followed an investigation by the Chicago Reporter, a monthly investigative publication. The Chicago Reporter reported that the State Police had refused to enforce about 1,800 of 21,000 expungement and sealing orders mandated by state judges. An expungement order calls for authorities to expunge, or remove, criminal convictions from a defendant’s record.
Earlier this week, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan demanded the State Police conduct an audit immediately to determine the exact number of expungement and sealing orders at issue. Madigan also said the ISP should comply with court orders and devise a strategy to reach those people affected by the issue. Madigan said she intended to meet Friday with Quinn about the matter.
“I felt there were some issues that may have concerned the governor,” Trent said. “I didn’t feel the support I needed was there. Certainly, I didn’t need the job, so I felt this was the right time to leave and explore some other opportunities.”
- Posted by Rich Miller
* 5th Congressional District Republican nominee Rosanna Pulido has admitted to NBC5 that she posts at Free Republic as “Chicago Lady.” A new blog is tracking her posts, including this one, which Pulido told NBC5 was an attempt at humor…
According to the African Americans in L.A. The Mexicans are the NEW KU KLUX KLAN with the TAN!! Sounds right to me!!
Here’s another Freeper post…
The TRUTH is, Obama will legalize 12-20 million ILLEGAL ALIENS, and THUS SELL THE BLACKS, His own Race BACK into slavery!
The Illegals coming over pretty much hate African Americans.
He is going to unleash REAL racism upon his own people as they fight for jobs with the illegal aliens.
It has already happened in LA, just ask Ted Hayes!!
Her thoughts on the Bible…
I AM a bible thunper who likes to tell everyone how to live their lives, STRAIGHT from the Owners manual!! The Bible!
* The state and national Republicans are steering clear of Pulido. But according to that NBC5 report, the Cook County GOP is helping Pulido with volunteers, signs and grassroots support…
Lee Roupas, Cook Co. GOP Chairman: “Give her a chance, and give the Republican Party a chance. Give our message a chance on economics and, and government. I think there’s a lot of serious issues going on today.”
Usually, media outlets tend to ignore fringe candidates because they have so little chance of winning. However, since this special general election will undoubtedly be noticed by few voters, perhaps the rest of the MSM can get off its collective rear and start informing potential voters about what sort of candidate the local GOP is, um, behind.
- Posted by Rich Miller
|Question of the day
Monday, Mar 23, 2009
* The setup…
Democratic state Sen. Terry Link of Waukegan says he would support legislative efforts to streamline all levels of government, including consolidation of school districts, as a method of achieving savings for taxpayers before backing Gov. Pat Quinn’s proposal to hike income taxes.
Link, a member of the Senate Democratic leadership team, said today he doesn’t believe some of the cost-savings proposals Quinn outlined to legislators last week in the governor’s budget address will satisfy a public being asked to pay more out of their pocket.
“We’ve got to look at ways that we can help people save money, directly and indirectly, and if we could do things like consolidation of schools, do other things that are going to save people money, we’ve got to do that so when they put their hand in their pocket, there’s money there,” Link said on WGN-AM (720).
Link cited a need to achieve “efficiencies in government,” including the always controversial issue of consolidating the number of school districts and perhaps eliminating other units of government, to achieve savings for taxpayers.
* The Question: Do you support consolidating your own school district with neighboring districts? If you live in Chicago, do you support this concept? Explain fully, please.
- Posted by Rich Miller
* Gov. Quinn says he’s willing to sacrifice his own career to raise taxes and balance the budget…
Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn says he realizes that his proposal to raise income taxes could cost him another term, but he has to do what’s right.
Quinn said at a press conference Sunday that he thinks the state’s residents want a governor who levels with them. And he says that the tax proposal was the only honest and honorable thing to do.
Some have derided Quinn for taking a voluntary $25,000 pay cut as meaningless symbolism. They’re completely missing the point. He’s put his entire career on the line with this budget.
* The Sun-Times takes a look…
Voters hate tax hikes, which is why Gov. Quinn’s push for the state’s first income tax increase in 20 years is such an intriguing political gambit with the 2010 gubernatorial campaign ready to launch.
But do voters really hate tax hikes, or is this a media creation? The Paul Simon Public Policy Institute at Southern Illinois University conducted a poll last fall which showed voters were open to higher, more progressive taxes…
Interestingly, while 74.2 percent of respondents who make less than $50K annually favored a progressive tax, and 68.9 percent of those who make between $50K and $100K favored the tax, more than half of the people who make more than $100K and would presumably pay the higher rate still favored a higher rate for themselves. 57.5% of the respondents who make more than $100,000 support a higher rate for higher incomes.
My own opinion on this is that voters may support a tax hike in the abstract, but maybe not so much when a tax hike is imminent. And the world’s economic conditions are far worse now than they were when that poll was conducted.
Still, nobody in the General Assembly lost their seats after Gov. Jim Thompson increased taxes in the 1980s. And I don’t believe that any legislators lost after Gov. Ogilvie instituted the income tax after the constitutional convention. Ogilvie lost, however, so Quinn has that bit of history going against him.
And then there’s this story from New Jersey that’s worth a look…
New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine says his plan to shrink a $7 billion budget gap by raising taxes and cutting workers’ pay will create “a stronger footing for tomorrow.” By the time that tomorrow comes, Corzine may be out of a job.
The governor, a former chairman of Goldman Sachs and the only incumbent up for re-election this year, is trailing his likely Republican opponent amid voter anger over the economic crisis — and the steps he’s taking to deal with it: a fiscal 2010 budget that lops 9 percent from the current one, a wage freeze and unpaid furloughs for state workers, and possible cuts in property-tax rebates along with higher taxes on the wealthiest residents and on cigarettes and alcohol.
Keep in mind that New Jersey polling is notoriously inaccurate, but it certainly ought to give Quinn pause.
* And this Gatehouse story shows just how difficult Quinn’s task will be…
Pat Abney, a 63-year-old from Springfield, said that between buying medicines and paying monthly bills, many senior citizens are barely able to survive with their bills, let alone additional fees.
“Ninety-nine dollars for a little sticker every year is just a little too much,” Abney said. “But it is something that I’ll have to have to buy. I’ll have to pinch some pennies to pay for it and it could be kind of a tight squeeze.”
1) Not mentioned in the piece is that senior citizens don’t pay income tax on their pension incomes.
2) The governor’s proposed sticker vehicle registration fee increase is $20 per year, which isn’t mentioned anywhere in the story’s main body.
3) Expect many more misleading “woe is me” stories like this in the future.
* Meanwhile, the Tribune finally discovers the governor’s proposed sales tax expansion…
Buried deep within the massive budget proposal Gov. Pat Quinn presented last week to lawmakers was a caffeinated jolt to the bottled tea and Frappuccino crowd.
Quinn wants to apply the state’s sales tax on soft drinks to the coffee and sweetened tea products in grocery stores, adding a quarter for the state treasury for every $5 six-pack of sweet green tea.
* And the SouthtownStar has words of praise…
Former Gov. Rod Blagojevich once bragged of his “testicular virility” for standing-up to his father-in-law, Chicago Ald. Dick Mell, over a landfill deal.
We think Quinn, by introducing an income tax increase, earns that distinction.
* But Chris Krug makes an interesting point about why the voters elected Blagojevich twice and why Quinn finds the going so tough now…
I’m not sure that any of us wanted a governor who was all that interested in doing something. I’m almost positive we just didn’t want Blago in there doing anything.
* Quinn shows ‘testicular virility’
* Lawmakers Speak Out In Opposition of Quinn’s Recovery Plan
* Critics: Budget plan fails to ‘cut, cut, cut’
* How the governor reaches $1.3 billion in proposed cuts
- Posted by Rich Miller
* I’ve heard this many times over the past few days…
“The conventional wisdom in this building is that John Filan’s fingerprints are all over the budget,” said state Sen. Dale Righter, R-Mattoon.
You remember Filan, right? Gov. Blagojevich’s budget chief who loved smoke and mirrors and didn’t much care for state employees? Well, he was, indeed, part of Gov. Quinn’s budget team this year as well…
Quinn spokeswoman Katie Ridgway acknowledged that Filan was involved in the budget-writing process.
That explains some things, especially as we look at the pension reform proposals today.
* Kristen McQueary writes about pension envy and Gov. Quinn’s pension reforms in her latest column…
Public pensions are one of the rawest nerve centers in politics today. If you don’t work for government, the pension system seems patently unfair. If you do work for government and you paid into the system since your very first paycheck, you feel entitled to the nest egg promised.
* The Bloomington Pantagraph says everyone will have to take a hit…
Everyone - including state employees - has to recognize that the burden of getting the state out of its dire financial straits will require sacrifices from everyone.
We might argue about the degree of sacrifice, but the bottom line is that businesses need to pick up part of the check, taxpayers overall can expect higher taxes and fees, motorists will have to pay for better roads, park users will face fees they haven’t in the past and public employees will have to accept some of the same financial hits that workers in the private sector already have faced.
Cost cutting is crucial when asking taxpayers to hand over more money.
Quinn’s plan calls for state employees to take four furlough days and pay more toward their health insurance. That closely follows the actions many businesses have taken to limit layoffs or other more drastic action in this recession.
The state’s financial problems will not be solved with turf wars, partisan sniping or self-serving opposition that offers no realistic alternatives.
The problems will only be solved by working together and sharing the burden.
* The governor once again calls for shared sacrifice…
Gov. Pat Quinn said teachers unions and public sector employees should be open to concessions and voluntary cost savings as all agencies from state government down to local school and municipal districts struggle to balance their budgets.
“What I have found is that in a bind, human beings want to help their neighbor. They want to help themselves, but they understand that working together often times is the best way to get through a crisis,” Quinn told the Daily Herald in an interview Friday. “The bottom line is shared sacrifice in tough times. That’s what Americans do.”
* The SJ-R takes a look at pensions, and has a bit about a little-mentioned proposed change…
The alternative retirement formula, which gives enhanced pension benefits to those holding hazardous jobs, will also go away.
Laurence Msall is president of the Civic Federation in Chicago, which has called for many of the pension changes being pushed by Quinn. He said good riddance to the alternative state employee formula.
“It’s been enormously abused by the state of Illinois,” Msall said. “Everyone in the Department of Corrections, including people who don’t do hazardous work, are in it.”
Quinn would’ve been better advised to stay away from Filan. Some of these pension reforms are reasonable. But Filan’s name attached to them may make his proposals too hot to touch. Not discussed in many of the articles above is the Quinn/Filan plan to short the pension systems of billions of dollars. It’s classic Filan.
- Posted by Rich Miller
Monday, Mar 23, 2009
* The Shuttle: Rep. Jan Schakowsky
…I suspect indictments are going to come down pretty soon [for former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich], and this is a soap opera with sort of sporadic episodes, and there may yet be more. Maybe not so much Burris, but Blagojevich will be back.
* Lenders get bailouts, then want renters out
You might remember the story as well. The banks loaned money to a Romanian con man named Mihail Stancu, who had pretended to convert the Albany Park building to condominiums, in essence selling the seven unimproved apartments to himself before fleeing the country with more than $1 million in profits gleaned from the mortgages.
It was exactly the kind of mindless lending that put our country in its current straits, albeit compounded in this case by outright fraud.
And ever since, the seven families who live in the Spaulding building have been paying the price for someone else’s foolishness. The banks keep trying to throw the families out — using both legal and extra- legal means to accomplish their aims — despite a court order specifically granting them permission to stay.
* Food pantry demand: West Side church serves more and more
* Unemployment sends people back to class
With Illinois’ unemployment rate at a 26-year high of nearly 8 percent, more people are turning to technical schools and community colleges to learn new skills.
Spring 2009 enrollments are at near-record levels, up 3.1 percent statewide. LLCC’s increase is about 5.3 percent, and other community colleges are showing even more dramatic spikes. Enrollment at Rend Lake College, near Ina in Jefferson County, has risen 20.6 percent, while Southeastern Illinois College in Harrisburg is up a whopping 31.4 percent.
* Some in Posen fear they’ll never get another mortgage if I-294/I-57 plan goes through
The Tollway will help property owners with relocation, which “may include help in locating a replacement building, payment of moving expenses and costs, mortgage or rent assistance, and other financial assistance,” according to Tollway regulations posted on its Web site.
* Illinois Poverty News Weekly
* Airline revenue fell 19% in Feb: group
* Gary Airport Pushes Ahead
Illinois Governor Pat Quinn plans to move quickly in building a third Chicago area airport in far south suburban Peotone.
And that could mean a real blow for the Gary airport which has been struggling.
* When a no-tax pledge isn’t a no-tax pledge
Suburban members of Congress who voted this week to raise taxes on big bonus recipients at AIG say their votes in favor of that hike do not violate their pledges to never raise taxes. […]
And the taxpayer group behind the pledge, while opposing the tax hike on bonuses, indicated it did not consider such votes a violation of the signed pledge.
* Legislators decry use of foreign steel in Granite City
* Secure Energy Seeks Federal Loan Guarantee to Begin Work on Coal Gasification Project
* State dedicates $40 million more for Illinois colleges
* CHA Gets Stimulus Money
The Chicago Housing Authority is getting $143 million from the federal stimulus package. It’s money CHA says may help finish renovations that are behind schedule.
* Pension fund for CPS axes 2 managers
* Impact of Joliet casino fire unknown
The smoldering, Egyptian-themed casino was closed after the fire and did not immediately have a reopening date, according to Penn National Gaming, the Wyomissing, Pa.-based parent company of Empress.
The Empress employs more than 800 workers, and after the nearby Harrah’s Casino, the Empress is the second largest single taxpayer to the city of Joliet. In February alone, the Empress paid $837,000 in casino taxes to the city and more than $1.8 million to the state.
* Casino workers await word on future
* Daley, Weis intrigued by security guard proposal
* Daley OK with giving private security guards city ticket-writing authority
* Daley pulls 16.1% raise for cops
With tax revenues plummeting, the Daley administration has pulled off the table an offer to raise the salaries of Chicago Police officers by 16.1 percent over five years, according to City Hall sources.
* Chicago’s ‘green’ promise fades
Buying carbon credits fights global warming only if they help finance new sources of renewable energy, such as new wind turbines, energy experts said. Yet 87 percent of the credits Chicago has purchased sent money to a wood-burning power plant that has been operating for nearly two decades.
* Food deserts will bring Daley back into Wal-Mart battle with unions
* Metra service: Why Metra is riding slow train to future
Metra runs on paper, as in paper tickets. Although the majority of riders use monthly passes, passengers in January still bought more than 666,000 one-way tickets or used 10-ride tickets, which conductors have to punch individually.
* Transit trolling: RTA chief on fare hikes; parking contract going out for bid; beware Red Line bandit
* Chicago 2016: As IOC visit nears, protests getting louder
* Daley’s official gift logs don’t include trips, free meals
Instead of providing the Board of Ethics with a list of gifts, though, Daley tells the board a “mayoral gift log is maintained in the mayor’s office and is available for public inspection.'’
But those logs are far from complete, a Chicago Sun-Times review has found, failing to disclose all of the gifts Daley gets.
They don’t, for instance, include any of the trips Daley has gotten from various organizations. Or any of the free meals he has eaten. Nor do the gift logs even list the birthday and Christmas presents he has gotten from his staff since 2005.
“The staff? We almost view that as a family gift to him,” Daley press secretary Jacquelyn Heard said.
“He has to record everything that’s considered a gift,” Heard said. “What you consider a gift and what we consider a gift are two different things.”
* Don’t wreak havoc: Landmarks law works
* Jurors Consider Mail Fraud Against Sanchez
* Ex-assessor candidate charged with perjury
Eugene Kryczka, former candidate for Antioch Township assessor, has been charged with five counts of perjury for filing candidacy petitions that included 50 false signatures.
If convicted, Kryczka could face up to five years in prison. He was released from Lake County Jail after posting 10 percent of a $30,000 bond.
* Melrose Pk. mayor in heated race for 4th term
* Sheriff, SEIU make calls in Orland Township race
* DNC pays city for Obama’s celebration
* Dental Neglect: Illinois’s Oral Health Care Shortage
There’s a little-noticed public health crisis brewing in Illinois. It’s not especially sexy, but it’s serious. It’s connected to life-threatening ailments, nutrition and even job prospects… The problem is access to dental care. Illinois has the third largest underserved population in the country. The few clinics that treat poor people are overwhelmed. Now they’re bracing for a new flood of patients, as more people lose their jobs.
* Illinois nursing homes tops in younger mentally ill
* If you’re jealous of that hair
- Posted by Mike Murray
* I told subscribers about these two things the other day.
First up, talk of changing the Road Fund formula is in the air…
The state Senate’s two leaders are open to changes in the way the government divides transportation funding, which now sends the lion’s share to downstate Illinois. […]
Currently, there’s a major debate on formulas going on in Springfield, [Senate President John Cullerton] said. “District 1 has 80 percent of the population and receives 45 percent of the money,” he added, referring to Chicago, Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry and Will counties. […]
The Metropolitan Planning Council is backing legislation proposed by Vernon Hills Democrat Kathy Ryg to divvy up transportation dollars based on objective criteria - such as population, safety, pollution prevention and job creation rather than political horse-trading in the General Assembly.
“It makes sense to set up a program with clear criteria rather than a lump sum handed out to the caucuses,” Radogno said.
And Cullerton is open to borrowing…
Chicago Democrat Cullerton appealed to Republicans to bring real solutions to the table and said he’d consider any ideas. For example, if someone proposed borrowing money now and raising taxes to pay it back two years later based on the premise that the economy will have rebounded, “I’m open to that,” he said.
* Also, a change is coming at the ICC…
Word is Quinn plans to shake up the Illinois Commerce Commission and replace [Chairman] Charles E. Box with a top woman of Asian and African-American descent.
- Posted by Rich Miller
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