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Question of the day

Friday, Sep 25, 2009

* Whom are you supporting for governor and why? Details, please. Thanks.

- Posted by Rich Miller   136 Comments      

Is Quinn being helped by Obama’s organization? Yes, but so is Hynes

Friday, Sep 25, 2009

* This is a fascinating observation by Clout Street. Pay close attention to the last graf, which turns out not to be completely true…

As he seeks election, Gov. Pat Quinn has signed on to promote President Barack Obama’s health care reform plans.

The people behind the current incarnation of Obama’s grassroots 2008 campaign organization are promoting a Saturday event featuring Quinn on the North Side. […]

What makes the event, being held in conjunction with 46th Ward Democrats, even more interesting is that progressive activists “will also be distributing petitions for local Democrats, and outlining the key ways that you can help the Democratic Party locally,” according to Organizing for America’s Web site.

If Quinn is getting support from Obama’s grassroots organization, now a part of the Democratic National Committee, it would be a blow to the governor’s Feb. 2 Democratic primary challenger, Comptroller Dan Hynes.

Absolutely. It would be a very big blow, if it was true. Trouble is, it doesn’t tell the whole story.

From the Hynes campaign…

I wanted to let you know that Dan is doing a similar event with [Obama for America] in November and that they are not working for Quinn.

So, no big deal.

[The above was partially re-written to include the information from the Hynes campaign.]

* Speaking of Obama, it just seems bizarre to me that Rahm Emanuel, who has wanted to be House Speaker for years, apparently believed that Rod Blagojevich could appoint his replacement. The US Constitution has always mandated that vacancies be filled by elections.

Keep that in mind when reading this alleged goofy proposal by Rahm….

…the Chicago Sun-Times has learned that Emanuel wanted then-Gov. Rod Blagojevich to appoint Cook County Commissioner Forrest Claypool to his 5th Congressional District seat.

Claypool would serve one or two terms and then be considered for a place in Obama’s Cabinet, according to sources familiar with Emanuel’s proposal. That would give Emanuel the option of returning to Congress, where he could vie to become House speaker. […]

Still, the proposal raises questions about whether Emanuel was contemplating offering a coveted presidential Cabinet post in exchange for a benefit for himself.

That’s just mind-boggling. And supremely idiotic, not to mention insanely self-centered.

* Other stuff…

* Ex-alderman Robert Shaw throws hat in for Cook County assessor: “When he makes comments about lawyers donating money, he might want to look at his old D-2s [campaign contribution disclosure statements] because when he was at the board and had his fund-raisers, the people contributing to him are the same people he’s beating up right now,” Berrios said.

* The Cook County Republican Party will unveil its slate of countywide candidates in Rosemont this afternoon. Former state senator Roger Keats is expected to be the county board president candidate. The Cook GOP Chairman these days is Lee Roupas, the Palos Township Republican committeeman.

* Cook GOP Hopeful Better Times Have Arrived

* Greg Hinz: Surely politicians nowhere else in America try to help some constituent’s kid get into Government U. Surely private schools like Notre Dame turn a deaf ear when some bishop or cardinal puts in the word for a young protege. Kids of big donors never get an admission break — and “legacy” is an historic term of fiction that surely disappeared when John Belushi went to that big animal house in the sky. I mean this is a REALLY AWFUL scandal, right? Why else would my morning newspaper have covered seemingly nothing else for months on end?

* Experts: U. of Ill. image suffers little damage

* Commission cites concerns with Chicago State accreditation: Chicago State University is at risk of losing its accreditation because of “remarkably poor” graduation and retention rates, as well as tumultuous leadership and finances, according to the region’s accrediting agency.

* Illinois scholarship cuts rally students

* MAP grant’s future uncertain: Rep. Rose hopes grant will be saved with new General Assembly bill: Rose hopes a permanent solution for the MAP funding will be discussed during the spring session, he said.

* Resignation helps U of I get back on track

* “Green lanes” plan withers but other projects sprout up: The Illinois tollway Green Lanes program touted by Gov. Rod Blagojevich just weeks before his arrest last year is dead, although the agency is moving forward on part of the construction program involving a new interchange plus possible bus/carpool lanes on I-294.

- Posted by Rich Miller   31 Comments      

Assessing the impact

Friday, Sep 25, 2009

* The first thing you should do when gauging the impact of a news event staged in Chicago is to see how it played on Chicago TV stations, which cover the majority of Illinois’ population.

So, how did the SEIU endorses Alexi Giannoulias story play yesterday on TV? Well, ABC7, which runs the most-watched news program in the market by far, pretty much dismissed the Republican and Democrat David Hoffman outrage and focused on Giannoulias’ actual message

The vote in Washington to extend unemployment benefits took center stage in the race for the United States Senate in Illinois on Thursday.

In a state where the jobless rate hovers in the neighborhood of 10 percent, political candidates watch each other like hawks when it comes to positions they take on issues related to unemployment. And when they don’t take a position for whatever reason the campaign knives come out.

As he was endorsed on Thursday morning by Service Employees International Union (SEIU), the state’s largest labor union, Democrat Alexi Giannoulias took a shot at Republican U.S. Senate front-runner Mark Kirk. The North Shore congressman missed the House vote in Washington Tuesday when the chamber approved the extension of unemployment benefits to jobless Americans. “This was a very important vote for the American people and Mark Kirk didn’t show up,” said Giannoulias.

I wasn’t in the Chicago-area yesterday as planned, but none of the other stations have any Giannoulias-related stories on their websites as I write this. Not even Fox, which is odd, considering the ACORN component.

* The next thing you do is look at the AP’s take, since it will usually be picked up by many city, suburban and Downstate radio stations, newspapers and TV outlets. The AP went full-on for the GOP spin

Illinois Republicans are using a union endorsement Democrat Alexi Giannoulias received Thursday to again try to make disgraced former Gov. Rod Blagojevich a central figure in the U.S. Senate race.

The powerful 170,000-member Illinois chapter of the Service Employees International Union endorsed Giannoulias, the state treasurer, in his bid for President Barack Obama’s old Senate seat, and Republicans jumped at the chance to point out the union’s ties to Blagojevich.

* Next up, the Tribune, Sun-Times and Daily Herald. All three appeared to run the AP story today, if that.

The Tribune did post a story on its Clout Street blog, however…

Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Alexi Giannoulias was endorsed today by one of the nation’s most politically active unions, but he also got criticism from a Democratic primary challenger and the Republicans. […]

The fury of the Illinois GOP response was notable given that it said little when Gov. Pat Quinn got the SEIU’s endorsement 10 days ago.

On the move by Congress to take away ACORN’s federal funding, Giannoulias said he agreed with the majority of the U.S. Senate. “The goals of the organization are laudable, but serious allegations have been raised and it’s not an appropriate use of taxpayer dollars,” he said.

Actually, the Illinois GOP only responded to Hoffman. It was the National Republican Senatorial Committee which initially attacked Giannoulias. The IL GOP merely posted the NRSC hit on its website. The state party also prominently featured the AP story, of course.

On balance as far as the mainstream media goes? Not a totally horrible day for Giannoulias, but not good, either.

- Posted by Rich Miller   16 Comments      

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Friday, Sep 25, 2009

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- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      

The best they can do? Really?

Friday, Sep 25, 2009

* My Sun-Times column today is about Andy McKenna’s fledgling gubernatorial race…

Years ago, I attended a union function in Springfield, and Adlai Stevenson walked in.

Nobody noticed.

Adlai was running for governor and the union was holding a reception. It wasn’t until I pointed him out that a couple of the leaders went over and talked to the guy.

Adlai Stevenson was not gregarious like his father, the former Illinois governor, two-time presidential candidate and U.N. ambassador. He was soft-spoken and uncomfortably shy. But he was still a major candidate and I was amazed that nobody saw him hanging out by the food bar.

A similar thing happened to me a couple of years ago with Andy McKenna, the former Illinois Republican Party chairman and the newest candidate for governor.

Some political types and I were having lunch in what I thought was a large, empty room at one of those ultra-exclusive private Chicago clubs. None of us were members, but one guy, a celebrated university professor, was using a friend’s membership to get us in. Otherwise, we would’ve all been tossed out on our ears.

When I got up to leave, I noticed that McKenna had been sitting just a few feet from us. My earlier experience with Adlai Stevenson came back to me in a flash.

Here we were, just a few feet away, and nobody noticed he was there. McKenna doesn’t exactly light up a room, which may help explain his fourth-place finish in the 2004 U.S. Senate primary.

Yet, this is the guy who is supposed to save the Republican Party next year?

McKenna has lined up some of the biggest Republican money-bags behind his campaign. They are less than impressed with the rest of the Republican field, so they’ve decided to back McKenna for governor.

The idea is to stop state Sen. Bill Brady from winning the nomination. Brady came in third in the 2006 GOP gubernatorial primary, but with his residual name recognition and hard work since then, he reportedly has the highest poll numbers of all the contenders. He still doesn’t have enough support to win, but he’s far enough ahead that the top dogs don’t think anyone else can stop him.

The “problem” with Sen. Brady is his voting record in the state Senate. It’s so conservative that he will have a very tough time winning the general election, to say the least.

McKenna, on the other hand, has a lot of his own money, knows a lot of wealthy people and has raised a lot of cash from them over the years. Most important, he has never been elected to anything, so he has no pesky legislative voting record that the Democrats can use to frighten suburban voters.

The logic is clear as day.

What I don’t understand is the actual choice.

The only thing impressive about McKenna’s failed U.S. Senate bid was his fund-raising. His actual campaign was a total, complete dud. On the positive side, he has hired a bright staff for this current run, but I’ve seen a whole lot of bad candidates with great staffs fall on their faces.

“Boring” may be the watchword for Illinois politics next year, considering how badly we’ve fared with flashy back-slappers such as Rod Blagojevich and George Ryan. But you can take boring only so far. The most boring governor of my lifetime was Jim Edgar, but you still knew when he was in a room.

Stevenson, by the way, didn’t get that union’s endorsement. He was stomped a few months later by the gregarious Jim Thompson. That was a very long time ago, but the lesson has never been lost on me.

The Republicans have oodles of issues to use against the Democrats next year. But you can’t beat somebody with a nobody.

* Related…

* Andy McKenna enters crowded race for Illinois governor: “Coming in October: An announcement of Epic Proportions,” Andy McKenna’s website proclaims.

- Posted by Rich Miller   27 Comments      

Stewart strikes out

Friday, Sep 25, 2009

* The Daily Show’s Jon Stewart has often been lauded for his tough but funny interview style of notorious liars. But he struck out bigtime with his interview of Rod Blagojevich last night. He did, at least, ask Blagojevich about the allegations surrounding cutting off state funds for childrens’ hospitals in exchange for campaign cash, but for some reason he let Blagojevich off the hook. I wasn’t impressed.

IMPORTANT: These clips are unedited for profanity. So, do not, I repeat, do not play them if you are someplace where that sort of thing could get you into trouble. I’m serious.

* This first clip is mostly warm-up, but towards the end Stewart starts to probe Blagojevich about how he could be charged with so many things and still be completely innocent…

* “The House Speaker is the one who may have some criminal culpability,” Blagojevich claims, explaining that Speaker Madigan was illegally holding back the capital bill on behalf of his daughter. Stewart laughs.

Stewart then asks Blagojevich about holding up state grants for childrens’ hospitals in exchange for campaign contributions. This could’ve been the real heart of the interview, and almost nobody has asked Blagojevich about this during his book tour. But Stewart fails to press the issue. Blagojevich offers a super-weak explanation, admitting that he replied “It’s good to know” after asking if the hospital money could be held up for budget considerations, but says, essentially, he wasn’t saying, he was just saying. Stewart then allows Blagojevich to change the subject…

* Finale. Blagojevich rants his usual “Let’s hear the tapes,” and Stewart just clowns around with him. Unbelievably, Stewart actually suggests that Blagojevich is the Richard Jewell of Illinois. Jewell was the man who was falsely accused of bombing the Atlanta Olympics…

I had high hopes for this one. It was just not to be.

- Posted by Rich Miller   46 Comments      

A little too close to home

Thursday, Sep 24, 2009

* You may have noticed this

A 29-year-old Decatur man arrested on charges of attempted murder of federal employees and attempting to use explosives to detonate a vehicle bomb at the federal building downtown Springfield had his first court appearance this afternoon at that very building.

Federal officials allege that on Wednesday, Finton drove a van containing what he thought was explosive material and parked it directly in front of the northwest corner of the Paul Findley Federal Building at Sixth and Monroe streets.

He got out of the van, locked the door and got into another vehicle driven by an undercover FBI officer and drove away. Within a few blocks of the federal building, Finton made a cell phone call to remotely detonate the purported bomb,” officials said. […]

According to a federal affidavit, Finton considered the Findley building a primary target, and considered the nearby downtown Springfield office of U.S. Rep. Aaron Schock, R-Peoria, to be a secondary target.

Click here [fixed link] to read the Department of Justice press release. We don’t appear to have been in any real danger because the FBI identified this guy early on. But yikes, man.

…Adding… For clarification purposes, this is from the press release…

According to the affidavit, over the next few months, Finton communicated with an individual who, unbeknownst to him, was a law enforcement source. The affidavit alleges that during these talks, Finton expressed his desire to receive military training and to travel to Gaza or other overseas locations to become a jihadist fighter.

In February 2009, Finton was introduced to an undercover FBI special officer posing as a low-level al-Qaeda operative. According to the affidavit, Finton expressed his desire to receive military training at a camp and to fight in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Somalia or other locations. The undercover agent told Finton several times that it was Finton’s decision and that he could walk away from the decision anytime. According to the affidavit, Finton indicated that he was excited and had no second thoughts about attending a camp.

Also, the explosives in the van were fake. He was duped (for want of a better word) by the feds into thinking he was carrying out a real terrorist act.

…Adding… I don’t know if there is more than one guy named Talib Islam in Decatur, but a Decatur resident by that name has a MySpace page. And he appears to work in a restaurant.

- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      

David Hoffman gets his answer

Thursday, Sep 24, 2009

* This may not be the response that Democratic US Senate candidate David Hoffman was expecting when his campaign slammed Alexi Giannoulias earlier today for accepting SEIU’s endorsement. The Hoffman campaign’s prediction was that the Republicans “are going to have a good morning with this endorsement.”

From the IL GOP website

The Illinois Republican Party called on Illinois Senate candidate David Hoffman to renounce his endorsement by Illinois State Senator Jeff Schoenberg – a leading recipient of SEIU campaign contributions and the man who introduced Hoffman at his campaign kick-off event. […]

According to the Illinois State Board of Elections, Schoenberg accepted $13,400 in campaign contributions from SEIU. In addition, state records show Schoenberg also contributed $12,500 to Rod Blagojevich’s campaign.

“David Hoffman can’t have it both ways when it comes to Rod Blagojevich and SEIU,” Illinois Republican Party Chairman Pat Brady said. “When you do business with Illinois Democrats, you do business with Rod Blagojevich and the SEIU. If David Hoffman is serious about changing Illinois, he should call on Jeff Schoenberg to return all SEIU campaign contributions or else renounce his endorsement.”

Welcome to the game, Mr. Hoffman. Enjoy.

…Adding… From the Giannoulias campaign…

The working men and women of SEIU have fought for progressive policies, independent leaders and middle class families and Alexi Giannoulias is proud to stand with them and their fight to change Washington. It is not lost on us or progressives to see Hoffman, a guy who worked for ultra conservative judges Rehnquist and Jacobs, echo a Republican smear campaign against working families.

…Adding More… From the Hoffman campaign

It’s odd that the Giannoulias campaign would highlight Hoffman’s long resume, where he has worked in the highest levels of all three branches of national government. We welcome a comparison of achievements and experience levels between these two candidates.

We also welcome a closer comparison of business associates between the two. That’s comparing the Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court with some of the shady characters who have received loans from the Broadway Bank.

This is all the Giannoulias campaign has to offer against David’s candidacy. It’s not much. We look forward to February 2.

* Meanwhile, since SEIU and ACORN have been tied together by some, here’s a recent article by CBS2 that has been completely ignored

Denise Dixon was once president of ACORN Illinois, and Madeline Talbott was a top organizer. But two years ago, in a move that now looks prophetic, they and other Chicago activists quit ACORN.

“We just felt things were not right at the top. There were different people in charge then,” Talbott said.

“After I left and others left, we had heard that steps were being taken to get rid of the bad apples in the barrel and to straighten it out,” she added. “I still believe that’s true. But it’s very clear they didn’t get all the bad apples yet.”

Talbott and Dixon complained that ACORN’s then-national leader, Wade Rathke, put his brother in charge of finances, was concealing key money moves and was, in short, a scandal waiting to explode.

Still, they’re stunned by video from a recent conservative group’s sting.

Also, this claim by GOP gubernatorial candidate Dan Proft that IHDA gave ACORN Housing - which does have a Chicago office - $100,000 appears to be false. The money was approved, but Gov. Blagojevich stopped the entire program. However, the group appears to have gotten a much smaller grant several weeks ago for an anti-foreclosure program. Working on it now.

- Posted by Rich Miller   23 Comments      

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McKenna files, Steele withdraws? *** UPDATE: Not necessarily ***

Thursday, Sep 24, 2009

* Andy McKenna is making it official, kinda. Today, he says he “filed” to run for governor. What that means is he has filed a D-1 statement of organization. The official announcement is next month. McKenna’s new website hasn’t launched yet, but includes this promise…

Coming in October - An announcement of epic proportions


Here’s the press release…

Family Businessman Andy McKenna Files for Governor

CHICAGO - Community leader and family businessman Andy McKenna announced today that he has filed a statement of organization to run for Illinois Governor.

“It’s time to put our house in order. A culture of corruption, a mindless irresponsibility towards taxes and spending and a hostile climate toward the creation of new jobs illustrates just how far Springfield has strayed. It won’t be easy, but we can turn those around,” said McKenna.

“Illinois faces serious problems, but these problems can only be solved by leading a sea change in ethics, confronting some hard choices on behalf of Illinois taxpayers, setting aside the needs of special interests and career politicians and creating a laser focus on the interests of Illinois families. Only then will we be able to provide the people of Illinois the opportunities they need to succeed.”

McKenna is a business and civic leader who resides in Chicago with his wife, Mary. He is the father of four and will formally launch his campaign next month.

It also looks like he’s using his former staff at the Illinois State Party for his campaign.

* Meanwhile, Tom Roeser may have a scoop

Republican National Chairman Michael Steele has withdrawn his sole endorsement for Mark Kirk for the U. S. Senate, recognizing that the candidacy of Patrick Hughes has drawn major support from Illinois Republicans: thus Steele’s RNC is neutral…a distinct victory for Hughes.

*** UPDATE *** From the Republican National Committee…

“Congressman Kirk is an exceptional candidate and is clearly the frontrunner in this race. This is a targeted race we plan to win and once Kirk wins the primary we will be fully engaged. The RNC traditionally does not get involved in primaries.” – RNC Spokeswoman Kirsten Kukowski

- Posted by Rich Miller   69 Comments      

Question of the day

Thursday, Sep 24, 2009

* As I’ve told you before, I have four brothers. All of them are very talented individuals on multiple levels. And they’re all entrepreneurs, even though a couple have “regular” jobs as well.

I’m not sure if I’ve told you much about my brother Doug. He’s the middle child, so he naturally took a lot of crud from his two older brothers growing up. He’s an amazingly smart investor. I remember him convincing my parents in the early 1980s to put money into MCI. He was 16 or 17 at the time.

Like all of us, Doug is a talented writer. All credit to our mother - a former public school teacher - for our technical skills. And, as I think I’ve said before, we get our natural story-telling talents from our paternal grandmother, Lucille, who is still alive and kicking and just as funny as ever.

Doug runs a blog about local government and politics in his town near Dallas, TX. His blog just won a newspaper readers poll for best blog in town.

I took Doug to a White Sox vs. Texas Rangers game a couple of months ago. We had Scout Section seats because of my Union League Club membership. They’re the best of the best, and that’s the way we wanted it. Afterwards, we went out for drinks with a bunch of Republican pals of mine. Doug is what you would call a rock-ribbed Texas Republican through and through. We had a blast, to say the least.


* The Question: Are you also proud of your siblings’ accomplishments? Examples?

- Posted by Rich Miller   25 Comments      

Today’s videos

Thursday, Sep 24, 2009

* Apparently, Gov. Pat Quinn has two videographers following him around to events. Check out this state video, and this campaign video from this week’s tourism promotion presser at Navy Pier with Mayor Daley.

Quinn’s campaign video is much higher quality, but its view count as of this writing is 16, vs. 303 for the state vid.

* Former assistant US Attorney Patrick Collins admitted some hard truths to ABC7 about the way federal prosecutors do business. Watch it

“The system rewards cooperation. The government pursues cooperation and pursues it aggressively”

That could easily be seen as part of the problem - relying far too much on pressuring people to extract “cooperation” rather than building a case on their own.

* WGN has created an ingenious auto-tune video of Rod Blagojevich. It’s a must-watch


- Posted by Rich Miller   6 Comments      

HGOPs propose tax amnesty plan

Thursday, Sep 24, 2009

* The House Republicans have proposed a plan to provide half the funding for the MAP grant program next semester. Their tax amnesty plan seems pretty good. But the proof in the pudding will be if the HGOP is willing to compromise on the other half of the funding. If they just stick by this, then it’s nothing more than a ploy.

From the press release…

House Republicans are proposing legislation that would allow delinquent taxpayers to pay what they owe in income and sales taxes to the state during a month and a half period in early 2010 with NO interest or penalty. The revenue would be used to help pay for college scholarships in the spring semester that were eliminated from the FY2010 state budget.

The Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability estimates this amnesty program for individuals and corporations that didn’t pay their taxes on time between June 20, 2002 and January 15, 2010 could bring in approximately $104.9 million in revenue owed that would be deposited into the Illinois Student Assistance Commission Monetary Award Program fund according to the legislation.

In the proposal, the window to pay taxes without delinquency payments would open from January 1, 2010 until February 15, 2010. […]

The last tax amnesty program, established through legislation in 2003, collected $279.7 million in delinquent taxes for the State of Illinois.

The state needs to find $200 million to fund all the MAP scholarship grants for next semester, or a bunch of students will be caught up short. Gov. Quinn has proposed increasing the tax on cigarettes by a dollar a pack.

…Adding… As a commenter rightly notes, this is also a one-time, one-year proposal. No word yet on what they want for next year.

* Related…

* Poshard decries cuts in grants

* Students Plan To Protest MAP Grant Cuts

- Posted by Rich Miller   11 Comments      

Hoffman blasts SEIU and Giannoulias

Thursday, Sep 24, 2009

* Democratic US Senate candidate Alexi Giannoulias is being endorsed by SEIU this morning. But fellow Democratic hopeful David Hoffman’s campaign blog has a post today which rips into both Giannoulias and SEIU’s state leadership

The National GOP is champing at the bit to make the 2010 U.S. Senate election in Illinois all about former Governor Rod Blagojevich. This morning, the Alexi Giannoulias campaign is serving them up a free punch, trotting out an endorsement from the union leadership that was Blago’s biggest supporter and whose president was completely enmeshed in the controversy over Rod’s attempt to sell this Senate seat. (He even appears on the infamous Blagojevich wiretap!)

You can bet Giannoulias will sit silently on the dais and smile broadly as he receives the endorsement of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) leadership, just as he did when the Blagojevich controversy first surfaced. He doesn’t rock the boat, and he’s no doubt excited about stepping up to the same trough that netted Blagojevich more than a million dollars in campaign cash.

This kind of merry-go-round involving the same cozy insiders doing the same political dance is what’s wrong with Illinois politics. This is why David Hoffman– a true independent corruption-fighter with no ties to the scandals of the past– is running to be our senator. We deserve better. The SEIU members deserve better. David stands with them.

The National Republicans who are looking to take the President’s Senate seat next year are going to have a good morning with this endorsement.

Wow. You won’t see many statewide Democratic candidates say stuff like that. And for good reason.

SEIU most certainly does have a lot of explaining to do about its past support of Blagojevich. I can’t argue with that at all. However, I don’t think the FBI wiretaps show that the union’s leadership was “completely enmeshed” in Blagojevich’s alleged attempt to sell the Senate seat.

And, without that union, only a couple of those independent Chicago aldermen would’ve been elected in 2007. Those campaigns added up to a huge accomplishment which too many people have forgotten. The union was also the prime force which moved Speaker Madigan off the dime when he was refusing to raise the minimum wage. SEIU is currently plotting to oppose some of the dead weight in the House Democratic caucus come February.

Its serious Blagojevich blind spot aside, the union leadership has done a lot for causes that Hoffman supposedly espouses. It has worked on issues with good government types like Sen. Jeff Schoenberg, who has endorsed Hoffman. Sen. Schoenberg has received thousands of dollars in contributions from SEIU over the years.

I’ll be interested to see if this campaign post gets any media play. The Republicans will surely play it up.

* In other US Senate campaign news, I told you yesterday that Giannoulias had whacked Mark Kirk for missing a vote on extending unemployment insurance, possibly because he was too busy with campaign work. The Trib has more

The Republican National Senatorial Committee waded in, noting that three prominent Chicago Democratic congressmen—Jesse Jackson Jr., Bobby Rush and Luis Gutierrez—also didn’t cast votes on the legislation, which passed on a bipartisan 331-83 roll call. Kirk, Jackson, Rush and Gutierrez were among 18 congressmen who didn’t vote on the legislation.

A Republican spokesman questioned whether Giannoulias and the Democrats are also suggesting that “their fellow Illinois Democrats similarly ‘turned their backs’ on Illinois families yesterday” and called the shot at Kirk a “desperate and ill-conceived” political attack.

Kirk spokesman Eric Elk said the congressman issued a statement into the record that he was “unavoidably detained” but would have voted for the jobless-benefit extension as he had in previous roll calls last year.

Giannoulias’ campaign wouldn’t back down when asked about this push-back. They claimed that Kirk, unlike the Democrats listed above, has voted against extending unemployment insurance several times before and wondered whether he purposely avoided the roll call. Conservatives believe, as a rule, that extending unemployment benefits keeps people from looking for work. Kirk has already taken lots of heat for voting against conservative orthodoxy on the so-called “cap and trade” bill.

* Other political stuff…

* Berrios and Shaw: Fetch the bellhop for baggage: I tried to stay calm Wednesday. Eight cups of coffee did not help. This morning at the South Loop Hotel, Robert Shaw will announce his candidacy for Cook County assessor. He and county wheeler-dealer Joe Berrios are running for the Democratic nomination… To show how far we’ve come since then, we have two candidates running for an important countywide office, both chiseled from the block of patronage, both shaped by a lifetime of the “old way.”

* Cook County assessor candidate to come out swinging today: “Anybody who lives in a glass house shouldn’t throw stones,” said Berrios, Cook County Democratic chairman and a Board of Review commissioner who considers property tax assessment appeals. “I don’t think he should talk.”

* Evanston gay alderman: Mark Tendam says voters are far more concerned with public issues than his private life - Other gay elected officials cite growing acceptance — but more progress needs to be made, advocates say

* Rauschenberger to host town halls on Illinois budget crisis

* Press release: Gubernatorial Candidate Adam Andrzejewski Responds to Bill Brady

* Long line forms for slim chance at becoming Illinois governor by default

* Truth Lost Amid the Din

- Posted by Rich Miller   50 Comments      

Mother Tribune picks a horse

Thursday, Sep 24, 2009

* The Chicago Tribune editorial board has nominated its own candidate to run the University of Illinois…

We can think of a strong candidate: Boise State University President Bob Kustra, who is a former Illinois lieutenant governor and state senator. Kustra is a successful college president and he navigated Illinois politics with extremely high integrity. Illinois’ premier [sic] public university will need a president who can handle the politics without succumbing to this state’s breathtakingly corrupt political culture.

Boise State University, home of the Broncos. Yep. That’s really high on the list of the nation’s colleges. Isn’t that in Idaho? From President Kustra’s Web page

People throughout the nation and world are looking at Boise State in a new light. The success of the football program has provided a window to the university, and we have so much to be proud of at Boise State

Before he was hired by Boise State, Kustra ran Eastern Kentucky University - known locally as the Harvard of Richmond. He’s been out of Illinois for years, so I’m not sure that he knows how to operate here any longer.

Actually, I always kinda liked Kustra. And I have to admit it would be funny to see U of I professor Jim Edgar working for his old second banana. But the Tribune reaching back into the glory days of the Illinois Grand Old Party for its preferred candidate is oh so typical, and, typically, more than a little presumptuous.

That newspaper already has far too much influence on Illinois’ political life. It shouldn’t be allowed to dictate the hiring of university presidents as well.

* And speaking of blasts from the past

One of the University of Illinois’ longest-serving presidents, Stanley Ikenberry, said Wednesday that two trustees have approached him about returning on an interim basis to the post he left more than a decade ago.

* Related…

* IRS challenge to Cubs sale might add to Tribune Co. liability: But a fight with the IRS could expose Tribune, which is trying to emerge from bankruptcy, to a liability of $300 million. The Cubs sale was structured to save about $300 million in capital gains taxes. It is set up as a partnership with Tribune keeping a 5 percent stake.

* A Bully in the Pulpit: The Tribune Hammers the University of Illinois to Submission: Take a look at some numbers. Out of 120,000 student applications, 800 (.6%) were set aside for additional consideration, CLOUTED, per the breathless newspaper. Fifty percent of the clouted applicants were accepted, vs. 40% of all waitlisted applicants being eventually accepted. An average of 12 students (out of 42,000, or .02%) per year over the last 5 years were accepted who would not otherwise gain admittance to the U of I.

* U of Illinois president B. Joseph White to resign

* University of Illinois President B. Joseph White resigns

* U of I president’s resignation helps school move on

* U of I Trustees Meet Today

- Posted by Rich Miller   33 Comments      

Morning Shorts

Thursday, Sep 24, 2009

* Bank Repossess Sheriff’s Patrol Cars

The Alexander County Sheriff’s department at the Southern tip of Illinois is trying to round up some vehicles, as most of the department’s patrol cars were repossessed earlier this week.

* Illinois Tollway: State finds more than $150 million in accounting errors

* Olympics financial punch far weaker than organizers forecast, outside study says

The Olympics would produce $4.4 billion in spending on tourism, construction and operating the games in Chicago and Cook County, says Anderson Economic Group LLC, a Michigan-based economic consulting firm. That’s far less than the $19.2 billion estimated in a study commissioned by Chicago 2016, the Olympics bid committee, which was released in December.

* City’s troubles take back seat to Games bid

* Supermax should be harsh – not inhumane

* Planned Parenthood to offer abortion pills

An opinion issued in March by Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan made the process of providing medication abortion potentially less cumbersome. Madigan wrote that Illinois law allows nurse practitioners and physician assistants to hand a patient her first dose of medicine.

Before Madigan’s opinion, Planned Parenthood used doctors to take that first step, Trombley said.

* Sneed 1: Sneed hears rumbles that Mayor Daley wants to appoint former Chicago housing chief Terry Peterson as the new CTA chief . . . now that Carole Brown has resigned. Brown abruptly left her post Tuesday, though her appointment didn’t expire until 2013.

* Daley says CTA won’t suffer from loss of top board members

* Daley already interviewed a few candidates for top CTA Board spot

* Sneed 2: It’s a one & only: U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, who has called a summit on distracted driving in Washington next week, has invited only one person from Illinois to speak at the conference: State Rep. John D’Amico, who has not visited the nation’s Capitol before… D’Amico was the Illinois House sponsor of the bill forbidding texting while driving in Illinois, which was signed into law and will go into effect Jan. 1.

* Sneed 3: •What age would that be? WTTW’s Elizabeth Brackett finished first in her age group at the International Triathlon World Championships in Australia recently.

* Former Cicero Town President Betty Loren-Maltese files suit against 2 dozen defendants

* O’Hare Airport hit for safety violations in FAA report

* Empress cuts 56 jobs as revenue falls

* IRS challenge to Cubs sale might add to Tribune Co. liability

But a fight with the IRS could expose Tribune, which is trying to emerge from bankruptcy, to a liability of $300 million. The Cubs sale was structured to save about $300 million in capital gains taxes. It is set up as a partnership with Tribune keeping a 5 percent stake.

- Posted by Mike Murray   18 Comments      

* SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Today's edition of Capitol Fax (use all CAPS in password)
* Pritzker implores protesters to "not force a difficult second rebuilding on our small businesses in the course of expressing your very justified pain"
* Reader comments closed for the weekend
* Pritzker thanks Dr. Ezike, extends financial protections, points to progress, says no more daily COVID-19 briefings - Calls Trump tweets "reprehensible" - "I want to send my condolences to the family of George Floyd, and also to every African American in this country" - Defends budget decisions - Credits Illinoisans for progress against virus - No bill signing ceremonies - Hopes testing progress continues - "It seems as if President Trump is withdrawing us from the rest of the world" - No out of state travel plans - Talks contact tracing - Asks Illinoisans to be careful during reopening - Will sign Medicare for undocumented seniors bill - Refuses to criticize Lightfoot for Trump comments - Talks about difficulties in securing testing locations - Dr. Ezike and Pritzker respond to question about what they've learned about themselves and leadership - "We're no longer in a stay at home order"
* Yesterday's stories

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