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Friday, Oct 30, 2009 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Two items of late business today.

Former House GOP spokesman David Dring qualified for the Boston Marathon this year. His time of 3:15:13 in the Chicago Marathon got him in. Amazing. Just amazing. Way to go, Dave!

I would normally give Dringy a further video shout-out, but I saved that for Bethany Jaeger, who is leaving Illinois Issues’ Statehouse bureau today for a management consultant position with Kerber, Eck & Braeckel in Springfield. I posted this about Bethany in comments today, but it’s worth repeating…

Her departure is a huge loss for the Statehouse. She is an amazingly hard worker, a top notch reporter, is firmly committed to online and multi-media and has helped drag Illinois Issues into the 21st Century.

Replacing her won’t be easy at all.

I gave Bethany her choice of songs and she picked Superstition by Stevie Wonder. This is probably the best version ever done. Turn it way, way up

Keep me in a daydream
Keep me goin’ strong

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Friday political updates

Friday, Oct 30, 2009 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Democratic US Senate underdog Jacob Meister begins running his first radio ads next Tuesday. Click here to listen. The Spanish language ad is here. From the campaign…

Person-on-the-street interviews were conducted in English and Spanish. English-speaking constituents can be heard in ads on Illinois Radio Network, WBBM, WXRT, WCPT, WMBD and WSMT. Spanish-speaking constituents can be heard on an ad, which is airing exclusively on WLEY.

Meister has put a million bucks of his own cash into the race.

* Democratic state treasurer candidate Robin Kelly finally filed her nominating petitions yesterday. The Green Party slate filed its petitions today.

* I told subscribers about this yesterday…

Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, a former independent alderman and state senator, is attempting a political comeback, gathering signatures to run for Cook County Board against Commissioner Joseph Mario Moreno.

Garcia was a leader of the independent bloc early in Mayor Daley’s administration, fighting for affordable housing programs, then he was elected to the state senate.

Moreno is in real trouble. He’s proudly voted with Todd Stroger so often that his more conservative Democratic base will despise him, and he’s a “regular” so the independents won’t love him, either. If Garcia can raise the cash, he has an excellent shot.

This is part of a broader Latino battle, by the way. The Sun-Times touches on that today

Garcia is part of a slate Ald. Ricardo Munoz (22nd) is running to oust Regular Democrats on the Southwest Side. Another is Rudy Lozano, Jr., son of the slain community activist, who is running for state representative. Garcia is godfather to Lozano’s brother.

* Republican gubernatorial candidate Andy McKenna is getting a lot of press for his online “Hair” video and TV ad. From the Pantagraph

If McKenna’s goal was to stand out from the crowd and attract more attention to his campaign, he at least partially succeeded: He got us to write an editorial about it.

MSNBC’s Countdown featured the video last night

The vid was also spotlighted on MSNBC’s Morning Joe

But rival Dan Proft is not impressed

This may be unorthodox for a rival candidate to say, but I urge you to watch [the McKenna video]. In doing so, after the entertaining intro, you will discover that not one policy position is offered, not one specific solution is advanced or even alluded to by McKenna. Lots of gauzy images of him in imaginary board rooms, strolling down Chicago streets, and winding down the day at his deluxe apartment in the sky in front of a crackling fire.

McKenna offers only poll-tested buzzwords.

In 2006, Rod Blagojevich’s re-election theme was, “Getting Things Done for People”. The details of what things and for which people were purposely absent. It was all about Rod.

Andy McKenna has borrowed that template. He touts himself as “the quiet cure”. What specifically is the cure and who gets it? Why, of course, Andy is the cure. It is all about Andy. Don’t fret about the details.

* We already talked about Republican US Senate candidate Mark Kirk’s new radio ad. But if you want to listen to it, just hit the play button

The Plum Line comments

But it seems striking that Kirk is denouncing the public option in such harsh terms in one of the bluest states in the country, and Dems are likely to jump on this as another sign of just how far to the right the GOP base has drifted.

* The staff of Republican gubernatorial candidate Adam Andrzejewski didn’t see my e-mail the other day, so they didn’t respond to our questions. Here is the campaign’s response…

Q: If national health care includes an opt-out option for states, and the decision came down to you, would you opt-out Illinois?

A: While it’s hard to say exactly what we would do until we see what “option” we are deciding upon, our administration would probably lean in favor of “opting out” of a national system. Of course, as one of the comments alluded to, if an “opt-out” is gamed so that no state would do so, this becomes a moot question. That said, an opt-out would be more likely if the Federal Government gave the states a set of guidelines, provided states with a per capita block grant, and left it to the states to decide upon the best way to meet the guidelines.

Under this scenario, it would not be difficult to determine which deal was better for Illinois Citizens. If we thought we could do better, we would opt-out. If the Federal Deal was better for Illinois citizens, we wouldn’t.

Specifically, an Andrzejewski Administration would lean in favor providing citizens with as much flexibility as possible in choosing their health insurance and giving them control of as much of the allocation of their health care dollar as possible. We would also make sure that for any hospital ,health insurance company, or health firm doing business with the “state sytem,” it would have to open up its entire cost structure. For more details on the direction we would like to take, go to

In a specific answer to Palos Park Bob, that fits inside this answer, Yes, we would strongly consider “requiring Illinois Health Insurance companies doing business in Illinois to create an unsubsidized catastrophic care pool for small companies and uninsured indivivuals.”

Our state (and nation) is rich enough to provide access to health care for its citizens with out moving toward the failed policies of “single payer.” Single payer nations are moving away from that model (out of economic necessity), and there is no reason for America, or Illinois, to move toward it.

Q: What are you willing to do to modify current public pension policy to bring public pensions and pension benefits into line with what the legislature is willing contribute?

A: The main problem with pensions is that the state’s contribution is done through the appropriations process in the General Assembly. While the state constitution requires that pensions be paid, it does not require that pensions be funded.

The General Assembly has underfunded the pensions for decades and has thus shown that it isn’t up to the task of paying the pensions, though it sure has enjoyed expanding benefits. Unfortunately, there is no legal recourse to cut existing vested payouts. The only solution is to restructure the pension system.

This is the direction an Andrzejewski Administration would take.

Pension payments should be the obligation of the employing agency directly out of their own budgets. Saddling future taxpayers with unknown liabilities is immoral.

The employing agency’s contribution to worker pensions shall be paid at the same time employee contribution is taken out of the checks.

All pension benefits will be negotiated directly with the employing agency with no ability of the state to “add” benefits across the board.

A legal “cause of action” will be created so any employee, union, or pension system could sue the employing agency for non-payment of pension contributions and compel payment.

Pension benefits and calculations can be modified for future employees as economic circumstances dictate.
Of course, those rules should apply to every other governmental body in Illinois, to the extent that they don’t already.

Lastly, our transparency policy, which puts every dime of taxpayer spending online, ensures that every obligation is calculable, and is met. This augments the necessary reforms above because it opens up access for press and public scrutiny.

Rate it, please.

* Related…

* Senate candidate Hoffman meets with Axelrod

* Democratic primary shaping up in Quad-Cities House district:

* Southland no Bore for 2010 election

* Karl Rove to appear at fundraiser for Rutherford

* Suburban reaction divides along party lines

* Illinois Senate Unanimously Overrides Gubernatorial Veto of HB 723


Question of the day

Friday, Oct 30, 2009 - Posted by Rich Miller

* It’s Friday, the GA is in session, it’s been raining for what seems like an eternity, so let’s have us a little distraction…



This just in… All seniors will continue riding free

Friday, Oct 30, 2009 - Posted by Rich Miller

* 11:52 am - Subscribers won’t be surprised by this development

All senior citizens will continue to get free mass transit bus rides after a plan to restrict the rides to poor seniors was scrapped.

Sen. Rickey Hendon, D-Chicago, said today a bill to restrict the free rides would not be called in the Senate. Without a Senate vote, the plan cannot pass, even though bills to restrict the rides are pending in both the House and Senate. […]

Hendon said lawmakers were “pretty sure” Gov. Pat Quinn planned to reinstate free rides for all seniors even if the restrictions passed the General Assembly. Quinn’s office had no immediate comment.

As I told subscribers this morning, Quinn has been signaling for the past few days that he had changed his mind yet again on free rides. First, he was for free rides for all seniors, then a few weeks ago he said the freebie should be limited to poor seniors, then he signaled this week that he wanted that limitation removed. There was a strong suspicion that Quinn would use his amendatory veto power to kill off the free ride limits - a la Rod Blagojevich.

* Meanwhile, Senate President John Cullerton and Senate GOP Leader Christine Radogno got into it a bit this morning

[Cullerton] dismissed Republican complaints that rank-and-file lawmakers would be controlled by the party bosses who dump big money into their campaigns.

Cullerton cited how Radogno received more than $1 million from former Senate GOP leader James “Pate” Philip when he ruled the chamber. Cullerton said that Radogno was not controlled by Philip when she was a rank-and-file member.

In turn, Radogno said she accepted the money as part of an entire political system that needs changed because it is “flawed.” She said the free-flow of money in politics needs to be curtailed and that party bosses would be empowered under the legislation because the Democrats wanted it that way.

More from the hearing…

Senate President John Cullerton, D-Chicago, said Republicans are opposing the campaign finance legislation in an attempt to gain a political advantage. But it will backfire because Democrats will argue that the Republicans opposed reform, he said.

The mail writes itself - for both sides.

* Also, Illinois Review runs down (literally) the “cleanup” bill for gaming expansion…

HB 607 lets the Governor “select” a private manager for the total management of the Lottery. Was this written for one political insider? With all of the scandals in Illinois and Pay to Play politics, this is outrageous.


Republican candidates take on the budget

Friday, Oct 30, 2009 - Posted by Rich Miller

* This looks like an interesting idea

One of the handful of Republicans running for Illinois governor says he doesn’t want to shame Illinois into paying some of its three-billion dollars in unpaid bills.

But Bill Brady says if that’s what it takes, then so be it.

Brady has introduced a piece of legislation that would force the Governor and Comptroller to list all of Illinois’ unpaid bills on line, so vendors and tax payers know who’s waiting to be paid.

Brady says the list would insure against clout and mismanagement.


Brady said Thursday that the governor and comptroller now have too much control over the order in which bills are paid. He argues that opens the door to favoritism.

Those seem to be good points. But here’s the catch

the state would be required to pay the bills in the order they’re received.

As Greg notes, this idea would “limit the ability of the state to prioritize.” He’s right.

* Another Republican gubernatorial candidate has some ideas

Schillerstrom’s law would require spending, budget and tax legislation to be posted online a full three days in advance of a vote in the General Assembly, thus allowing for public and media scrutiny.

Schillerstrom’s platform also calls [for] zero-based budgeting, in which state agencies “must account for every single dollar”; a cap on spending using a formula based on population growth and inflation; and independent budget certification, separate from the comptroller’s office, in which the governor would return any budget he or she determines is not balanced back to the General Assembly.

In my opinion, spending caps tied to inflation are not a good idea because too many things like health insurance rise far above the CPI. It’s basically just death by slow strangulation. But that idea for independent budget certification is worth a look.

However, it’s important to keep in mind that while these may be good ideas, they don’t solve the problem.

* Republican gubernatorial candidate Andy McKenna sent out a press release this morning which once again compares Pat Quinn’s budget-making to Rod Blagojevich’s…

In light of Pat Quinn’s latest assault on future generations by seeking to borrow another $1 billion, family businessman and gubernatorial candidate Andy McKenna today stood by his comments that when it comes to taxes and spending, Pat Quinn is just like Rod Blagojevich “with a little less hair.”

“Pat Quinn’s quest to borrow another billion dollars to feed his hungry appetite for more government spending only confirms he’s just like Rod Blagojevich,” said McKenna.

I asked for clarification on this slam because the latest Quinn borrowing idea is short-term. It has to be repaid by the end of the fiscal year, so it’s not really an “assault on future generations.”

“The point of the release is to highlight the fact that his answer for everything is borrowing and spending and taxes,” explained a McKenna spokesman. “It’s more borrowing to feed that spending habit… Whether it’s short term, it still keeps all these programs alive down the road.” He also claimed that the more borrowing the state does, the more expensive borrowing becomes because of our lowered credit rating.

* Sen. Kirk Dillard also piled on…

Republican candidate for Illinois governor Kirk Dillard today tried to console Illinois residents who may be frightened by Democratic control in Springfield. “Don’t be fooled by the masquerade party in the governor’s office or the Legislature,” said Dillard on the eve of Halloween.

“We have a guy dressed up as Governor who can’t decide which the way the wind blows on any given day,” said Dillard. “He and another goblin running for governor are ready to rip out the wallets of taxpayers and take more of their money. If I’m scared of what they’ll do next, you can imagine the average voter,” Dillard continued.

Dillard noted the steady exodus of jobs from Illinois during the past eight years. “It’s no wonder companies are leaving the state. They’re frightened by the poor business climate, fearful of higher taxes and scared off by the lack of innovative thinking,” Dillard said. “They’re also afraid of the ethical cesspool in Springfield and what monster might crawl out next.”

Noting the Democratic Party’s inclination to give out “treats” in the form of new programs and higher spending, Dillard said he would take out his budget chainsaw if elected governor and make sure the state lives within its means. “We don’t need any more tricks in Springfield,” Dillard said.

Dillard and his wife Stephanie will be trick-or-treating with their two daughters this weekend.

That was the emptiest press release I’ve seen in a very long time.

* Dan Proft has posted a video of GOP gubernatorial rival Sen. Bill Brady in which Brady claims that last year’s state budget deficit was just $2.5 billion.

“Pat Quinn, the Democrats and some others want to inflate it so you’re scared to death and believe the only answer is tax increases,” Brady says. Watch it

I asked Brady about this yesterday and he said there’s a difference between the “deficit” and the “debt” that the state is carrying over from year to year. I didn’t quite get his gist and asked for more info, but haven’t received it yet. I’ll pass it along when I get it.

* Organizers say two thousand people will show up for this event

The Homer-Lockport Tea Party group will host its third event — a forum featuring five Republican candidates for Illinois governor — Wednesday, Nov. 4, in Homer Glen.

The forum, planned to begin at 7 p.m. at DiNolfo’s Banquet Hall, will include a question and answer session with the Republican candidates running for the gubernatorial primary on Feb. 2, 2010. According to Steve Balich, an organizer of the event, Republican candidates Adam Andrzejewski, Bill Brady, Kirk Dillard, Dan Proft and Bob Shillerstrom have confirmed their attendance to the event. Balich added that the Democratic candidates, notably Dan Hynes and current Gov. Pat Quinn, have declined to attend. Those not with the two main parties were not invited, he said.

“This event will be about the issues we are facing in the state of Illinois and will give people a chance to hear what these candidates have to offer,” said Balich, also the Homer Township clerk. “This isn’t going to be a formal event — it’s going to be tea party-style… People will be bringing signs in protest and will be able to ask candidates questions on the spot.”



Faux populism

Friday, Oct 30, 2009 - Posted by Rich Miller

* The Tribune editorial board makes a good point today

Just when it looks like lawmakers have mustered up the courage to end the gratuitous free-rides-for-seniors program, Gov. Pat Quinn has thrown a monkey wrench into the works.

With a bill meant to ease the transit systems’ financial woes moving in the General Assembly, Quinn called Thursday for a moratorium on fare hikes in return for its passage. Besides rescinding ex-Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s gratuitous senior freebie program, the bill would allow the Regional Transportation Authority to borrow up to $400 million to cover operating costs for the area’s bus and rail systems.

You read that right: The governor is OK with letting the RTA borrow up to $400 million for day-to-day expenses, but he wants no part of any plan to balance the budget by requiring people to pay a fair share of their rides.

Wait’ll they hear the rest of the story. Oof.

The proposed fare hikes are steep - $3 L rides, up from $2.25, for instance. But riders ought to help shoulder the burden. So should Mayor Daley, for that matter, and everyone else, as long as we’re passing along responsibilities.

Quinn’s idea for a two-year fare freeze is bad public policy because it’s an unfunded mandate. We’ll give you some borrowing authority to get you through this mess, but we won’t fix the now-broken “fix” that we did last year and, oh, you can’t raise fares for two years even if revenues crash even more.

The danger here is that Quinn is setting the stage for far deeper service and job cuts. Mass transit is a hugely valuable asset and Quinn is willing to allow it to further deteriorate because he doesn’t want to wear the jacket for a fare hike.

Almost nobody ever demands that expressways and city streets always operate in the black. That’s just a silly notion to most people. Yet, public transportation constantly has to face down a stupid double standard. They’re supposed to make money, or at least come close to breaking even. And when they don’t, they get chopped. Foolish.

Either provide a real funding solution or allow mass transit to at least cover some of their losses themselves. This faux populism is plain goofy. A real populist would make sure that people could take the bus and train to work.

* Other Statehouse news…

* Quote of the Day: “Stick it to granny and poor little uncle Willy. I refuse to screw the senior citizens of the state of Illinois.”

* Bill to cut seniors’ free transit rides stalls

* Free bus rides for all seniors could end

* Lawmakers reconsider free rides for seniors

* Stroger tax could be easier to undo

* Change in Cook County Veto Rules Sent to Governor

* Senate moves to lower threshold for Stroger override

* Illinois legislature: Tax-minded lawmakers vote to undercut Cook County chief’s veto power

* New `STAR bonds’ plan would target entertainment, pay neighbors

* House OKs tougher cemetery oversight

* Governor gets bill to require prison time for gang members with guns

* Senate gives Quinn green light to pick leaders for key state agencies


Did Change Illinois really just, um, change Illinois?

Friday, Oct 30, 2009 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Bethany Jaeger at Illinois Issues breaks down the new campaign finance reform bill

* Require candidates to report contributions and expenditures four times a year, as opposed to the current twice a year. Donations of $1,000 or more would have to be reported within two business days throughout the entire year.
* Allow the Illinois State Board of Elections to conduct random audits, to investigate alleged violations of contribution limits or reporting requirements and to waive fees if the mistakes were found to be inadvertent.
* Form a task force to study the effectiveness of the implementation of the new law, as well as the public funding of political campaigns.

Per election cycle limits
Individuals can give up to:

* $5,000 to any candidate
* $10,000 to any political party or legislative caucus committee
* $10,000 to any political action committee

Businesses, unions and associations can give up to:

* $10,000 to any candidate
* $20,000 to any political party or legislative caucus committee
* $20,000 to any political action committee

Candidates can give up to:

* $50,000 to any candidate
* $50,000 to any political action committee
* Unlimited contributions to any political party or legislative caucus committee, except a $50,000 limit to a committee participating in primary elections

Political party and legislative caucus committees during primary elections:
The aggregate amount between state, county, township and city political committees cannot exceed:

* $200,000 to statewide candidates
* $125,000 to any state Senate candidate
* $75,000 to any state House candidate
* Between $50,000 - $125,000 to candidates for local and judicial offices
* $20,000 to political action committees
* Unlimited contributions to candidates during general elections

The legislation itself can be accessed by clicking here.

* The Tribune editorial board rails against the compromise

Putting its best face forward, the coalition of government watchdogs that signed off on Phony Campaign Finance Fix 2.0 said the deal struck Thursday with Democratic legislators “puts Illinois on the road to reform.” […]

The watchdogs can lay claim to the state’s first-ever caps on campaign contributions, but they swallowed a bitter compromise: The bill would limit how much individuals, corporations, unions and political action committees can contribute to a campaign. But contributions from party leaders would be capped only in primary elections.

That imbalance does more harm than good. It doesn’t curb the influence of money; it gives even greater influence to party leaders, who already tell your elected officials how to drive.

As does the Sun-Times...

The governor, House Speaker Mike Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton need to carry the ball a little farther.

Or call it quits and go home.

And face the wrath of the voters.

* John Patterson of the Daily Herald has the justification from Cindi Canary, whose group is part of the Change Illinois coalition…

“At the end of the day I don’t think it was ever about getting a perfect bill,” Canary told reporters at the Capitol.

Reformers feared if they continued a hard-line approach nothing would happen and they’d get blamed for killing off the numerous agreed-upon reforms.

“There was a sense that they wanted to gain the improvements - and make sure they left the building with something,” Canary said of why members of the Change Illinois! group compromised.

He also has strong reaction from GOP state Rep. Suzie Bassi…

“Change Illinois! was either worn down or bought out,” she said on the House floor

* More back and forth

“This will create omnipotent leaders, caucus leaders and party bosses in the state of Illinois,” said Rep. Michael Tryon, R-Crystal Lake. “I think that’s what Illinoisans are trying to get away from.”

The legislation also creates stricter reporting requirements for campaign contributions and expenditures. Disclosure reports would have to be filed four times a year, and contributions of $1,000 or more would have to be quickly reported to the State Board of Elections.

Kent Redfield, a campaign finance expert and retired University of Illinois Springfield professor, said the new disclosure rules might be the toughest in the country.


House Republican leader Tom Cross of Oswego contended the campaign finance proposal fell short of scaling back the power of legislative leaders and political parties because the bill also should impose limits in the general election.

“This is the only way to enact change, this is the only way to reduce the power, this is the only way to reduce the control,” Cross said, saying the “status quo remains the same.”

Madigan defended the decision to exempt legislative and party leaders from donation limits in general elections. Along with Supreme Court rulings that make it difficult to limit funding, Madigan said, the general election is an all-out battle between political parties.

“My view is a political party exists to support its candidates in the general election,” Madigan said.

* And in case you missed these last night, here are some videos. First up, Speaker Madigan

* Cindi Canary


Morning Shorts

Friday, Oct 30, 2009 - Posted by Mike Murray

* Illinois improves school test scores but many districts fall short of federal targets

* Easy tests make kids look smarter than they really are

A new federal study out Thursday — the same day Illinois released its 2009 test results — evaluated fourth- and eighth-grade math and reading tests in all states and ranked them according to rigor. The passing bars for Illinois’ tests ranked near the bottom, especially in math. Just three states had eighth-grade math tests that were easier to pass.

This means Illinois students get to look good without actually doing well.

Experts in Illinois have long suspected this, particularly after the state changed its tests in 2006.

* Illinois school test scores: Income-based gap proves hard to close

Schools try to narrow the divide with strategies such as mentoring, double periods for math and reading

* Illinois Tollway expects boost in revenues after reconstruction projects are done

More people are expected to use the Illinois Tollway next year — and boost revenues — as a massive reconstruction project comes to an end.

The Illinois Tollway estimates it will collect $51 million more in tolls and toll evasion recovery in 2010 than it collected this year.

* Helping taxpayers (but not the mayor!) understand the property tax system

Mayor Richard Daley sputtered the other day as he expressed his confusion about the hike in property taxes Chicagoans are seeing in their mailboxes this week.

“I-I-I-I don’t understand it,” he said at a news conference. “I just don’t understand it. Because everyone’s value has gone down, I don’t care where you go. … I-I want to ask (Cook County Assessor James Houlihan) how he does it. That’s the whole issue … I don’t get it.”[…]

Not that I believe Daley is confused in the least. He has operated the levers on this byzantine system for the 20 years he’s been mayor, and it has funded his empire. He understands darn good and well what an assessor does and what causes property tax bills to rise.

Most important, he understands that, in all probability, you, an average person who smacks his forehead twice a year when the bill arrives, actually don’t understand it — don’t “get” whom to blame.

Here’s a short primer in Q & A format, no sputtering:

* Daley Is the man who knows too little

* Chicagoans taxes up 9 percent, Obama’s taxes up 1 percent

Obama does pay more in property taxes than most politicians in Chicago and Cook County do, the Chicago Sun-Times found by examining online copies of the tax bills that Cook County Treasurer Maria Pappas mailed out this week. But Obama’s seeing one of the smallest increases among Cook County politicians. […]

• Mayor Daley’s tax bill is up 3.52 percent on his South Loop townhouse. That’s $464.37 above what he paid last year.

• Cook County Board President Todd Stroger’s tax bill is up 3 percent on his Avalon Park bungalow, costing him another $41.63 this year.

• Gov. Quinn’s taxes are up more than 13 percent for his two-story Georgian home in the Galewood neighborhood on Chicago’s Northwest Side — $377.11 over last year.

* Will County property tax ruled illegal

A property tax Will County has collected for more than a decade to help pay for its juvenile detention center is “illegal” because the county never got approval from voters, the Illinois Supreme Court found Thursday.

* City Clerk tells aldermen residential permit parking needs ‘total review’

Testifying today at City Council budget hearings, del Valle said there is a “dire need” for a “total review” of residential permit parking that has “mushroomed” out of control.

“It keeps growing. It keeps getting more complicated. And it keeps getting frustrating. . . . I get frustrated when I see people going to a Cubs game. No city sticker on their vehicle, but they’ve got a residential parking pass,” del Valle said.

“Do they have a friend who lives in the ward who gave them a pass? Maybe. But they’re not using the . . . sticker to visit the friend. They’re using it save money to go to a baseball game.”

Ald. Richard Mell (33rd) agreed that Chicago created a monster when it established residential permit parking and it’s time to rein it in — possibly by wiping the slate clean and starting over with a different set of rules.

* Review permit parking, Chicago city clerk urges aldermen

* Will Co. judge eats his words — but gets a good meal out of it

* Sting nets over 100 people on drug, gun, prostitution charges

Hoping to find fewer cops and more customers, Chicago-based drug and gun dealers allegedly began setting up shop at suburban motels along Mannheim Road near O’Hare Airport.[…]

But that business climate changed abruptly with a series of recent police raids that resulted in more than 100 people being arrested on drug, gun and prostitution charges, Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart said Thursday.

* More than 100 arrested in ‘Operation Room Service’

* Police misconduct allegations up almost 19%

* Agency urged reprimand for Supt. Jody Weis

Chicago’s police watchdog agency recommended a reprimand last year for the city’s top cop, Supt. Jody Weis, for endorsing then-Sen. Barack Obama last year during the presidential campaign, according to records released today.

Chicago’s Independent Police Review Authority found that Supt. Jody Weis “impeded the police department’s operations and was inattentive to his duty in that, while in uniform and on television, he made comments that favored a particular political candidate.”

* Furloughs jeopardize public safety

* Cook County to take appts. for H1N1 shots

* Air pollution tests at North Side school show no high levels, but more testing is planned, EPA says

St. Josaphat School sits near factories with some of the highest risk scores in the country

* Company holiday parties become casualty of downturn

Sixty-two percent of employers responding to the survey said they’ll host holiday parties this year — down from 77 percent a year ago and 90 percent in 2007.

And nearly 30 percent of those that are holding parties say they’re cutting back, the survey found, trimming their party budgets by 10 to 20 percent on average.

* Bridgeport tops trick-or-treat spots

* Soldier from Evergreen Park killed in Afghanistan


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Friday, Oct 30, 2009 - Posted by Rich Miller

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Reformers cut deal on campaign finance reform

Thursday, Oct 29, 2009 - Posted by Rich Miller

* 7:40 pm - As I’ve been telling subscribers this evening, the reformers have agreed to a compromise with the Democratic legislative leaders over campaign contribution caps. Contributions by leaders and parties will only be capped during primaries, not general elections.

Click here for the press release announcing the agreement and more details.

We also have some video. As of this writing, the Madigan video is still processing, so give it a few minutes.

* Speaker Madigan talks to the press

* Campaign for Political Reform director Cindi Canary talks about why she and her cohorts decided to cut a deal…


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Adventures in flip-flopping - Todd Stroger edition

Thursday, Oct 29, 2009 - Posted by Rich Miller

* As you most certainly know by now, Cook County Board President Todd Stroger strongly opposes a bill moving towards passage that would roll back the board’s crazy veto override majority from four-fifths to a more sane three-fifths.

What Stroger never mentions is that he forcefully supported this override roll-back plan in the 2006 campaign. Stroger issued a statement on October 11th of that year backing legislation by Rep. John Fritchey and then-Commissioner Mike Quigley. He removed the statement from his website after he was elected, but Rep. Fritchey saved a copy and forwarded it to me today….

Those are probably the best arguments I’ve yet seen for this proposal. But now that Stroger wants to save his sales tax hike from the ash bin, he’s completely flip-flopped.


Question of the day

Thursday, Oct 29, 2009 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Yesterday, I asked you to submit questions to Republican gubernatorial candidates. Later in the day, I e-mailed almost all of the campaigns (I absent-mindedly omitted Jim Ryan, but I’ll post any response he has) and asked them to pick one or two questions and provide us a detailed response. I also asked the two top Democratic candidates for their responses.

Here they are, with the questions in bold to make this easier to read…

* Sen. Kirk Dillard…

How do you give the Republican Party a better chance than your opponents of winning in November?

I give the Republican Party the best chance of winning in November because my unique experience in all three branches of Government will enable me to bring more jobs to Illinois, balance our State budget, and clean up Springfield. As Governor Jim Edgar’s Chief of Staff I helped manage state government during a recession. We inherited a mountain of debt, balanced the budget and left a surplus of $1.6 billion all without an income tax increase. My plan to create a “Destination Economy” will be the most aggressive job creation program in state history.

I have the privilege of having been educated and having lived in all regions of the state – Chicago, the suburbs and downstate. The amount of fundraising and volunteer support I have received from across the state shows that I am not a regional candidate. While I am a suburbanite, I have strong downstate roots and am the best Republican candidate to attract minorities, Reagan Democrats and Independent voters to the party. Last, my ability to work with all types and factions is absolutely essential to passing important reforms and creating new jobs in Illinois.

* Andy McKenna…

[Note from Rich: This was sent by McKenna’s staff, so it’s unfair to make the suggestion as some have in comments that McKenna is referring to himself in the third person.]

1. - Anon - Wednesday, Oct 28, 09 @ 11:31 am: How do you give the Republican Party a better chance than your opponents of winning in November?

A. After decades of political insiders controlling the levers of power in Springfield, Illinois, families are looking for an outsider like Andy McKenna who has the personal integrity and business background to revitalize our economy and put our house back in order.

Andy’s charitable and civic contributions prove he possesses a selfless commitment to his community and belief that everyone deserves a fair shot.

These qualities provide a credible alternative to either Democratic candidate who both represent the tax and spend ways that have dominated Springfield for far too long.

Andy is committed to reigning in out of control government spending, holding the line on taxes, growing good-paying jobs, and cleaning up the ethical mess in Springfield.

It is clear that whoever the Democratic nominee is will have to contend with the 3 issues: 1.) that they want to raise taxes; 2.) the Blagojevich factor; and 3.) the over-zealous spending that has occurred under the watch of Democrats.

If Republicans nominate a candidate for governor that is indistinguishable on these issues they will not be successful in 2010.

Andy McKenna is a true outsider who does not have ties to special interests and has the proven ability to stand up for what he believes is right and fix the mess in Springfield

* DuPage County Board President Bob Schillerstrom…

Q: What are some successes in your professional life that indicate how you will govern should you be elected?

A: I think that the most compelling reason to vote for me for Governor is the successful record that I have built as the Chairman of a county larger than six states. I’ve demonstrated over eleven years a commitment to efficient, well-run government that provides a high level of service to its residents. That stands in stark contrast to the manner in which the state of Illinois has been run.

Under my leadership, DuPage County has cut property taxes seven out of the last ten years, balanced our budget every year, maintained the highest possible bond rating- AAA, and cut wasteful spending to the point that our current proposed budget is less than it was in 2002. We have developed successful public-private partnerships to encourage job growth, expand access to healthcare and reduce the cost of prescription drugs. My record over the last decade shows that I have the skills and the will necessary to get our state back on track and provides a good indication of how I would govern if elected Governor.

Q: How do you give the Republican Party a better chance than your opponents of winning in November?

A: I agree with a number of my primary opponents that the Republican nominee must provide a stark contrast to the Democrats in order to win in November. But, I think the best way to do that is to provide a contrast in records and results. The Democrats have had absolute control of state government for the last six years and our state is a financial mess and a laughing-stock. Conversely, as Chairman of a county larger than six states I have shown that with good leadership, government can reduce spending, engage in long-range planning, cut property taxes attract good jobs and still deliver good services to its residents. I have led a fiscally conservative and responsible government for the last eleven years that stands in stark contrast to the governance of the State of Illinois or Cook County.

Secondly, I provide Republicans with a better chance of victory in November, because I am the only centrist Republican in the primary field. Over the last decade, Illinois has become more and more Democratic. We need a Republican nominee who can attract swing suburban voters who tend to be fiscally conservative but are moderates on social issues. I think that my record and my centrist views give me a better chance of attracting those key voters and winning in November.

* Sen. Bill Brady…

- ilrino - Wednesday, Oct 28, 09 @ 11:15 am: Senator Brady: Your campaign is all about not raising taxes but reviving the economy by bringing back the 700,000 jobs Illinois has lost. How do you bring back 700,000 jobs and how quickly will they be restored to revive the economy?

Ilrino, the 700,000 jobs Illinois has lost is over ten years time. Obviously, it is my goal to restore these jobs as quickly as possible. I believe the best way to do that is, by offering incentives for new businesses to come to Illinois and existing businesses to stay in Illinois.

Last week, I launched my statewide jobs tour in which I highlighted my plan to offer tax incentives to businesses — large and small — that create new jobs. Every job in Illinois generates $4,200 for the state. I will give up to half that back to a business for every new job it creates. I believe $2,100 per new job will go a long way in helping business owners, while also getting an unemployed Illinois resident back to work.

I will also expand Illinois’ EDGE tax credit to apply to payroll taxes in addition to income taxes. This will especially help new and small business owners, who typically don’t make money in their first couple years in business.

- Kang - Wednesday, Oct 28, 09 @ 4:38 pm: As Governor, will you abolish the death penalty or re-instate the death penalty? Reform or further study answers must be interpreted as dodges given that the commission’s findings and recommendations have been out there for several years now.

Kang, As Governor I will lift the death penalty moratorium put in place by former Governor George Ryan nearly a decade ago. I support the death penalty for the most heinous offenses, but will ensure adequate safeguards are in place to prevent innocent people from being put to death.

- Anon - Wednesday, Oct 28, 09 @ 11:31 am: How do you give the Republican Party a better chance than your opponents of winning in November?

Anon, Illinois needs a clean break from the Chicago-style politics and politicians of the past. As the only downstate candidate in the race for Governor, I offer that change. I am also the only candidate with both business and legislative experience. I will run Illinois like a business, balancing our budget and making sure we live within our means like Illinois families and small businesses do.

* Comptroller Dan Hynes…

1) - Justice - Wednesday, Oct 28, 09 @ 11:27 am: Give us just two examples, with detail, of how you would trim the budget to help make up for the revenue shortfall. Give us two examples of what you would do to increase revenue in the short term, and if they are tax increases will they have a sunset clause?

As Comptroller, I offered Governor Quinn numerous ideas for how we can cut waste out of government. As a candidate for Governor, I have put together a comprehensive plan to address the state’s massive budget deficit. The first step in my plan is to cut more than $1.6 billion in spending. Among the specific cuts (the entire plan is available for viewing at my website, is firing half of the Blagojevich political appointees making more than $70,000, saving roughly $100 million. Before anyone says this is a weak example, let me remind you that many of these folks have been instrumental in driving our state into the ditch we’re in, so not only is this a cost-saving measure, it’s a chance to improve performance. I am also advocating for the elimination of discretionary contracts for such things as tourism and lottery advertising, time-keeping systems, and other professional services. Collectively, these contract reductions would save the state upwards of $300 million a year. Additionally, I believe we need to scale back operations spending to 2005 levels. Now some may say, “How do you do that without reopening union contracts?” I have done it in my office. In fact, operations spending in my office is below 2001 levels and I have never reopened a union contract.

In terms of revenue enhancements, the second part of my plan includes expanding the sales tax to include luxury services; increasing the cigarette tax by $1.00 and then using those proceeds to obtain $1.5 billion bonding, which would trigger a federal match of at least $1.5 billion (I think this is the kind of strategic, long range planning that is missing at the moment); competitively bidding additional casino licenses; returning the tax on casinos to 70 percent for certain income levels; and leasing unused or dormant gaming positions to busier casinos. These things could be done immediately (as the question asked) to help address the revenue shortfall. However, the ultimate solution is to make our tax structure fairer, and the best way to do that is to implement a graduated income tax.

2) - Wumpus - Wednesday, Oct 28, 09 @ 11:49 am: 2 part question
1. Why are you good for the people of IL?

We are currently in the midst of the worst fiscal crisis in the history of Illinois and we aren’t getting the leadership we need to get out of the mess. Whether it’s careening from crisis to crisis or switching positions on key issues from one day to the next, Governor Quinn has not been a steady and consistent leader, and it’s taking its toll. I offer the people of Illinois a record of fighting for fiscal discipline, even when it means taking on leaders in my own party, and a desire and a plan for returning Illinois to prosperity.

2. What was Judy thinking?

The best I can think is that she thought, perhaps, a loss to Rod in 2006 would open the door in 2010 to the Illinois dream job: Comptroller. I wish her well, but unfortunately for her, I feel pretty good about either David or Raja carrying the torch.

…ADDING… Gov. Pat Quinn…

Illinois has seemingly abandoned economic development - specifically business attraction, entrepreneur/small business development and foreign direct investment. Also, other states are aggressively trying to get Illinois companies to move/relocate because of the Illinois business climate. What are your thoughts and/or solutions?

This recession has been tough on Illinois. Our agriculture and auto industries have been hard-hit. The economy is changing, and we must change with it if Illinois is to succeed in the worldwide competition for good jobs. Under my economic plan, Jobs and Growth for Illinois, we will go beyond infrastructure investments – important as they are – to expand Illinois’ business base and attract new investment.

Today, for example, Illinois is the sixth-leading state in exports. Since 2002, exports have represented the greatest growth segment in the Illinois economy, increasing from $25 billion to nearly $54 billion last year. We need to build on that success and invest in expansion of Illinois’ overseas markets for agricultural products, manufactured goods and services to create new jobs here at home and generate new state revenues.

Part of that strategy includes making broadband available and affordable for everyone in Illinois. It’s hard to imagine running a small business with international clients using a dial-up service. The internet opens huge worldwide opportunities to entrepreneurs in every corner of the globe, and we want to make sure that Illinois businesses aren’t left out.

My focus on creating green jobs and investing in new sources of sustainable energy will help Illinois businesses keep their energy costs low so they can invest in expansion. And because green energy is local energy, green energy jobs, by definition, cannot be exported.

To make sure we have knowledgeable business owners and skilled workers, I believe we need to invest more in community colleges, which are the gateway to the middle class. Illinois Jobs Now! includes $400 million for community colleges, which provide the technical training for young people and adult workers to find good jobs in the new economy. Going forward, we need to identify funding sources to invest even more in Illinois community college system and its students.

ADDING… Dan Proft…

In 250 words or less, what does the IL-GOP stand for?

For 30 years or more both parties have been fiscally irresponsible, what is your plan to get the state back on the road to solvency?

I am not sure what the ILGOP stands for today. But here’s what we should stand for—and who we should stand for:

What we should stand for is policy revolution in Springfield—and I mean revolution. We should offer a complete rethinking and reordering of all of the big-ticket systems in state government (Medicaid, K-12, transportation infrastructure, pensions), not a single one of which is financially sustainable in current form and not a single one of which who serves the people who play by the rules in Illinois—the folks that pay the bills but get gamed by a system that provides very little in return in terms of services or benefits.

Which leads to our second task: defining our constituency and then serving that constituency. The Democrats have clearly defined their constituency: public sector unions, trial lawyers. And they have demonstrated the willingness to do whatever it takes to serve that constituency and finance it.

As I alluded to above, our constituency must be people who play by the rules in Illinois.

I am speaking of those who budgeted for the home they bought and pay their mortgage on time but are still on the hook to finance the irresponsible actions of others.

I am speaking of those who have seen their 401Ks take significant hits and yet are still responsible to finance multiple public pensions for the politically connected.

I am speaking of the small businesses with less than 100 employees who create 95% of the jobs in Illinois and who don’t get bailed out when they make a bad strategic decision or suffer bad luck in the marketplace.

I am speaking of those families who told their children to take their scholastics seriously so they could get into a quality state university that mom and dad could afford and instead have been subject to a system that provides admission to those with superior clout over those with superior academic records.

Democrats speak in the parlance of “shared sacrifice”. Republicans must argue, as I have, that people who play by the rules in Illinois have sacrificed more than their fair share only to be scammed in return. Republicans must speak be conversant in the language of “expanded opportunity” both to re-establish the party’s brand and to re-establish the state’s fiscal sustainability:

We must cut taxes and impose statutory spending caps to expand opportunity for entrepreneurs; to reward work and investment; and to restrain the public sector from crowding our private sector capital formation and job creation.

We must end the discrimination of children based on their household income and their address when it comes to the quality of schools they can access. If we change how the money flows and change who gets to make spending decisions, we can expand opportunity for the children of low-income families to earn the kind of quality education that sets them on the path to be successful, independent adults. What if the ILGOP was willing to tie its electoral fortunes to the aspirations low-income families have for their children based on the quality of schooling they were able to obtain? That would be a party with a value proposition. That would be a party that we could be proud of. That would be a party that could be the majority party in Illinois again.

We must connect Medicaid-eligible Illinoisans (1.7 million in total) to health care providers. If we created premium assistance programs that provide low-income folks with the opportunity to purchase health insurance in the private marketplace and empower them to manage their health care decisions like anyone else, we would improve the quality of care Medicaid recipients receive while instituting cost-containment incentives that respect Illinois taxpayers who finance they system.

The time for tinkering on the margins in state government has long since passed. If we are serious about reforming state government and making Illinois a vibrant, growth state again we must: (1) drastically alter the tax/spend/borrow policies that drive our economic climate and drive the cost structure we present to business; and (2) we must offer a specific policy vision that rethinks the incentives provided and the obligations imposed by the big-ticket systems in state government so that those systems produce outputs that demonstrably improve the quality of life for Illinois residents.

* The Question: How would you rate their responses?


Morning campaign roundup

Thursday, Oct 29, 2009 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Mark Kirk is airing radio ads

U.S. Rep. Mark Kirk of Highland Park has started running radio ads touting his opposition to Obama’s push for government-run public health insurance as part of his health care reform measure. Kirk has been attempting to win back Republicans who have been upset with his occasional votes that go more along Democratic lines.

* Kirk’s not only bashing the health insurance proposal, he’s also whacking the GM bailout

Citing revelations that taxpayers have lost nearly half of the $49 billion government bailout of General Motors (GM), U.S. Representative Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) and 19 colleagues will send a letter to President Obama today calling for more accountability of taxpayer funds.

“Despite this Administration’s pledge of transparency, the terms of the ‘Bridge Loan to Nowhere’ remain secret,” the lawmakers wrote. “Taxpayers are in the dark on the basic details of the taxpayers’ money at GM.”

Good primary fodder, questionable general election material.

…Adding… From the DSCC…

“Mark Kirk continues to show that he is willing to put politics ahead of helping the people of Illinois, and that he is solely worried about covering his political bases and pandering to the right-wing” said Kathleen Strand, Senior Advisor to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. “All evidence shows that Americans want health care reform, but all Kirk is offering them is the same old political games that people have gotten fed up with. The next Senator from Illinois will be someone willing to stand up for Illinois families, not a flip-flopping Washington insider who is only looking out for number one.”

* Gov. Pat Quinn responds to an Andy McKenna line that the accidental guv is “Rod Blagojevich with a little bit less hair“…

“I think the people of Illinois know I’ve been here nine months,” he said. “It’s serious. This is not a joke. … There’ll be a lot of name-calling in politics. I don’t particularly get into that. … I don’t call people names.”

But how about the time he referred to his main opponent in the 2010 Democratic Primary for governor, Comptroller Dan Hynes, as one of the “ankle-biters over on the sidelines?”

“I didn’t call anybody a name,” Quinn said. “I just said there are ankle-biters out there, and if the shoe fits, wear it.”

To which Hynes spokesman Matt McGrath later replied: “Dan doesn’t think the families that are struggling in this economy and across the state are worried one bit about the name-calling between the people running for office. So we keep that in mind whenever we hear whatever new, bizarre name the governor calls Dan.”

“I know you are, but what am I?”

You ever get the feeling that these two guys really don’t like each other?

* Hinz gently mocks Andy McKenna’s claim of oustider status…

I’m not sure I buy the underlying message, that McKenna’s “the outsider who can hold government accountable.” Someone who has served for years as chairman of the Illinois Republican Party isn’t an outsider, no matter what he says.

* Chuck Sweeny boosts Jim Ryan…

On his Web site, Ryan features an “image” commercial from his 2002 campaign. It says, “He’s faced his share of challenges. Some he could prepare for, some he couldn’t. But he never quit, and he never let us down. A man of integrity and strength, a governor who will make us proud.”

If I were Dan Curry, Ryan’s campaign consultant, I’d run that commercial again. I’d label it “2002” and add these words: “Remember what could have been? It still could be. Jim Ryan for governor.”

* Democratic US Senate candidate David Hoffman has revamped his website and included a Twitter feed at the bottom. The feed appears to include tweets about Hoffman from anybody, so one can’t help but wonder if this feature might eventually be “invaded” by rivals. [Hat tip: Progress Illinois.]

* I’m not quite sure what this means because her campaign just started

Austin Weekly News asked, “Are you sick and tired of questions that are asked of you as a black woman that are not posed to other candidates?”

“You know it’s because I’m different,” she replied, “and it’s OK. People have lots of questions about things that are different, and I don’t mind being different. If being different means that I understand people’s problems better, then that’s OK, they can ask those questions. If being different means that I know having a special insight and perspective of problems facing people today, like joblessness, fighting to keep the doors open in small businesses, fighting to access to health care, foreclosures, veterans who have been overlooked and forgotten about, then that is OK. I’ll accept those questions and answer them every time.”

* More talk about diversity in the US Senate…

A Chicago lawyer who was in line Monday morning to file his own petitions for the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate is not shy about that fact that if elected, he would be the only openly gay member of the upper chamber of Congress.

“I think Illinois is ready for it,” said Jacob Meister, 44, a Milwaukee native who has spent most of his adult life in Chicago.

His spokeswoman, Karen Craven, had mentioned Meister’s sexual orientation in the past, and when I asked him about it, he made it clear that it is just part of who he is.

“I have brown hair, I have four siblings, and I happen to be gay,” he said.

* Related…

* Essence Magazine names Cheryle Jackson an emerging leader for 2010

* Fund-raising precedes filing period


Statehouse roundup

Thursday, Oct 29, 2009 - Posted by Rich Miller

* I didn’t realize it when I wrote the subscriber edition, but around midnight last night this provision was removed from the cemetery regulation bill

Strict new regulations would be placed on most Illinois cemeteries following the Burr Oak Cemetery scandal under legislation a House panel approved [yesterday] following heavy debate from Catholic officials. […]

Robert Gilligan, executive director of the Catholic Conference of Illinois, testified in opposition. Among other things, the legislation appears to be written so strictly that even the cardinal of the archdiocese of Chicago would need to get a license, he said.

Gilligan and Roman Szabelski, the executive director of Catholic Cemeteries appointed to oversee Burr Oak at the height of the scandal last summer, said they hoped changes could be made before lawmakers vote again on the issue.

Szabelski said he oversees 2.4 million graves and that data on the burials that would meet the legislation’s standards are only about 60 percent completed. They suggested a deadline for compliance for all records would be difficult and costly to meet within only a few months.

Those provisions were seen as a poison pill designed to kill the legislation, but they were taken out of the measure late last night.

* Meanwhile, the sponsor of a controversial bill has doubts that it can pass this time around…

One of the sponsors of a bill that would create sales tax revenue bonds in Illinois is not sure whether it can be passed at this point in the General Assembly.

Rep. Tom Holbrook, D-Belleville, said he and other supporters of bringing STAR bonds to the state were negotiating with Gov. Pat Quinn’s office Wednesday and will continue through the end of the veto session Friday. […]

Holbrook said Wednesday that if the measure passes during the current session, it will be as an entirely new bill. He said he expects to know for sure by today.

“We think there is an opportunity for this to be a huge economic development tool, but we’re not sure it will be,” Holbrook said.

* Sen. James Meeks (D-Chicago) says he’s now open to far more drastic school reform ideas

We must also decide whether Mayor Daley should continue to preside over the Chicago schools. Since he assumed control of the district in 1995, the Blackhawks have had nine coaches, the Bulls have had eight coaches, the Cubs have had five managers and the White Sox have had three managers.

For the first time in my personal and political career, I am exploring the idea of vouchers and charter schools to help facilitate choice and enhance academic performance. Why should we continue to make investments in a system that is bankrupt and weighed down with bureaucracy?

We must begin making decisions that are in the best interest of children, such as mandatory teacher evaluations. Since the will to change the system is nonexistent, we should allow students the flexibility to attend schools outside their district. What once worked before, such as the local school councils, may have run its course in today’s competitive environment.

They say the definition of insanity is to do the same thing over and over again and expect different results. We can no longer afford to have the blood of every child on our hands.

* In other Statehouse news

The state house executive committee [yesterday] decided, unanimously and without debate, to roll back the controversial senior free ride program so it only applies to low-income seniors. according to Diane Palmer, spokeswoman for the Regional Transportation Authority.

Other committee action

–Change to three-fifths the number of Cook County commissioners it would take to override the board president’s veto. Currently, a four-fifths vote is required. That margin has helped board President Todd Stroger fight off attempts to repeal his sales tax increase. It’s now before the full Senate.

–Require prison time for gang members caught on the streets with a loaded weapon. The action gave Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez and Chicago Police Superintendent Jody Weis a victory because current law allows for probation. Last summer, a gang member on probation in such a case allegedly shot and killed Chicago police Officer Alejandro Valadez. The bill goes to the full Senate.

* Related…

* Lawmakers reconsider free rides for seniors

* Free bus rides for all seniors could end

* Quinn touts new lottery game that helps veterans


Explaining “primary only” caps

Thursday, Oct 29, 2009 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Patterson talks to a legislator who explains why capping contributions in primaries and not general elections isn’t such a horrible move

If the idea is to make lawmakers more independent (and thereby more ethical), this key member said, then the target should be the primary, not the general. Here’s why:

Legislative leaders don’t want to lose seats on their respective sides of the aisles. So they’re not going to stop helping “their” candidates in the fall elections. What they might be inclined to do is go find a new candidate and write that candidate a blank check in the primary to replace a lawmaker who’s fallen out of favor. The leader keeps the seat and gets a loyal rookie.

The “reform” theory behind the primary caps is that if lawmakers know legislative leaders can’t easily punish them by running primary challengers, they might be more willing to stand up to leaders and vote more independently.

The problem this is likely to face in many media and political circles is that it’s unlikely to do anything to control the skyrocketing costs of general election campaigns.

The GA can’t do much to control the cost of general election campaigns. Mail houses, TV and radio outlets, etc. can’t be forced to lower their prices. Also, the media has been screaming for “reform” based on a whole lot of faulty assumptions. I’ve said here more than once that the Democratic leaders ought to just go ahead and cap themselves in all elections, but they are mightily resisting that idea and don’t appear ready to budge.

But the “primary only” cap idea does make a certain sense. A general rule of thumb is that only about ten or fifteen percent of seats are hotly challenged in fall campaigns. Most who win those races are under such intense scrutiny (because the winners are usually challenged in the next election) that it’s difficult to immediately become a party hack - they often deliberately vote against their own leaders’ positions in order to build credibility back home. Meanwhile, everybody else has a pretty safe seat, at least based on partisan breakdowns. The election that most members truly fear is the primary.

* The Tribune is not impressed with that logic and runs an editorial today entitled “Don’t call this ‘reform’“…

To appease the watchdog groups who insist on capping campaign contributions, lawmakers have offered to limit party spending in primaries, where they generally spend very little money anyway.

This might qualify as compromise, but it’s not reform.

The paper does open the door to an alternative which is gaining some favor at the Statehouse…

It only underscores the folly of trying to limit campaign contributions. Every set of rules creates a different set of winners and losers and a different set of loopholes for politicians to navigate around. The public interest is best served not by capping contributions, but by enforcing strict disclosure laws to ensure the money changes hands in broad daylight.

Near-immediate online disclosure of almost all contributions might wind up in the bill and caps stripped out, but the odds appear to be against it at this moment.

* Related…

* Bill Holland warns: Illinois needs better accountability: “Before I can even get to do the audits, there are hundreds of people over a multitude of agencies that have to supply the information,” Holland said. “It’s a cumbersome process, and our technology needs to be upgraded significantly.”

* University of Illinois: No-clout rules get their first test


High-paid driver did no work

Thursday, Oct 29, 2009 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Uh-oh

The Illinois Department of Human Services says it has no evidence that a highly paid ex-employee did any work other than acting as chauffeur to the department’s former secretary, Carol Adams.

That contradicts earlier claims by Adams, who was recently appointed by Gov. Pat Quinn to an international trade post.

When lawmakers questioned her about the matter two years ago, she said her driver had many other duties. However, she refused to prove it by releasing examples of his other work, claiming the documents were not public.

Now, after another request from The Associated Press, Adams’ agency says it can find no documents indicating Eugene Davis did anything but drive.

Davis made $84,600 a year at DHS to simply drive Adams around. Adams refused to turn over information about his actual duties to the AP when Rod Blagojevich was in office, even claiming at one point that the attorney general agreed with her reasoning. That was not the case, however. Adams has now been appointed by Gov. Quinn as trade ambassador to Africa. Quinn claimed that she was an “expert” on the continent, but most saw this as a move to give Adams a soft landing rather than an outright dismissal, which would’ve upset some legislators.

Quinn refused to answer questions about the new revelations yesterday. He also wouldn’t say whether he had evaluated her performance at DHS before appointing her to the trade post.

* In other Quinn news, the governor is speaking tonight at the annual Shriver Center Awards Dinner. David Axelrod will also speak.


Morning Shorts

Thursday, Oct 29, 2009 - Posted by Mike Murray

* Aldermen accuse Daley of mortgaging Chicago’s future

Mayor Daley was accused Wednesday of mortgaging Chicago’s future by draining reserves that were supposed to carry the city for decades to solve two short-term political needs: freezing taxes and averting a property tax revolt.

* Daley aide, aldermen clash over delay of blue-cart recycling program

Mayor’s office says program can’t expand because of tight budget

* Cook, DuPage County hazardous waste collection days to be cut

Budget constraints leave disposal in residents’ hands

* Study slaps Cook County over lax approach to suits

* City inspector charged with receiving bribe

Allegedly took payoff to overlook asbestos

* Proposed deal to demolish Bensenville homes near O’Hare

Bensenville has proposed a settlement to allow Chicago to demolish more than 500 houses and businesses to expand O’Hare Airport.

* Police shortage a growing problem

Chicago nearly 2,000 shy of authorized 13,500

* Daley, aldermen suggest Chicago police officers, firefighters take unpaid days off

* Police review board urged to give reasons for decisions

* Cicero employee who filed lawsuit against town president is fired

* Schools hit hard by swine flu

* Flu: Fact and fiction

* Parents wanting to ‘build’ kids’ immune systems have experts worried

* UniCare to stop selling health insurance in state

Blue Cross offers replacement coverage

* Court accepts barbecue chicken instead of community service

Judge in hot water after unusual deal

* Now you can have beer in the shower


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Thursday, Oct 29, 2009 - Posted by Rich Miller

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