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Not so “minimal”

Monday, Nov 30, 2009

* The other day, Alexi Giannoulias tried to explain what happened to his inheritance

llinois Treasurer and U.S. Senate hopeful Alexi Giannoulias said Tuesday that a “minimal” amount of the $70 million he and his siblings received in 2007 and 2008 dividends from Broadway Bank, the troubled Chicago lender the family owns, actually went to them individually.

That was obviously not the greatest choice of words, since he alone received $2.5 million before taxes.

So, rival Democratic US Senate candidate David Hoffman has responded with a “people in the street” video. The beginning is horribly dull and badly done, but it gets better about 15 seconds in. Watch it


Ouch.

However, just to be clear, Giannoulias got to keep “only” $1.5 mil from that pile. As I already told you, the rest went for taxes.

…Adding… A minor point, but it appears that the video’s voice-over setup asks a different question than the “regular” people were asked. “What could people in Illinois do with $2.5 million?” appears to be the actual question, but the video claims it was: “What would two and a half million dollars mean for you and your family?” Again, no big deal, but the answers seem a tad bit confusing without that context.

* In other news

U.S. Senate candidate Cheryle Jackson has garnered the support of more than a dozen black pastors and church officials whose congregations have thousands of members.

Jackson said Monday the ministers from Chicago and the suburbs are organizing pastors downstate to support her campaign.

From Jackson’s press release…

The group based its endorsement on Jackson’s experience fighting for jobs, education and health care. Jackson repeated her call to begin bringing troops and resources home from Iraq and Afghanistan.

In attendance at the news conference were Dr. Brazier, Pastor Tyson, Pastor Gray, Bishop Tridestone, Pastor Drummons, Rev. Johnson Jr., Rev. Redwell, Rev. Harrison Sr., Rev. Turner, Rev. Greer, Rev. A Richardson, Pastor Andrews, Rev Michael Eaddy, Apostle Sylvester Brinson III, Jerry Harris and Mickarl D Thomas.

* Former governor/AG candidate John Schmidt has endorsed Dan Hynes. From a fundraising e-mail…

I don’t find it easy to oppose an incumbent Governor of my own party. But I have come to the conclusion - one that I find is shared by many others - that the incumbent is simply not capable of governing competently and effectively.

As Democrats, we have a profound obligation not to give our state another failed Governor. As citizens, setting aside any consideration of party, we have an obligation to do everything we can to elect a Governor who will govern competently and effectively at a time of enormous challenge to our state.

* And Mark Kirk is whacked again

GOP Rep Mark Kirk, who’s running for Senate and facing a primary challenge from the right, is now claiming that if health care reform passes, it “could become law” for the government to deny coverage for mammograms.

Kirk’s Senate campaign is out with a new email that is presented as a questionnaire, asking: “Could the Government Deny Mammogram Coverage?”

- Posted by Rich Miller   31 Comments      


*** UPDATED x 3 *** Dillard up with Fox News cable/Network TV ad and some other campaign news

Monday, Nov 30, 2009

* Republican gubernatorial candidate Kirk Dillard has a new cable TV ad which features former Gov. Jim Edgar. Rate it


It’s a $50,000 buy on Fox News for the week. The ad will be running throughout the day and evening on the cable channel.

*** UPDATE 2 *** As some commenters have pointed out, there’s more to the buy than just Fox News. But just barely. From my usual industry insider…

* Dillard booked a total of 95k statewide - broadcast and cable

* Markets - Champaign - cable only 4k total

Chicago- booked 50k on cable and 10k on broadcast

Paducah booked 5k broadcast no cable

Peoria- 19k broadcast, 3k cable

Rockford- 3,500 on cable only no broadcast

This is a very light broadcast buy, to say the least.

*** UPDATE 3 *** A pal with the Dillard campaign says Champaign network (WCIA) was bought this week.

[ *** End of Updates *** ]

* Meanwhile, in other political news, Adam Andrzejewski says he’s on a “fact-finding mission to Poland” with his dad

I’m currently visiting the Republic of Poland as part of an economic and political fact-finding mission. My four day mission trip will include both official and familial appointments. The goal of the mission is to discover how the State of Illinois can improve its economic and cultural relationship with the Republic of Poland in order to promote job growth, economic vitality, and increased international trade between the two.

* Adlai Stevenson has endorsed Justin Oberman for state treasurer and Oberman is featuring Stevenson in a new radio ad. I’ll have the audio during the lunch hour, so watch for an update. For now, here’s the script…

Your state treasurer can be a big help in these troubled times—from improving state finances to creating new jobs. I know, because I served as state treasurer before you elected me senator.

I’m Adlai Stevenson and I’m grateful for your past support. But now I want to tell you about an outstanding candidate with a strong professional background and great plans for the treasurer’s office—including job creation.

Justin Oberman served our country in transportation and homeland security, managing a large staff and budget. He now runs his own financial firm helping green companies grow. His qualifications are unmatched for managing the treasurer’s office and investing state funds wisely. But he can also bring private investment back to Illinois, which will mean more new jobs.

I urge you to support Justin Oberman for State Treasurer in the Democratic primary.

Justin: Thank you for your support. Paid for by Oberman for Illinois.

Stevenson: It’s a new generation, but the name Oberman still means reform.

UPDATE 1: Click here to listen to the radio ad.

* Remember when Dorothy Brown’s spokesperson dissed Todd Stroger’s nominating petitions a few weeks ago?

“It was just ridiculous. It was chicken scratch, it was scribble-scrabble. It didn’t look well at all. It looked obviously fake and false,” said Brown spokeswoman Lily Kim.

Well, Brown recently dropped her challenge, but her own petitions are still being challenged

The electoral board will continue its review of additional allegations including invalid signatures, irregularities and forgeries in Brown’s documents on Thursday.

* And a little-known Republican candidate explains why he took a Democratic ballot last year after rumors circulated that he’s a Democratic plant…

In 2008, I joined over 100,000 Republicans in Ohio, 119,000 in Texas, and 38,000 in Mississippi who voted for Hillary Clinton to put Republicans in the best position to win in the general election.

* More campaign stuff…

* Candidates take advantage of e-campaigning

* Republican candidates for governor weigh in on gambling to help state budget

* Political ‘Loyalty Oath’ Remains Popular in Elections

* Kane Dems endorse Quinn

* Kirk gets Schock’s endorsement for US Senate bid

* Governor race has a decidedly DuPage feel to it

* Candidates open wallets for Republican fundraiser

* Bernard Schoenburg: Hynes not conceding votes of veterans

* Bird formally out of 10th Congressional District race

* The Flipside to Uncontested Green Primaries

- Posted by Rich Miller   56 Comments      


Question of the day

Monday, Nov 30, 2009

* Treasurer and Democratic US Senate hopeful Alexi Giannoulias released his tax returns last week

The first-term treasurer has been criticized by Democratic Senate opponent David Hoffman for large Broadway Bank payouts to him and his family.

In all, there were $70 million in payouts in 2007 and 2008. Giannoulias’ campaign said the payouts were was triggered by the 2006 death of Giannoulias’ father, Alexis, who founded Broadway Bank. His will called for estate and income taxes to be paid for with dividend payments from the sale of Broadway shares, the campaign said.

Alexi Giannoulias’ portion of those payouts totaled $2.5 million — $1 million of which he has said went to pay income taxes. The campaign has noted that Alexi Giannoulias didn’t have a say in whether to sell the shares because he divested himself of his voting shares when he was elected treasurer.

GOP gubernatorial candidate Bob Schillerstrom says he won’t release his returns

“I feel strongly about full disclosure in government, but I do not believe posting my personal tax returns, or the tax returns of the other candidates for governor, would further the public interest in any tangible way. I have yet to hear anyone make a compelling argument how this would benefit voters,” he replied to an Associated Press questionnaire.

Bill Brady released his returns the last time he ran for governor, but won’t this time. Green Party gubernatorial candidate Rich Whitney also refuses…

“It’s time to stop looking at trendy gimmicks as a pathway to clean government, and time to look at the real public policies needed to establish it,” Whitney said.

* The Question: Do you think it’s important for candidates to release their tax returns? Explain.

- Posted by Rich Miller   26 Comments      


Get your mind outta the Beltway, dude

Monday, Nov 30, 2009

* My latest Sun-Times column talked about Congressman Kirk’s rightward lurch and what it may mean

I try hard not to hate. Hating is bad for your health. Plus, the holiday season has officially begun, so hating should be put off until at least after New Year’s Day.

But I have to admit that I absolutely hate the infantile, ear-splitting, hyperpartisan politics that emanates from our nation’s capital.

So, I probably should’ve known better when Republican Rep. Mark Kirk announced his bid for the U.S. Senate.

Soon afterwards, a national Democratic operative called to see what I thought about Kirk’s chances. I told her that Kirk would probably be a lock.

As a liberal Republican on issues such as gun control, abortion and gay rights, and as a strong voice within his party for paying attention to the needs and wants of suburbia, he fit the ideal Illinois profile.

One of the biggest problems that Republicans have had in this state, I explained, is that their nationally conservative party has scared the living daylights out of suburban women, who tend toward liberalism on guns and abortion and are more open to discussing gay rights. Without those votes, the statewide math doesn’t add up. You just can’t win without them, as the extraordinary Democratic surge in suburbia over the past decade or so clearly has shown.

Not only that, I told the operative, but the Chicago media tends to dote on socially liberal Republicans. No way, I said, would the city’s media turn on Mark Kirk.

The flaw in my argument was that I failed to take into account Kirk’s long exposure to DC-itis, first as a staffer and then as an elected official.

After initially citing strong national security concerns as a reason why he voted for the “cap and trade” energy bill in the U.S. House, Kirk flip-flopped almost immediately after he announced for Senate and blamed his vote on his congressional district’s liberal bent. Why? Because his party’s right wing viscerally opposes the legislation and it has become a touchstone issue, so he abandoned principle for party.

Then, Kirk reached out to former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, who is way more unpopular with women than she is with men, but is the darling of his party’s far right.

And if that weren’t enough, Kirk’s head all but exploded along party lines when the Obama administration announced that it wanted to buy a state prison and transfer in terrorist detainees currently held at Guantanamo Bay.

Kirk’s over the top, hyperbolic, error-riddled, extremely partisan fear tantrum finally tipped the media against him. Just about every significant newspaper in Illinois, including this one, which endorsed Kirk’s re-election last year, mocked Kirk’s meltdown and severely chastised him for needless and baseless fear-mongering.

The general election is 11 months away, and the Republican primary is Feb. 2, so I figure Kirk will lurch back leftward sooner or later. Maybe that’ll be enough to regain his mojo with the media. Reporters and editorial writers could just chalk up his recent rhetoric to standard-issue politics and move on.

But I think there’s more at work here than just the usual rightward drift during a Republican primary. Kirk is clearly showing that he’s far too susceptible to our disgusting and mindless national political wars, which endlessly play out on those idiotic cable TV “news” channels. And all this makes me question how Kirk would behave if he were elected next November.

Somehow, Kirk needs to forget the stupid and divisive D.C. wars and find his own center and stick with it. Maybe some holiday introspection is in order.

* Related…

* Governor takes first step to close and sell Thomson prison to feds: In documents filed with a legislative review panel, Quinn’s prison chief outlined why the administration thinks selling the facility to the federal government to house prisoners from the terrorist detention camp at Guantanamo Bay makes sense.

* Editorial: Get politics out of discussion about Thomson prison: But in the simmering atmosphere of a young election campaign, discussion appears to be the last thing Cross or any other political leader really wants. Partisan battle lines were drawn virtually the moment it was proposed to shift more than 100 Guantanamo Bay detainees to the underused prison in tiny Thomson, and the only talk either side appeared to want to engage in was to show how far it could puff out its chest.

* Lawmaker wants debate on housing Gitmo detainees in Illinois

* Illinois House Republicans call for slowdown on fast-paced Thomson prison deal: Steve Brown, Madigan’s spokesman, said today that holding hearings would be unproductive until there is a firm proposal from the federal government and an action plan from Quinn. But Brown said watching Republicans “flip-flopping” on whether to oppose or support the Thomson site has been “entertaining.”

* Lawmaker pushes to fast-track hearings on ‘Illinois Gitmo’ plan

* Quinn leaves port board hanging: Selling the state prison in Thomson to the federal government could bring jobs to northwestern Illinois, but officials in the region also are gearing up to launch what someday could become a major development along the Mississippi River.

* Irony alive and well in Illinois: Gov. Pat Quinn’s push to sell the mostly vacant maximum-security prison in Thomson to the federal government has not only generated controversy among Republicans, but it is riddled with irony.

* Congressman Has More Concerns About Thomson Prison Proposal

- Posted by Rich Miller   56 Comments      


Things that make you go “Hmmm….”

Monday, Nov 30, 2009

* Republican gubernatorial candidate Jim Ryan can’t shake ties to corrupt player Stu Levine. The Sun-Times take a look at some contributions to Ryan’s last gubernatorial campaign while Levine was the finance director. The contributions seem curiously timed to some investment votes by the Teachers Retirement System, on which Levine served. The story relies heavily on Levine’s testimony at Tony Rezko’s trial

When his testimony turned to the teachers’ pension fund, Levine told jurors he helped one firm — the John Buck Co. — win a deal to manage $100 million of real estate investment money for the fund.

Levine also testified he helped a second investment firm — Walton Street Capital — get a deal with the teachers’ pension fund to handle another $75 million.

The TRS approved the investments on Oct. 29, 2002 - just before the November election. And here’s the contribution timeline…

• On Oct. 1 — 28 days before the TRS board meeting — six employees of Bluhm’s Walton Street Capital and one from another Bluhm company gave a total of $33,500 to Citizens for Jim Ryan.

• On Oct. 11 — 18 days before the meeting — the John Buck Co. contributed $35,000 to Ryan and spent another $2,000 to host a Ryan fund-raiser at the Union League Club of Chicago.

Everybody denies a quid pro quo and Ryan’s campaign won’t give back the money.

* A challenge to state Rep. Deb Mell’s petitions was dismissed last week by Chicago Board of Elections hearing officer Barbara Goodman. From the transcript

I find nothing in the Election Code that tells me that a candidate has to be a registered voter at all….I think we all agreed that the petition signers have to be registered voters at the addresses shown on their petitions, and I have a hard time understanding the logic used to require candidates to have a lesser connection to the voting process than petition signers. But there it is….However troubling I find this issue….I believe I’m compelled to grant the motion to dismiss.

Strange. Mell’s opponent is appealing, of course.

* And this is just plain bizarre

The chief of staff for a state social service agency has left her job after allegedly using her state-issued phone to harass another woman because the two had a relationship with the same man.

Champaign County authorities also said Tamara T. Hoffman boasted of her position in state government in the threats to the Rantoul woman, threatened a police officer when he contacted her and posted photos of herself and the man holding guns on a social networking Web site belonging to the alleged victim’s daughter. […]

Rietz said Hoffman began repeatedly calling the Rantoul woman about Aug. 14. One threat, according to Rietz, began with an expletive and continued, “If you see him again, something bad is going to happen to you. I work for the State of Illinois, and you don’t know who you’re messing with.” […]

When a Rantoul police officer called Hoffman, Rietz said, Hoffman threatened him with unspecified retaliation from “investigators in the Illinois State Police.”

Wow.

* But if you really want to get your weird on today, take a look at a short piece of fiction in New York Magazine’s latest issue, entitled: “The King of Mop - Blago in Vegas, looking to make a deal with Michael Jackson’s father”…

Threading through the Venetian, Rod cast an appreciative gaze at the painstakingly painted murals of Italian skyline, while gondoliers poled between linen-laid tables. Some folks pilloried Las Vegas for being fake, but they didn’t get it—the power and the glory of façade. It never rained in this dive, and its sun never set.

* Related…

* Anti-corruption law: Supreme Court decision could derail ex-Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s trial - Justices are asked to scale back or strike down prosecutors’ key tool for public corruption cases

* Still time to boot Blagojevich leftovers

- Posted by Rich Miller   33 Comments      


Fixing a hole in the ocean

Monday, Nov 30, 2009

* Economists from the University of Illinois’ Institute of Government and Public Affairs say Illinois needs to increase taxes

With a roughly $11 billion budget gap of its own, Illinois can only duck a similar meltdown by raising taxes, says Daniel McMillen, an economist with the U. of I. Institute of Government and Public Affairs who co-wrote an analysis of the state’s fiscal crisis for an upcoming report on critical issues facing Illinois.

“In the end, I think we have to face up to the fact that Illinois has to have higher taxes,” he said. “Budget cuts can’t close a gap this wide and worsening. It’s just not possible with major expenses like pension and Medicaid obligations that you simply can’t reduce.”

The economists want a 50 percent increase in the income tax and a new tax on services. Combined, the tax hikes would bring in $11 billion a year…

McMillen says tax increases are long overdue in Illinois, where budget shortfalls have been mounting for nearly a decade.

“It really should have been done 10 years ago, when the economy wasn’t in bad shape,” he said. “But even though the recession is a bad time to raise taxes, I still think they need to do it right away.”

* And my syndicated newspaper column looks at the deficit within a political framework

Four years ago during the last Republican gubernatorial primary, dairy magnate Jim Oberweis was sharply and widely criticized for running false newspaper headlines in his TV ads. Now, it’s happening again with a different wealthy gubernatorial hopeful.

Republican Andy McKenna’s latest TV ad stays with his original theme of former Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s hair.

The spot begins the same as his first ad, with a visual of a Blagojevich-like wig on top of the Statehouse and a Blagojevich look-alike walking into the shot. McKenna’s first TV ad placed the wig on several previous governors, including George Ryan and Dan Walker, as well as on a baby. The hair is supposed to be a metaphor for the state’s history of corruption.

The McKenna ad’s announcer then claims the state faces an $11 billion deficit while “Governor Quinn hides the truth.” The accompanying visual is the phrase: “Quinn hides the truth” and a reference to a Nov. 18 Chicago Tribune article.

Trouble is, the Tribune published no such article with that headline. The article itself is about a contentious public debate between Gov. Pat Quinn and his Democratic primary rival Dan Hynes, but nowhere in the article does Hynes accuse Quinn of “hiding” anything.

The McKenna campaign claims the reference is to the governor’s statement that day that his administration has had many “missions accomplished” during his first year in office. The Tribune reporters questioned the political smarts of parroting one of former President George W. Bush’s more infamous quotes, but the McKenna people say Quinn’s line “hides the truth” about what’s really happening in Illinois.

Obviously, that’s more than a little bit of a stretch.

It’s not like Quinn has hidden the grim realities about the state’s crippling budget deficit or the need for a tax hike. Considering that most Illinois politicians want to sweep this budget and tax problem under the rug until after the election, Quinn’s been downright honest about the whole thing.

If anything, it’s people such as McKenna who are “hiding the truth.” McKenna and the rest of the Republican candidates know full well that there’s no way to balance the state budget with cuts alone. The deficit is almost half of the budget, for crying out loud.

Here’s the “truth:” Most of the budget is education and health care. So, unless you want to cut most of the $8 billion in state kindergarten to grade 12 spending (which would just necessitate insanely high local property taxes) and kick tens and tens of thousands of children and poor people off of Medicaid, dump the mentally ill into the streets and then quit doing the other things that the state does, like patrol the highways, you can forget about balancing the budget.

Yet to hear McKenna and the other GOP candidates talk, all that’s really required is a nip here and a tuck there. Ridiculous.

Anyway, back to McKenna’s TV ad. You’d think he’d be more cautious about making up headlines, but he’s using an out-of-state media consultant who probably doesn’t know about the 2006 Oberweis fake headline blowup.

A Washington Post columnist claimed last week that McKenna’s “hair” ads are the best he’s seen this year, but the ads have yet to move McKenna past his rivals - probably because while they’re visually striking, it’s tough for most viewers to remember that the ads are for candidate McKenna. The spots have attracted plenty of media attention, however, and probably have been the subject of quite a few water cooler discussions.

McKenna is likely to stick with this “hair” visual throughout the primary, so people eventually may associate his name with the hair spot, although that may not work all that well, either.

McKenna, for one, has a nice head of hair himself. And associating such a strong negative image so closely with a candidate could be dangerous. McKenna could become the “hair guy,” and because “the hair” is portrayed as such a strong negative, that’s a risky proposition with low-information voters.

It’s also unclear how this negative ad will fare as we move into the holiday advertising season. Usually candidates try to avoid negativity starting about Thanksgiving because viewers easily can be turned off by a negative tone during the holiday season.

False and counterproductive. But, other than that, it’s a good ad.

* Related…

* State finances floundering, but bankruptcy isn’t answer

* More commissions, spending won’t fix state’s woes

- Posted by Rich Miller   51 Comments      


Morning Shorts

Monday, Nov 30, 2009

* Quinn signs bill to protect telephone consumers

* Quinn approves 133 clemency petitions

* State sends more funds to help heat homes

About 2,000 more local houses will get aid with $1.3M boost to program.

* Quinn Expects Sales Tax Veto Overthrown

* Chicago budget: Aldermen focus on ward issues rather than $370 million plan to dig deep into parking-meter reserves

City Council poised to vote Wednesday on Mayor Richard Daley’s new $6.1 billion spending blueprint […]

Austin said Daley’s budget proposal headed off more contentious budget hearings because this year he’s sparing aldermen the politically unpalatable task of voting on tax or fee increases.

Instead, Daley is relying on $370 million from the parking meter lease — far more than he initially planned to use when he persuaded aldermen to quickly approve the deal just days after it was unveiled in December 2008 — to fill a $550 million hole.

* Experts have beef with Daley on TIF

1. “Most TIF Funds don’t generate any money,” Daley said.

Wrong. Figures from the Cook County Clerk’s office show the funds brought in $495 million in 2008, the last latest year for which figures are available. “They generate a lot of property tax revenue — a substantial number of dollars in total,” said Woods Bowman, professor of public service management at DePaul University.

2. “Most TIF funds are used for schools, parks, libraries, ex-offender programs, job training, economic development to keep jobs here,” Daley said.

Wrong on everything but economic development.

* Highest-taxed homes? Take a gander at Sheridan Road

* New area code rings up unexpected charges for some condo boards

* Economy blamed for drop in Catholic school enrollment

The number of elementary and secondary students in the system — which includes 255 schools in Cook and Lake counties — dropped by roughly 4.5 percent this year, or 4,158 kids, figures show.[…]

“The schools conduct interviews with families as to why they’re leaving, and … we’re being told by 90 percent of our parents that it’s really money,'’ Sister Mary Paul McCaughey, the schools superintendent, said in a recent interview with ChicagoCatholicNews. ‘’So it’s a reflection of the economy. …'’

* Illinois tuition savings program cost goes up Tuesday

* Block 37 opens, but bank dispute looms over project

* Surge of stingy shoppers

Bargains drove people into the stores and to their computer screens, with 195 million shoppers visiting stores and Web sites over the holiday weekend, up 13.4 percent from last year, according to a survey by the National Retail Federation.

Shoppers weren’t buying more, though. On average, each shopper spent about 7.9 percent less: $343.31 compared with $372.56 a year ago.

It took those extra shoppers to keep sales practically flat from last year’s biggest retail weekend. Total spending was $41.2 billion, less than 1 percent higher than the $41 billion spent a year ago.

* Overnight winter parking ban starts early Tuesday

Chicago’s overnight winter parking ban goes into effect at 3 a.m. Tuesday, meaning you need to be careful where you park tonight.[…]

If you get towed, it’ll cost you $50 for the parking ticket, $150 for the towing fee and $10 a day for storage in the impound lot.

* Maintenance work to cause CTA delays this week

* CTA seeks funds to rehab Purple, Red Line stations

* Travelers catching a bus also catching a bargain

* Work begins on bridge linking Iowa, Illinois

* Officials fighting mandatory flood insurance say coverage still good idea

* Champaign-Urbana offers drive-through H1N1 vaccines

* Chicago’s Ellis Island

* Some black youth feel more at home in Boystown, but get chilly reception

* Ill. hunter kills 25-point buck

EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. — It took Google Earth, a little deer psychology and a freak shot for a bow hunter in southern Illinois to bring down one of the largest deer in the state so far this year — a 25-point buck.

- Posted by Mike Murray   5 Comments      


Reader comments closed for the holiday weekend

Wednesday, Nov 25, 2009

* I just found out that Kent, a good friend of mine, volunteered to work on Thanksgiving Day so his co-workers with children can have some time off. I love my friends because almost all of them are as cool and kind as Kentola. I don’t spend my off-hours hanging out with just anybody, y’know.

Anyway, I hope everyone has a great Thanksgiving and we’ll see you on the flip-side. I think I posted a version of this song last year or the year before, but we ought to make it an annual thing because it is the greatest Thanksgiving song ever written, or at least the funkiest


Many things on my mind,
Words in the way

- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      


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Wednesday, Nov 25, 2009

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Wednesday news and video roundup

Wednesday, Nov 25, 2009

* It’s the day before Thanksgiving, so we’re just gonna do a roundup this morning. If news breaks I’ll post it. Comments are open.

* SIU payroll picture improves

Southern Illinois University has $16.5 million to go before it can fully cover its Jan. 1 payroll, President Glenn Poshard announced Tuesday, adding he remains confident the money will come through.

The university received $15.5 million Tuesday in payroll reimbursement from Illinois Comptroller Dan Hynes’ office, the first allocation of state appropriations the system has received since July 1, the beginning of the fiscal year. The payment and a combination of steps SIU recently took to save money leaves officials $16.5 million short of what it needs to meet the first payroll of 2010.

Poshard said he remains confident the needed money will be found by the comptroller’s office.

* State universities facing big financial problems because of slow payments…

“Believe me, we’ve been in constant communication not only with our universities, but our whole provider community,” Hynes said. “The situation is getting untenable. We have $4.5 billion in bills that we can’t pay, including payments to our universities.”

* Daley holds meeting on convention show exodus…

But Dennis Gannon, president of the Chicago Federation of Labor, insisted officials need to look beyond union wages and work rules to bring costs at McCormick Place in line with those in other cities.

Union workers at McCormick Place have agreed to three changes to work rules in the past 15 years, Gannon said, arguing labor costs there are now comparable to those at convention centers around the country.

“What it costs to be on the floor, what it costs for a case of pop, what it costs for a refrigerator – those ain’t organized labor’s costs,” he said.

Juan Ochoa, chief executive of the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority – which runs McCormick Place and Navy Pier — said management changes could be part of the overhaul.

* Tollway officials: We’re ‘not good’ at running oases

The income the agency gets from the oases is nearly $2 million - less than 1 percent of its revenues. Officials estimated that leasable space at six of the oases is 45 percent to 65 percent unoccupied.

“I do not sense this as something we ought to run or own. It’s not our forte. We’re not good at it,” Board Director Thomas Canham said.

However, the tollway signed a 25-year lease agreement with Wilton and that deal may be difficult to escape, regardless of what happens in the court case.

* Where terrorists are their neighbors - Florence, Colo., prison hasn’t had the security problems some fear with Thomson facility

The roster of 449 inmates at the U.S. Penitentiary Administrative Maximum Facility — dubbed the Supermax — includes a Sept. 11 conspirator, Zacarias Moussaoui; the would-be “shoe bomber,” Richard Reid; the mastermind of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, Ramzi Yousef; and a former Chicago gang member accused of aiding terrorists, Jose Padilla.

The cells here also house the Unabomber, Theodore Kaczynski, of south suburban Evergreen Park, and Timothy McVeigh’s accomplice in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, Terry Nichols.

But if having terrorists imprisoned a 10-minute walk from your home is a safety risk, there’s no sign of that in Florence, Colo., a rural community about 110 miles south of Denver.

“We still leave our doors unlocked at night,” former Mayor Bart Hall said.

* Kirk still hot on Gitmo, mum on Palin

U.S. Rep. Mark Kirk has certainly tamed his rhetoric lately on moving Gitmo detainees to a western Illinois prison.

But he told Animal Farm today that he “stands behind” his earlier statements claiming the move would increase terrorism activity in northern Illinois and put residents in direct danger.

“There is a danger,” the Highland Park Republican said.

* Employee union blasts plans to sell Thomson prison…

The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 31 says Illinois prisons are overcrowded already, and moving the estimated 200 prisoners housed at Thomson to other state prisons will only exacerbate the problem. Additionally, AFSCME says the Illinois Department of Corrections has renewed a push to close Stateville Correctional Center in Crest Hill, a move that would require shipping an additional 1,500 inmates to other state prisons as well.

“Bottom line, the IDOC plan to eliminate Thomson and Stateville will worsen the state system’s overcrowding crisis at the same time that it turns some 2,000 beds over to the federal government,” said AFSCME Council 31 executive director Henry Bayer in a statement released in anticipation of Quinn’s announcement.

The IDOC Web site shows that 25 of Illinois’ 28 prisons are operating over capacity, with at least three prisons holding more than double their capacity of prisoners. Compiling the online data shows Illinois prisons hold about 44,000 inmates – almost 14,000 inmates over their combined capacity of about 30,000. Those numbers do not include the state’s adult transitional centers, some of which are overcrowded as well.

Januari Smith, spokeswoman for IDOC, responded via e-mail to AFSCME’s overcrowding worries by pointing out that Thomson is barely being used, and the state’s inmate population has remained stable for the past decade.

“There is no expectation that it will increase under current criminal justice system practices,” Smith said.

* Plan to cut poverty in Illinois needs to include way to pay for it

“We have to be mindful that there is a shortage of funding and we have to see within the context of that what we can make work moving forward, said state Rep. Sandra Pihos (R-Glen Ellyn).

Though Pihos said she is a member of the commission because she feels the issue of poverty is timely and pressing, she would not commit to a funding plan for the commission. Pihos cited the relatively early stages of the commission’s work and what she characterized as the “goal” timeframe outlined in the legislation as reasons for her reservations.

* Illinois smoking ban: Some bars give smokers a sanctuary - Smokers pitch in extra cash to help bars pay fines

* Greater interactivity, pay walls, potential avenues to revive Sun-Times

While there’s no panacea for the ills of the newspaper publishing business, small changes will help turn the tide at the money-losing publisher of Chicago’s No. 2 paper, Sun-Times Media CEO Jeremy Halbreich said.

* Washington Post shutters Chicago bureau

The Washington Post, in a significant retrenchment, is closing its remaining domestic bureaus around the country. The six correspondents who work in New York, Los Angeles and Chicago will be offered reassignments in Washington, while three news assistants will be let go.

* Quinn says he’s a ‘truth slinger’

“I’ve known Dan a long time and he’s very, very negative. Eighty-five percent of their commercials are very negative and I don’t think that’s the way in a recession to get Illinois back on its feet,” Quinn said of Hynes’ campaign.

“We need to have jobs, economic growth,” Quinn said. “We’ve got to repair all the damage that was caused in our state government. I’ve done that. We want to make sure then we focus on what the people need, not what politicians are thinking about.”

Quinn said Republicans who want his job are “calling me a bunch of names” and warned, “he who slings mud generally loses ground.”

“I want to be a truth slinger,” said Quinn, who was elevated to the state’s top job when Blagojevich was ousted by lawmakers in January. “I think in the 10 months or so I’ve been governor, I think I’ve done a good job in stabilizing our state. I’m an honest person and I want to keep our government honest.”

* Giannoulias Gets Grilled On State Of Family Bank…

When asked why his family took $70 million out of the bank, Giannoulias said, “Most of the dividends were used for tax purposes. And what was left, most of that was used to help settle my father’s estate.”

When asked to explain further, Giannoulias said, “I’m not gonna go into the details of my father’s estate with you.”

* Giannoulias pitches bailout plan, talks about family bank

Giannoulias’ campaign spokeswoman Kati Phillips said the $70 million payout occurred in 2007 and 2008 and was triggered by the 2006 death of Alexi’s father the year before. Alexis Giannoulias’ will called for estate and income taxes to be paid for with dividend payments from sale of shares at Broadway. Alexi’s portion was $2.5 million, she said, $1 million of which went to pay income taxes.

Phillips said Alexi Giannoulias had no say in selling the shares because he sold his voting shares when he was elected treasurer.

* Giannoulias responds to Broadway Bank dividend payout

For his part, as a 3.6% shareholder of Broadway, Mr. Giannoulias said he received $2.5 million in dividends over the period. He kept something less than $1 million, with the rest going for taxes and his share of the estate expenses, he said. The campaign will release his tax returns with detailed information Wednesday.

Mr. Giannoulias couldn’t quantify how much of the $70 million went for taxes and the estate, though, saying that would have to come from his brother, Demetris, who runs the bank and thus far hasn’t provided the information.

Asked whether he would plow dividends he’s received back into the bank in order to save it, he said, “Anyone would walk on glass if they find a way to help their family. They’re going to make a management decision on the best way to keep that bank running.”

* Politics and the death penalty - Fate of Dugan, others bandied by Illinois gubernatorial candidates…

However, immediacy and Illinois’ death penalty are two incongruous concepts.

Absent one of the inmates dropping his appeal, there is little chance that the governor elected in 2010 — or even 2014 — will be confronted with the issue, possibly making all of last week’s rhetoric moot unless one of the current crop of gubernatorial hopefuls goes on to win a second term.

Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s office, which represents the state in death penalty cases, predicted that none of the inmates now on Death Row will face execution earlier than 2017 because many of their appeals are only in their infancy.

* Sanchez attorneys push for new hearing on hiring case

U.S. District Judge Robert Gettleman said after the hearing there was no evidence of willful misconduct by the government but suggested that the agents may be “kicking themselves for what they did or didn’t do.”

* McKenna pledges to control spending

The Chicago businessman and former head of the state’s Republican Party says the state must stop spending more than it is taking in. If elected, he pledges not to increase spending above the rate of inflation plus population growth and to consolidate government operations. […]

McKenna, 52, supports enabling revenue growth by stimulating business growth and freezing spending for three to four years. That solution may not be popular and may cap his career at one term, but McKenna claims it will help get the state back in the black.

* You Paid For It: Illinois’ Governor and the Friendly Skies

 

* UFCW Endorses Governor Pat Quinn for Illinois…


* Illinois Man Learns He’s the Son of Charles Manson

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* *** UPDATED x1 - Biss responds *** Rauner says HB 40 is "divisive" and "we need to focus" on fixing other problems
* Signs of the times
* Blagojevich again denied
* Illinois is heading for junk bond status
* The "growth only" canard
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* Obama to deliver first post-presidency speech in Chicago
* EXCHANGE: 12-year-old student is president of a state club
* Gillespie, Monk, Ella celebrated at Chicago Jazz Festival
* Kids ride Metra for free on Take Our Children to Work Day
* Frank Lloyd Wright building tours planned to mark birthday
* Springfield children's hospital stages voting for new mascot
* 5-month paving project to begin on I-55 in Springfield
* Remains of Illinois man killed at Pearl Harbor come home
* Remains of Illinois man killed at Pearl Harbor come home
* Eastern Illinois University attempts to boost enrollment

* Lawmakers return from spring break; 'bargain' remains unresolved
* Illinois Democrats aim high with minimum wage proposals
* Lawmakers return to unresolved issues
* 2018 Illinois governor's race likely to be most expensive in U.S. history
* Next year's governor's race likely to be most expensive ever
* Springfield group seeks to help progressive women candidates
* Group seeks to help progressive women candidates
* Jacksonville drug treatment center to close
* Ratings agency downgrades credit of 6 Illinois universities
* Hearing probes Illinois auditor general's campaign spending

* Like our roundup? Share it around.
* Who's lending to South Side homebuyers?
* How big of a threat can a 13-hospital really be?
* These stock-pickers continue to outsmart the indexes
* Munoz's biggest challenge at United: fixing a 'toxic culture'


* Police: Gun found during traffic stop in Riverside
* Morel of the Week begins: And other notes around Chicago outdoors
* Jackson Street bridge in Joliet closes Monday for repairs
* Shot fired during robbery at Lincoln Park store
* Man charged with shooting friend in Elgin
* Smash-and-grab burglars hit Magnificent Mile store
* Police: Man tried to lure 4 boys to van in Gresham
* Dear Abby: Husband bought house, I do all the work
* Georgia Nicols horoscopes for April 24, 2017
* 3 robberies reported in Back of the Yards


* House call doctor accused of patient sex abuse — years after first reports to police
* Thieves crash car into Louis Vuitton store on Magnificent Mile
* Nearing 100-day mark, Trump says milestone not 'meaningful'
* Inundated with gunshot victims, Chicago doctors and nurses face 'compassion fatigue'
* Man jailed at 15 under controversial felony murder rule has sentence commuted
* Chicago visit Monday to start Obama's re-entry into public eye
* South Korea, allies brace for North Korea follow-up act
* Morning Spin: Rauner's improbable fundraising pitch: Balanced budget without tax hike
* Mainstream politics shut out as Le Pen, Macron win in France
* LINDA C. BLACK HOROSCOPES for 4/24/17


» Photos: Cosplayers Descend Upon McCormick Place For C2E2
» Chicago EPA Workers Prepare For Budget Battle With Storytelling Class
» To Explain Change On Abortion, Rauner Cites Economic Agenda
» State Week: Abortion Flip, 'Junk Bond' Universities
» Appeals Court Denies Blagojevich Request For 3rd Sentencing
» How Chicago Public Schools Could Avoid Closing Early
» Southern Illinois County Suing Manufacturers Of Opioid Painkillers
» Undocumented And A Victim Of A Violent Crime: Looking At Problems With Obtaining U-Visas In Illinois
» Illinois Issues: The Trouble With Temp Work
» City Crackdown On Party Buses Doesn’t Ban Legal Guns


* Lawmakers return from spring break; 'bargain' remains unresolved
* Illinois Democrats aim high with minimum wage proposals
* Lawmakers return to unresolved issues
* Our View: Civil town hall meetings good for democracy
* 2018 Illinois governor's race likely to be most expensive in U.S. history
* Next year's governor's race likely to be most expensive ever
* Angie Muhs: Citizens Academy gives behind-the-scenes look at the FBI
* Bernard Schoenburg: State workers highest paid? A look at the stats
* Our View: The longer we wait, the worse it will get
* Statehouse Insider: Let the show resume


* PODCAST: State Sen. Scott Bennett 04-24-17
* New Parkland board member refuses to relinquish posts
* Illinois trails national average
* 19th Ebertfest receives a lovely sendoff
* Distracted driving a choice we make
* Clinton, Reynolds speak up at Tribeca
* Those Who Served: Bretz keeping father's memories fresh
* All or nothing on crime mugshots
* Pet Talk: Tears and repairs
* Area history, April 24, 2017


* Is the tollway getting cold feet on Route 53 extension?
* Harper College could ask voters to pay for building plan
* Images: Some of the best photos that you may have missed this weekend
* Elgin man who accidentally shot friend faces gun charges
* Dawn Patrol: Student's family, Wheaton College community lean on faith

* US Rep. Randy Hultgren accepting internshi...
* GOP congressman appears to distance himsel...
* Rep. Randy Hultgren on Trump's Foreign and...
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* Oswego's Congressman Reacts to Missile Str...
* Veterans seek answers at forum with US Rep...

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* Sen. Duckworth Pushes for Free Two-Year Te......
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* Illinois receives $16 million to fight opi......

* Help Day For Property Tax Appeals
* CPS and “Wrong-way” Claypool.
* Trumpen. 
* People with clout are still contacting Rahm on his private e-mail account, and other Chicago news
* Scenes from Saturday's March for Science
* Hitting Left.
* NEA’s charter position is okay but a little like closing the doors on an empty barn. No mention of vouchers?
* North Korea and the gang that couldn’t shoot straight. What message is Trump sending?
* Earth Sunday.
* A Republican moderate.


* IDOT Celebrates Earth Day by Distributing Trees to Schools
* Earth Day Honor: IDOT Recognizes Longtime Adopt-A-Highway Volunteers - More than 140 groups thanked in tree-planting ceremony
* The State of Illinois to Build a Digital-Ready Workforce - Partnership with the IoT Talent Consortium to Offer Data Science Training to Illinois Workers and Learners, with Cybersecurity Training Next in the Pipeline
* Governor Makes First #GovClassroomVisit
* New Siemens Charger Locomotives Begin Testing

  
* Deal: Get a lifetime of online protection from TigerVPN for $29
* [TA Deals] Get the Java Programming Bootcamp package for $39
* Samsung Galaxy Amp Prime 2 offers Android Nougat to Cricket customers at $150
* LG G6 arrives in India to rain on Galaxy S8’s parade, lower price, Quad DAC and all
* Alcatel A30 tablet gets rendered en route to T-Mobile, Nougat and LTE most likely in tow
* Samsung Galaxy J3 (2017) has specs outed in several benchmarks, J5 (2017) swings by the FCC
* T-Mobile Galaxy Note 5 also gets Android Nougat

* In My Words: White Sox booth is Benetti's bliss
* White Sox snap out of scoring slump vs. Tribe
* Bats roar to life against Tribe in series finale
* White Sox snap out of scoring slump vs. Tribe
* Gonzalez eyes continued success vs. Royals
* Davidson out for fourth consecutive game
* White Sox turn to Holland in finale vs. Tribe


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