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*** UPDATED x1 *** Afternoon campaign roundup: Giannoulias questioned, McKenna backtracks, Hoffman endorsed, Hynes wants ACT adjustment for vets, New Hamos ad

Tuesday, Nov 24, 2009

* Democratic US Senate candidate Alexi Giannoulias unveiled his financial services reform plan today and, as expected, was peppered with reporters’ questions about his own family’s bank

But he immediately was hit with questions about Broadway Bank, which faces huge defaults on loans for high-profile real estate deals, many of them out of state, even though Broadway is considered a neighborhood institution.

“You saw greed everywhere,” Mr. Giannoulias said in response to a question about Broadway. A moment later, he conceded that he personally approved loans for projects in Florida, New York and other states. But “hundreds” of community banks are dealing with similar woes that have driven many of them to insolvency, he added.

“I don’t think anyone even as smart as you could have foreseen” the near-total collapse of the economy and real estate market, Mr. Giannoulias said.

Mr. Giannoulias did not directly talk about what will happen to Broadway. But he said his brothers who run it are “concerned about the future. . . .I hope they can make it through.”

That forecast doesn’t sound good. I’m a bit surprised that the banking stuff didn’t find its way into the AP story. Then again, the AP didn’t even bother to cover the banking reform stuff, focusing instead on Blagojevich. Progress Illinois has a summation of Giannoulias’ plan

…the application of commercial banking regulations to non-bank lending institutions (think mortgage brokers and payday lenders) and the creation of a Consumer Financial Protection Agency, a public exchange on which derivative transactions would be conducted, and an emergency bailout fund bankrolled by firms deemed “too big too fail.”

David Hoffman’s campaign responds…

Mr. Giannoulias continues to tout his experience as a banker, but based on his record he has no credibility. As Vice President and Chief Loan Officer of Broadway Bank, he was directly involved in several questionable loans. Further, he and other owners of the Broadway Bank received $70 million in dividends, just as the financial collapse was taking place, which has left the bank on the edge of insolvency.

Rather than offering warmed over proposals, he should come clean and let voters know whether he intends to put his portion of the $70 million back in the bank to avoid it being taken over by the FDIC.

That’s not as hard of a hit as I expected.

*** UPDATE *** From a press release…

Statement from Tom Bowen, campaign manager for U.S. Senate candidate Alexi Giannoulias:

“The only candidate who is funding his campaign with bank money is David Hoffman. His holdings in JPMorgan Chase and Citigroup were protected by the very TARP money and system Hoffman rails against. Now Hoffman has put $500,000 of that money into his campaign. Bailout dollars saved Hoffman’s investments and now he’s using that money to fund his campaign.”

[ *** End of Update *** ]

* Like Congressman Mark Kirk before him, Republican gubernatorial candidate Andy McKenna is also backing away from his earlier over the top remarks on the proposed sale of Thomson prison

He said when it comes to turning northwestern Illinois’ Thomson Correctional Center into a federal prison he is not certain that either Quinn or President Obama have “explained the betterment of this move.”

“I see it as it being appropriate for it to be used as a federal prison but so much is being made of what prisoners be going to it that nobody is focusing on the jobs that would be created and how many,” McKenna said.

When the story first broke, McKenna sent out this statement

“As governor, I would not support this extreme plan and I call on the General Assembly to act swiftly and decisively to put a halt to Governor Quinn’s attempts to put terrorists in our neighborhoods.”

Quite the sea change in attitude.

McKenna also stressed his outsiderdom in a recent visit to Pontiac

McKenna, the former state Republican Party chairman, feels he will be bringing a new face to Springfield and by doing so can get a lot more done.

“I don’t have a crew that is already in Springfield with deals being made. There are a lot of good people in the race for governor but I, with no ties, can bring a new dimension,” McKenna said.

Um, Andy, didn’t House GOP Leader Tom Cross endorse you? Isn’t that a ready-made crew in Springfield?

* Speaking of Mark Kirk

A resolution that may come before RNC members in Jan. would have the effect of eliminating several prominent GOP recruits from receiving party money.

The resolution, offered by IN national committeeman Jim Bopp and nine fellow RNC members, would forbid the national party from spending money on candidates who do not meet at least 8 of 10 criteria set down as party principles.

Those principles include opposing abortion rights, opposing same-sex marriage, opposing the stimulus package and cap and trade bills and supporting surges in Iraq and Afghanistan and gun rights, among others.

Kirk would be excluded from being helped, but don’t expect that resolution to pass.

* Democratic US Senate candidate David Hoffman scored a pretty big endorsement today

Chicago City Clerk Miguel del Valle said Tuesday the political climate for Democrats is rough and “it’s going to get rougher.” Del Valle says he supports Hoffman because voters want a fresh face.

Del Valle says Hoffman has the best chance of beating Republican Congressman Mark Kirk.

Hoffman says he supports comprehensive immigration reform “as quickly as possible.”

* Democratic gubernatorial candidate Dan Hynes has a new veterans education plan

Hynes said his proposed legislation would require public colleges and universities to admit veterans over other students, if all other factors are equal. And veterans would get a bump in their ACT scores of several points, though Hynes said he didn’t know exactly how many yet.

A bump in their ACT scores? That kinda rubs me the wrong way. I don’t think we should be messing with those scores. Give veterans some additional cash, pave the way a bit for their entry, but we should probably leave their entrance exam scores alone.

* State Rep. Julie Hamos has a new TV ad in her 10th Congressional District bid. Rate it

* Related…

* Chicago Democrat Doyle running for treasurer

* The challenge to Ill. Rep. Deb Mell’s petitions

* Foster talks jobs, economy while visiting Aurora’s Hesed House

- Posted by Rich Miller   40 Comments      

Question of the day

Tuesday, Nov 24, 2009

* The setup

Fifty-three percent (53%) of Americans say they are more thankful this Thanksgiving than they were last year at this time.

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that only 11% are less thankful, while 35% are about as thankful this year as they were last year.

* The Question: Are you more thankful this year than last year? Explain.

- Posted by Rich Miller   29 Comments      

Unsolicited advice

Tuesday, Nov 24, 2009

* Dear spammers,

This is definitely not your best work…


I require a partner to transfer $8.6m that belonged to a dead customer of my bank.

Reply for more information on the procedure.


Liu Yan.

Yeah. I’ll get right on it - just as soon as I finish writing a very large check to Rod Blagojevich’s legal defense fund.

* Dear Gov. Quinn,

You should definitely pay attention to the editorial in today’s Sun-Times taking you to task for not following through with your “fumigation” pledge

We understand the governor might be facing a tough political reality.

Many of these Blagojevich hires still on the payroll have political sponsors — politicians Quinn may not be eager to offend just before the primary.

So far, the governor has been removing these folks piecemeal, but it may be more effective to get rid of them all at once, as part of a single effort.

Governor, you’re a man who has built his political career on doing the right thing.

Do it again.

That piecemeal approach has been counterproductive. When he tries to fire one staffer, that person’s sponsor(s) raises holy heck. Quinn should dump several at once to dilute the response and prevent it from focusing on a single person or ethnic group or special interest or whatever. And he should do it soon.

* Dear State Board of Elections,

I will support your appropriation request if you promise to hire an entirely new Internet staff and revamp that awful site of yours…

The Illinois board overseeing elections has put a price tag on campaign finance legislation. That legislation would make campaigns file fundraising reports far more often, and put new limits on most donations. […]

In a report dated last week, the agency says it would need an extra $1.5 million next year, a chunk of this for computer programming changes it says are “absolutely essential” to comply with the bill, and for the hiring of six staff members. In future years, the document estimates a cost close to $800,000 a year.

Seriously, dudes, your website is just so horrible on so many levels that it ought to be put out of its misery - and ours. Get a freaking clue already.

* Dear education establishment,

A friend of mine in Kansas City, MO sends her daughters to a French immersion charter school. It’s an excellent school and you won’t find anything like it in Illinois. So, while I always hesitate to agree with the rabidly and reflexively anti-union Chicago Tribune editorial board, I have to say their idea appeals to me

[Sen. James Meeks] plans to push to remove the cap on the number of charter schools in Illinois. The legislature raised the cap this year. But there should be no cap at all.

We’ve known for decades that the industrial model for schools just doesn’t work. How about something new?

* Dear Eric Zorn,

I agree with you about Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. His buildings may have inspired decades of Soviet building projects, but they are a blight on the landscape here. So, like you, it doesn’t really bother me that one of them is being torn down

I have to say, in full knowledge it will marks me to some as a rube, that Mies has never done much for me. He may well be the equivalent of Mozart, as Lifson suggests, but I’ve never found his buildings particularly interesting to behold… I’m not saying we should tear them down, but, well, even after reading Lifson’s impassioned post, I find myself unexercised.

* Dear Country Club Hills Mayor Dwight Welch,

I wish there was a way to censure you for your goofy rants and false leaks on Chris Kelly’s suicide

Country Club Hills Mayor Dwight Welch previously said Kelly took a combination of pain reliever and rat poison, but a toxicology report from the Cook County medical examiner’s office only found pain medications in his system. The office said he overdosed on salicylate, used in such medications as aspirin, and acetaminophen, Tylenol’s main ingredient. A toxicology report also showed diphenhydramine, commonly sold as Benadryl.

Your turn.

- Posted by Rich Miller   45 Comments      

Taking a breath and looking closer

Tuesday, Nov 24, 2009

* One of the better responses I’ve seen to this Thomson prison situation was from state Sen. Tim Bivins (R-Dixon)

Bivins said much more information is needed before a decision is made.

“At the briefing and tour Monday … I asked the Governor’s (Pat Quinn) chief of operations Jack Lavin if there is a plan in place for using the proceeds from the sale of the prison (to the federal government. His response was, ‘I think we are getting ahead of ourselves,’ ” Bivins said in a news release. “I responded that I thought we should get ahead of ourselves before making a decision of this magnitude.”

…Bivins recommends taking some of the proceeds from the sale of the prison and putting that money toward helping the state’s overcrowded corrections system. Some 1,600 inmates could be housed at Thomson, requiring 800 to 900 employees.

“Compare that to the prison in Dixon with 2,200 inmates and fewer than 600 employees,” he said.

And then there is the small matter of the big debt. Bivins said the state still owes $80 million on the Thomson prison. The village floated about $12 million in bonds for a new wastewater treatment system, which still needs to be paid.

“We need to look at the entirety of the situation,” the senator said. “We should open up the process. If we are going to sell Thomson, let’s get the best possible price for it. Are there any other bidders out there?”

So, there’s about $90 million in outstanding debt still owed on Thomson. If the state sells the prison for cost, Illinois is gonna clear just a few million dollars. That would be very stupid.

And Sen. Bivins is right about the state’s current prison system. Selling Thomson means dumping our most modern prison facility, and not having anything to replace it.

* I guess this statement by Gov. Quinn depends on how you define the word “swift“…

Gov. Pat Quinn said Monday he expects swift action on a proposal to sell a northwestern Illinois prison to the federal government to house Guantanamo Bay detainees […]

Quinn is pushing hard for the federal government to take over the Thomson facility, promising that it will help create jobs in a struggling area. Critics question the economic impact.

“I think this will move along rather quickly,” Quinn said.

One reason why this won’t move as fast as Quinn is implying is because of something Senate President John Cullerton told the AP last week. It doesn’t appear that the AP really knew what it had because it buried the important part

The president of the Illinois Senate says state lawmakers have no formal control over whether terrorism suspects wind up being housed in the state.

President John Cullerton says lawmakers can’t take an official vote allowing or blocking the plan. The Chicago Democrat said Thursday that the only role for lawmakers is to have a committee review the idea and take an advisory vote.

I checked with Cullerton’s press secretary on this, and the “committee” Cullerton referred to was the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability’s role in implementing the State Facilities Closure Act. Here’s how a state facility is defined in the law…

“State facility” means any facility (i) that is owned and operated by the State or leased and operated by the State and (ii) that is the primary stationary work location for 25 or more State employees. “

Thomson qualifies.

Closure requirements…

Before a State facility may be closed, the State executive branch officer with jurisdiction over the facility shall file notice of the proposed closure with the Commission. The notice must be filed within 2 days after the first public announcement of any planned or proposed closure. Within 10 days after it receives notice of the proposed closure, the Commission, in its discretion, may require the State executive branch officer with jurisdiction over the facility to file a recommendation for the closure of the facility with the Commission. In the case of a proposed closure of: (i) a prison… operated by the Department of Corrections… the Commission must require the executive branch officers to file a recommendation for closure. The recommendation must be filed within 30 days after the Commission delivers the request for recommendation to the State executive branch officer. [Emphasis added.]

After that, the governor must wait at least 50 days to close the facility. So, this could go on for a few months after the feds approve it - and the president has said that the final plan isn’t imminent. So, I guess it’s “swift” for government work.

The commission, by the way, is bipartisan. It contains six members from each party and a co-chair from each party. Two statewide GOP candidates, Sens. Bill Brady and Matt Murphy, sit on the commission. Sen. Dave Syverson, who is close to visceral Thomson opponent Congressman Don Manzullo, also sits on the commission. GOP Rep. Raymond Poe, a commission member, is a co-sponsor of HR 762

Urges Governor Patrick Quinn and his administration to immediately halt all negotiations or contacts with the U.S. Federal Bureau of Prisons, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and all other relevant federal offices and departments, relating to the proposed transfer of the Thomson Correctional Center to the federal government for purposes of a Military Commissions Act of 2006 detention facility, until they initiate consultations with the Illinois General Assembly and receive their consent to undertake this move.

Expect a slow-walk.

* Meanwhile, Congressman Mark Kirk is trying to repair the damage he’s done to his reputation by walking back his hysterical tirade over Thomson

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Mark Kirk turned down the rhetoric [yesterday] on Democratic-backed plans to use the largely vacant Thomson Correctional Center to house suspected terrorist detainees from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, saying he wants a “dispassionate and specific” discussion of the issue.

“The key point is, is this a necessary risk?” asked Kirk, a five-term congressman from the North Shore. “And in my judgment, it’s not a necessary risk. But then I’m practical. I’m from the Midwest and I understand when a deal has been cut. So then the question is, if we are to move forward, then how do we move forward?” […]

[Kirk’s] previous comments have warned that the Chicago area could become “ground zero for Jihadist terrorist plots, recruitment and radicalization.” He’s questioned the safety of O’Hare International Airport, the Willis Tower and a nuclear power plant near the Quad Cities.

Kirk said much of his earlier rhetoric had to do with the fact that the federal interest in Thomson was “a rather surprise announcement” and that he was “going with the information that we had available.”

So, he admitted that he was caught off guard, didn’t have all the facts, but went ahead and jumped the gun anyway with his dire warnings that we were all gonna die.


One of Kirk’s earliest backers was former Gov. Jim Edgar, who, unlike Kirk, waited to react until he had seen some facts

The two-term Illinois governor said he understands the concerns, but probably wouldn’t worry about safety too much.

“I can appreciate folks may not want these people in their backyard, but they’ve got to go someplace, it appears,” Edgar said during a visit to the Capitol. “And I’m sure that will be an extremely secure prison. I wouldn’t worry about folks breaking out.

“If the right safety guarantees are there, then I would say that it makes sense just to create some economic opportunity in that part of the state.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   49 Comments      

Viewership of ad-supported cable continues to surge

Tuesday, Nov 24, 2009

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Rate the responses

Tuesday, Nov 24, 2009

* Gov. Pat Quinn has responded to Andy McKenna’s new TV ad, which accuses the governor of “hiding the truth,” via a press release…

[Yesterday], former Illinois Republican Party Chairman Andy McKenna launched an ad that claimed Governor Pat Quinn is attempting to hide the state government’s deficit from taxpayers, citing a Chicago Tribune “headline” that was completely fabricated by the McKenna campaign.

It is unfortunate that Chairman McKenna believes the only way to win Republican votes is to misrepresent the facts about Governor Quinn’s honest and responsible handling of the state budget crisis. In these difficult economic times, real families are facing real challenges in every corner of Illinois. We need leaders with real plans to create real jobs, not political ads with made-up facts or quotes from non-existent news stories.

Governor Quinn’s campaign has no need to rephrase or repurpose reporting of the Governor’s continuing, tough-minded efforts to manage the worst deficit in Illinois history. And Governor Quinn’s lifelong commitment to transparency and open government speaks for itself.

Quinn also sent out a fundraising e-mail…

We’ve got a fight on our hands, and we need your help. The Illinois Republicans are pulling out all the stops to smear Governor Quinn and his plan to bring jobs and growth to Illinois. Just in time for the Thanksgiving Holiday, Andy McKenna released an ad that used fake headlines to attack Governor Quinn. We can expect even more of this kind of deception and fear-mongering from the right-wing Republican candidates for Governor. Kirk Dillard even went so far as to call President Obama “a socialist.”

We’ve seen these kinds of games before. Politicians like McKenna, Kirk, and Dillard will try to use fear, doubt, and misinformation to divide us. But you and I know that we can’t afford to waste any more time. Illinois needs jobs and economic relief now, not more political games.

Please donate $100 or more to help Governor Quinn beat back the lies and bring jobs to Illinois.

Republicans are resorting to misleading ads and negative attacks in an effort to distract voters from Governor Quinn’s accomplishments, but Pat’s record speaks for itself. Just last week, Governor Quinn signed legislation to bring in an additional $1.1 billion to pay for the state’s medical bills. Earlier this month, Pat worked with the Illinois Finance Authority to make $3 billion available for renewable energy projects and jobs. And within months of taking office, Governor Quinn did something no other governor had accomplished in more than a decade. He spearheaded, negotiated, and signed a comprehensive jobs bill, Illinois Jobs Now!, which will create and support over 400,000 Illinois jobs. Pat knows that investing in job creation and economic development is the best way to get Illinois back on track.

However, the road to recovery isn’t easy, and Republicans will say anything to derail the Governor’s agenda. Take action now to prevent the Republican politicians from smearing Governor Quinn and his plan for recovery. We can’t afford to let fear mongering, lies, and deception get in the way of our plan for a stronger and more prosperous Illinois future. Please contribute $100 today:

And McKenna responds to Quinn’s responses via press release…

Republican gubernatorial candidate Andy McKenna called on Governor Pat Quinn to stop hiding the truth from Illinois voters about the fact that Illinois is on the brink of bankruptcy and that our unemployment is at record levels.

“It is time Governor Quinn leveled with the people about the fact Illinois, with an eleven billion dollar deficit, is on the brink of bankruptcy,” said McKenna. “

The Chicago Tribune reported that yesterday, responding to the latest McKenna/Murphy campaign ad saying he’s hiding the truth, Quinn defended his statement that he has “missions accomplished” on the issues of the budget and job creation by saying, “I think the people of Illinois are a lot happier today, in November of 2009, than they were at the beginning of this year.”

Quinn made this claim despite the fact there are 286,000 less jobs than a year ago and our budget deficit has swelled to $11 billion.

“There are 286,000 people who have recently had to confront the challenge of unemployment and likely are not happy about this,” added McKenna. “The fact Governor Quinn says people are happier today than nearly a year ago proves he will do anything to hide the truth from the people of Illinois”

Unemployment in Illinois is at 11% - higher than the national average.


- Posted by Rich Miller   47 Comments      

Morning Shorts

Tuesday, Nov 24, 2009

* Stroger says no again to county tax rollback

But this time, commissioners confident they have override vote

* Todd Stroger vetoes roll back in Cook County sales tax

* It’s your call, Cook County

* Chicago aldermen balk at property-tax relief plan

Finance Committee questions how much it would help homeowners

* Alderman wants to ban relatives from stealth payroll

* Board of Eduction’s Expense Accounts Will Be Scrutinized

* Outside Lawyers Will Scrutinize Chicago Board of Education Members’ Spending

* Chicago Housing Sales Go Up

There’s encouraging news out of Chicago’s housing market. A new report from the Illinois Association of Realtors says home sales are going up in the Chicago area.

The report says in Chicago’s metro region, October home sales are up 33 percent over a year ago. The Association of Realtors attributes the increase to buyers finally coming off the sidelines during the housing market collapse.

* Archdiocese Steps Up Latino Housing Aid

The Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago says it’s investing in affordable housing for some heavily Latino parts of the city. The announcement follows criticism that the church skimps on charity in those neighborhoods.

* Chicago-area toll roads seek $280 million Build America bonds

* Attorney general offers guide to recalled products

- Posted by Mike Murray   7 Comments      

Backlash, hinky numbers, conservative questions, and questionable promises

Monday, Nov 23, 2009

* At least one Tribune reporter is not pleased with Andy McKenna’s new TV ad. A mid-morning Clout St. article, “McKenna’s misleading campaign ad on Quinn,” makes some of the same points that I did with subscribers earlier this morning…

It’s not the first time that a Republican statewide candidate for governor in Illinois has resorted to the use of misleading newspaper attributions. In his failed 2006 race for the GOP nomination for governor, businessman James D. Oberweis used four fake headlines from real newspapers across the state in his TV advertising.

Underscoring that McKenna’s campaign didn’t need to misattribute the Tribune, it also released an accompanying radio ad using the same “hides the truth” accusation with no reference to the newspaper.

McKenna campaign spokesman Lance Trover responds…

“Last week Governor Quinn characterized his record as governor as “Missions Accomplished,” this at a time when the state is facing bankruptcy and near record unemployment while the governor is refusing to launch any effort to tackle — or even acknowledge — these issues until after his primary election.

“By any sane, rational definition, that is hiding the truth.

“His assertion was such a prominent point of his presentation, that the Tribune even used it in the headline and the lede. We understand the seriousness of making this accusation about Governor Quinn. Rather than facing the possibility of being charged with using political hearsay, we cited an article using the governor’s own words to demonstrate our point: he is hiding the truth.”

Here is what Quinn actually said

“You’ve got to have a governor who gets things done. That’s what I’ve done. I took over at the worst time Illinois could ever have in our history, a very dark, dark hour,” Quinn said. “And we’ve, day after day, got missions accomplished whether it’s in ethics or getting things done for ordinary people in the budget or getting jobs.”

I wrote at the time that the Tribune was mischaracterizing the “missions accomplished” quote, so I guess it’s garbage in, garbage out.

* Speaking of false claims, Democratic US Senate candidate David Hoffman sent out a fundraising e-mail today that points to poll numbers which don’t really exist…

In the last few days, much has been made of an internal poll we conducted. Geoff Garin, our pollster and long-time advisor to Senator Durbin, shows in a polling memo that in a general election Alexi Giannoulias loses to Mark Kirk by 17 points, and I beat Kirk by 5 points.

Bottom line: I am the strongest Democratic Senate candidate to take on Mark Kirk for the November election.

Actually, the memo shows Mark Kirk leading Hoffman 40-30, and leading Giannoulias 40-37. It’s only after the “push” questions, both positive and negative, that Hoffman edges out Kirk.

* It’s tough to discern whether David Axelrod actually told James Warren that he has concerns about Alexi Giannoulias or whether Warren just assumed it. Either way, it would be nice if the Chicago Media Cooperative story was more transparent…

Mr. Axelrod concedes that he and Mr. Obama failed to persuade Attorney General Lisa Madigan to run for the Senate seat vacated by Mr. Obama. “She would have walked into the seat,” Mr. Axelrod says. White House qualms about the Democratic frontrunner, Alexi Giannoulias, the Illinois treasurer, are self-evident, with worry that the Republican challenger, Representative Mark Kirk, will be needlessly formidable.

“The Blago saga will hang heavy over our politics, and that’s what Kirk’s banking on,” Mr. Axelrod says.

* Speaking of Kirk, Politico has a piece about how a conservative US Senator may get involved in Kirk’s primary

If you’re an underdog conservative running for Congress, Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) should be on your speed dial these days.

A favorite of the tea party crowd and a longtime scourge for Democrats and some Republicans alike inside the Senate chamber, DeMint has emerged as the leading benefactor for any Republican who wants to challenge the establishment candidates backed by the National Republican Senatorial Committee. […]

And DeMint is considering offering an endorsement to attorney Patrick Hughes, who is challenging Kirk in the Republican primary for Obama’s old Senate seat in Illinois. DeMint has met with Hughes twice in the past two months to discuss his campaign, and DeMint’s Senate Conservatives Fund website is polling respondents on whom they support in the Hughes-Kirk primary.

“This is a national race … so an endorsement from Sen. DeMint or any great conservative leader like him is welcomed and would be helpful,” Hughes said Thursday, after meeting with DeMint for a second time.

DeMint conducted an online poll and Patrick Hughes won

Fans of Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) are also, apparently, fans of atty Patrick Hughes (R) — which could turn out to be a bad thing for the NRSC.

Over the weekend, Hughes won an online straw poll of visitors to DeMint’s Senate Conservatives Fund website, which gauged which candidate DeMint backers wanted to support in the race for Pres. Obama’s old SEN seat in IL. Hughes took 74%, while Rep. Mark Kirk, the favorite candidate of DC GOPers, garnered just 8%, barely over half the number of people who voted for “other.”

“Other” came in second. No surprise, but not good for Kirk. Still, DeMint has made it clear that he only intends to involve himself with winning candidacies and Hughes has shown us nothing to indicate he can beat Kirk.

* Keep in mind when reading this next piece that the national GOP always promises Illinois big bucks and doesn’t deliver, so it’s yet to be seen how far they’ll go. The climate has changed, but Kirk’s general election is the only real high point so far…

Illinois’ top Republican says he’s received a “commitment” from the national party to invest big bucks here in hopes of a GOP breakthrough in the 2010 elections.

State GOP Chairman Pat Brady said no one mentioned any specific numbers at a meeting he held Friday afternoon with Michael Steele, the chairman of the Republican National Committee. But “significant help” was promised, he said.

“Mr. Steele says he’s very committed to Illinois,” Mr Brady said in a brief phone chat. “Illinois is a top tier state for them.”

* Related…

* Lyons Township GOP backs Hughes, Topinka, Plummer: Saturday morning’s Republicans of Lyons Township candidate forum ended with endorsements for Patrick Hughes for U.S. Senate, and fell one vote short of backing Dan Proft for governor. Andy McKenna was the next highest vote gubernatorial vote getter — at 14. 29 votes were needed for endorsement.

* Dems claim Rauschenberger not a Republican: Well, the Senate Democrats are trying to expand a DuPage County court ruling used last cycle to bump an opponent off the ballot against Sen. Carol Pankau. In the case of Rauschenberger, they claim that because he pulled a Democrat township election ballot last cycle in order to vote for his sister for Elgin Township Trustee (there was no Republican primary), that he is now ineligible to run for office as a Republican.

* Press Release: U. S. Senate candidate Cheryle Jackson today announced the launch of an online petition against sending more troops to Afghanistan and the withdrawal of American military forces still in Iraq. The petition can be found at BRING OUR TROOPS HOME. “It is time to take care of America again and time to bring our troops home. And it’s time for people at the grassroots to make their opinions known about a war with no end in sight that claims precious lives and resources that we so desperately need at home,” said Jackson.

* Edgar cuts ad for 41st House race: Former Gov. Jim Edgar was spotted at the Capitol on Friday filming an ad that’ll back Elmhurst Republican Brien Sheahan for the 41st Illinois House district. That’s the seat currently held by Bob Biggins, who’s not seeking re-election. Sheahan, a DuPage County Board member, once worked for Edgar. He’d be the second former Edgar staffer to get the former governor’s nod. He already endorsed former aide Kirk Dillard for governor.

* Gingrich to raise cash for Ethan Hastert: Former Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich is set to host a Dec. 11 congressional fundraiser for the son of former Republican House Speaker Dennis Hastert… Ethan Hastert, an Elburn attorney, is running against state Sen. Randy Hultgren of Winfield Township, Mark Vargas of Elgin, Jeff Danklefsen of Geneva and Jim Purcell of Batavia.

* Few Statewide Illinois Candidates Sign Fair Campaign Code

* Foes try to knock Green Party off ballot in 14th Congressional District

* Low Tea Party moment symbolic of muddy week: Catherina Wojtowicz, of Chicago’s Mount Greenwood community, an organizer for a Tea Party splinter group, Chicago Tea Party Patriots, falsely claimed that the Houghs fabricated their story. In an e-mail, she called them operatives of President Barack Obama who “go from event to event and (cry) the same story.” When the Houghs spoke at the Lipinski event, some Tea Partiers ridiculed them. They moaned and rolled their eyes and interrupted. Midge Hough began to cry.

- Posted by Rich Miller   28 Comments      

Question of the day

Monday, Nov 23, 2009

* We spent much of last week discussing the governor’s controversial plan to sell the Thomson prison to the feds so that the Gitmo detainees can be moved there, along with hundreds of other inmates.

* The Question: Do you support or oppose this proposal? Explain thoroughly, please. And try to stay as Illinois focused as possible. Thanks.

- Posted by Rich Miller   69 Comments      

Viewership of ad-supported cable continues to surge

Monday, Nov 23, 2009

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Budget horror stories

Monday, Nov 23, 2009

* Cook County Board President Todd Stroger has said he wants to stem the flow of out-of-county patients to Stroger Hospital. As of last year, they were still streaming in

In 2008, 26,000 patients came from the Collar Counties; 25,000 were from downstate counties; 1,800 came from Indiana; and 5,200 were from other areas.

The cost to the county is about $50 million a year. One story…

Aurora housewife Bushra Ayaz has colon cancer. She’s now being treated at Stroger Hospital, because, when she sought treatment at hospitals in DuPage and Kane counties, they declined because she has no health insurance.

“The doctors over there, they were saying, ‘Oh, you cannot afford the chemo. … It’s very expensive, and we will not give you here,’ Ayaz said.

Her sister, Nuzhat Fahim, explains the runaround they received at other hospitals.

“I just felt like a rolling stone,” she said. “When we were in a hospital, they sent (us) to another one. And they sent (us) to another one. They said, ‘No, you go to Cook County Hospital.’”

* The Sun-Times takes a look at Gov. Pat Quinn’s pledge to “fumigate” Illinois government of top Blagojevich hires. The paper’s first problem was getting Quinn’s office to comment

[Quinn’s] spokesman would not directly answer questions about how many Blagojevich administration workers have been let go as a result of Quinn’s fumigation pledge.

And the numbers appear disheartening…

Today, despite a failed effort by House Speaker Michael Madigan to force Quinn “to accelerate the pace” of the housecleaning, dozens of high-ranking, top-paid hires from the Blagojevich era are managing to hold onto their state jobs.

At least 70 have done so despite coming under scrutiny in a federal investigation of what U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald termed in 2006 were “very serious allegations of endemic hiring fraud” under Blagojevich, who is awaiting trial on federal charges that he used his job as governor to improperly benefit himself and those close to him.

* Paratransit riders are facing an RTA fare increase, and they want Gov. Quinn to step in

A dozen paratransit protesters pressured Gov. Quinn Friday to give them the same fare freeze he gave other CTA riders this month.

“Since Gov. Quinn was able to freeze fares for people who ride fixed routes, that same courtesy should have been afforded to the riders for paratransit,” said Debbie Pittman of Chicago, spokeswoman for the Concerned Citizens of Paratransit. “We understand there might be a budget that needs to be met,” she added, “but it shouldn’t be on the backs of the riders.” […]

[Pittman] said they got “a big runaround” with the governor’s representatives when they finally met with them at the Thompson Center in downtown Chicago Friday in a meeting barred to the media. “So, we are going to keep fighting,”
[Pittman] added.

* Chuck Goudie takes a look at the top users of the state’s turboprop fleet since Rod Blagojevich left office

Attorney General, 326
Senate Operations, 257
House Operations, 251
Transportation, 222
Public aid, 188
Public health, 177
Revenue, 166
Secretary of State, 147
Human services, 122
DCFS, 109

* And in other budget news, the Pantagraph once again publishes an editorial demanding that the Legislature “do something” about the budget without ever saying what it would like to see done…

We asked state Rep. Dan Brady, R-Bloomington, and state Sens. Bill Brady, R-Bloomington, and Dan Rutherford, R-Chenoa, what they personally are doing to resolve the state’s budget problems.

Rep. Brady, who is running for re-election, said he has been meeting with various groups and individuals, such as current and retired ISU employees, and conveying information to the governor’s staff.

Sen. Brady, who is among seven Republican candidates for governor, said there needs to be a 10 percent cut in spending. He said one of the problems in formulating a solution is the difficulty getting information from state agencies.

Sen. Rutherford, who is running unopposed for the Republican nomination for treasurer, said he is repeating his call for reforming the state’s pension system and Medicaid system before considering an income tax hike. He also said he speaks about state issues every other day with Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno.

It’s good to hear our lawmakers are “involved,” but the General Assembly never should have gone home in September (not to mention July) without directly addressing the state’s budget problems.

That’s “involved”? Hookay.

* Related…

* Inside one questionable clout hire

* Election Remains Big Obstacle to Budget Fix

* Quinn creates Human Services Commission

* Quinn signs bill to get more federal money for health care

* New law nets more federal money

* Controversy leads to reforms at Statehouse

* Campaign finance tops reform scorecard

* Campaign Finance Wait Continues

* Quinn Promises Action On Campaign Finance Bill

- Posted by Rich Miller   40 Comments      

McKenna’s new ad; Hynes in the dark

Monday, Nov 23, 2009

* Andy McKenna’s campaign has a new TV ad. Rate it

It has already sparked controversy

This time, McKenna goes after the man who replaced Blagojevich, Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn. The ad says the state budget deficit is growing quickly while Quinn “hides the truth.”

The ad cites the Chicago Tribune to support the allegation, even though the newspaper never said that.

McKenna spokesman Lance Trover defends the wording as a fair summary of facts reported by the newspaper and not an attempt to mislead people into thinking the Tribune accused Quinn of hiding something. He maintains it’s not misleading because the ad doesn’t use quotation marks around the phrase.

“We’re the ones saying that,” Trover said.

The article in question is actually entitled: “Democratic governor debate: Gov. Pat Quinn says ‘missions accomplished’ as Hynes rips ‘flip flops.’

The Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza, whose analytical skills are suspect at best, uses the “Royal We” to claim that the ad is one of the best ads of the seasons to date

For our money, the best ads we’ve seen so far in the 2010 midterms are in Illinois for Republican gubernatorial candidate Andy McKenna. McKenna, a former state party chair, has featured the famous hair of disgraced former Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D) in each of his early ads — a symbol of the corruption and business as usual that has dominated politics in the state. McKenna’s new ad starts with an image of Blago’s hair atop the state capitol dome while a narrator details what Blagojevich — and, by extension, his successor Pat Quinn — have done to the state. McKenna faces a serious primary challenge from, among others, former state attorney general Jim Ryan but win or lose he has provided a potent blueprint for the GOP nominee to ensure voters don’t forget about Blagojevich next year.

* Meanwhile, my weekly syndicated newspaper column takes a look at the Democratic primary race

The original hope by Dan Hynes’ Democratic gubernatorial campaign was that they could outspend and beat up Gov. Pat Quinn on TV by Thanksgiving to the point where the governor was vulnerable in the Feb. 2 primary.

Early benchmark polling for . Quinn had him leading Hynes 54-to-26, with other polls showing similar results. Hynes’ name ID was a relatively low 67 percent, compared with Quinn’s 88 percent.

Since then, Hynes has spent close to $2 million on TV ads, but Quinn has matched him pretty much dollar for dollar. And while Hynes stopped running network TV ads on Nov. 11 and went dark on cable last week, Quinn was up with a positive bio ad last week on both network and cable.

The governor has raised more money much faster than many people expected, given his historical aversion to the activity. Quinn has also run a much better, tighter and more visible campaign than many had expected. The governor is getting “earned” media coverage on the all-important Chicago TV almost every day, and the state’s multibillion dollar capital construction bill has allowed him to cut ribbons all over the state, which is something Hynes simply can’t match.

Recent polling conducted by other statewide Democratic candidates show Quinn ahead of Hynes 50-to-38 and 50-to-35, sources say.

While clearly demonstrating that the race is significantly tightening, the polling shows Quinn has not yet been brought below 50 percent - a crucial benchmark for all incumbents, even though there are more than two candidates in the race at this point (both of the second tier candidates face petition challenges, however, and could be booted from the contest). At least one of those polls has Quinn with about a two-to-one favorable rating, which shows that Hynes’ ads haven’t yet succeeded in roughing up the governor.

The Hynes people believe they have significantly closed the gap and are now in a position to make the final four-week run beginning in January. But big questions remain about what the “dark,” period - when nobody is running ads - between now and January will do to the polling numbers. Will Hynes fade back to the status quo ante? Or, will his numbers roughly hold steady while voters’ attentions turn to decidedly unpolitical things? There are reports from inside that Hynes plans to run a Christmas ad in December, but that will be a purely positive message and won’t do much of anything to bring Quinn down.

Since Hynes hasn’t yet fully put the governor on his back, there are those who believe that the comptroller’s campaign message won’t really work in the final four weeks, either. I have said publicly that I believe this race could be over by Thanksgiving if Hynes didn’t have Quinn bleeding from every political orifice by the traditional holiday season kickoff date - after which negative ads would likely be a huge liability. He doesn’t appear to have done that to Quinn, but I’m not quite ready to pronounce Hynes’ campaign officially dead, although everybody would have to admit that he does face some very, very difficult odds.

Both campaigns have indicated privately that polling and focus grouping shows that Governor Quinn’s proposed income tax hike “works” much better against him than attempting to tie Quinn to his ousted predecessor and two-time running mate Rod Blagojevich. Hynes has focused his advertising on the tax issue, but the ads clearly haven’t put Quinn down as of yet.

It’s not known whether Hynes will attempt to somehow use the Blagojevich issue in his January ad campaign. Quinn has a pretty solid reputation for honesty among voters, and he is probably seen as a “safe” choice, considering the last two governors. They also clearly want to see him succeed and have so far given him something of a pass on his many stumbles in office.

That hopeful voter attitude could all fade by next fall, after Quinn has another legislative session under his belt, but Feb. 2 is just around the corner. After this week, there are really only about four campaign weeks left, and every candidate who can afford it will be up on TV come January. There will be a lot of cash flowing, and messages will easily be buried under all the clutter.

* Related…

* Bernard Schoenburg: ‘Regular person’ out to ‘reclaim Illinois’

* Plainfield Township Republicans Endorse Adam Andrzejewski for Governor

* Illinois candidates take to air early

* Forecast for Dem primaries: Ugly: The Democratic Senate primary in Illinois — largely quiet until recently — might be the next flash point, another example of Democrats field-testing attacks on each other that will most likely prove useful for the GOP. There, the campaign of former Chicago Inspector General David Hoffman charges that state Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias’s baggage from his career as a banker makes him unelectable, an argument that is likely to be revisited in some form by the GOP if Giannoulias, currently the front-runner in the polls, ends up as the nominee.

* DuPage candidate kicked off ballot: Meanwhile, the five other objections the electoral board heard Friday were unanimously overruled, and those candidates will remain on the ballot. Dan Cronin and Debra Olson, two of the four Republican county board chairman candidates, successfully defended the challenges. Both GOP sheriff candidates, incumbent John Zaruba and challenger Mike Quiroz, will stay on the Feb. 2 ballot. And Democratic District 2 forest preserve commission candidate Hilary Denk also survived the petition objection.

- Posted by Rich Miller   40 Comments      

Morning Shorts

Monday, Nov 23, 2009

* What happened to all of Chicago’s conventiongoers?

McCormick Place has seen nearly a third of its business vanish this decade, a period that saw two recessions. Attendance at major events in Chicago’s main convention center declined from 3 million in 2001 to 2.3 million last year. Las Vegas and Orlando held up somewhat better but likewise have seen attendance fall off since the middle of the decade.

More recently, Tradeshow Week, an influential publication in the industry, reported quarterly figures showing that since last year, convention attendance and space usage are down by 8 percent to 17 percent. An analysis it published last spring carried the hopeful headline, “Better days ahead.”

* McPier meltdown

The chief executive officer won his post after raising campaign cash for disgraced Gov. Rod Blagojevich. The just-departed human resources director owed her job to a powerful state senator. Other top executives have long ties to Mayor Richard M. Daley’s political machine.

That’s what clout looks like at the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority, known as McPier, a little-understood government entity that operates the city’s primary convention venue, the vast McCormick Place complex; the adjacent McCormick Hyatt Regency Hotel, and the lakefront tourist center Navy Pier.

* TIFs gone wild

Some words just don’t seem to go together. Aon Centerand blight, for example.

That’s why Ald. Brendan Reilly, 42nd, didn’t bite on a proposal to create a tax increment financing district in the East Loop. Owners of the Aon and four other downtown stalwarts — One and Two Illinois Center and One and Two Prudential Plaza — would like the city to set up a TIF district to generate property-tax dollars to pay for improvements to their buildings.

But Reilly says the properties in question “don’t even come close” to meeting the legal threshold for such assistance.

* Inspector general ‘will not shrink from conflict’

Joe Ferguson is the eldest son of a working-class single mom and a father he never knew who survived that rejection — and the mean streets of Boston — to become a dogged federal prosecutor in Chicago.[…]

Last week, the City Council handed Ferguson a four-year term as Chicago’s corruption-fighting inspector general, replacing David Hoffman, a thorn in Mayor Daley’s side who resigned to run for the U.S. Senate.

* ‘That’s nothing new’

The quote of the week comes from Ald. Isaac Carothers, 29th, who shrugged off a report about the City Council’s incestuous hiring practices just as Mayor Richard Daley announced that illegal patronage in Chicago is dead.

“All of us have family members on the payroll,” Carothers said. “That’s nothing new.”

Carothers, who is facing federal bribery charges, won’t even say whether the William Carothers on his payroll is his father or his brother. It’s none of your business who he hires with your tax dollars.

* Chicago zoning inspector in kickback case back at work

A politically connected zoning investigator has returned to work at City Hall barely a week after he admitted to accepting bribes of cash and gifts to repeatedly overlook zoning violations.

William Wellhausen — who pleaded guilty Nov. 3 and was brought back to the job the following Monday — said he’s clueless why that happened.

“I have no idea. You’ll have to ask the city,” Wellhausen said before hanging up the telephone at the city’s Landmarks Commission, where he is doing clerical work.

* Cop charged with $600K theft also officer of statewide group

A statewide police association will check its financial books after learning one of its board members — a Chicago Police sergeant — was charged with skimming $600,000 from the Chicago Police Sergeants’ Association.

Sgt. John Pallohusky, a detective and president of the Chicago sergeants’ association, also serves as financial secretary for the Springfield-based Police Benevolent & Protective Association of Illinois.

On Friday, Cook County prosecutors charged Pallohusky, 53, with stealing from the Chicago Police Sergeants’ Association and spending the money on a home, an online stock brokerage, gambling trips, hotels and steak dinners.

* Law spinning its wheels for IDOT worker hit by sheriff’s officer’s car

* A decade after Decatur fracas, racial gap in school discipline widens

• Suspensions of black students have escalated by 75 percent since 1999, while those of white students have dropped more than 5 percent.

• When it comes to the more serious punishment of expulsion, white students are kicked out 16 percent more often than a decade ago, but black students are expelled 56 percent more often.

• Whites make up nearly three-fifths of public school enrollment, yet in the most recent data, they account for one-third or fewer of both suspensions and expulsions.

The proportion of blacks facing discipline has soared in all parts of the state even though the percentage of Illinois’ black enrollment has steadily fallen in the past decade.

* Expert: ‘Mismatch’ to blame for school race gap

* 12,000 students skip mandatory Illinois test

* Rich Township schools have worst test skip rate in state

Nearly 400 of Rich Township’s current seniors never took the exam, the spokeswoman said. The district has failed for several years to make adequate test score progress under the federal No Child Left Behind law, and is currently under “corrective action.'’ Rich Township District 227 Supt. Howard Hunigan could not be reached for comment Friday.[…]

Statewide, current seniors who skipped the exam in what would normally be their junior year were disproportionately poor, black, and students with special needs, a new analysis by the Illinois State Board of Education indicates. Such kids traditionally are among the lowest-scoring in the state and nation.

* 3 Chicago-area students named 2009 Rhodes Scholars

* Schools mapping out map changes

* Winter overnight parking ban and restrictions return Dec. 1

* Half of drivers 18-34 admit texting on the road

* Developer loses control of Block 37; stores opening

* Group urges Chicagoans to seek jobs with Census

* Economic survey: Job losses to bottom out in 1Q

Economists expect the joblessness that has weighed down the nation’s economic recovery will start to slowly abate in 2010, but they predict consumers will continue to keep a tight rein on spending, according to a new survey.

While signs have pointed to the end of the recession, joblessness remains rampant. The national unemployment rate jumped to 10.2 percent in October, the highest in 26 years. About 9 million people currently receive unemployment benefits.

* Legal aid for people fighting city hall

* Gov. Quinn ushers in deer season, encourages outdoor recreation

* Injured Ill. servicemembers can apply for grants

Gov. Pat Quinn has signed legislation that allows Illinois servicemembers who have been injured abroad to apply for $5,000 grants.

The legislation is effective immediately.

The grants come from the donation-based Illinois Military Family Relief Fund. The fund was created in 2003.

* State gets $500,000 to help connect military veterans with jobs

- Posted by Mike Murray   17 Comments      

Protected: SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Today’s edition of Capitol Fax

Monday, Nov 23, 2009

This post is password protected. To view it please enter your password below:

- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      

* SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Partisan breakdown of newly proposed congressional map
* *** UPDATED *** Democrats release new congressional map - More Latino strength - Newman, Casten in same district - Kinzinger, LaHood mapped together - Miller, Bost mapped together
* Reader comments closed for the weekend
* Question of the day
* The debate continues over the labor force participation rate
* *** UPDATED x1 *** Pritzker expands vax/test mandate to workers at licensed day care centers
* COVID-19 roundup
* Despite pleas and even threats, IDOC worker vax rate remains about the same
* Can't somebody at the state step in and help Dixmoor with its water problem?
* Giannoulias hit for accepting campaign money from his brothers, others
* Illinois: Tell Congress To Count All Copays
* Open thread
* Yesterday's stories

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