Capitol - Your Illinois News Radar » Everything you always wanted to know about me but were afraid to ask
SUBSCRIBE to Capitol Fax      Advertise Here      Mobile Version     Exclusive Subscriber Content     Updated Posts    Contact
To subscribe to Capitol Fax, click here.
Everything you always wanted to know about me but were afraid to ask

Saturday, Jan 30, 2010 - Posted by Rich Miller

* I knew instantly when that bartender offered me a Jameson’s and soda before I said a single word that Kevin McDermott had his lede. Sure enough

It’s a rainy December evening, and Rich Miller is still keyed up over the day’s top story when he arrives at the small, dark bar at Maldaner’s Restaurant in downtown Springfield. The founder, publisher, editor and sole reporter for the Capitol Fax political newsletter rejects the Jameson’s-and-soda that the bartender automatically offers. “Too early,’’ Miller declares — and he orders a Guinness instead.

Not that I blame Kevin. I would’ve used it, too.

And if you ever wondered where I am while I’m blogging…

The house is a spacious, immaculate structure full of collected art, antiques and political paraphernalia. A 30-acre nature preserve borders one side of the property; on the other is Lake Springfield.

There are views everywhere, except from the small, cluttered corner office on the second floor from which Capitol Fax is produced on a widescreen Mac monitor. Miller’s view is mainly of the William Crook Jr. drawing of the state Capitol that hangs over his desk. “I like it that way. If you’ve got a view, you get distracted by the damned view.’’

Hey, I actually cleaned my office before I let him into my house. Cluttered? I’m glad I didn’t let Kevin come by before I cleaned. Oh, man, the description would’ve been brutal.

Also, I have one of the smaller homes in my neighborhood. Yes, it’s a great ‘hood. No doubt. And, yes, it’s a nice home, but it’s no mansion.

This really is my day…

If the legislature is in session, he’ll drive to the Capitol by midafternoon and stop by a series of what he calls “watering holes.’’

“It’s like hunting — you know, you go to a watering hole, and you wait for the animals to come to you. You don’t go out in the middle of the desert searching for animals.’’ The watering holes include the brass rail outside the House and Senate chambers, certain hallways, certain lawmakers’ offices, “the little nooks and crannies of the Capitol.’’ And, later, the bars.

Todd knows me better than most…

“[Miller] is not an ideologue for any cause,’’ suggests lobbyist Todd Vandermyde. “He just has no patience for stupidity in government.’’

Yep. He’s right.

More from Todd…

To Miller’s fans, that kind of no-holds-barred, total-immersion reporting is what makes Capitol Fax urgent reading. “He’s different from you others in the mainstream media,’’ says Vandermyde, the lobbyist. “He actually spends time mixing and mingling with the politicos. He doesn’t just come in for the issue du jour.’’

Of course, Kevin goes on to overestimate my income, but he’s not alone. Just so you know, it’s not even close to what he or others think. And “$175,000 over the past decade” equals $17,500 a year. I don’t charge nearly enough.

I’ll let you in on a little secret: I’ve always wanted to be on the cover of Illinois Issues. That’s why I agreed to do this interview. Kevin is a heckuva writer, so I thought he could make my dream come true. The story came out pretty much as I figured. Kevin did a great job. But, alas, I didn’t make the cover. I’m not exactly photogenic, so some pension story fronted the mag.

Oh, well. Maybe when I die.

          Click here to help buy presents for LSSI foster kids!

  1. - The REAL Anonymous...fka Anonymous - Saturday, Jan 30, 10 @ 4:00 am:

    It’s a great story, Rich, about a really good guy. And you should be able to make any cover with that photo. It’s a very good one!

  2. - Das Man - Saturday, Jan 30, 10 @ 5:29 am:

    Late to bed,
    Early to rise
    Makes a CapFax reader
    Bleary eyed

  3. - Quinn T. Sential - Saturday, Jan 30, 10 @ 5:45 am:

    Congratulations on some well desrved recognition. You provide an extraordinary service, at an exceptional price, which translates into a great value. This was also insightful for the benefit of those (perhaps few) of us that visit here regularly, that don’t know you, and have never met or laid eyes on you before.


    I do think there are some ways that you could expand and improve some of what is offered, and as a result both, justify and charge additional revenue. Implementing some of those ideas however would necessitate the burdensome aspects of operating a more expansive business enterprise which could hinder your entrepeneurial spirit, and certainly diminish some of your effectiveness if you had to attend to that yourself.

    Given the foundation you have laid already; if I were you, (here comes the unsolicited advice) I would raise some venture capital money (from outside the state of Illinois) to enhance and expand the enterprise, and let them provide the business manager, and retain you under a long term contract that provides you with free reign to explore ancillary business services, while retaining editorial content control. Also, they should allow you input into additional staff and succession planning that would give you comfort in knowing that if something unfortunate were occur to you, your enterprise would perpetuate for the benefit of the next of kin (and selfishly the rest of us), wihout having to hope that the interns can and would carry the baton for the benefit of your family.

    Like many great entrepeneurs, I am concerned that what you could have neglected a critical part in the original business plan that may have been sketched out
    (if at all) on the back of a bar napkin somewhere, which is a succession plan, or an exit strategy.

    At some point; some day, you may need or want a way out. Given the apparent direction of the journalism field and the advancement of technology in ways that make it harder to protect and enforce intellectual property rights, that could become more challenging as time marches on.

    Now, to the article, I do have to take some exception to the commentary that:

    “[Miller] is not an ideologue for any cause,he just has no patience for stupidity in government.’’

    These two characteristics are mutually exclusive, by their very nature. What defines stupid government is in the eyes of the beholder, and as such what one believes to be stupid, another may perceive as desirable or necessary.

    Advocacy for changes in government based on perceived stupidity, could automatically qualify one as an ideologue, not that there’s anything wrong with that.

    As a matter of fact, that is one of the things that make your site and service attractive. People appreciate your insight and perspective,on policy issues and process, even though they may not always agree. Your readers get the benefit of that perspective; for the most part, without outward advocacy for or against individuals that agree, or disagree with your perspective, which is markedly different from most political sites.

    For the most part; you handle the disagreement of issues with some measure of diplomacy, unless of course you are operating in what appears to be either sleep deprivation, or caffeine overload mode, either one of which results in the short but effective “bite me” rebuttal, which in many cases (even my own) may be well desrved.

    Hopefully you’ll take this as it is sincerely intended; and I won’t end up on the receiving end of a “bite me” to start my day, but rest assured, I have had worse wake up calls, so I am somewhat bullet proof in that regard, and won’t take it personally.

  4. - You Go Boy - Saturday, Jan 30, 10 @ 6:12 am:

    Good for you, Rich. To thine own self be true - plus you don’t have that heavy mortgage, tax, insurance…..Think Thoreau (when angryf at the pond)

  5. - soccermom - Saturday, Jan 30, 10 @ 6:50 am:

    “Wanna see my picture on the cover
    “Wanna buy five copies for my mother
    “Wanna see my smilin’ face
    “On the cover of the Illinois Issues….”

  6. - Give Me A Break - Saturday, Jan 30, 10 @ 7:44 am:

    Rich: Just please let us all know you are not holding out for an Illinois Issues Centerfold. Please, just confirm that. Please. LOL

  7. - Pot calling kettle - Saturday, Jan 30, 10 @ 8:12 am:

    Less photogenic than the pension plans? That’s kinda sad. LOL

  8. - JonShibleyFan - Saturday, Jan 30, 10 @ 8:15 am:

    Great stuff. The one-to-two drink ratio. I’ve watched that unfold from a safe distance and chuckled on a few occasions.

  9. - Billy Dennis - Saturday, Jan 30, 10 @ 8:36 am:

    There is NOTHING quite like a reporter being the subject of someone’s reporting.

  10. - Man at the Lake - Saturday, Jan 30, 10 @ 8:38 am:

    Rich, This is really a great story. In your own way, you have made a difference in Springfield. Keep up the good work. You are appreciated.

  11. - wordslinger - Saturday, Jan 30, 10 @ 8:46 am:

    Cover of Illinois Issues? Dude, reach for the stars: GQ.

  12. - Responsa - Saturday, Jan 30, 10 @ 8:53 am:

    Farm Boy Makes Good. Geez, Rich, from that article it sounds like you and your wife belong in the 10th district!

    In all seriousness, your inherent understanding of what a big, complex, economically and socially diverse state Illinois is, is one of the reasons your political insights are so valuable and unique to your readers. The working reporters who came to the bright lights from out of state and even those who were born and raised in Chicagoland often don’t quite seem to “get” it. With your background, you do.

    Congratulations on being the subject of a cool article.

  13. - Dana Heupel - Saturday, Jan 30, 10 @ 8:55 am:

    Rich: Unfortunately for you, we had Oprah on our January cover, and we figured that two glamorous, wealthy celebrities back to back would just be too much glitz for our normally staid readers to absorb. ;) As you know, timing is everything — maybe next time. Glad you liked the article.

  14. - Been There - Saturday, Jan 30, 10 @ 9:06 am:

    ===Of course, Kevin goes on to overestimate my income, but he’s not alone. Just so you know, it’s not even close to what he or others think===
    Rich, we know how to do the math. You accidentally sent out an “Extra Cap Fax” once and didn’t blind copy when you cc’d. A quick count of email names times what you charge us per year and I think you are doing alright.

  15. - Bookworm - Saturday, Jan 30, 10 @ 9:13 am:

    – “[Miller] is not an ideologue for any cause,’’ suggests lobbyist Todd Vandermyde. “He just has no patience for stupidity in government.’’ –

    Plus, as you told another reporter last year, “I love this state. I love it with everything I have. It’s one of a kind, and I like it that way,”

    That’s another reason why you “get it” when other reporters who don’t know this state, or have barely concealed contempt for it, don’t. Keep up the good work!

  16. - JonShibleyFan - Saturday, Jan 30, 10 @ 10:07 am:

    “You accidentally sent out an “Extra Cap Fax” once and didn’t blind copy when you cc’d. A quick count of email names times what you charge us per year and I think you are doing alright.”

    Tsk tsk tsk…you were instructed to delete that email.

  17. - Justice - Saturday, Jan 30, 10 @ 10:51 am:

    If only we could duplicate you in the other 49 states….! You have an exceptional talent and unique insight that comes with hard work and earned trust. Don’t let up!!

  18. - MrJM - Saturday, Jan 30, 10 @ 11:24 am:

    Bookmark this page –> Folder:Stalking –> DONE

  19. - Screwball - Saturday, Jan 30, 10 @ 11:37 am:

    “Everything you always wanted to know about me but were afraid to ask”

    I wasn’t afraid to ask, I was afraid of the answers.

  20. - Conservative Republican - Saturday, Jan 30, 10 @ 12:41 pm:

    You have justly earned praise for your work product but….

    of course, you can’t let well enough alone:

    Please hold off on your suggestion that you have a simple, commonfolk abode …. a site on Lake Springfield is one of the premiere locations in that town.

    Your political druthers and your thin skin are well documented on this site.

  21. - Angry Chicagoan - Saturday, Jan 30, 10 @ 12:45 pm:

    I would suggest an, ahem, higher volume sales model but who am I to make such a comment? I’ve never paid off a parental loan remotely that fast! And here I find myself actively considering a paid subscription.

    Justice has the right basic idea, except that I think Illinois is still a higher priority. We need a duplicate dedicated to Chicagoland local politics — and the quickest way of getting there, I think, is for Rich Miller himself to get the process started by taking a particularly good intern and developing that intern into CapitolFax’s Chicago Bureau. Whether or not it’s the best way, that, of course, is a call for the proprietor. But I live in hope.

  22. - KeepSmiling - Saturday, Jan 30, 10 @ 12:49 pm:

    Nice article. You should have been featured in Crain’s while you lived here, as a brilliant and successful entrepreneur. I bet they would have put you on the cover — so long as you gave them one of those Obama like poses.

  23. - A Citizen - Saturday, Jan 30, 10 @ 1:24 pm:

    A shirtless beachcomber Rich would just distract from the beard, hmmm, or would it?

  24. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Saturday, Jan 30, 10 @ 1:52 pm:

    More photogenic when you die?!?

    Well, yeah, maybe. :)

    Rich Miller, Mike Royko and Steve Neal arrive at The Pearly Gates…

  25. - Joe Schmoe - Saturday, Jan 30, 10 @ 2:36 pm:

    Hold it. I hope Rich has a few years left….

  26. - Amalia - Saturday, Jan 30, 10 @ 2:40 pm:

    Rich, how nice for you. and for us to get a window into your
    working world.

  27. - DuPage Dan - Saturday, Jan 30, 10 @ 5:41 pm:

    What an asset Illinois has in Rich Miller. Although there are many resources for information throughout the state it gets distilled and mulled over here better than any place else. Great job!

  28. - Once a Mom, Always a Mom - Saturday, Jan 30, 10 @ 5:46 pm:

    Congratulations on the article. We continue to be proud of all 5 of our sons.

  29. - scoot - Saturday, Jan 30, 10 @ 6:00 pm:

    I enjoyed Kevin’s article…and where would we all be without CapFax!!?? I have been a frequent visitor of the blog since 2003 and I must admit, I need my CapFax daily or I feel lost.

  30. - Perplexed & Perturbed - Saturday, Jan 30, 10 @ 6:54 pm:

    Made a great story and would have made a great cover.

  31. - Ann - Sunday, Jan 31, 10 @ 12:41 pm:

    Great article! I loved the Christine Radogno quote. Very nice indeed. Sorry about the cover!

  32. - In the Loop - Sunday, Jan 31, 10 @ 7:51 pm:

    Rich, try not to pass away anytime too soon, I need the political intelligence you provide! You are keeping a lot of the political consulting and lobbying community employed. We all just read the column and show up at the meetings saying “my sources tell me…

  33. - Donovan - Monday, Feb 1, 10 @ 7:45 am:

    Very interesting article. I have always wanted to know a little more about Rich Miller and what led him to the point in life where he currently is now. The article helps to explain a small portion of why he chose the path that he has taken.

    If he were of a mind to, Rich has a tempting opportunity to “grow his business” by simply hiring 49 other people (that he feels are qualified)to replicate what he has done in the state of Illinois in each of the other 49 states. A “franchise” if you will. He would soon be akin to Rush Limbaugh with the amount of political power that he would (or could) then wield on a state and national level. There are numerous ways that Rich could structure this business plan so that it would prove extremely lucrative to himself. Yet, Rich would be able to oversee the editorial content so that the “quality” of his business product does not suffer under someone else. I don’t think that the money would ever cause Rich to go in this direction. As it is, Rich can only “eat one steak at a meal” despite being able to afford to eat many steaks at a sitting. However, the one thing that might make Rich consider covering at least several other individual states is to “positively influence the direction of state and national government” in this great nation of ours. The scope of what Rich could do to enrich the very political fiber of the nation would possibly get him to at least reflect on expanding his base of operation.

    What I don’t understand is “why Rich ever chose to live in Chicago for awhile rather than staying down in Springfield”? Seems like he married a smart woman who managed to get him to come to his senses. Just teasing.

  34. - VanillaMan - Monday, Feb 1, 10 @ 9:02 am:

    Nice article.
    I agree - it answered questions I don’t believe I wanted answers to.

    VanillaWife and I are going to have to be more descreet in our ramblings around the Lake. You don’t have binocculars, do you?

  35. - Fan of Cap Fax - Monday, Feb 1, 10 @ 9:16 am:

    Well deserved kudos, Rich! Great article. Love to see you around the Capitol…

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

* Reader comments closed for the weekend
* Afternoon roundup
* The labor beat
* Alden Global Capital is expanding their usual business of gutting newsrooms to buying up mobile home parks
* Question of the day: 2022 Golden Horseshoe Awards
* Winnebago County state's attorney regrets past remarks, says SAFE-T Act "more of a collection issue"
* *** UPDATED x1 *** House Firearm Safety & Reform Working Group rolls out its new bill
* SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Today's edition of Capitol Fax (use all CAPS in password)
* Morning briefing
* Open thread
* Live coverage
* 2022 veto session cheat sheet
* Yesterday's stories

Visit our advertisers...








Main Menu
Pundit rankings
Subscriber Content
Blagojevich Trial
Updated Posts

December 2022
November 2022
October 2022
September 2022
August 2022
July 2022
June 2022
May 2022
April 2022
March 2022
February 2022
January 2022
December 2021
November 2021
October 2021
September 2021
August 2021
July 2021
June 2021
May 2021
April 2021
March 2021
February 2021
January 2021
December 2020
November 2020
October 2020
September 2020
August 2020
July 2020
June 2020
May 2020
April 2020
March 2020
February 2020
January 2020
December 2019
November 2019
October 2019
September 2019
August 2019
July 2019
June 2019
May 2019
April 2019
March 2019
February 2019
January 2019
December 2018
November 2018
October 2018
September 2018
August 2018
July 2018
June 2018
May 2018
April 2018
March 2018
February 2018
January 2018
December 2017
November 2017
October 2017
September 2017
August 2017
July 2017
June 2017
May 2017
April 2017
March 2017
February 2017
January 2017
December 2016
November 2016
October 2016
September 2016
August 2016
July 2016
June 2016
May 2016
April 2016
March 2016
February 2016
January 2016
December 2015
November 2015
October 2015
September 2015
August 2015
July 2015
June 2015
May 2015
April 2015
March 2015
February 2015
January 2015
December 2014
November 2014
October 2014
September 2014
August 2014
July 2014
June 2014
May 2014
April 2014
March 2014
February 2014
January 2014
December 2013
November 2013
October 2013
September 2013
August 2013
July 2013
June 2013
May 2013
April 2013
March 2013
February 2013
January 2013
December 2012
November 2012
October 2012
September 2012
August 2012
July 2012
June 2012
May 2012
April 2012
March 2012
February 2012
January 2012
December 2011
November 2011
October 2011
September 2011
August 2011
July 2011
June 2011
May 2011
April 2011
March 2011
February 2011
January 2011
December 2010
November 2010
October 2010
September 2010
August 2010
July 2010
June 2010
May 2010
April 2010
March 2010
February 2010
January 2010
December 2009
November 2009
October 2009
September 2009
August 2009
July 2009
June 2009
May 2009
April 2009
March 2009
February 2009
January 2009
December 2008
November 2008
October 2008
September 2008
August 2008
July 2008
June 2008
May 2008
April 2008
March 2008
February 2008
January 2008
December 2007
November 2007
October 2007
September 2007
August 2007
July 2007
June 2007
May 2007
April 2007
March 2007
February 2007
January 2007
December 2006
November 2006
October 2006
September 2006
August 2006
July 2006
June 2006
May 2006
April 2006
March 2006
February 2006
January 2006
December 2005
April 2005
March 2005
February 2005
January 2005
December 2004
November 2004
October 2004

Blog*Spot Archives
November 2005
October 2005
September 2005
August 2005
July 2005
June 2005
May 2005


RSS Feed 2.0
Comments RSS 2.0

Hosted by MCS SUBSCRIBE to Capitol Fax Advertise Here Mobile Version Contact Rich Miller