* I’m not sure exactly what this means, but hizzoner’s comments probably sent a chill down more than a few Statehouse spines…
Don’t expect to see video poker any time soon in the city of Chicago.
That’s according to Mayor Richard Daley. The machines are banned in the city. The City Council would have to repeal that ban, but Daley says that’s not on the radar.
DALEY: So I don’t know how anybody can come out for it if we don’t allow video poker in Chicago. No, there’s no discussion. No one’s ever even brought it up.
The state of Illinois approved a measure legalizing video poker last year. That was designed to raise revenue to help the state deal with a massive budget debt. Daley has previously spoken out in favor of video poker.
If Chicago doesn’t approve video gaming, they’re gonna have to find another way to fund the capital bill.
Most likely, Daley wants to put off any decision until after next year’s election. It wouldn’t exactly be easy convincing aldermen to vote to legalize the machines with all the other grief they’re getting from constituents on parking, schools, mass transit, etc.
* Speaking of capital projects, an attempt to keep Illinois’ outsized share of federal transportation dollars jumped the tracks yesterday…
The $15-billion jobs bill the Senate passed Wednesday morning hit a roadblock in the House in the afternoon, partly because it steers a large amount of highway funding to Illinois.
Some House Democrats are balking at the Senate bill because four large states would get 58% of $932 million in highway construction money set aside for special projects. Illinois would get 16%, or about $151 million; California would get 30%, and 22 states would get none.
The controversy means Congress probably will have to pass yet another short-term renewal of federal highway programs for 30 days, instead of the one-year extension the Senate adopted, creating uncertainty and making it more difficult for bidding to proceed on major highway contracts this spring. The law authorizing federal highway expenditures otherwise expires Sunday.
The dispute harkens back to the 2005 surface transportation bill and the additional funding that Illinois and some other states received for special projects when former House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Plano, was in power. Illinois got the second-largest share of those earmarks, which were allocated separately from highway funding distributed by traditional formulas based on population and other factors.
* And speaking of DC, Congressman Aaron Schock is involving himself in some state central committee races and sparking curiosity about his future plans…
Are U.S. Rep. Aaron Schock, and his chief of staff, Steven Shearer, trying to influence who gets on the Republican State Central Committee? And if so, why?
Those questions are being asked by some Republican county chairmen in central Illinois.
And some of them are asking another question as well: Is Schock preparing the way to run for the U.S. Senate against incumbent Democrat Dick Durbin, D-Ill., in 2014?
* And speaking of political parties…
The Illinois House speaker, and leader of Democrats in the state, says only a handful of people have contacted him personally about becoming the party’s lieutenant governor candidate.
One of those is Raja Krishnamoorthi. He’s the former Peorian who narrowly lost the democratic primary for comptroller.
More on Krishnamoorthi…
Less than a month after Krishnamoorthi narrowly lost his Democratic bid for comptroller, he has launched an entirely new political campaign. The Hoffman Estates resident said he has reached out to every committee member to stress what he could bring to that office: votes in the suburbs and downstate.
He also would continue themes cited in his February comptroller bid that he says would transition well to the lieutenant governor’s office: transparency, reform and accountability in government.
Response from members of the central committee has been positive, Krishnamoorthi said Wednesday while in Peoria, where he grew up.
* And speaking of the lt. governor…
Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan’s plan to abolish the office of lieutenant governor in 2015 advanced Wednesday despite Republican concerns that too many proposed constitutional amendments might be vying for the November ballot. […]
In a letter to Democratic leaders, House Republican leader Tom Cross warned that a “judicious and prioritized approach” is needed to decide which amendments should go before the voters due to restrictions on the number that can appear on the ballot. Other amendments under consideration, for example, include redistricting reform and a progressive income tax.
Meanwhile, state Rep. Lou Lang’s proposal that would require candidates for governor and lieutenant governor to run as a team in the primary cleared a House committee Tuesday. Lang, a Skokie Democrat, said his proposal made more sense than completely abolishing the office because it “would solve the problem you’ve heard recently of candidates not being vetted by political parties.”
* While we’re on the subject of primaries…
Illinois lawmakers are moving ahead with plans to push back the state’s early February primary to a later date.
A Senate committee and then the full Senate Wednesday voted without opposition for Senate Bill 355, which would move Illinois primaries to the third week of March. That’s when it was traditionally held before it was moved up to early February in 2007 to help then-presidential candidate Barack Obama.
The measure now heads to the House.
Charles Thomas says the date change should’ve happened sooner…
The fact remains that the General Assembly’s powers-that-be could have [changed the primary date] last year and affected the election three weeks ago. Former IRC chairman Patrick Collins told me the 2009 non-decision was like “passing an incumbent’s protection act” in Illinois because the short campaign season favored those already in office and gave Cullerton and Madigan the best chance to sustain their democratic majorities in the Senate and House.
Collins’ prediction didn’t work out too well considering the lt. governor’s race.
* Prosecutor Joe Birkett may sit out the next primary…
With the murderer of Jeanine Nicarico now sitting on death row, DuPage County State’s Attorney Joe Birkett said it is getting time for him to find a new seat as well.
Birkett said during an informal press conference Wednesday that when his term is over in November 2012, he likely will not seek re-election.
* Birkett also made some interesting allegations yesterday…
The special prosecutor whose investigation led to criminal charges against seven DuPage County law officers for their handling of the Jeanine Nicarico murder case earlier had told prosecutors they had a “moral obligation” to try the case, DuPage County State’s Attorney Joe Birkett said Wednesday.
Birkett said William J. Kunkle, who in 1999 prosecuted the so-called DuPage 7 case, had five years earlier reviewed the case for then-State’s Attorney Jim Ryan. At that time, the Illinois Supreme Court had just overturned the second conviction of one of the Nicarico defendants, Rolando Cruz.
Kunkle told Ryan “not only is there sufficient evidence to go forward, you have a moral obligation to take the case to trial,” Birkett said.
He also said this…
In an extraordinary, two-hour interview with a handful of reporters and commentators — including some who have been highly critical of his office — Du Page County State’s Attorney Joe Birkett said Wednesday morning that, in his opinion, charges never should have been brought against the three initial suspects in the Jeanine Nicarico murder case.
* Other stuff…
* Tensions Rise over Redistricting
* Senate committee OKs helmets for motorcyclists younger than 18
* Illinois ponders ‘sexting’ trend
* Oak Lawn considers video gambling
* Voice of The Southern: Let state voters choose between doctors and lawyers