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Six degrees of separation

Thursday, Feb 25, 2010

* 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

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - George - Thursday, Feb 25, 10 @ 11:02 am:

    “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.”

    HUH? I continually fail to understand why political and government reporters fail to be bothered with keeping up with the most basic and central political and government issues.

    I mean - its their job to pay attention to this stuff.

  2. - Ravenswood Right Winger - Thursday, Feb 25, 10 @ 11:17 am:

    great article by Bernie.

  3. - George - Thursday, Feb 25, 10 @ 11:17 am:

    Oh Rich…. that was a good, clean joke.

  4. - Scooby - Thursday, Feb 25, 10 @ 11:18 am:

    The IL GOP has had a difficult time getting credible opponents to run against Durbin. Jim Durkin always struck me as a bright guy and a reasonably talented politician and he couldn’t get much traction against Durbin in 02. The most notable thing about the guy they ran in 08 was that I routinely confused him with the punter from the Bears. I doubt Schock has to stack the deck with his party chairmen to get the nomination if he wants to run against Durbin. I would think the party would fall all over themselves if he wanted to run.

  5. - Six Degrees of Separation - Thursday, Feb 25, 10 @ 11:18 am:

    No, I didn’t write the lede:-)

    Interestingly, hundreds of millions in $ of the IL earmarks cited in the Crain’s article about the 2005 transportation bill remain unspent. Not surprised the $15 billion jobs bill got hung up in this new age of scrutiny.

  6. - Anonymous - Thursday, Feb 25, 10 @ 11:32 am:

    Um, there weren’t any incumbents in the Lt. Gov’s race.

  7. - Rich Miller - Thursday, Feb 25, 10 @ 11:33 am:

    Correct, but the results certainly messed with some incumbents. lol

  8. - Angry Chicagoan - Thursday, Feb 25, 10 @ 11:43 am:

    As Mrs. Thatcher would have said, no doubt at a summit press conference with Ronald Reagan by her side casting an approving glance . . . . if you want something you’ve got to pay for it. Nobody in Illinois seems to understand this.

    The longer we put this off, the more painful the solution gets. Tolls on all interstates? Education funding ENTIRELY on local property taxes? A third of the state budget on debt service? It’s time people thought of the consequences of pandering and pithering.

  9. - Bill - Thursday, Feb 25, 10 @ 12:29 pm:

    Raja is nothing if not persistent. If he keeps nagging the committee they might put him on the ticket just to get him to quit calling.

  10. - Just wondering - Thursday, Feb 25, 10 @ 12:31 pm:

    The primary should be moved. Voters are not focused on an election the beginning of February as shown by the low turn out. Trying to campaign with the holiday interruptions was just crazy.

  11. - PalosParkBob - Thursday, Feb 25, 10 @ 12:51 pm:

    It becomes abundantly clear now that using video gambling as a primary source to fund a $31 billion capital pork bill was a major failure on the part of Madigan, Quinn, and Blago.

    It’s really time to start at square one for a capital plan.

    First, we need to ensure that we fund necessary road repairs for which we already have a motor fuel tax and vehicle licensing fees. IDOT has perfomed regular inspections and safety assessments of bridges and roads. Generally, recommendations could be described as
    (1)”needs immediate action or someone will get hurt”,
    (2)If we don’t do repairs or replacement with the next couple years, there may be a safety hazard”,(3)”Normal maintenance advisable to prevent deteriorization.”, and
    (4)The road and bridges are starting to look funky in a powerful politicans neighborhood, a politically connected contractor and union leader wants this job to move forward, and don’t ask any more questions!

    Anything that doesn’t meet classifications 1 or 2 should be cancelled or deferred.

    The same goes for the assessment classifications for state parks and buildings.

    Having the state building gazebos for churches and new town halls and fire stations just isn’t responsible in this state spending crisis.

    IMHO, the best way to handle this is to assess the capital needs of the state agencies, prioritize those items that can’t wait because of safety concerns, then can everything else in the capital bill until fudning is available.

    The state is broke. We’re in a triage condition as far as spending is concerned, yet Springfield still hasn’t realized that they need to go on a SERIOUS austerity program, INCLUDING Medicaid eligibility (reduce from 400% of poverty income to 100% to save about $1.8 BILLION), pension and education funding reform.

  12. - dupage dan - Thursday, Feb 25, 10 @ 1:29 pm:

    That thumping sound you hear is Joe Birkett throwing Jim Ryan under the bus, or at least trying to. Birkett might think he can shed his image as complicit in the Nicarico debacle much like a fading starlet who appears in a Playboy pictorial seeking to rejuvenate her career. Many of us won’t soon forget that he pursued the retrials of Cruz and Hernandez with such zeal.

    I wait with baited breath a response from Kunkle to the charge that he was for the retrial before he was against it.

  13. - titan - Thursday, Feb 25, 10 @ 1:30 pm:

    What? Quinn lost in his bid for Lt. Governor?

  14. - VanillaMan - Thursday, Feb 25, 10 @ 2:03 pm:

    Of course Schock is considering running against Durbin. Durbin is a seasoned pro, but everyone has an expiration date politically. By the time Durbin is ready to run again, Schock will be old enough. Aaron has to feel a tingle down his leg watching Marco Rubio in Florida, and wonder if he can do something similar.

    Expect it.

  15. - Jim - Thursday, Feb 25, 10 @ 2:17 pm:

    When Quinn spoke about having a funded capital plan during debates I wondered why Hynes let it go. At that point Cook County had already voted against video poker.

  16. - Rich Miller - Thursday, Feb 25, 10 @ 2:19 pm:

    ===Cook County had already voted against video poker.===

    In unincorporated areas. That ain’t much.

  17. - Jake from Elwood - Thursday, Feb 25, 10 @ 2:21 pm:

    I don’t think Birkett was trying to whack Jim Ryan. In fact, he may have been trying to do Ryan a “favor” by waiting until after the gubenatorial primary to have this media sit-down.
    However, Birkett did throw darts at good decent men like Ed Kowal and Tony Peccarelli. After all, the deceased are not available to rebut his statements. The timing of his metanoia appears scripted–after Ryan’s failed Gov bid, after he announces that he will not likely run for DuPage States’ Attorney again. Very disappointing.

  18. - GA Watcher - Thursday, Feb 25, 10 @ 2:25 pm:

    Palos Park Bob: Let’s not forget that using video gaming as a revenue stream for the capital bill was Republican leadership’s idea. They made it a condition of support for the bill.

  19. - Fan of Cap Fax - Thursday, Feb 25, 10 @ 2:30 pm:

    Raja would be excellent for Illinois. So glad Duckworth turned it down. Let’s get someone who will actually do something for the great state of Illinois. Someone that has the experience and common sense to put a plan together. Raja is it.

  20. - Peoria Joe - Thursday, Feb 25, 10 @ 3:11 pm:

    Of course Peoria is for you. Peoria hasn’t had a state officer for many decades.

  21. - vole - Thursday, Feb 25, 10 @ 3:47 pm:

    Schock for Senate? Not if he keeps parroting the right wing leaders in the House GOP. If he could possibly start emulating LaHood and Michel and show some real moderation in policy making, maybe. But he seems to be off to the races with the radical right. He is in tune with the times in his party, but they just ain’t right. And he is way out of step with his generation. What’s wrong with that boy?

  22. - Ammad Omar - News Desk Editor - Thursday, Feb 25, 10 @ 5:30 pm:

    George: You’re right the video poker was, of course, supposed to raise money for the capital program. Sorry for the oversight, it’s been corrected on our website.

  23. - Gregor - Thursday, Feb 25, 10 @ 6:32 pm:

    Daley is stuck regarding video poker either way he jumps: if he doesn’t want it controlled by the state, he’s in with the Outfit which is making money off it now. if he comes out FOR it, he’s increasing gambling all over and… feeding the Outfit some other way.

  24. - wordslinger - Thursday, Feb 25, 10 @ 7:16 pm:

    –Aaron has to feel a tingle down his leg watching Marco Rubio in Florida, and wonder if he can do something similar.–

    That’s really not a way for one man to talk about another. If you’ve got a tingle, keep it to yourself.

  25. - Boone Logan Square - Thursday, Feb 25, 10 @ 8:56 pm:

    There are words to describe Joe Birkett, but using them will result in permanent banishment from this blog.

  26. - DuPage Dave - Thursday, Feb 25, 10 @ 9:05 pm:

    Does anyone else get the impression I do that Mayor Daley gets creepier with each passing year? He is intolerant of any criticism, and views being expected to ask a question as some affront to his dignity. He is imperious without having any gravitas. He is impatient with everyone and everything. His ability to speak the English language has declined remarkably in the last 20 years. Where his father found a way to amusingly mangle the language, Richard M. merely gets lost between noun and subject, occasionally forgetting the need for a verb along the way.

  27. - Will County Woman - Friday, Feb 26, 10 @ 2:21 am:

    Re: the primary date and the whiners…
    remember the whiners when Obama is in a tough fight in 2012 and likely to lose. the whole purpose of the earlier primary in illinois was to get obama into the white house. so, don’t come cryin’ in a couple of years about doing whatever necessary to keep him there. with each passing day he’s looking more and more like a goner in 2012 anyway, and it’s all his fault!

    re: the capital bill…
    the last thing chicago or any place on God’s green eath needs is video gaming to perpetuate and exacerbate the social ills that have helped to bankrupt this state. i don’t care about the capital bill because it just feeds the beast e.g. politicans focused on special interest at the expense of the public interest. the only interest it served were political interests anyway e.g., construction unions getting first dibbs on the jobs because of the money and other political support they funnel to politicans.

  28. - Will County Woman - Friday, Feb 26, 10 @ 2:26 am:

    then again, obama might night face a democratic primary challenge in 2012.

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