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Afternoon videos: Mell, Blagojevich, Med-Mar, Feigenholtz, Softball

Wednesday, Apr 28, 2010 - Posted by Rich Miller

* If you missed it below, here’s the video of Rep. Mell’s remarks on the House floor today about her engagement…

* Several House members then rose to congratulate her. All but one was a Democrat. The lone Republican well-wisher was Rep. Mark Beaubien

* Rod Blagojevich was on the Fox News channel last night. Watch if you dare

And if you really have a strong stomach, Fox has posted the unedited interview. Part 1 and Part 2.

* The Illinois Family Institue has posted a video about the “addiction” problems associated with medical marijuana

* Rep. Sara Feigenholtz and Sen. AJ Wilhelmi talk about their adoption rights bill

* Once again, the Illinois Channel covered the annual House vs. Senate softball game. I’ve clipped the intro and posted it on YouTube. The clip features your faithful servant

You can watch the full, higher definition video by clicking here.

* Related…

* If art bill signed, no state funds would finance Blago portrait

* No tax dollars for Blagojevich honor

* Bill to block public funding for Blago portrait heads to governor

* That didn’t take long: Black’s portrait bill headed to Quinn after minute of consideration in Senate

* Senate Nixes Taxpayer-Funded Blagojevich Portrait

* Ill. lawmakers vote to make Blagojevich pay for his own portrait

* Emanuel not subpoenaed in Blagojevich case

* Blagojevich’s book publisher folds


ACT NOW: Tell your legislators to pass HB 6425 / SB 107 this year

Wednesday, Apr 28, 2010 - Posted by Capitol Fax Blog Advertising Department

[The following is a paid advertisement.]

HB 6425 / SB 107, the Broadband Investment and Consumer Choice Act, seeks to modernize Illinois’ outdated telecom laws, which will encourage investment in the broadband networks that Illinois companies, entrepreneurs and individual consumers rely on to grow and thrive.

In a time when our state’s unemployment rates exceed 11 percent, updating our telecommunications laws has the potential to create or retain more than 100,000 jobs for Illinois residents.

ACT NOW. Visit to e-mail your state legislators today and encourage them to support HB 6425 / SB 107, to spur investment in broadband and wireless infrastructure that all of us count on for work, education, health care and much more.

If we don’t act this year, our state runs the risk of losing companies and jobs to states with more forward-thinking policies.

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This just in… Quinn says “No” to amnesty, “Yes” to longer session

Wednesday, Apr 28, 2010 - Posted by Rich Miller

* 12:55 pm - Well, there goes maybe $250 million down the drain

Gov. Pat Quinn said today he isn’t inclined to go along with a tax amnesty program to raise money for the cash-strapped state. […]

“We’ll look at anyone’s proposal, but I wouldn’t hold my breath,” Quinn said. “We already had one in 2003. You can’t have amnesties all of the time. After a while, people start to think just wait for the next amnesty.” […]

Quinn ducked a question about calling lawmakers into special session if they leave town without approving the income tax surcharge he wants for education. The legislature has set a May 7 adjournment date, but Quinn talked about continuing budget negotiations through the entire month.

He has a valid argument, but as I told subscribers last week, the Democratic leaders wanted to use that amnesty cash to help shield education from Quinn’s proposed cuts. And Quinn’s comments on negotiating the budget through the month of May looks ominous to Statehouse types who would rather not deal with this crud any more.

And the governor said he’s hoping to find a magic pony at the bottom of that wretched pile…

“The thing that we would like to see, if at all possible, is getting more money for education from Washington,” the governor said today after speaking to a group of park district executives in Springfield.

Illinois got about $1 billion last year from the federal government for schools but Quinn said “we have to be realistic” and not expect that much again.

* 1:04 pm - The governor also said he supports legislation that passed both chambers to tie gubernatorial candidates to lt. governor candidates in the primary.


When 10 is really 30

Wednesday, Apr 28, 2010 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Woods Bowman has forgotten more about state budgets than most of us will ever know. Today he explains why a ten percent “across the board” state budget cut is actually much deeper than it appears

Nearly a quarter of the state budget goes to Medicaid. The good news is that the federal government reimburses nearly half of this amount. That is also the bad news, because $2 of cuts are necessary to achieve $1 in savings, and federal law imposes lower limits on types of services and scope of coverage a state must provide to receive any federal reimbursement. Simply put, that means sick people receive fewer services and they remain sick and get sicker instead of better.

Another quarter of state spending goes to school districts and local governments. Cutting state spending in this area only pushes the problem onto the property tax - the dominant tax source at local levels. Cutting appropriations to state universities and scholarship aid, which are 4 percent of the budget, would force increases in tuition and parental contributions.

Ten percent of state spending goes for debt service and pensions that, as legal obligations, cannot be cut - period. Finally, nearly 8 percent of spending is for transportation, which is financed by taxes on gasoline, license fees and the like.

These objects of spending account for more than two out of every three dollars flowing through the budget. Thus a 10 percent budget cut translates into a 30 percent cut, more-or-less, in the remainder of the budget. This is why it would be unwise to try to cut our way out of the problem.

The most visible proponent of the ten percent across the board cut is, of course, Republican gubernatorial nominee Bill Brady.

* Speaking of Brady, his running mate has a new Internet video of college students talking about why they support Jason Plummer. Watch

* Back to the session, there isn’t much faith out there that the General Assembly can adjourn by May 7th. Instead, as I’ve already told you, there’s an idea floating around to finish up the substantive issues by the 7th, then come back and do the budget…

“Do I believe that the General Assembly will recess May 7, or whatever that date is? Yes I believe they will,” [Sen. Dan Rutherford (R-Chenoa)] said. “Do I believe the budget will be put together properly? No I do not.”

But Sen. Toi Hutchinson, who is rapidly becoming one of my favorite freshmen for her reasonable outspokenness, is not enamored with the idea

Hutchinson said this is just the latest excuse for lawmakers to push the state’s serious budget problems further down the road.

“The state of affairs in the state of Illinois, and the number of people that they affect should be priority No. 1…I’d like to keep working, but that’s not my call.”

* If you watched the video in a post below, you know that Speaker Madigan is still hopeful they can adjourn by the 7th, but doesn’t want to make any “mistakes” in any rush to get out of town

* Related…

* Tribune: More kids, more choices: This is all far from a done deal. Opponents may have been caught by surprise by the strong approval in the Senate. We expect a tight vote in the House. And, unfortunately, an amended bill will have to go back to the Senate for another vote. That opens the door for more politicking. It makes this program vulnerable to getting lost in the rush to finish the legislative session.

* Illinois credits program changes with $300M Medicaid savings

* JG-TC: Lawmakers can’t keep delaying budget work

* Pension fund denounces IOU plan

* Pension argument pits ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’

* Reducing benefits, raising taxes among proposed pension fixes

* Ideas on how to fix the pension crisis

* First steps to solve pension crisis

* DH: First steps to solve pension crisis

* DH: Now is time for resolve, reason: But the solutions will not be found in demonizing the beneficiaries of a flawed system nor in lashing out defensively at the system’s critics. Solutions will come from doing what hasn’t been done - establishing firm standards on what constitutes a fair pension and how it will be paid for.

* Despite reforms, professor says Illinois pensions are still in crisis


Question of the day

Wednesday, Apr 28, 2010 - Posted by Rich Miller

* The setup

During an interview Tuesday on WLS Radio in Chicago, Scott Lee Cohen said he’s weighing his options [about running for governor as an independent] and will make his decision sometime this week.

* The Question: Assuming he does gather 25,000 valid signatures (a big “if”), who should be his running mate? Explain.

Keep it clean, people. Let’s also confine these choices to Illinoisans who are still alive. But snark is heavily encouraged.


Redistricting showdown in the House

Wednesday, Apr 28, 2010 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Yesterday’s debate over redistricting in a House committee got a bit intense yesterday

Rep. Jim Durkin, R-Western Springs, even said that if the Democratic plan winds up being added to the Illinois Constitution, Republicans might refuse to take part in the new system for drawing political boundaries.

“Be forewarned, be forewarned. That’s all I’m saying,” Durkin said. “If it comes to a constitutional crisis, so be it.”

So, if 60 percent of voters who vote on the question or a majority of voters who vote in the election approve the proposal, the Republicans wouldn’t go along? Really? Doubtful. Then again, it’s also doubtful that the Democratic proposal will make it to the ballot since the House Democrats don’t have the required three-fifths majority.

* There were some racial fireworks as well

The debate turned heated on how the Fair Map Amendment would protect voting rights for minorities. [The League of Women Voters’ Chris Butler] said he took “strong offense” to the committee “parading as great defenders of minority rights.”

Raoul countered, saying African-Americans did not support the Fair Map Amendment during earlier redistricting hearings.

“Don’t bring tokens out here to defend something like that,” he said. “It’s insulting to my community as an African-American.”


We caught that exchange on video. Watch

* House GOP Leader Tom Cross, however, said he’d be open to changing his proposal, which is backed by the League of Women Voters and others, to provide more protections for minorities

That sorta undercuts the argument by the League that their proposal isn’t strong enough on minority representation. And some wondered why the proposal wasn’t changed after Senate GOP Leader Radogno said she was open to changing it

After the Republican plan was shot down in a Senate committee, Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno, the sponsor of the amendment, said she would be willing to add more protection for minority populations. That was a major area of criticism from Democrats, and some supporters of “Fair Map” say it could be stronger on this point.

Radogno added that she thought concerns over diversity representation were not the real reason for Democratic opposition. She said Democrats’ true worry was the legislature losing its map-drawing power.

Yet the Republicans did not call what they perceived as the Democrats’ bluff today. The amendment they presented was identical to the one that stalled in the Senate, and many Democrats said their desires to protect minority voters played into their “no” votes.

“The question is, why do you not enhance the ability for communities of interest and minorities … to have their seat at the table,” said Rep. Lou Lang, a Democrat from Skokie.

* The House Republicans are planning to make a stink on the floor today after their redistricting proposal didn’t get out of committee. Speaker Madigan told my intern Barton Lorimor yesterday that he plans to call the Democratic proposal today

* And this is true up to a point

Democrats have accused the League of cooperating with Republicans in exchange for financial support. Both Republican leaders – Rep. Tom Cross of Oswego and state Sen. Christine Radogno of Lemont – have made contributions from their campaign funds. The League’s executive director, Jan Czarnik, defended the organization’s decision to work with the GOP on the proposal.

“In my judgment, and I’ve been around here a long time as a public interest advocate, if the political situation were reversed the Democrats would be supporting our effort and the Republicans would be opposing our effort because this isn’t about ideology,” Czarnik said. “It’s about the power to draw the maps.”

No question that a lot of this is about politics, but the League undoubtedly blew it by not getting its ducks in a row on the minority represenation questions.

* Your roundup…

* Leaders still pushing for, against STAR bonds

* The STAR bonds debate: Where does it stand?

* SIUE students return to Springfield to ensure MAP grants

* EIU increases tuition by 6.2%

* Pantagraph: Time to put true remap reform on fall ballot

* Illinois Legislature sends `sexting’ bill to Gov. Quinn

* Lawmakers address “sexting” craze

* Monkey ban on governor’s desk

* Illinois approves anti-bullying bill that includes sexual orientation and gender identity

* Illinois school bias task force tussles with time

* Quinn appointments held up school discipline racial bias study; group faces May 1 deadline

* Senate votes to end corrupt schools post

* Advocates: Bring back Illinois prisoner early release


Half is not more

Wednesday, Apr 28, 2010 - Posted by Rich Miller

* I’ve been hearing a lot of off-stage ridicule of this constant refrain from the Illinois GOP

Curt Conrad, executive director of the Illinois GOP, said the party has raised more money in the first four months of 2010 than was raised in all of 2009 — when it collected more than $500,000.

“We’ve put in a little bit more of an aggressive approach to fundraising to support our candidates from the top of the ticket to the bottom of the ticket and we’re going to do what we can to make sure we get some wins this election,” he said.

Party officials have claimed to reporters that they’ve raised more cash in the first four months of this year than they did in all of last year at least three times in less than a week.

Their statements may be true, if you only confine yourself to the party’s Illinois campaign finance reports, which shows they raised about $533,000 in the first and second halves of the year for their state account.

But state parties usually immediately transfer most of their money into their federal campaign accounts. And, indeed, the IL GOP did send almost all of their ‘09 cash to their federal account numerous times during the first and second halves of last year.

However, the state GOP also raises money specifically for their federal account. The state party’s year-end FEC report shows they pulled in a little over $1.5 million in 2009.

Their latest federal account filing for this year (April 20th, 2010) shows they’ve raised $305,000.

In an apples to apples comparison, the Illinois Republican Party is actually way behind last year’s fundraising pace, at least in their reporting. Their April, 2009 filing shows they raised about $676,000. So, they have reported raising less than half the cash this year than what they reported raising at this point last year.

Unless they’ve got a ton of cash in their state account which they haven’t yet transferred over, “half” is not “more.”

* In other political news, this is not exactly news if he’s telling the truth

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Mark Kirk won’t attend next month’s Illinois Republican Party fundraiser featuring Sarah Palin, campaign aides said Tuesday.

Instead, his aides said, the five-term North Shore congressman will be in Washington for House votes on May 12 when the former vice presidential candidate is scheduled to be in Rosemont raising money.

Kirk sought — but did not get — supportive words from Palin last fall during the Senate primary campaign. Palin was coming to Chicago to tape an episode of “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” and Kirk sent a memo asking Palin to “say something quick and decisive” in support of his campaign.

Neither Senate President John Cullerton nor House Speaker Michael Madigan are attending today’s presidential visit to Quincy for the exact, same reason. They have work to do. So, while this could make for an easy jab at Kirk, he needs to be in DC if he does have votes scheduled and not hanging around with Palin.

* And this sober analysis is why Mark Ambinder is one of the best political writers in DC

The White House is not trying to push [Democratic US Senate nominee Alexi Giannoulias] out of the race at the moment. They want to wait and see how the bank closure plays out. They assume that if Giannoulias drops steadily in the polls, he will get the hint, being ambitious but not to the point of blind arrogance.

Then the state’s 19 central committee chairs would decide the nominee. That’s where another Madigan — Michael Madigan, Lisa Madigan’s father — comes into play. He’s the party chair. And his principal concern is to hold on to his statehouse majority. He’s not the type of pol who’d be receptive to pressure from the White House.

There is one other matter. President Obama does not feel responsible for having created the morass from which the Illinois party must escape. So he does not particularly enjoy being told that he has to be the one with the rope doing the pulling. That said, if Giannoulias keeps his standing in the polls to within a few points of Mark Kirk, there’s a good chance that Obama will campaign for his old friend.

That’s all true. And with none of the crazy, breathless goofiness that we’re getting in most other reportage on this campaign.

* Related…

* “Enthusiastic” Voters Prefer Republicans over Democrats by 20 Points, New Poll Says

* Democrats’ young voter problem

* Senate race in Illinois: New meaning for toxic loans

* Obama and Giannoulias at Quincy Wednesday

* Houlihan on Giannoulias vs. Kirk: Alexi’s In to Win

* Sarah Palin to appear at Republican fund-raiser in Rosemont

* House Next Door To Giannoulias Brother Irreparable

* Bill allows Ill. gubernatorial candidates to pick running mates

* Senate votes gov, lt. gov run on one ticket in primary election

* Lawmakers want gov/lt gov ticket in primary

* Walsh to file House disclosure form late, pay fine

* State Capitol Q&A: State Board of Elections debuts new website


*** UPDATED x2 *** Rep. Mell: “You can’t legislate who you love”

Wednesday, Apr 28, 2010 - Posted by Rich Miller

*** UPDATE - 12:35 pm *** Rep. Mell is speaking now. Listen or watch by clicking here.

Here’s the video of Rep. Mell’s remarks

[ *** End of Update *** ]

* Rep. Deb Mell (D-Chicago) made a big announcement on Chicago Tonight last night

State Rep. Deb Mell said she wants nothing more than to marry her partner of nearly six years in her home state of Illinois.

Mell — who six years ago turned to her father, Ald. Richard Mell, 33rd, to help her put a public face on families where a member is gay — plans to announce her engagement to Christin Baker on the House floor Wednesday.

“I want to spend the rest of my life with her, and I want to get married in Illinois,” Mell, D-Chicago, said Tuesday during an interview on WTTW’s ” Chicago Tonight” news program. “I mean, we could go to Iowa, and Iowa’s great … I went to school in Iowa. But you know what? It’s not the state where I represent, and it’s not the state where I grew up in.”

Mell, 41, said she hopes her announcement will spark public discussion about gay marriage in Illinois. Mell is Patti Blagojevich’s sister.

We’ll try to get video of the announcement today.

* Carol Marin interviewed Mell last night and she filed this column about the interview

“I have to go to Iowa,” Mell said Tuesday, “a great state, but not where I grew up, not where my friends and family are.”

What will she tell her colleagues?

“That you can’t legislate who you love and can’t punish people for it,” she said. “That we are a regular couple, pay taxes, own a home, have a great belief in God.”

Baker, national director of arts and humanities for YMCA USA, will also be on the House floor Wednesday. It will be her 35th birthday.

And, Mell said, “She will be wearing my Mom’s ring.”

Margaret Mell died in 2006, but not before telling her daughter “how much she liked Christin.”

I wouldn’t read the comments if I were you. Man, newspapers really need to get a handle on their idiotic commenters.

* Video

* Meanwhile, the Paul Simon Institute has released more results of its poll of southern Illinoisans

No surprise that southern Illinoisans are more conservative than the rest of the state. Another result…



Morning Shorts

Wednesday, Apr 28, 2010 - Posted by Barton Lorimor

* DCFS to review support program

The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services on Tuesday named an independent consultant to review the agency’s program for providing services to needy families who are not in the child welfare system, according to DCFS spokesman Kendall Marlowe.

* Sun-Times: Better plan needed to stop carp

* SouthtownStar: Tollway lease needs a look

* Tim Martin’s return

Sources who should know say that former Illinois Department of Transportation Secretary Tim Martin is being pushed to become the new executive director of the Regional Transportation Authority.

The push is coming from Mayor Richard M. Daley, for whom Mr. Martin worked in the Chicago Department of Education and at Chicago Public Schools before becoming Rod Blagojevich’s transportation director.

It by no means is certain that Republicans on the RTA board are willing to sign onto this one. But we’ll see.

* Home sales have soared with federal incentive, but what happens after Friday?

Prices in the Chicago area fell 3 percent in February from a year earlier, but that was a major improvement from February 2009, when the annual decline was 17.6 percent.

That followed the Illinois Association of Realtors report that Chicago area home sales surged 37 percent the first three months of this year compared to a year ago.

* Homicide rate jumps in Chicago, Daley pushes for more gun control

Last month, Daley pressed the state legislature to pass a package that, among other things, would strengthen penalties for unlawful gun sales and ownership and require semiautomatic weapons to be stamped with more sophisticated tracking technology. The package is still pending.

Daley is also asking Congress to reinstate the federal ban on assault weapons, which expired in 2004.

* Daley Going Global With Anti-Gun Campaign

* WLS-Ch.7 drops anchor Kevin Roy

* Newspaper circulation drops again

* Bad Business News for Chicago Papers

* [Quad City] Times circulation beats industry trend

* City renters could get security deposits back in foreclosures

* Madigan leads sweep at South Side nursing home

The raid on Presidential Pavilion, 8001 S. Western Ave., was the latest in a series of unannounced visits as Madigan and her staff conduct broad safety checks at facilities that house high numbers of felons.

Madigan arrived at the block-square building shortly before 10 a.m. with almost 30 police and state officials. She went from room to room talking to residents and staff about conditions.

* State moves to pull nursing home’s license

* Key vote awaits DuPage Water Commission

Cronin and Ramey both said Tuesday afternoon that a backlash from suburban mayors, however, prompted a proposed comprise. Ramey now is rallying support for an amendment that would allow mayors and township presidents to retain appointment power for six of the board’s 13 members.

* Homer Glen village manager resigns

* Oak Forest aldermen go with separate building department

* Elk Grove OKs a leaner budget

* U of I Extension director says reorganization plan near

For Extension, the fiscal year beginning July 1 and ending June 30, 2011, is going to be full of transition year: Multicounty units become effective July 1, 2011. Mailand believes core programs, like locally run 4-H and the master gardeners, won’t expand and will stay local.

* LeRoy alderman worried about revenue streams drying up

* Obama Visits the Heartland

Kirk’s Democratic opponent, Illinois State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias, will be there when President Obama makes remarks tomorrow in Quincy, Illinois.

* Obama visits Iowa to start Midwest tour

* Long lines don’t deter people from snagging Obama tickets

* Quincy Tea Party plans ‘peaceful’ rally Wednesday outside civic center

* Energy, agriculture, Wall Street reforms to be focus of Obama’s White House to Main Street tour

* Security detail for Obama visit much more prevalent than when Clinton visited in 2000


Protected: SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Today’s edition of Capitol Fax (use all CAPS in password)

Wednesday, Apr 28, 2010 - Posted by Rich Miller

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

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About that deleted post…

Tuesday, Apr 27, 2010 - Posted by Rich Miller

* It’s gone. There was a math error that I corrected, but then I discovered, with the help of a commenter, a far bigger error. So, the whole thing is gone.

This is what I get when I know in my gut that something doesn’t look quite right and I post it anyway. Live and learn. Regret the errors. Etc. And thanks much to the commenters.

Here’s the rest of the post with the beginning taken out and slightly edited so it makes sense…

* Mayor Daley said yesterday that more money to hire more cops would be nice to fight crime, but he has no extra money lying around and wants tougher gun laws

“This is all about guns — and that’s why the crusade is on. We hope to get their cooperation in Springfield.”

The cops have a lot of tools to arrest people already. More gun laws might help, but the ones on the books haven’t stopped a whole lot of criminals from breaking the law so far. What’s needed, besides for the communities in question to get their acts together, is more cops on those streets - far more than Daley’s police superintendent wants - and a much more sophisticated use of city resources.

* As for the National Guard idea, there is some misunderstanding of what the Guard does and who they are. The Guard has an MP unit based in Springfield. I embedded with the unit when I was in Iraq. Many of those soldiers are also police officers back home. They are impressively well-trained and they certainly know what they’re doing. This is not the Vietnam War-era Guard of untrained draft-avoiders we’re talking about. These folks are top notch. I watched them in some pretty intense situations and they performed wonderfully. They could definitely handle a Chicago patrol duty.

* Related…

* Surrender policy: Call Meeks : Meeks then contacts police and arranges a meeting place where the suspect can be handed over. He said police have told him that suspects should no longer fear police brutality, thanks to surveillance cameras in interrogation rooms. Meeks said fears remain. But he said suspects have other options.

* ‘Chicago has come a long way’: “Right now, what is lacking in the city is that people involved in violence prevention need to collaborate better.”

* Crime fight is up to us, not the National Guard

* I told you so

* National Guard Proposal Draws Mixed Reactions

* Congressman Davis Says Troops Not Necessary in Chicago

* A brash proposal

* Plea to deploy National Guard simply a cop out

* Quinn not sending National Guard to Chicago without Daley’s OK

* Quinn: Daley Must Request Guard Troops

* Daley: National Guard only a ‘Band-Aid’ solution to crime

* Daley cool to idea of National Guard troops on Chicago streets

* CHA link to Chatham mayhem?


Et tu, Robin?

Tuesday, Apr 27, 2010 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Democratic state treasurer nominee Robin Kelly is Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias’ chief of staff. They are obviously not coordinating their campaign efforts.

For the past several days, Giannoulias’ US Senate campaign has been slamming his Republican opponent Mark Kirk for not giving back all the campaign money Kirk accepted from Goldman Sachs employees. Giannoulias has also called on Kirk to give back money contributed by other corporations accused or convicted of fraud.

Ms. Kelly apparently didn’t get those memos. Her campaign put out a press release this afternoon entitled, in part: “Rutherford should follow Congressman Kirk’s example.” In the release, Kelly notes that Republican treasurer nominee state Sen. Dan Rutherford has accepted $75K in campaign contributions from a Goldman Sachs executive…

“I’m calling on my opponent to donate this dirty money to charity and vow not to accept it in the future.”

Giannoulias’ governmental chief of staff then heaped praise on Congressman Kirk…

Kelly is asking that Rutherford follow the lead of fellow Congressman Mark Kirk, U.S. Senate candidate and standard-bearer of the Illinois Republican Party, who just last week announced that he would return the money he received from Goldman employees.

Specifically, Kirk said he would give back his Senate campaign contributions, stating: “I want to set an example of ethics for others to follow.”

Will Rutherford, who sits on the Illinois Senate’s Financial Institutions Committee, follow Kirk’s lead and avoid a conflict of interest? Will Rutherford do what is ethically right by donating the dirty money or will he side with a Wall Street titan accused of corrupt activity and against Illinois families?

“After all the pay-to-play abuses by Illinois politicians in recent years, we cannot risk electing a Treasurer who will be beholden to firms that accepted federal bailouts and fought against financial reform and hardworking Americans,” Kelly said.

Under the bus goes Alexi.

Also, notice that Kelly’s campaign refers to Kirk as a “fellow Congressman” of Rutherford’s. Rutherford is in the Illinois Senate. Kirk is in the US House. Kelly served in the Illinois House, so she surely knows the difference, or maybe not.

* In other campaign news, 8th Congressional District Republican nominee Joe Walsh is in more trouble. First, it came out that Walsh didn’t bother to mention that his apartment had been foreclosed upon during the primary. Now it emerges that Walsh loaned his campaign $28,500 six months after the foreclosure. The candidate responded

Walsh characterized it as a “terribly risky” loan.

“That’s literally every cent we had, combined with a little extra I brought in that month to try and win the primary,” he said. “Some people might say that’s reckless, but so what?”

Walsh says it was too late to save his condo when he loaned the money to his campaign.

Walsh also failed to file his personal financial disclosure form. Asked if he was trying to hide something, Walsh replied…

Oh God no. Oh God no. Not at all.”

Fox Chicago also reports that two local members in the Schaumburg Township GOP want Walsh to resign from the ticket. The two supported other candidates in the primary, however…

“You have a small group of people with ulterior motives spreading misinformation and attempting to enlist whoever will listen to help them blow marginal issues totally out of proportion,” said Walsh Communications Director Whitney Schlosser.

Schlosser tells FOX Chicago the campaign plans to file Walsh’s personal financial disclosure by the end of the week, along with the required $200 late fee.

Ms. Schlosser was an intern for Sen. Barack Obama, by the way.

* Rahm Emanuel was in Chicago today and talked to reporters afterwards about all the breathless coverage of his statement that one day he’d like to run for mayor if Rich Daley ever retires

“Don’t over-interpret anything. Don’t everybody get excited. At some point, when we come back, which is always our goal, which is why we rented the house. … You guys are way too excited. You guys gotta start drinking decaf.”

No kidding.


When it comes to cuts, almost nobody is willing to step up

Tuesday, Apr 27, 2010 - Posted by Rich Miller

* As we’ve seen many, many times before, people don’t want their taxes raised and instead want “waste and inefficiency” cut by government to solve the state’s deficit problems, but they don’t want any big programs cut. Here are the latest results from the Paul Simon Institute’s poll of southern Illinoisans

The state of Illinois has a budget deficit of over 13 billion dollars. I’m going to read
three statements that people have made about how to fix the deficit, and ask you
which one comes closest to your views…
…taking in more revenue, such as a tax increase 9.7%
…cutting waste and inefficiency in government 60.1%
…a combination of budget cuts and revenue increases 24.4%
…haven’t thought much about it 2.5%
…other/don’t know 3.2%

But when asked about cutting where the real money is, people are opposed…

Do you favor or oppose cuts in state spending on kindergarten through high school education?
Favor 11.7%
Oppose 87.3%
Other/Don’t know 1.0%

Do you favor or oppose cuts in state spending on state universities?
Favor 24.9%
Oppose 67.1%
Other/Don’t know 8.0%

Do you favor or oppose cuts in state spending on community colleges?
Favor 18.5%
Oppose 76.3%
Other/Don’t know 5.2%

Do you favor or oppose cuts in state spending on public safety, such as state police and prison operations?
Favor 18.0%
Oppose 78.6%
Other/Don’t know 3.5%

Do you favor or oppose cuts in state spending on natural resources, such as state parks or environmental regulation?
Favor 35.2%
Oppose 57.9%
Other/Don’t know 7.0%

Do you favor or oppose raising the state income tax rate from 3 percent to 4 percent?
Favor 38.9%
Oppose 58.1%
Other/Don’t know 3.0%

Do you favor or oppose raising the state sales tax rate?
Favor 33.2%
Oppose 64.1%
Other/Don’t know 2.7%

Do you favor or oppose expanding the sales tax to cover services like dry cleaning or
haircuts, which are not currently taxed?
Favor 36.2%
Oppose 60.1%
Other/Don’t know 3.7%

Do you favor or oppose a proposal expanding legalized gambling in the state?
Favor 40.1%
Oppose 54.9%
Other/Don’t know 5.0%

The Southern Illinoisan’s lede about the poll was priceless

There were no questions on the latest Paul Simon Public Policy Institute poll about using gold at the end of a rainbow to fix the state budget, but it may be the only option not panned by Southern Illinoisans.


* As we’ve already discussed, the Civic Federation has pulled its support for a 2-point tax hike because the governor isn’t cutting enough and is piling up too much debt. Notice how Lawrence Msall, president of the Civic Federation, gets around a tough question asked by my buddy Ben Yount…

Msall said Quinn is only going to hurt local schools and local governments if he indeed cuts $1.3 billion from education and shrinks the local share of tax money. “We’d far rather have the governor identify non-priority spending,” Msall said. “What are the things that are a priority to the state of Illinois? Can everything in a combined $53 billion budget be a priority? If that’s the case, then it’s unlikely we’re going to identify the level of cuts that need to happen.”

The Civic Federation has put the price tag for those “needed cuts” at $2.5 billion. Msall said that would require lawmakers to craft a budget that spends at 2007 levels. But he acknowledges that is easier said than done. “Fiscally they are just numbers on a page,” Msall said. “The real problem is politically. The political will to tell people ‘No,’ to tell people ‘We can’t afford something’.” Msall said that’s a question he can’t answer, but he did say Illinois can’t wait much longer for lawmakers to answer it. He said the state’s finances are in such bad shape that the “day of reckoning is already here.”

He won’t answer it for good reason. Almost nobody wants to touch this issue. The public is not alone by any means.

* Bill Brady responded to the Civic Federation announcement via press release…

“The Civic Federation’s report should act as a wake up call for Governor Pat Quinn to finally drop his 33 percent income tax increase plan and instead make meaningful cuts to government overspending.”

Except, the Civic Federation actually supports a much larger tax hike than Quinn does. They just can’t support this budget proposal by Quinn. They’ve never once said “solve the whole problem with cuts and tax cuts,” as Brady does.

* But if you think Brady’s statement was delusional, just check out the governor’s Office of Management and Budget statement which they just released…

The Governor’s Office of Management and Budget is pleased that members of the Civic Federation recognize that we are moving forward on changes that will secure our state’s finances, but what is not emphasized in their analysis, is how budget cuts, borrowing and the surcharge for education are all necessary this legislative session to move Illinois toward budget and fiscal stability.

Budget cuts in discretionary spending made by the Quinn administration both last year and this year
must continue and new revenues are needed to restore fiscal balance. One without the other cannot do the job. Both are necessary to secure our state’s bond ratings and the ability to engage in the short-term
and intermediate term borrowing needed to pay our bills on time.

Our budget plan makes the tough decisions necessary to address the state’s challenges and provides
solutions to pay our bills, protect jobs, and save taxpayers money.

Where, oh were, to begin? I don’t read the Civic Club report as recognizing “that we are moving forward on changes that will secure our state’s finances” at all. They look at the proposed budget as a cop-out.

The Civic Federation also points out that Quinn wants to use a tax increase to negate his education cut. Instead, they say, they oppose Quinn’s proposal “to raise taxes primarily to avert spending cuts rather than to pay down the deficit or reduce the State’s other growing liabilities.” That’s kinda circular logic. The state cut education last year and filled the hole with federal money which is now gone. So, it is now in deficit.

* The anti government employee furor has spread to Saturday Night Live

* Related and a roundup…

* : Even for Illinois, this is a crazy way to spend taxpayer dollars: Not surprisingly, Glen Carbon officials and construction trade unions love the idea. Mayors of most other Metro East municipalities don’t. They worry that the development will cannibalize their jobs, businesses and tax bases. State Sen. Bill Haine, D-Alton, and state Rep. Jay Hoffman, D-Collinsville, who represent the project site, also oppose the legislation. They’re skeptical of the developers’ claims that the project will create 11,760 “direct and indirect jobs” at completion. They also worry that for a state with a $13 billion deficit, betting hundreds of millions of future tax dollars on a “single, speculative real estate project” is “simply too risky.”

* Radogno: Income Tax Hike ‘’Dead Wrong'’

* Hamos Defends Plan to Trim Retiree Health Subsidies

* Businesses will have to wait on Illinois income tax refunds

* No money, but Quinn signs bill to pay for guards

* Our View: Inaction leads lawmakers to lose support for tax hike

* Quinn still talking tax hike, but are leaders listening?

* Quinn signs stopgap bill to pay prison guards

* Film, TV flourishing: But pilot episodes for five television series have been or will be shot in Chicago in early 2010. “I can’t think of a time when we’ve had as many television pilots shooting simultaneously,” Moskal said.

* City’s stage scene is in a bind : The State of Illinois can’t pay its bills, and that includes grant money the Illinois Arts Council has promised to various not-for-profit theater companies in Chicago, putting many of them in a financial squeeze.

* Groups argue to lift Chicago’s video poker ban

* Unions, business groups push City Hall for video gambling approval

* City Council may put video gambling on table

* Schools districts may get state OK to issue bonds for buildings without voter approval

* Illinois Democrats, Republicans offer dueling redistricting plans

* DuPage County takeover of water commission hits snag

* Groups provide prison reform ideas

* Time to put true remap reform on fall ballot

* Our Opinion: Don’t weaken revised FOIA

* Anti-bullying bill passes Illinois legislature

* Lawmakers Pass Big Change To Adoption Privacy Act - New Law Would Make It Easier For Adoptees To Learn Birth Parents’ Names

* Nursing home safety plans miss the mark


Question of the day

Tuesday, Apr 27, 2010 - Posted by Rich Miller

* James Warren asks his readers a question

What would the current state gas tax of 19 cents per gallon be if it had been indexed to inflation since it was last raised in 1990?

The answer…

Your per-gallon gas tax would be 32 cents, instead of 19 cents, if indexed to inflation since 1990.

* The Question: Keeping in mind that the gas tax (Road Fund money) is not a price percentage-based tax like the sales tax on gasoline (which goes to General Revenue), but a per-gallon tax, do you think that the state’s gas tax should be automatically indexed to inflation?


Cook upgrades Kirk and the jabs keep coming at Giannoulis

Tuesday, Apr 27, 2010 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Famed political prognosticator Charlie Cook just upgraded Mark Kirk’s chances of winning the US Senate seat. Cook had the US Senate race as a “toss-up” but he moved it a notch to “lean Republican” in the wake of Broadway Bank’s demise

Broadway’s failure will have an enormous impact on Giannoulias’ campaign, and it is entirely possible that the fallout could force him from the race. As such, the race is moving from the Toss Up to the Lean Republican column.

Chris Cillizza looks behind the subscription firewall

“Some Democratic strategists believe that Giannoulias can weather this crisis and remain a competitive general election candidate,” [Cook] wrote. “We are not so sure.”

At issue is whether Giannoulias’ decision to take the failure of Broadway Bank head on — with an ad seeking to explain what happened and why — is the right one. […]

Cook writes that Democrats are likely to give Giannoulias’ strategy a chance to work but that if his fundraising or polling numbers (or both) erode that the search for a replacement candidate is likely to start in earnest.

Frankly, I’ve personally had this race in the “lean Republican” column since Lisa Madigan bowed out and Kirk jumped in. As I’ve written before, Kirk is a nearly perfect Republican statewide candidate. Historically, the GOP must win suburban Republican wome to defeat the Democrats statewide. Kirk’s pro-choice, anti-gun positions are right in line with theirs. And we’ve known about Giannoulias’ bank troubles for over four years, when Speaker Madigan started using them against Giannoulias in the 2006 Democratic primary.

Also, the ad buy mentioned by Cook is, apparently, mostly for show. According to three different buyers, Giannoulias spent just $2,500 on Springfield cable and $20,000 on ABC7 in Chicago, during the early morning news, noon news and the 1 am news.

* Cillizza goes on to observe

It’s worth noting that Republicans have been close to silent about Giannoulias since the bank’s failure, an approach similar to the National Republican Senatorial Committee’s non aggression policy toward embattled Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) last year. Like Dodd, Republicans seem to believe that keeping Giannoulias in the race represents their best chance at winning the seat being vacated by appointed Sen. Roland Burris (D) this fall.

Um, well, I wouldn’t be too sure about that. This Kirk campaign press release just found its way into my in-box…

The Alexi Giannoulias Spin Cycle

From loans to criminals to the collapse of his bank, Alexi has a history of spinning inconvenient truths

Alexi Giannoulias is employing a serious spin cycle as he attempts to elicit sympathy for his reckless decisions that brought down his family bank and cost the FDIC $394 million. As it has often been the case throughout his career, Mr. Giannoulias resorts to pointing fingers when he finds himself in an inconvenient situation.

And this story sure looks like Kirk-generated OR to me…

Two political contributors to Alexi Giannoulias, the Democratic nominee for Senate in Illinois, appear in the government’s evidentiary documents against former Democratic Gov. Rod Blagojevich filed earlier this month.

* Whatever the case, Giannoulias ain’t getting out of this race, the political hooplah surrounding Wednesday’s presidential visit to Quincy notwithstanding. All the huffing and puffing turns out to have been much ado about not a whole lot. Not to single him out or anything, but Eric Zorn was among many who read the tea leaves and proclaimed that Obama’s failure to invite Giannoulias to stand by his side was yet another sign that the White House wanted him gone

How much more clear does President Obama have to make it that he’d be thrilled if Giannoulias did a Jack Ryan and withdrew in order to give the party a mulligan in this key race?

Well, the latest news is that Giannoulias has been invited to attend tomorrow’s festivities at the same time that every other state officeholder was invited. It’s not a campaign event, so the White House sent invites Monday to all statewide officials and people like Senate President John Cullerton, who isn’t going because it’s a session day. The only real “scandal” here is that the White House waited until two days before the event to send out invitations to his home-state VIPs.

Everybody really needs to take a breath. Just look at the way The Hill is preparing to parse every one of the Preznit’s words

What Obama says about his fellow Democrat during his remarks [in Quincy] could signal the level of support the White House is planning to provide Giannoulias’ campaign.

Sheesh. Again, this is a government trip, paid for by the taxpayers. If Obama does say something about the election, he’ll be violating the law.

As I’ve written before, people were telling Giannoulias to get off the ticket four years ago when he ran for treasurer against Speaker Madigan’s choice. He kept moving ahead. After he won that primary, pundits made a huge deal out of the fact that Madigan didn’t seem to want to have anything to do with Giannoulias, and suggestions were made that he’d be better off exiting. He kept moving forward. Last year, all were in a tizzy when the White House brought in a large handful of possible US Senate candidates, including Lisa Madigan, for public wooings. Giannoulias stuck with the plan. Since he won the primary, it’s been an almost non-stop cry for Giannoulias to go.

But he ain’t going anywhere, despite the rumor first spread by Rod Blagojevich that Giannoulias would be moved aside and somebody like Rahm Emanuel would replace him. Pure, utter fantasy. The trouble is, some people want it to be true so much that they can see “evidence” everywhere.

Again, I’m not trying to pick on Zorn, because this “I want it to be true so it will be true because I will help make it so” bias is so prevalent.

Y’all can keep shouting if you want, but I cannot foresee a probable circumstance where he steps aside.

* Zorn adds

Politico’s Ben Smith writes of Friday’s failure of Giannoulias’ family bank that it’s “hard to remember a worse thing happening to a Senate candidate during a campaign”

Really? I like Ben a lot, but he must not know Illinois too well. Let’s see, Blair Hull, Jack Ryan and Alan Keyes - and that was just in 2004.

About the worst thing I know that happened to an Illinois US Senate candidate was when Frank L. Smith ran in 1926. The Senate held special hearings during the summer after word got out that Smith’s campaign was being financed in whole by what is now ComEd and other utilities. Smith was chairman of the Illinois Commerce Commission at the time. Oops. Now that’s bad. Smith won anyway, but the Senate refused to seat him when Gov. Len Small tried to appoint him that December (the incumbent died after the election). The Senate refused to seat him again when Smith showed up to claim his seat in March of 1927. He resigned a year later and Gov. Small was so upset that he refused to appoint a replacement, leaving Illinois with only one US Senator until after the next election.

* The Tribune editorial board once again goes after Giannoulias today

Alexi Giannoulias has a big problem. Last week, federal regulators closed his family’s money-losing Broadway Bank, where he acquired the financial expertise he touted in running for state treasurer in 2006. So where does he place the blame? On Mark Kirk, his opponent in the race for the U.S. Senate.

Kirk, you see, is a Republican, and it was under a Republican president, George W. Bush, that the economy went bad, making many of Broadway’s loans worthless. In a new ad, the Giannoulias campaign faults Kirk for supporting Bush policies that “got us into this mess.”

Giannoulias’ claim smacks of desperation. Anyone truly looking for culprits would start with the people who ran Broadway. Most banks have been able to weather the recession. This one failed mostly because of its own mistakes.

Did Broadway make mistakes? Heck yes they did. Did those mistakes become fatal when the national economy tanked? Heck yes they did. But where have I heard this before? Oh, yeah. Now I remember. The exact same thing happened to Tribune Co. They way overleveraged, then the economy tanked, newstand sales dropped like a rock and advertising revenues dried up and then they found themselves in bankruptcy court. Oops.

There’s plenty of blame to go around, and Giannoulias has already taken the blame for his share at the bank. Giannoulias doesn’t take any blame at all in his new ad, however, and that’s the real issue here. On that point, I wholly agree with the Tribune.


McQueary asks the right question

Tuesday, Apr 27, 2010 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Kristen McQueary really nailed it this week with this observation

For weeks, political observers have questioned whether Republican gubernatorial candidate Bill Brady is ready for prime time.

But the real question is whether voters are ready for him.

Good point.

Kristen goes on to give us some color behind the Bill Brady tax returns controversy…

A circle of Chicago-based reporters grilled Brady at an Illinois Republican Party fundraiser Thursday evening at the Drake Hotel about his inadequate attempt at transparency.

“Quinn e-mailed us his full tax returns,” one reporter asked.

“Why not give all of us copies?” asked another

“You are all available to go to Springfield. Three hours is plenty of time,” Brady responded, sweat building on his upper lip.

The back-and-forth continued for another 12 minutes.

Forcing Chicago reporters to travel to Springfield is probably akin to demanding that Pinckneyville residents pick up their tax refund checks in the Loop. It ain’t a popular move.

* Gov. Pat Quinn is doing his best to keep the Brady tax issue alive. Quinn took two whacks at Sen. Bill Brady yesterday. First, he criticized Brady for only allowing reporters to “glimpse” the returns on Friday afternoon. Second, he blasted Brady for not paying income taxes on his “very handsome” state Senate salary. It’s worth a watch it

* Meanwhile, Quinn took some heat from Latino leaders last night. Quinn didn’t attend the event, sending his COO Jack Lavin and his Hispanic point person Billy Ocasio in his stead. Congressman Luis Gutierrez wasn’t exactly impressed

“I appreciate that the Governor has sent Mr. Jack Lavin and Mr. Billy Ocasio to be with our group tonight,” he said, “perhaps the Governor can come to our next event instead of a fundraiser with the Speaker of the House.”


Problem is, Quinn wasn’t at Speaker Madigan’s event.

Gutierrez continued…

He went on to say that one of the major positions in Illinois is CEO of Navy Pier/McCormick Place. That position belongs to Juan Ochoa. Mr. Ochoa was appointed by former governor Rod Blagojevich in January of 2007. Gutierrez commended Jack Lavin for recognizing Ochoa’s achievement of lowering the operational costs at the Pier and calling it a model of what the state as a whole needs to do. “Yet I have never heard the Governor stand up to defend Juan Ochoa these days when it comes to McCormick place,” said Gutierrez.

“Dime, quien te defiende?” (Tell me who’s defending you), he shouted to the crowd.

Quinn’s not defending Ochoa for good reason. McCormick Place is teetering on the brink of collapse. Not to mention that Speaker Madigan despises the guy.

* On the other side of the political spectrum, Sarah Palin is returing to Illinois for a state party fundraiser

The Illinois Republican Party says the former vice presidential nominee will headline a party fundraiser May 12 in the Chicago suburb of Rosemont.

* And former Gov. Jim Edgar said last night that he will be voting for Sen. Brady, but repeated his vow to stay out of direct involvement with any campaigns

Despite recent criticism of Bill Brady’s budget plans, former Gov. Jim Edgar says he will vote for the Republican nominee for governor come November. […]

Edgar said he’ll be voting Republican, arguing that Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn has not made the most of opportunities to get spending under control.

“The incumbency has not been as good to him as I thought it might be,” Edgar, a former two-term governor.

Edgar, however, said he likely wouldn’t hit the campaign trail to help shore up support for Brady. He said he would rather sit this election out and spend more time in his role as an academic at the University of Illinois.

I had a two-hour lunch with Edgar and Samuel Gove yesterday while I was in Urbana to speak to the U of I’s Institute of Government and Public Affairs. It was absolutely fascinating. Too bad I can’t write about it, but we talked mostly about Illinois history.


Your morning video

Tuesday, Apr 27, 2010 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Baby Ian loves the White Sox. The kid obviously has good taste. But you absolutely must check out little Ian’s thoughts about the Cubs

It’s so satisfying in these trying times to see that at least some children are being raised right.

This is a Major League Baseball open thread. Enjoy.


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Tuesday, Apr 27, 2010 - Posted by Rich Miller

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