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

Wednesday, Apr 28, 2010

* 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

- Posted by Rich Miller   36 Comments      

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

Wednesday, Apr 28, 2010

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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.

- Posted by Capitol Fax Blog Advertising Department   Comments Off      

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

Wednesday, Apr 28, 2010

* 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.

- Posted by Rich Miller   13 Comments      

When 10 is really 30

Wednesday, Apr 28, 2010

* 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

- Posted by Rich Miller   35 Comments      

Question of the day

Wednesday, Apr 28, 2010

* 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.

- Posted by Rich Miller   51 Comments      

Redistricting showdown in the House

Wednesday, Apr 28, 2010

* 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

- Posted by Rich Miller   14 Comments      

Half is not more

Wednesday, Apr 28, 2010

* 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

- Posted by Rich Miller   20 Comments      

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

Wednesday, Apr 28, 2010

*** 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…


- Posted by Rich Miller   50 Comments      

Morning Shorts

Wednesday, Apr 28, 2010

* 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

- Posted by Barton Lorimor   8 Comments      

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Wednesday, Apr 28, 2010

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* How Jason Van Dyke's projected 96-year sentence wound up being 81 months
* Pritzker campaign official pushes back hard against latest lawsuit
* Reader comments closed for the holiday weekend
* Question of the day
* Pritzker orders "comprehensive review" of problems, opportunities at state veterans' homes
* SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - This just in...
* It's just a bill
* "Trooper's trooper" laid to rest
* RNUG: Vallas' plan "appears to make Chicago's pension problem manageable"
* Because... Chicago!
* SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Update to this morning's edition
* What's up with this lawsuit threat?
* It's Time To Put Our Progressive Values Into Action
* Money isn't yet flowing toward Burke's challengers
* Lock up your guns and vaccinate your kids!
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