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The next unanswered question: What is “reasonable”?

Wednesday, Jun 30, 2010 - Posted by Rich Miller

* It seems pretty clear that the US Supreme Court ruling striking down Chicago’s gun ban will result in lots more lawsuits. The ruling, along with its DC gun ban ruling, claims that “reasonable” gun ownership restrictions are allowed.

“Reasonable,” of course, is in the eye of the beholder. In Chicago, reasonable means this

Chicago may severely limit the number of handguns that can be kept in a single home and ban gun dealers within city limits in the wake of Monday’s landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision that gutted the city’s handgun ban, City Hall’s top attorney said [yesterday].

The court’s ruling “did not say that a person is entitled to more than one handgun, and one handgun is sufficient for self defense,” Corporation Counsel Mara Georges told aldermen at a City Council committee meeting. “We believe that a limitation on the number of handguns to one per person per residence would be consistent with the Supreme Court’s decisions.”

And this

Earlier [yesterday], Georges said a requirement that handguns must be registered in the city will definitely be in the new ordinance. The city also is considering requirements that gun owners undergo training, submit to a criminal-background check and obtain liability insurance, she said.

Also under consideration are ballistics testing or “stamping” of each weapon so spent ammunition can be traced back to a specific gun. “We’ve looked at an assault weapons ban, that’s something our current ordinance contains,” she added. “I think it makes sense to continue an assault weapons ban, to continue allowing only certain kinds of weapons and prohibiting others, prohibiting certain kinds of ammunition.”

And this

Washington requires gun owners to get five hours of safety training, register their firearms every three years and face criminal background checks every six years.

Gun owners there are further required to submit fingerprints and allow police to perform ballistic tests. They must keep revolvers unloaded and either disassembled or secured with trigger locks unless they have reason to fear a home intruder.

Those provisions apparently don’t go far enough for Daley, who hinted strongly at an insurance component to protect public safety workers and taxpayers.

* On the other hand

But one gun rights supporter said many of Georges’ suggestions all but assure a legal battle, calling them “preposterous” and a violation of gun owners’ civil rights.

Owning a gun, said David Workman of the Bellevue, Washington-based Second Amendment Foundation, “is a civil right and you can’t limit a civil right.” He also said it would be illegal to single out gun shops just because the merchandise they sell might poise a danger to residents.

From a Southern Illinoisan editorial

In addition to bolstering our right to possess firearms for self-defense purposes in our homes, the ruling by the Supreme Court offers hope for additional sanity in the ever-ongoing firearms debate. It was a decision hailed by lawmakers from the region, Sen. Gary Forby, D-Benton, Rep. Mike Bost, R-Murphysboro, Rep. John Bradley, D-Marion and Rep. Brandon Phelps, D-Harrisburg.

Bost suggested the ruling will give new weight to the argument for a concealed carry law in Illinois, which he supports. Such laws are on the books in 48 states, excluding Illinois and Wisconsin, and have been equated with declines in gun crimes elsewhere. Thugs are reluctant to strike those who might shoot back.

It might be an uphill fight, but the concealed carry goal is worth pursuing for law-abiding, thoroughly trained citizens, if only to ensure there is no erosion in the Supreme Court’s ruling upholding our Second Amendment rights. We can’t be confident of keeping a 5-4 ideological split on the nation’s high court, and there always be lawyers willing to pursue new firearm restrictions - and well-heeled clients willing to pay for such limitations.

* So, what’s your definition of reasonable?


Question of the day

Wednesday, Jun 30, 2010 - Posted by Rich Miller

* The setup

With her world famous greeting “Hello Pineapples!” and loving heart bigger than her hair, it’s impossible to imagine Chicago without Miss Foozie®. A famed personality and household name in the city’s LGBT community and beyond, she’s consistently voted “Best Female Impersonator”, including nods from the publications Chicago Free Press and New City. She has big plans for expansion and is embarking on a journey to win more hearts across the country.

* The pic…

* The Question: Caption?

Keep it clean, please. I mean it. Don’t test me.


Audit: Sex offenders in day care homes

Wednesday, Jun 30, 2010 - Posted by Rich Miller

* The biggest problem with state Sen. Bill Brady’s gubernatorial campaign is Bill Brady, as his embarrassing and logically challenged flip-flop on the minimum wage showed yesterday.

Gov. Pat Quinn’s biggest campaign problem is the government. Whether it’s the budget deficit, early release of prisoners, or whatever, Quinn has a huge albatross around his neck. This story won’t help

The state of Illinois helped pay for day care services in homes where sex offenders live, the auditor general reported Tuesday.

Auditors found 90 cases in which day care providers paid by the Department of Human Services had the same address as someone on the statewide sex-offender registry. The total number might be even higher because the audit only counted cases where addresses matched exactly, down to whether street names were spelled out or abbreviated.

In one case, the person who was paid to care for children was actually on the offender registry. The provider had a conviction for aggravated criminal sexual assault but received two payments totaling $187.69, according to the report by Auditor General William Holland.

The Department of Human Services was only recently given authority to check the backgrounds of the people it pays to provide child care, said spokesman Tom Green.

But Holland said he was unaware of any previous prohibition and was flabbergasted it never had been done.

What a freaking mess that is. The new law required that DHS check the backgrounds, but Holland’s position is apparently that nothing stopped the department from checking those backgrounds before. The audit is here.

* Related…

* State shouldn’t contribute to 401(k)s, Brady says - Candidate for governor retreats on lowering minimum wage: Brady explained his unpopular votes on some bills by saying he looks at issues like a businessman: Why did he vote against state mandates that insurance plans cover pap smears, mammograms and contraceptives? Because he votes against all mandates which he says raise the cost of health insurance.

* Brady Does About-Face On Minimum Wage Stance

* Quinn, Brady clash on minimum wage

* Quinn, Brady spar as minimum wage climbs to $8.25

* Brady says governor’s race won’t be as expensive as Blagojevich’s 2006 run


Countdown to the budget announcement

Wednesday, Jun 30, 2010 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Doug Finke has a very good article today about the upcoming budget announcement

From the disabled who need help to stay in their homes to school districts trying to balance their own budgets, people who rely on state spending are bracing for Gov. Pat Quinn’s budget scalpel.

Quinn said Monday he’s preparing to deal with the proposed spending plan approved by lawmakers last month and that cuts are coming, although he did not specify where they will land.

Some examples…

“What we’re hearing is the administration is seriously considering cutting the home care program, cutting hours and cutting people off the program,” said SEIU communications director Brynn Siebert. “It costs three times as much to keep a person in an institution as at home.” […]

Don Moss, a lobbyist who works on behalf of mental health and developmental disabilities organizations, said he’s hearing from providers that their contracts with the state to provide services are being cut.

And the teachers’ union isn’t thrilled, either…

“We think this is a budget built on quicksand. Regardless of what numbers they put in the budget book, the funding doesn’t exist to fund education at that level,” Comerford said.

Go read the whole thing. Here’s more from Don Moss

Hints of what Gov. Pat Quinn has in store for budget cuts are coming in paper work for local human services. Don Moss, executive director of United Cerebral Palsy of Illinois, says providers are returning grant and fee-for-service contract papers for Wednesday’s midnight deadline, and they’re finding that some grants have been wiped out.

Moss says services for the people with developmental disabilities, mental illness and addictions will all be affected, although he says services that are Medicaid-eligible will be in the best shape. He says for grant programs, some services will see a three-to-six month reprieve, while others will receive nothing.

* Meanwhile

Republican lawmakers in Springfield are getting in their “I told you so’s” now that Congress has balked at extending federal stimulus funding.

Including in the sweeping plans in Washington, D.C., was about $700 million which was earmarked in the new state budget for a continuing enhanced Medicaid match. But the so-called FMAP money — Federal Medical Assistance Percentage – is not coming in time for the start of Illinois’ new fiscal year on Thursday. […]

GOP lawmakers say the extra Medicaid money should never have been included in the Democratic written budget.

State Rep. Patti Bellock, R-Hinsdale, said Quinn wanted the most optimistic numbers he could find, and now the state is going to have to pay the price.

Keep in mind, however, that the House Republicans did not propose a single appropriations bill or amendment to address this problem.

* And be mindful while reading the following story that the governor and AFSCME negotiated a deferral of half its 2 percent pay hike until July of 2011. They’re getting a one-point bump now

Despite a state budget that is billions of dollars out of whack, more than 46,000 state workers will see bigger paychecks on Thursday.

Judges, prison guards, welfare office workers and mental health specialists will see raises and cost-of-living adjustments worth an estimated $105.6 million.

For some lawmakers, the raises are an example of why the state is in such dire financial straits.

“I just think it shows how Gov. Quinn isn’t serious about getting a handle on this problem,” said state Rep. Bill Mitchell, R-Forsyth.

* Speaking of the Republicans, House GOP Leader Tom Cross has penned a response to Speaker Madigan’s Daily Southtown op-ed…

Since Democrats took total control of Illinois government in 2003, our credit ratings have been downgraded 11 times, the most in Illinois history. A report released recently by CMA Datavision identified Illinois as one of 10 sovereign governments most at risk of default. We are ahead of California and the nation of Portugal. Our financial woes extend beyond the borders of the U.S.A.

Eleven times? Yikes.

* Related and a roundup…

* ADDED: Senator Dave Syverson Makes Outrageous Budget Blooper

* Ill. to begin new fiscal year with deficit, debt

* A disappointing look behind the curtain

* Advocates push to spare services for disabled from budget ax

* New laws kick in Thursday : Almost 50 new laws will hit the books July 1, and they range from high-profile issues state lawmakers fought over to small changes that you may never notice.


*** UPDATED x3 *** Maybe not, and two new Kirk ads

Wednesday, Jun 30, 2010 - Posted by Rich Miller

* The Sun-Times has now changed the wording of its reporting on yesterday’s testimony by SEIU Illinois honcho Tom Balanoff. Yesterday’s post read

[Balanoff] says Alexi Giannoulias, a friend to then President-Elect Barack Obama, asked him to ask Blagojevich about a possible appointment for him.

But that’s now been deleted after the campaign raised a question about its accuracy. Live-blogging is extremely difficult, especially during long, drawn-out events like trials, so these things happen. The story today reads

Balanoff also testified that Giannoulias helped arrange a meeting of Jarrett, Balanoff and Giannoulias to discuss a Blagojevich appointment of Jarrett. Balanoff called Giannoulias to tell him Jarrett was dropping out. “In passing, he said: ‘Maybe he’ll appoint me,’ ” Balanoff testified.

Balanoff testified that he told Giannoulias he would run it by the then-governor.

Blagojevich, in a Nov. 24 meeting, bristled at the thought.

” ‘That motherf - - - - -, I wouldn’t do s - - - for him. Every chance he got he took a shot at me,’ ” Blagojevich said of Giannoulias, according to Balanoff.

So, it’s not nearly as bad as I thought yesterday. Time to move on.

* Speaking of moving on, a day after Mark Kirk apologized again for embellishing his record, he has launched two new TV ads. Let’s rate them.

The first is called “Risky.” The Tribune’s description

In the first commercial, titled “Risky,” Kirk’s campaign shows a picture of a young-looking Giannoulias and then notes he is 34 years old. It then goes on to describe controversial loans Broadway Bank made to men with ties to organized crime while Giannoulias worked there, showing black-and-white pictures of the loan recipients. It also criticizes Giannoulias’ performance as treasurer when a college savings program run by the office lost $73 million.

“Alexi Giannoulias: Trust him with your money?” the announcer asks.


The other ad is called “Stand.” From the Sun-Times

“Stand,” portrays Kirk as a more committed environmentalist than Giannoulias because Kirk spoke out against BP’s plan to discharge more into Lake Michigan while Giannoulias has a top aide who worked as a lobbyist for BP.

Environmental groups The Sierra Club and the League of Conservation Voters, both have endorsed Giannoulias in this race, saying Kirk exaggerated his role in stopping BP’s proposal to dump more discharge into Lake Michigan.

The new ad buy starts on broadcast television in the Chicago area today and cable television Thursday.


From what I’m hearing so far, these are not huge ad buys. But they are getting wide publicity. WaPo

The commercials are evidence that Kirk is following a “your best defense is a good offense” strategy, seeking to use his press conference and these ads to shift the focus in the race back to Giannoulias after a month of questions about the veracity of his military resume.

Kirk is also trying to exploit his financial edge over Giannoulias by beginning to define the race in the costly Chicago media market over the summer — typically a very quiet time for politics.

* Also, the troubles with posting the full Kirk press conference video continued late yesterday when I posted only his speech and not his media Q&A. Here’s the Q&A

View more news videos at:

*** UPDATE 1 *** Giannoulias is responding with his own ad. So far, this is Internet-only. But the campaign claims they will make a buy. No word on how big that will be. This is a one-minute ad that slams Kirk. Rate it

*** UPDATE 2 *** Today’s “Morning Joe” program was simply brutal. Make sure to watch

*** UPDATE 3 *** From the Giannoulias campaign…



Alexi has taken no money from BP, from its lobbyists or executives. Mark Kirk is paying for this ad with BP money: he has taken more than $120,000 from the firm that is making millions representing BP in the aftermath of the spill, $2,500 directly from BP and its executives, $4,750 from its corporate lobbyists, and another $8000 from Representative Joe Barton, who infamously apologized to BP executives on the House floor last week. [FEC; Center for Responsive Politics; Chicago Tribune, 5/18/10]


Congressman Kirk’s record on the environment has cost him the endorsement of the Sierra Club and League of Conservation Voters. They chose Alexi because Kirk has continually sided with Big Oil by voting to protect tax breaks for big oil companies, to expand drilling throughout America’s coastal waters, and to allow drilling in prohibited areas. He even stood with Dick Cheney and Sarah Palin in 2008 to overturn the moratorium on drilling off the Florida coast. [Chicago Sun-Times, 6/8/10]

KIRK AD LIE 1: The Sun-Times said Kirk, quote, “fought hard to stop BP from dumping more waste into the lake.”

TRUTH: Jack Darin, who heads the Sierra Club’s Illinois chapter, called this claim “another case of Mark Kirk exaggerating his resume… He took a boat trip and held a press conference, but I think for him to say he stopped BP is clearly wrong. Unfortunately, Indiana went ahead gave BP the pollution permit for the pollution we were all so upset about, and still are. So BP in fact has not been stopped.”

KIRK AD LIE 2: Alexi says higher energy taxes are on the table.

TRUTH: Alexi has never pushed for higher energy taxes. He supports a market-based system that puts a price on global warming pollution, reduces our dependence on oil and spurs investment in renewable energy and new clean energy jobs. Numerous independent studies have shown that his transition can occur with minimal cost to consumers, and help make America more competitive in today’s global economy.

KIRK AD LIE 3: Alexi Giannoulias’ top aide was a longtime BP lobbyist.

TRUTH: Alexi’s unpaid advisor was never a lobbyist for BP. He was a real estate attorney who worked on zoning cases for BP-Bovis, the construction and development joint venture that converted existing Amoco stations into BP stations. It is required by the City of Chicago that real estate attorneys handling zoning cases register as lobbyists. He never advocated for BP and has done no work on oil and drilling issues.

KIRK AD LIE 4: Now running for Senate, Alexi supports higher taxes to fund billions more in spending.

TRUTH: Every proposal outlined by Alexi includes a counter-part offset to ensure that it is deficit neutral. Alexi also supports pay-as-you-go federal budgeting rules, which Congressman Kirk voted against. It’s no wonder — Kirk voted for every Bush budget and tax cut for the wealthy that tripled our national debt, took us from record surpluses to record deficits, and put the global economy on the precipice of collapse. [HR2920, Vote 612, 7/22/09; HJR45, Vote 48, 2/4/10; HCR353, Vote 79, 3/20/02; HCR95, Vote 141, 4/11/03; SCR95, Vote 198, 5/19/04; HCR95, Vote 149, 4/28/05,; HR4241, Vote 601, 11/18/05; HCR376, Vote 158, 5/18/06; SCR 21, Vote 377, 5/16/07; HR3, Vote 45, 3/8/01; HR6, Vote 75, 3/29/01; HR8, Vote 84, 4/4/01; HR1836, Vote 118, 5/16/01; HR1836, Vote 149, 5/26/01; HR3090, Vote 404, 10/24/01; HR3529, Vote 509, 12/19/01; HR586, Vote 103, 4/18/02; HR2143, Vote 219, 6/6/02; HR4019, Vote 229, 6/13/2002; HR2, Vote 182, 5/9/03; HR2, Vote 225, 5/23/0 3]

KIRK AD LIE 5: As Treasurer, he made risky investments that cost families $73 million in lost college savings.

TRUTH: Even Congressman Kirk has admitted that the problems experienced in one of Bright Start’s 21 funds was the fault of Oppenheimer, not the Treasurer’s office. As reported by the Chicago Tribune, “Kirk addressed a controversy involving Giannoulias’ stewardship as state treasurer of the Bright Start college savings program-and appeared to take Giannoulias’ side… Kirk went after “a state bureaucrat that has a bad record.” Asked by a reporter who that bureaucrat was, Kirk replied it was the person who ran the Oppenheimer “core plus” fund-who is not a state employee.” [Chicago Tribune, 10/12/09] In fact, under Alexi’s stewardship, the Bright Start program went from one of the worst in the country to one of the top five, according to several independent analysis.

KIRK AD LIE 6: At his father’s bank, Alexi made tens of millions in risky loans to convicted mobsters. Then, the bank collapsed.

TRUTH: Because of banking regulations that were strictly followed by the bank, all of these loans were legal and reviewed by state and federal regulators. Any suggestion that these few loans had any relationship to the bank’s financial problems is a lie.

* Related…

* Kirk fails to set the record straight

* Kirk apologizes, again

* Kirk apologizes for being ‘careless’ on his record

* Kirk apologizes again for embellishing military record

* Mark Kirk holds expansive press conference in wake of embellishment controversy. Entire video of q and a

* Kirk apologizes for military misstatements

* Senate Candidate Mark Kirk Apologizes

* Giannoulias, Schakowsky Respond to Testimony

* Blago’s harsh words for Giannoulias: “That mother f—–“

* Balanoff: Blagojevich wanted job for Senate seat

* Blagojevich on Carol Marin: ‘I hate her’

* Blagojevich trial: Day 17 and recap

* Blagojevich trial: Jury hears ‘I’ve got this thing and it’s (expletive) golden’ quote

* Blago’s ‘golden’ comment makes appearance at trial

* Blagojevich trial tape transcripts, text version

* How Explicit Were Blagojevich’s Requests to SEIU?

* Union official: Obama said Jarrett met criteria


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Wednesday, Jun 30, 2010 - Posted by Rich Miller

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*** UPDATED x1 *** Full Kirk video

Tuesday, Jun 29, 2010 - Posted by Rich Miller

* From CBS2 we have the full video of Mark Kirk’s press conference today. Watch it

…Adding… The video is stalling out at the 3:09 mark. They’re working on it. Meanwhile, NBC5 has some edited videos…

* Kirk: “Admit the Mistakes, Own Them, Fix Them” In this condensed and edited video, GOP Senate candidate Mark Kirk apologizes for his mistakes and vows to improve and maintain full disclosure.

* How to Relaunch Your Senate Campaign in 60 Seconds Embattled GOP Senate candidate Mark Kirk apologizes to media, vows full disclosure.

*** UPDATE *** NBC5 has posted the full video

View more news videos at:


Brady backs off minimum wage cut, wants workers to fund own retirements

Tuesday, Jun 29, 2010 - Posted by Rich Miller

* After taking heat from Gov. Pat Quinn this week for advocating a one dollar per hour cut in the minimum wage while being a “millionaire who didn’t pay his taxes,” state Sen. Bill Brady backed off today

[Brady] suggested that the state minimum be frozen until the federal rate rises to Illinois’ level.

“Let’s just say the federal wage should be allowed to catch up with the Illinois rate,” and then the two should move in tandem, he said.

Brady also reiterated his plan to put state workers into 401(K) plans, but with a new twist

Asked how he would pay the costs of converting to “employee-owned pensions,” as he suggested in his speech, Mr. Brady said the state should switch to a 401(k) system that would be totally funded by workers, not the government.

As long as Illinois pays pensions, political corruption is inevitable, as political insiders try to maneuver for advantage, Mr. Brady said. But that could be avoided if the state just paid a good wage and let employees save for retirement themselves, he continued.


*** UPDATED x3 *** This just in… Giannoulias asked Balanoff to talk to Blagojevich about Senate seat - Giannoulias says he “half-jokingly raised the idea” - NBC quotes Balanoff saying remark made “in passing”

Tuesday, Jun 29, 2010 - Posted by Rich Miller

* 2:52 pm - So far, Alexi Giannoulias has said that his only involvement with the US Senate vacancy was setting up a meeting between SEIU President Tom Balanoff and Valerie Jarrett.

But Balanoff testified today that Giannoulias was interested in the appointment as well. From the Sun-Times

“I heard from Blagojevich, he said [Valerie Jarrett] is not interested,” [Balanoff] said he told Giannoulias.

“If the governor called her in the next hour or so if he offered a job would she take it? And he said no. He thought it was a real shame that Blagojevich did not appoint Jarrett.”

Then Giannoulias said this: “In passing he said, maybe he’ll appoint me,” Balanoff said.


[Balanoff] says Alexi Giannoulias, a friend to then President-Elect Barack Obama, asked him to ask Blagojevich about a possible appointment for him.

In a Nov. 24th meeting, Balanoff raises the point.

Blagojevich bristled, he testified.

“That mother f—–, I wouldn’t do s— for him. Every chance he got he took a shot at me.”

Expect a Mark Kirk/GOP response in 3… 2… 1…

*** UPDATE 1 - 3:35 pm *** From the Illinois GOP….

…Balanoff’s sworn version of events directly contradicts at least three claims made by Alexi Giannoulias.

December 4, 2008: Alexi Giannoulias told the Chicago Tribune that Rod Blagojevich’s staff had reached out to him about a possible appointment to the vacant Senate seat.

Giannoulias also said that staff within Blagojevich’s office have “reached out” to him as a possible candidate to replace President-elect Barack Obama in the U.S. Senate, though a Blagojevich spokesman said the governor has not contacted Giannoulias directly.[2]

December 4, 2008: In the same interview, Giannoulias told the Chicago Tribune that he was not “pushing for the seat”

Giannoulias said he’s not pushing for the seat, but if it’s offered he’d have to take a “very, very hard look,” at the opportunity to work in Washington D.C. alongside his close friend Obama.[3]

December 12, 2008: Alexi Giannoulias said that he hadn’t “really thought about” Obama’s Senate seat.

Giannoulias, a Democrat, said he’s been busy sorting through the state’s financial woes following Tuesday’s arrest of Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

“I haven’t really thought about it to be honest with you,” he said during an appearance at Aurora University. “I’ve been focused on trying to do my job and trying to rebuild the public’s trust in us as elected officials.”[4]

*** UPDATE 2 - 4:47 pm *** From the Giannoulias campaign…

“As he has discussed openly, and which was confirmed by today’s testimony, Alexi was a strong advocate for Valerie Jarrett’s appointment to the vacant Senate seat. When Valerie signaled she was no longer a candidate, Alexi half-jokingly raised the idea with his friend Tom Balanoff of being appointed himself, never expecting for the request to be passed along to the former governor. The former governor’s response – an expletive-laced tirade – says all you need to know about the seriousness of this idea and the relationship between the two of them.” - Matt McGrath

*** UPDATE 3 - 5:09 pm *** From NBC’s John Yang

After Jarrett publicly took herself out of contention, Balanoff said he had a conversation with State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias, a protege and basketball buddy of Obama’s, who is now the Democratic nominee for the Senate seat. Of that conversation, Balanoff said: “In passing he said, ‘Maybe he’ll appoint me.’” [Emphasis added.]


Balanoff said he planned to threaten Blagojevich

Tuesday, Jun 29, 2010 - Posted by Rich Miller

* From the Sun-Times’ excellent trial coverage

Union leader Tom Balanoff just testified that right after the Presidential election, he met with both Valerie Jarrett and Alexi Giannoulias about Jarrett’s possible appointment to the Senate by Rod Blagojevich.

Balanoff said he asked Giannoulias to set up the meeting. The three met at the Aon Center on Nov. 7.

Balanoff said at the meeting he told Valerie Jarrett about his meeting the day before with Blagojevich.

“I said: ‘He said some goofy stuff … he could be Secretary of Health and Human Services.’” Balanoff testified. “I told her I told him that wasn’t going to happen. We both laughed.”

Balanoff said he planned to tell Blagojevich that if he didn’t appoint Jarrett then the governor couldn’t expect future help from the union, a major Democratic contributor.

Eventually, Jarrett’s name was withdrawn because Blagojevich kept insisting on cutting a deal.

* Andy Shaw’s take on this morning’s action

The former governor’s defense team just completed the poking and prodding of prosecution witness John Harris in a predictable attempt to undermine potentially damaging testimony about the alleged sale of the Obama Senate seat and some of the other charges in the massive indictment. We got to see two of the defense theories that were mentioned in opening statements and developed more thoroughly as the trial moves along.

One is the so-called “advice of counsel” defense, which says in effect: Blago was sourrounded by attorneys—Lon Monk, Bradley Tusk, John Harris, Bill Quinlan—and if they didn’t tell him anything was illegal, how was he supposed to know? That, however, is an argument that’s been laughed off the legal stage by Richard Posner, the intellectual giant on the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals here in Chicago. The second explanation for Blago’s behavior, from his attorneys, is what I call the “braying at the moon defense,” which means the former governor did a lot of yelling, screaming, scheming and threatening because that was his personality—he was a bit of a whack job, not a criminal. Well, the first part was obvious to most of us for years. That was the governor we elected twice—shame on us. The second part, whether or not he’s a criminal, is, thankfully, up to the jury. I’m confident they’ll do the right thing, which is something we can’t say about Blago and his cohorts.

* The judge doesn’t think Tony Rezko would be a great prosecution witness

One big question hanging over the trial of former Gov. Rod Blagojevich has been whether his convicted fundraiser, Antoin “Tony” Rezko, would appear at these proceedings to testify against his old friend. Rezko, now imprisoned at a federal facility in Wisconsin, has been cooperating with government agents since shortly after his 2008 conviction.

It’s still not certain whether Rezko will testify, but at a hearing before testimony resumed today, U.S. District Judge James Zagel strongly suggested that Rezko would make a lousy government witness.

Zagel said there was a word to describe witnesses like Rezko who damage whatever side calls them to testify. That, said Zagel, “generally explains why they’re not called.” Zagel refrained from actually saying what the word was, leaving the suggestion it was less than polite.

* Roundup…

* Judge James Zagel: New tape won’t be admitted until Rod Blagojevich takes the stand

* 2 veterans tussle in courtroom

* Blagojevich trial: Day 16 and recap

* Differing Views of Blagojevich’s Evolving Senate Schemes

* Blagojevich Tapes Show Tactical Maneuvering and Wishful Thinking

* Blagojevich lawyer: Former governor wanted Lisa Madigan in exchange for legislative package

* Blagojevich to Jesse Jackson Jr.: “I’m glad someone’s thinking about me.” Now Harris to face defense questioning

* Rod Blagojevich: Cheryle Jackson is “f-ing incompetent,” Jesse Jackson Jr. is an “uber-African American”

* Defense: Top aides never told Blagojevich it was illegal to ask Obama for appointment

* Defense: Blagojevich talked Senate seat with lawyer, top aide present

* Sam Adam questioning: Blagojevich advisers were intelligent, qualified

* Blagojevich pumps iron, breathes heavy as he ponders Oprah, Arnold appointments

* Blagojevich suggested Oprah Winfrey for U.S. Senate seat

* Harris: Blagojevich disliked ethics bill that targeted him and not lawmakers

* Judge to Blagojevich lawyers: You can’t see President Obama’s interview with FBI

* Attorney for Robert Blagojevich: Robert not a part of Senate seat strategizing


Question of the day

Tuesday, Jun 29, 2010 - Posted by Rich Miller

* The setup

The Illinois State Fair will pay tribute to the state’s agricultural heritage this year with the theme, “Cream of the Crop.”

* The Question: What would be a “better” State Fair theme this year? Snark heavily encouraged, of course.


*** UPDATED x2 *** Botched political play(s) of the week

Tuesday, Jun 29, 2010 - Posted by Rich Miller

* You gotta be kidding me

A new satellite office located at 420 E. Main Collinsville will serve Southwestern Illinois in providing information, education and outreach services the state treasurer’s office offers.

“This area is expanding and becoming increasingly diverse and there is a real need for residents to have consistent access to programs and services from the treasurer’s office,” said Chief of Staff Robin Kelly.

Both Robin Kelly and Alexi Giannoulias are running for statewide office. Metro East Democratic turnout will be hugely important this fall. It doesn’t take a genius to see that this move has political ramifications.

Giannoulias and Kelly have had three and a half years to open that office, and they chose to do it right before an election and, more telling, during a huge state budget crisis. What a stupid move.

*** UPDATE 1 *** From the treasurer’s office…

We’ve opened satellite offices gradually around the state each year of this administration. All of the locations are rent free, so taxpayers do not pay for the space.

In fact, the purpose of the satellite offices was to save money. They cut down on travel expenses and give employees more time in the office to work and interact with constituents.

Since the first satellite office opened in 2007, we’ve saved nearly $30,000 in travel/operating costs. We are constantly looking for ways to do more with less.

Also, we’ve introduced more accountability to our staff, as no employees are now allowed to work out of their homes, a practice allowed under the previous administration.

*** UPDATE 2 *** Speaking of botched politics. Daily Kos fired the Research 2000 polling firm after their numbers in a round of elections didn’t match up to reality. And now, DKos is about to sue the firm after research showed it may have made up its numbers

DailyKos has published a report by “three statistics wizards showing, quite convincingly, that the weekly Research 2000 State of the Nation poll we ran the past year and a half was likely bunk.”

“While the investigation didn’t look at all of Research 2000 polling conducted for us, fact is I no longer have any confidence in any of it, and neither should anyone else. I ask that all poll tracking sites remove any Research 2000 polls commissioned by us from their databases. I hereby renounce any post we’ve written based exclusively on Research 2000 polling.”

One item the researches discovered was an odd even/odd correlation in the numbers. First, they showed some poll results…

And then offered up this analysis

A combination of random sampling error and systematic difference should make the M results differ a bit from the F results, and in almost every case they do differ. In one respect, however, the numbers for M and F do not differ: if one is even, so is the other, and likewise for odd. Given that the M and F results usually differ, knowing that say 43% of M were favorable (Fav) to Obama gives essentially no clue as to whether say 59% or say 60% of F would be. Thus knowing whether M Fav is even or odd tells us essentially nothing about whether F Fav would be even or odd.

Thus the even-odd property should match about half the time, just like the odds of getting both heads or both tails if you tossed a penny and nickel. If you were to toss the penny and the nickel 18 times (like the 18 entries in the first two columns of the table) you would expect them to show about the same number of heads, but would rightly be shocked if they each showed exactly the same random-looking pattern of heads and tails.


* Other stuff…

* Illinois: No fees for veteran plates

* Rockford spelling champ honored by governor

* Suit money goes to low-income maternal health care

* University of Chicago hospital pays $7M to settle suit over NICU crowding

* Analysis: What’s behind the Attorney General’s investigation of Lollapalooza?: Whatever the scope of and motivations behind the investigation, it is clear that all of these questions will hover over the Chicago music scene until Madigan finally says exactly why her office has set its sights on Lollapalooza–or if she takes one of several possible actions ranging from a lawsuit filed on behalf of Chicago residents, to crafting a consent decree whereby Lollapalooza agrees to change the way it does business, to giving the concert a clean bill of health and ultimately doing nothing at all–which sources say is the least likely outcome of all.

* Illinois Takes a Hard Look at Google


The game behind the cuts

Tuesday, Jun 29, 2010 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Gov. Quinn said yesterday that he would probably announce his budget cuts Wednesday. He refused to offer details

The only area Quinn specifically said would be cut is “bureaucracy,” but he provided no details.

“There are serious cuts in the bureaucracy of state government,” Quinn said. “We’re going to have to tighten the belt as tight as it can be.”

Quinn signed an agreement with AFSCME this past January not to close any more state facilities. The agreement also forbade any state employee layoffs until June of 2011 beyond those already announced at the time. We’ll just have to wait and see how he gets around this one if he’s focusing on the “bureaucracy.”

But Quinn did say he’d protect education and human services as much as he could…

Exactly what he will allocate to each area is another question. As he has before, Quinn said he will do what he can to protect education spending, although the State Board of Education last week announced $300 million in cuts to education programs.

“Last year, we had an effort by the General Assembly to cut human services in half. It was heartless,” Quinn added. “I hope we can prevent any kind of severe cuts in human services or any other important services to people.”

* Today, Quinn said he probably won’t announce his budget decisions until Thursday

Quinn says he’ll sign a budget by midnight Wednesday but may not announce his budget cuts until Thursday morning.

* State Sen. Larry Bomke will be a major target of these cuts. The Springfield Republican has refused to publicly support the pension borrowing plan and he’s already dismissing Quinn’s latest gambit

Bomke said he believes the budget details to be released this week are just more of the same game that’s been played at the statehouse for two years. A game he says won’t end until after this fall’s election.

“It’s all politics,” Bomke said. “That’s what it’s all about.”

But Bomke also says he wants cuts…

Bomke said cuts would be more prudent, and are likely what voters expect.

“The general population is having a tough time. People who are not public employees are finding themselves out of a job,” Bomke said. “And I think the general population is saying live within your means.”

That quote won’t go over too well in Bomke’s district. Expect tons of heat on him to switch to a “Yes” vote on pension borrowing.

…Adding… Illinois Statehouse News has posted a video of the governor’s press availability yesterday. Watch it

* Related and a roundup…

* Zorn: It makes sense to borrow billions

* State fair horse racing more likely

* Brady: Quinn didn’t fire ‘hacks’ Blagojevich hired: Republican gubernatorial candidate Bill Brady said Monday that Gov. Pat Quinn, who took over the job after the ouster of former Gov. Rod Blagojevich, did not remove “political hacks” Blagojevich named to state jobs. He also told the Illinois Society of Association Executives, meeting in Springfield, “I like the director of transportation, but I think that more of an engineering sort ought to be involved” in that post.

* Brady: Reduce tax burden on business

* Brady Rallies, Defends Stance on Minimum Wage

* Bill Brady…A Millionaire

* Readers respond to Madigan’s commentary in Kadner column

* Gov. Quinn names 3 to board overseeing McPier

* Governor, business and labor leaders laud arrival of mobile broadband in Decatur

* Quinn signs bill at Scott to help military kids; ‘It will make it easier on families,’ one father says

* Exit interview: Why Bob Reed went to work for Pat Quinn


*** UPDATED x5 *** Mark Kirk finally faces the media

Tuesday, Jun 29, 2010 - Posted by Rich Miller

* After weeks of dodging this state’s political reporters, Republican Congressman Mark Kirk is finally holding a press conference today

Rep. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) is set to face the press late this morning for a high-stakes question-and-answer session – his first open forum with reporters since acknowledging a month ago that he had misstated his military service during his campaign for Senate.

Kirk, once viewed as a favorite to defeat Democratic state Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias for President Barack Obama’s old Senate seat, has suffered a series of embarrassing setbacks as newspaper reports repeatedly unearthed misstatements about his biography – from claiming that he won the Intelligence Officer of the Year award when he did not, to overstating his experience as a teacher.

Last week, Kirk seemed to bottom out: In a scene belying his status as an accomplished and media-savvy member of Congress, he dashed out of a candidate forum with Giannoulias rather than answer reporters’ questions.

Today, though, he’ll take them head-on, and a strategist familiar with his plans said he intended to play offense too.

“Kirk will lay out the contrast in the race and the choice between his record and Alexi Giannoulias’s, speak to the big issues confronting the state of Illinois, announce policy speeches he will deliver over the course of the campaign, and acknowledge mistakes that have been made concerning his record,” the strategist said.

* I talked with a reporter at the presser who said Kirk has “filled the room with children and veterans.”

NBC5’s Mary Ann Ahern is live blogging the event. An excerpt…

Cong Mark Kirk has a room full of close supporters at the Northbrook Renaissance Hotel, including Astronaut Jim Lovell and several veterans. The plan is for Kirk to give a short speech and then he’ll take questions from the press.

Outside a handful of young democratic protestors are wearing aprons that say “if you can’t stand heat run thru the kitchen,” referring to his jog away from press a week ago at the Chicago Hyatt.

Update in comments if you can. NBC5 says they’ll have video early this afternoon. Check back for updates.

* ABC7 is also covering the event

US Senate candidate Mark Kirk apologized Tuesday for misstatements he made about his military career.

Kirk, who spoke at a news conference surrounded by campaign supporters, called the words ‘careless’ and vowed that it would not happen again.

When asked what he was thinking when he made the misstatements, Kirk replied “I was not thinking”.

* The AP’s lede

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Mark Kirk says he’s sorry for being careless and making mistakes about his accomplishments.

*** UPDATE 1 *** From the Giannoulias campaign…

“In terms of hollow apologies and passive-voice blame-shifting, Congressman Mark Kirk’s acknowledgment of ‘misrememberings’ and ‘carelessness’ sets a new standard. Allow me to be blunt: Congressman Kirk wasn’t careless and he didn’t misremember - he lied. One mistake is careless. Misrepresenting, embellishing or not telling the truth about 10 different phases of your military career over a 10-year period is a pattern of lies, plain and simple. When these mistruths have been repeated on the floor of the House of Representatives, on a taxpayer-funded official website, in campaign television ads and materials, in press releases, on campaign websites, and from his own lips, Congressman Kirk’s web of lies can’t be fixed by one phony press conference.”

*** UPDATE 2 *** His excuse for dodging the media

“I was overbooked last week,” Kirk said, by way of explaining why he wasn’t available.

*** UPDATE 3 *** Greg Hinz’s take

Beyond his apology, Mr. Kirk also made it clear he’ll be doing something else different from now on: He released an advance campaign schedule through the July 4 weekend, something his campaign repeatedly refused to do, lest the Dems be tipped off to his plans.

So, will these mea culpas work?

Probably — provided that no other major questions arise about his record. […]

And, for whatever it’s worth, by the time the press conference was over, reporters were asking Mr. Kirk about things other than his résumé. For the moment at least, things have moved on.

I’m pretty sure we haven’t seen the end of the embellishment stuff.

*** UPDATE 4 *** This looks positively Blagojevichian

Kirk packed the press conference with a “Hallelujah chorus’’ of 100 supporters who heckled reporters and shouted “move on” when reporters pressed Kirk about his numerous mistakes on his military record. One supporter even harassed a Bloomberg news reporter after the conference.


*** UPDATE 5 *** WGN’s story


Slow down or risk a backlash

Tuesday, Jun 29, 2010 - Posted by Rich Miller

* It’s no great insight to say that this state is pretty divided on the gun issue, with much of Cook County and many of the suburbs mostly objecting to guns on the streets and the rest of the state mostly supporting gun rights.

Because of this, there is a real political danger for gun rights advocates if they move too fast after yesterday’s Supreme Court ruling. I’m particularly talking about early indications that there will be an attempt to push the concealed carry issue here during the campaign. Whatever you think of the issue, it’ll be a while before that concept is accepted in and around the city, or even in some areas that generally support gun rights. From a state Sen. John O. Jones press release issued yesterday

I am pleased the court has struck down the Chicago gun ban. I look forward to working with lawmakers to move concealed-carry bills through the Illinois General Assembly.

Jones is a Republican from southern Illinois, so concealed carry is a popular thing down there. State Sen. Bill Brady also reiterated his support for concealed carry yesterday

“I believe in the Second Amendment, and I believe the court ruling today is a step in the right direction to afford Illinois citizens including (those in) Chicago their rights,” Brady said.

Brady also reiterated that he would support an Illinois law to allow regular citizens to carry concealed guns, but the right wouldn’t be automatic to all.

“I have said that I support laws which fully embrace Second Amendment rights,” Brady said. “In the case of concealed carry, many states have proven that with the right training, background checks and implementation, it works well.”

Asked about his backing for concealed carry in Illinois, Brady said, “with the right safeguards, absolutely.”

Gov. Quinn wasn’t so thrilled, however. While saying he “supports” the 2nd Amendment, Quinn doesn’t want to move on concealed carry yet

Asked if he thinks it opens to the door to concealed carry being allowed in Illinois, Quinn said, “I don’t think so. I don’t think that’s embedded in the constitutional right.”

* This is what I’m talking about when I warn against “over reach”

Locally, McHenry County Sportsmen’s Association member Lee Lexow heralded the decision and cast his eyes toward the November election. […]

With Republican gubernatorial candidate Bill Brady supporting concealed carry and incumbent Democrat Pat Quinn opposing it, Lexow said the Illinois governor’s race could provide a referendum of sorts on the concealed carry issue.

“I think it’s going to boil down to how the elections fall out,” Lexow said.

Making this election a “referendum on concealed carry” will not work well for proponents. It’s just too much change, too fast.


State Rep. Bill Mitchell, R-Forsyth, said the high court decision could alter the number of votes needed in the House and Senate need to approve a concealed carry proposal.

Currently, parliamentary rules mean a concealed carry proposal needs 71 votes to be sent to the governor. Mitchell said the ruling could result in a simple majority of lawmakers — 60 in the House — being needed for passage.

“I think that’s achievable,” said Mitchell, who is sponsoring a concealed weapons measure in the House.

Scaring the Democrats’ base in the Chicago region is a really bad idea when the Republicans have a clear enthusiasm and historical advantage right now.

* Related…

* Schock comments on Supreme Court Decision McDonald v. City of Chicago

* Candidates weigh in on Court ruling on Chicago gun ban

* Court took cheap shot at city’s crime rate, Chicago officials contend

* Plaintiff: Ruling will make dangerous city blocks safer

* Weapon registration, firearms training possible in new law

* Sun-Times: A chance for gun law that does some good

* Southtown Star: Time for city to enact rational gun laws

* Roeper: Good riddance to gun ban that wasn’t working

* Huntley: A supreme victory for the law-abiding

* Journal-Star: High court of little help with guns and public safety

* Treatment programs cut, while heroin abuse tops nation


*** UPDATED x1 *** Claypool in the clear while “birther” objects to Cohen, others, and a look at the numbers

Tuesday, Jun 29, 2010 - Posted by Rich Miller

* There will be no challenge to Cook County Assessor candidate Forrest Claypool’s petitions

Cook County Board of Review Commissioner Joseph Berrios dropped his challenge of ballot petitions filed by county Commissioner Forrest Claypool on Monday, setting up a four-way race for the assessor’s office in the general election.

“It would be irresponsible to subject either the public authorities or our opponent to the cost, time and effort of litigation, perhaps all the way to the Illinois Supreme Court,” said Berrios spokesman Manuel Galvan. “Instead, the campaign asks Mr. Claypool to set aside the insults and empty rhetoric, and pledge to conduct a spirited, fair and clean campaign. The public deserves nothing less.”

Claypool, running as an independent, called the announcement “a critical victory for taxpayers and a blow to the insiders like Joe Berrios, who have used government to protect the powerful instead of the people.”

“We will take our message of reform to the voters of Cook County,” Claypool added, “and we will give them a chance, on Nov. 2, to declare their independence.”

…Adding… I didn’t notice this, but it’s surely an interesting story

The Forrest Claypool campaign for assessor has asked Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez to look into harassment of its campaign workers by someone impersonating a sheriff’s deputy or other law official.

According to Claypool campaign manager Tom Bowen, one or more people flashing badges visited campaign workers over the weekend — one at 8:30 a.m. Saturday — and asked them to sign false affidavits denying that they’d circulated nominating petitions for Mr. Claypool and/or that they’d used another notary beyond the one on official forms.

One of those with a badge said he was with “the board of elections” and another with “the county Democratic committee,” Mr. Bowen said.

Ms. Alvarez’s spokesman confirmed that the office is reviewing the matter, but said they’ve urged the Claypool camp to first file a police report.


Also, from Joe Berrios’ press release

Of the 89,913 signatures:

* Mr. Claypool personally deleted 1,301 bad signatures.
* Nearly 53,000 suspect signatures, including many who weren’t registered to vote in Cook County, or didn’t sign the petitions themselves or signed more than once.
* Circulator ineligibility would have reduced the total by another 6,000 signatures.
* Additionally, another 6,000 more alleged valid signatures may have been ineligible on other grounds.
* Short of further legal action in the courts, the Berrios Campaign believes that there would be 30,000 to 32,000 valid signatures remaining, and the law requires 25,000 signatures to file as an independent candidate.

* An objection was filed to Scott Lee Cohen’s petitions yesterday, but nobody near Gov. Pat Quinn did it. Instead, the objection was filed by an infamous Illinois “birther” named Sharon Meroni. Some background from a January story in the Daily Herald

A Fox River Grove-based blogger questioning the citizenship of President Barack Obama lost her bid Wednesday to have a special grand jury empaneled to investigate her claims.

McHenry County Judge Sharon Prather rejected the petition for a grand jury filed by Sharon Ann Meroni, founder of Patriot’s Heart Media Network, saying there is no lawful justification for it. “There is no legal basis for you to do what you’re asking to do,” Prather told Meroni in court.

“The law does not allow it. There are no facts pled in your petition which would require what you’re seeking.”

Meroni’s online nom de plume is “Chalice Jackson,” and her latest effort revolves around forcing President Obama’s resignation. There’s nothing on her blog about the challenge to Cohen and numerous others, but when I know more, so will you. All told, Ms. Meroni filed 32 petition objections yesterday.

*** UPDATE *** With a hat tip to a commenter, Meroni has updated her blog with a post about why she filed the objections. It’s all about the birth

The objection is based on the fact that there is no evidence that any of the candidates fit US and Illinois Constitutional mandates of age and citizenship requirements. For the most part, the age of a candidate is generally easy to discern. Citizenship status is not.

[ *** End of Update *** ]

* Gov. Quinn was involved with at least one challenge, however

Gov. Pat Quinn said Monday he knows people who had been examining signatures filed on behalf of William “Doc” Walls III, whose name was removed from the Democratic primary ballot. Walls has filed as an independent for governor. [..]

The objector is Blake Phillip Sercye of Chicago, who Quinn said Monday he knows.

“I’m sure he was concerned, like I am, in making sure the election law is complied with,” Quinn said. “Several of the people that I know counted the names, and he (Walls) clearly has insufficient signatures.”

A partial list of others who face objections

Among other candidates facing objections: are Will Boyd Jr., Greenville, an independent for U.S. Senate; former East St. Louis Mayor Carl Officer, a Practical Party candidate for U.S. Senate; Corey Dabney of Aurora, independent for U.S. Senate; Shon-Tiyon “Santiago” Horton, Alton, independent for U.S. Senate; Christopher Pedersen, Joliet, various offices including U.S. Senate; Gregg Moore of Chicago, independent for governor; Andy Martin, Illinois Reform party for U.S. Senate; Stephen Estill, Mason City, independent for governor; Michael White, Constitution Party candidate for governor; Mike Labno of Oak Brook, Libertarian candidate for U.S. Senate; Lex Green of Bloomington, Libertarian for governor.

Atheist Rob Sherman filed an objection against Carl Officer’s US Senate campaign. Four objections were filed against Officer’s petitions by various people. Sherman filed objections to several other candidates as well, including Andy Martin.

* And Paul Green looks at the gubernatorial numbers

In 2006 Chicago cast 18.7 percent of the statewide vote while suburban Cook counted for another 19 percent. A strong Democratic turnout for the Cook County Board president’s race or even the possibility of a highly publicized three-way fight for Cook County assessor could drive the county’s turnout above the 1,350,915 votes in 2006. Assuming Quinn eventually starts campaigning and begins spelling out Brady’s record on controversial social issues, it is highly likely that Quinn’s chances for victory will improve greatly.

Clearly there is nothing Brady can do to stifle Cook County’s turnout. Brady’s best hope in Cook County is to keep social issues off the political table and concentrate on his high cards - Democratic economics and Blagojevich.

In raw numbers if Quinn comes out of Cook County with 500,000-plus votes over Brady - same as in 2006 - the geopolitics of Illinois will become a heavy burden for the downstate Republican. To be sure, Brady as a downstater would have a far better chance to surpass Topinka’s 2006 performance in closing the Cook County gap. Still, it would be a very steep climb. […]

Still looming above all these issues is the math. Unless there is GOP surge in Chicago or a Republican rebound in north and west areas of suburban Cook, the odds are great that Quinn will leave Cook with an enormous lead and a powerful leg up on winning the governorship. Perhaps the ultimate question is whether Quinn will have enough oomph elsewhere in Illinois to take advantage of his party’s favorable geopolitical edge and eke out a victory in an admittedly bad Democratic year.

* Related…

* Chicago machine fails to eliminate Crenshaw - so far


Morning Shorts

Tuesday, Jun 29, 2010 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Jurors convict Burge of perjury, obstruction

Burge, 62, showed no emotion, his hands folded, when a federal jury found him guilty Monday afternoon of lying under oath about torturing African-American criminal suspects at the Area 2 police headquarters. The perjury was part of a 2003 civil lawsuit filed by former Death Row inmate Madison Hobley. Burge was found guilty of two counts of obstruction of justice and one count of perjury and could face up to 45 years in prison when he sentenced in November.

There was silence in the courtroom — as U.S. District Judge Joan Lefkow ordered — when the jury’s decision was read.

But outside, there were high-fives, celebratory hugs and even tears.

* Burge found guilty

For years it looked as if Burge would escape criminal charges altogether. He was fired from the Police Department in 1993 for torturing a cop killer, but a four-year investigation by special Cook County prosecutors concluded in 2006 that the statute of limitations on the claims of abuse had long passed. It wasn’t until 2008 that federal prosecutors figured out a clever way to indict him — not for the tortures themselves, but lying about them.

* Detective’s testimony swayed jury in Burge case

* Sun-Times: Long-awaited Burge verdict sends message

* Mitchell: Chicagoans have paid dearly for police brutality

* Good news for job-seekers? Local jobless rate reduced

* Schools boss: Some class sizes won’t go up

Plans to add five kids to the typical CPS high school classroom come as city high school test scores have stagnated, and concerns about student deaths due to violence have triggered a two-year, $60 million anti-violence campaign.

Kelvyn Park High English and social studies teacher Liz Brown said the number of essays she will have to grade would soar from 130 or 140 to 165 under the plan. Writing conferences and classroom discussions will suffer, and violence might well increase, Brown said.[…]

Huberman said the state Board of Education’s decision last week to restore some “categorical” funding in such areas as special education had brought the district an extra $57 million. That, combined with $18 million in new district cuts, was allowing CPS to cancel plans to raise the typical class size to 35, he said.

* Huberman Still Wants Union Concessions, Despite Better CPS Budget Outlook

* Brookfield tax talk brings out zoo’s allies

* CLC accepts $1 million in grants

* Pekin Council OKs Dragon’s Dome loan

* County mulls rules to address funding shortages from the state

* Marion looks at city problems

* Illinois birds at risk from oil spill?

By some estimates, 60 species of birds travel from Illinois to or through the Gulf of Mexico when colder weather arrives.


* Isabel’s afternoon roundup
* McHenry County State’s Attorney Patrick Kenneally abruptly aborts reelection bid without explanation
* Question of the day
* It’s just a bill
* Protect Illinois Hospitality – Vote No On House Bill 5345
* You gotta be kidding me
* Showcasing The Retailers Who Make Illinois Work
* Moody’s revises Illinois outlook from stable to positive (Updated)
* Open thread
* Isabel’s morning briefing
* Live coverage
* *** UPDATED x1 - Equality Illinois 'alarmed' over possible Harris appointment *** Personal PAC warns Democratic committeepersons about Sen. Napoleon Harris
* Yesterday's stories

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