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Does Illinois need a wage cut?

Monday, Jun 28, 2010

* The Pat Quinn campaign has rightly noted that Sen. Bill Brady recently announced support for a $2,000 annual pay cut for full time minimum wage employees

Republican governor candidate Sen. Bill Brady today said he supports lowering Illinois’ minimum wage if he wins in November and the state rate remains higher than the federal one.

“For the state of Illinois to come in and micromanage wages above the federal minimum wage is a mistake,” Brady, a state senator from Bloomington, told reporters.

Illinois’ minimum wage will rise a quarter to $8.25 an hour on July 1, a dollar above the $7.25 federal minimum wage that took effect last July. […]

“When you try to over-manage the private sector, the private sector has choices, and they move, which is why the state of Illinois, under Blagojevich and Quinn, has lost nearly as many jobs as the state of Texas has gained,” Brady said.

Roeper weighs in

I get Brady’s point — but I still don’t see how one can advocate lowering the minimum wage. According to the Living Wage Calculator, if you live in Cook County, you have to earn a minimum of $9.95 an hour to cover food, housing, transportation, etc. (That’s for one adult. For one adult with one child, the Living Wage is $18.13.)

Thoughts?

* Not surprisingly, Brady skipped Chicago’s Pride Parade

Shortly before Chicago’s annual Gay Pride Parade kicked off on Sunday, Republican state Sen. Bill Brady was gearing up for another event 40 miles west that commemorates the Swedish heritage of the Kane County suburb of Geneva.

“Well, this has been on our calendar a long time,” Brady said of his appearance at Geneva’s Swedish Day festival and parade. “The Swedish parade has got a long history and tradition and so we’re honored to be invited to be part of this.”

Asked by reporters if, as a social conservative, he would have marched in the Pride Parade, a celebration of gay rights, Brady responded: “I don’t know. I’d have to think about it. I didn’t even know the (Pride) Parade was going on today. It is? We’re here.”

* In other news, Gov. Quinn hinted that he’ll be taking some budget action soon

Gov. Pat Quinn on Saturday appeared resigned to dealing with the out-of-whack state budget lawmakers sent to him last month.

For weeks, the governor has been calling on the Democrat-controlled Senate to return to the Capitol to pass a $4 billion borrowing plan to make state worker pension payments. But with the new budget year set to start Thursday, there’s no sign of that happening.

“They didn’t want to make any cuts whatsoever,” Quinn said, while speaking to reporters at ithe Center on Halsted in Lakeview, where he signed a bill requiring high school social workers to undergo suicide prevention training. “They basically said the governor of Illinois will have to make all the decisions regarding health care, education, public safety, and they gave me a lump-sum budget.”

* And Brady chided Quinn for offering up a weak excuse

Republican gubernatorial candidate Bill Brady said Friday that if antiquated computers are to blame for escaped parolees, Gov. Pat Quinn should have ordered a prison-system technology upgrade before he released criminals early last fall.

Brady criticized Quinn for a “consistent blame game” regarding the “MGT Push” program, in which more than 1,700 criminals — hundreds of them violent — were secretly freed weeks early.

* Brady also defended Mark Kirk

GOP nominee for governor Bill Brady defended his party’s U.S. Senate nominee Friday, saying that suburban congressman Mark Kirk has served his country honorably despite the recent revelations he had embellished his military record.

“At the end of the day, Congressman Kirk’s military service is honorable and you can’t take that away from him,” Brady said in response to a question from reporters after his speech to the Veterans of Foreign Wars statewide convention in Springfield.

* Related and a roundup…

* Bob Dold Thinks The Rules Don’t Apply to Him: Lo and behold, simultaneous to all of this happening in the virtual world Mr. Dold had boxes and boxes full of flyers printed up in the real world showing the exact same Trib logo with the same endorsement quote as he had on his site, then removed from his site, then put back on his site albeit with caveats. Problem is he’s using these Tribune-laden flyers for the general election — handing them out at train stations, ice cream shops, etc. in recent days — and the print-version Trib “endorsement” quote does not clarify that their nod came back in January during the primary:

* JournalStandard: Quinn ignores DOC issues

* As Quinn’s running mate, Simon courting women voters

* Journal-Courier: Cohen adds to state of confusion

* 14th District candidates speak out on unemployment

* Word on the Street: Candidate to Koehler: Let me stay

* Independent seeks new McHenry County judge post

* RR Star: Illinois Views: Ballot access unfair, needs to be fixed

* Governor Says Budget Information to Come This Week

* Illinois Borrowing $900 Million as Credit-Default Cost Doubles

* Pantagraph: Furlough plan doesn’t do much to reduce deficit

* Daley picks former aides, Shedd chairman for temporary McPier board

* Daley appoints 3 to McPier board

* Erickson: Quinn erasing some of Blagojevich’s legacy

* Quinn signs anti-bullying legislation

* Quinn to sign law at Scott Air Force Base

* New laws target fraud, inefficiency in Medicaid

* State Supreme Court rules underage drinkers don’t need to be driving to lose license

* Pantagraph: Court ruling on teen drinking can save lives

* Residents share mixed feelings on futuristic ‘low-speed vehicles’

* Experts warn: Add safety measures for high-speed rail

* Asian carp forces troubleshooters to dream big

* SJ-R: There’s no reason to ‘rethink’ new FOIA

* RR Star: U of I austerity moves need to start at the top

* VIDEO: Expectations After STAR Bonds Bill

* Southern Illinois development bonds plan approved, next step is luring businesses

* Biz owners skeptical, but happy to receive job creation tax credit

* Illinois Invests $10 Million For Advanced Emergency Response Center

- Posted by Rich Miller   94 Comments      


How things are done here

Monday, Jun 28, 2010

* Despite the quite troubling fact that a recent Tribune story was ginned up by a mayor who made some apparently horrible decisions, the piece is a good example of how things are done in Illinois.

The backstory from the Southtown Star

A report on Oak Lawn’s legal billing issues is hanging heavily over the village’s head as officials debate their next move - and the report’s value.

Prepared by special counsel Burt Odelson and released earlier this month, the report accuses the village’s former attorneys of chronic overbilling and legal strategy blunders that potentially cost the village hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Trustee Bob Streit (3rd) said that the village’s continued payment of too-high legal bills “constitutes misappropriation” and hinted that some laws may have even been broken. […]

The report recounts a pattern of sloppy billing, including multiple attorneys working on the same issue, bills with missing information and questionable expenses.

Mayor Dave Heilmann, who hired the old firm, completely disagrees. And he’s the only person in the Tribune piece who questions how House Speaker Michael Madigan stepped in and helped Oak Lawn clean up their act.

Anyway, some Oak Lawn leaders, including the above-mentioned village trustee Bob Streit, met with Madigan to pitch a big water project that the village couldn’t seem to get moving. Things did, indeed, start moving in the right direction soon afterwards. Then, something else started happening as well

As Madigan put his political force behind the project, firms and lawyers associated with him saw new business flow their way from the Oak Lawn Village Hall. All told, Madigan’s allies now stand to make hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees.

The speaker recommended the new village attorney, and he helped raise campaign money for the village trustee who recommended another connected law firm to work on the water project.

Trustee Streit, a conservative who was eventually the beneficiary of a Madigan fundraiser, flatly denies anything untoward happened. Past problems are now being fixed. But the new attorneys have close ties to Madigan and have contributed quite a lot to his campaign funds. One of those firms hired Democratic state Rep. Lou Lang not long after winning the contract, although Lang claims there was zero connection. Another firm is represented by the son of US Sen. Dick Durbin.

So, things get cleaned up, the taxpayers save money, but the Speaker’s friends and allies benefit. That’s pretty much how things go here.

* Meanwhile, the Speaker penned an op-ed for the Southtown Star over the weekend…

In discussing the causes of our fiscal difficulties in Illinois, it is critical to note that we are not alone - that in fact, a staggering 46 of 50 states have been forced into deficit budgets for the upcoming fiscal year. Is the state government in Illinois to blame for the national economic downturn? Of course not.

One of his more compelling arguments…

Worse yet, after hearing the GOP again trot out its claim that they could solve our fiscal problems solely through spending cuts, I called their bluff - and they blinked. I introduced legislation that would cut $4.5 billion from the budget, a figure chosen because it encompassed all the money needed to make the state pension payment. Not one Republican voted for cutting, just as they all voted against the means to meet our pension obligations. Then, I invited them to introduce amendments to my bill to cut whatever particular programs they wished - and not a single Republican identified a single cut!

Madigan’s staff has also posted a companion background briefing on the state party’s website. Click here to read it.

- Posted by Rich Miller   23 Comments      


Question of the day

Monday, Jun 28, 2010

* The setup

Six years ago, when he was merely a state senator and not yet the Republican nominee for governor, Bill Brady was pushing an idea that was something like an Illinois version of Mount Rushmore.

One of his constituents, Denny Rogers, whose long resume includes being a sculptor, had brought to Brady, of Bloomington, the idea for a possible Illinois Presidential Memorial Monument, which could be on a 400- to 600-acre site and feature 40-foot-high bronze heads of Illinois-based presidents.

At the time, that would have included Abraham Lincoln, Ulysses S. Grant and Ronald Reagan, who had all lived in the state. Now, of course, a fourth Illinoisan could be included.

* The Question: Relying heavily on snark, what faces should appear on an “anti-Rushmore” monument in Illinois? Explain if necessary.

- Posted by Rich Miller   32 Comments      


The headlines, not the substance, are the real problems here

Monday, Jun 28, 2010

* As we’ve discussed many times before, Rod Blagojevich’s subpoenas of prominent Illinois politicos is most likely much ado about little to nothing.

These subpoenas are partly Blagojevich’s way of exacting revenge on the Democratic establishment. It’s supremely embarrassing, of course, to be dragged into the trial by way of a defense subpoena, and that’s undoubtedly a prime motivation behind these filings.

But what is so often missed by reporters and pundits covering the trial is that if the defense actually follows through on these subpoenas, they will ask the witnesses to say that Blagojevich did nothing illegal in their dealings with him and his staff. That’ll also be quite embarrassing, but the defense isn’t gonna drag in Dick Durbin or the others on their long list to say they saw Blagojevich do something untoward.

Keep that in mind when reading news stories about the latest subpoena target: Alexi Giannoulias. But also keep something else in mind. Headlines like “Blagojevich subpoenas Giannoulias” are quite damaging and will look horrible when placed into TV ads, despite the reality

Giannoulias and Blagojevich were not close; Blagojevich backed a rival in the Democratic primary when Giannoulious ran for treasurer. Giannoulias also called Blagojevich the “anti-Obama” after his 2008 budget address.

And for a guy who has been repeatedly accused of exaggerations and embellishments, this is statement by Mark Kirk’s spokesperson is a bit over the top…

“Today’s news developments further emphasize the troubling pattern that has emerged concerning Alexi Giannoulias. As state treasurer, Giannoulias lost more than $70 million in Bright Start college savings funds and his family’s bank cost the FDIC nearly $400 million in losses. Now we’ve learned Giannoulias’ name has come up on federal wire taps talking about the Illinois Senate seat and he has been subpoenaed in former and disgraced Governor Rod Blagojevich’s public corruption trial. This revelation raises additional questions about Alexi Giannoulias that he needs to answer.”

* Meanwhile, Mark Kirk is MIA these days

Last Monday, a group of Chicago reporters chased Illinois GOP Senate nominee Rep. Mark Kirk through a hotel kitchen. They never caught up with him after he left the stage at a public policy Senate forum sponsored by the Metropolitan Planning Council. He did not want to stop to take questions because most of them would probably have been about why he embellished his record as a Navy reserve officer.

The first of several stories about Kirk’s exaggerations on his military and teaching careers broke May 29; Kirk made a few comments at a Memorial Day parade in Arlington Heights. He met on June 3 with the editorial boards of the Sun-Times and Tribune as his campaign was dealing with its first crisis, and that’s been pretty much it. But the issue of Kirk avoiding the press goes deeper than the last few weeks.

Kirk has been ducking routine press coverage since he jumped into the Senate race. He refuses to release, when asked, his government or his political schedules. He also declines to volunteer where he is going to raise campaign cash and who hosts the events.

Kirk has the most stringent and stubborn non-disclosure policy when compared with the three other major Illinois statewide candidates.

Say what you will about Alexi Giannoulias - and you can say a lot - but the same day Broadway Bank was seized by the FDIC, he held a full-blown press conference and answered everybody’s questions. Kirk, on the other hand, has gone completely to ground.

* Related…

* Giannoulias subpoenaed by Blagojevich lawyers

* Senate candidate subpoenaed for Blagojevich trial

* Giannoulias wants no part of Blagojevich circus

* Giannoulias subpoenaed by Blagojevich lawyers

* Five Questions With…LeAlan Jones, Illinois Green Party U.S. Senate Candidate

- Posted by Rich Miller   25 Comments      


Another day, another mistrial motion

Monday, Jun 28, 2010

* Here we go again

The fourth full week of Rod Blagojevich’s corruption trial has gotten under way with the former governor’s attorneys asking the judge to declare a mistrial.

Former Blagojevich chief of staff John Harris was on the witness stand Monday as the trial resumed.

The defense attorneys filed their request for a mistrial citing last week’s U.S. Supreme Court decision placing limits on the use of the federal honest services fraud statute.

Expect a speedy denial.

* And brother Rob wants access to the money

Attorneys kicked off Monday morning with discussion of a motion by Robert Blagojevich.

Robert filed a motion recently asking to reserve $350,000 of the campaign fund that’s paying for the ex-governor’s legal fees.

Prosecutor Reid Schar said he thought the request was “at odds” with Judge James Zagel’s previous restraining order, which the judge ordered over the governor’s $2.3 million campaign fund after Rod Blagojevich was indicted.

* My weekly syndicated newspaper column is about why Lon Monk went bad

To many Illinois politics insiders, one of the more surprising aspects of this Rod Blagojevich saga is not that the former governor was arrested. Most of them knew for years that he was heading for big trouble.

The late Chris Kelly’s alleged misdeeds as one of Blagojevich’s top fundraisers didn’t stir all that much surprise. He was a high-pressure fundraiser who wouldn’t take “No” for an answer. The conviction of wheeler, dealer Antoin “Tony” Rezko also wasn’t that far from expectations. The man was obviously up to his eyeballs in corruption.

But the name of the fourth person who prosecutors say was in on the alleged schemes to skim as much money as possible during the Blagojevich era has taken quite a few insiders aback.

Alonzo “Lon” Monk pled guilty last year to a host of crimes. He admitted that he helped shake down a racetrack official for a $100,000 contribution in exchange for a bill signing (the money was never paid). He said he met with Blagojevich, Rezko and Kelly as far back as 2002 to discuss illegally divvying up the spoils of public office, and admittemed that he accepted several $10,000 “gifts” from Rezko.

Monk comes from a well-off family, which most of his former friends and associates say they believed should have insulated him from money temptations. He didn’t need the cash, so why take it? They don’t have many answers to that question.

Monk was also a peacemaker while he worked as Blagojevich’s chief of staff. He was one of the few people who could calm the governor down and convince him to see reality, say former insiders.

The bottom line is that quite a few of the people around Blagojevich thought Monk was doing his best to keep the governor on the straight and narrow. And many are shocked that he has now admitted to being so deep into Blagojevich’s corrupt ways.

I had several conversations with Monk over the years, including a few long, informal ones. Monk abandoned the high life in California as a sports agent to come to Illinois and work for his former law school roommate. He did it out of a sense of duty to an old friend and for a new adventure in life. He seemed to work hard and keep a low profile, and he never made phony excuses for Blagojevich, like so many others on his staff.

Many of Monk’s former friends and colleagues that I’ve spoken with over the past several weeks say they just don’t believe the stories Monk told Blagojevich’s jury about how he was in on it from the get-go. They claim that Monk must’ve been severely pressured by the government into telling lies, or at least embellishments.

Monk’s plea deal knocked two years off a possible four-year prison term. He certainly had a motive to cooperate as fully as possible and tell a version of the truth approved by prosecutors.

Other former administration insiders paint a different scenario. In their way of thinking, Monk may have thought that he would go along with the schemes in order to help steer his friend Blagojevich away from the worst abuses. In fact, his testimony indicated that he did do that on more than one occasion. Monk testified that he didn’t tell Blagojevich the whole truth when the governor was pressuring him to strong-arm that racetrack owner, for instance. He said he was applying maximum effort, but in reality did not.

There is, however, a third possibility which one very high-level former Blagojevich insider offered up, and which I happen to believe is probably the case. Monk may have had good intentions when he arrived in Illinois, but Blagojevich constantly played off his inner circle members against each other and Monk’s insecurity about his position in that circle may have led him to finally say he was going to get his own piece of the action.

Monk has, after all, admitted to taking cash payments from Rezko, so he may have just been a very good crook - able to deceive just about anybody with his good looks and soft-spoken charms. In fact, that insider says Monk’s charm and good looks are “how he got away with it for so long.”

“He’s rotten to the core,” the former insider said about Monk. “He makes (Chris) Kelly look like Bambi.” Monk may very well have been the perfect front man for the loud and crass Blagojevich.

* Related…

* Fraud ruling? Experts say minimal impact on Blago

* Marin: Code of silence alive and well here; Floor by floor, case by case, it’s fair to ask why the feds — rather than state or local leaders — have had to man the front lines of the fight against corruption or police misconduct or corporate greed.

* Harris to Face Blagojevich’s Lawyers Monday

* Blagojevich defense gets to question key witness

* Statehouse Insider: Blagojevich might have to get over distaste for uniforms

* Erickson: Funny how being under oath changes the tune: In a news release announcing his departure, here’s what Tusk said: “The great thing about Governor Blagojevich is that he has the vision and courage to try to do big things, and time after time, he turns that vision into programs that have helped millions of people. It has been an honor and a privilege to be part of that team and part of that effort.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   16 Comments      


Morning Shorts

Monday, Jun 28, 2010

* Roosevelt U. study finds Chicago area worst in nation for heroin abuse

Huge increases in heroin use among whites, suburbanites and teenagers are a major factor in why the Chicago area suffers what might be the nation’s worst heroin problem, according to a new study released today.

“It’s cheaper than a six-pack of beer and it’s easier to get. Drug dealers don’t ask for I.D.,” says Kathleen Kane-Willis, one of the authors of the Roosevelt University report on heroin use in Illinois from 1998 to 2008.

* 3 Killed, At Least 29 Wounded By Weekend Gunfire

* In Chicago, at least 3 dead in weekend shootings

* 10 wounded in 8 overnight shootings

* Home sales, prices rise in May

* 100% of S. Side school’s first class college-bound

About 85 percent of the Class of 2010 came from low-income families, the overwhelming majority single mother households. The students would face problems far beyond poor academics.

Safety, for example. Some kids had to alter their bus routes so they wouldn’t face gangs who might see their blazers and ties as inviting targets.[…]

At Urban Prep, every student has at least one mentor — maybe a coach or a teacher. About 60 percent of teachers at the Englewood campus (Urban Prep has another school and plans to open a third this fall) are black men. They serve as confidantes and role models to students, many of whom have no fathers in their lives.

All staff members have school-assigned cell phones so students (and parents) can phone day or night. And they do.

* Lesson in schools out for profit won’t be forgotten

* Tribune: Dancing lemons

Huberman says the state school code gives him authority to fire the bad teachers first. Karen Lewis, president-elect of the Chicago Teachers Union, says its contract calls for layoffs to be done according to tenure, “unless another method is established.”

Our guess is the teachers union will challenge the board’s decision in court.

Here’s a plea to the CTU’s president-elect: Don’t do that.

* Watchdog says Chicago school officials aren’t evaluating special education students

Equip for Equality, the state’s federally mandated watchdog for people with disabilities, said in its complaint that “hundreds of children between the ages of 3 and 5, who have been referred for evaluations, wait many months to receive a response to their request for an evaluation, or worse, never receive one.”

* Rothert: Old Navistar plant Canton’s equivalent of BP spill

* Burge Deliberations Continue

* Chicago sales tax still highest in the United States

Cook County’s portion of the sales tax is a fraction of the overall state, city and regional transportation sales tax pie. Sitting at 1.75 percent, the county’s share will be reduced to 1.25 percent on Thursday for items such as clothing, appliances or dining out.

* Another deal goes sour for Daley nephew

For the last three years, Mayor Daley’s nephew Robert G. Vanecko has been a frequent figure in the news.

First, when the Chicago Sun-Times revealed that five city pension funds gave him $68 million to investment in risky real estate deals.

Later, when a federal grand jury began investigating.

Now, Vanecko’s real estate deals are falling apart, records show, potentially jeopardizing the money he got from the pension funds representing Chicago’s police officers, teachers, city employees and CTA workers.

* Consultant sues to make Vanecko deal public

* Alderman’s son returning to city job after DUI bust

* Man accused of threatening Daley remains jailed

* Man Accused Of Threatening Daley Appears in Court

* Calumet Township trustee drowns at pool party

The body of Carlos Salgado, 26, who had dreams of a career in politics, wasn’t found at the bottom of Memorial Park Pool until Saturday morning.

Salgado was one of about 20 Park District and Calumet Township officials who attended the after-hours pool party, said Blue Island Police Chief Douglas Hoglund.

* Calumet Township trustee drowns at Blue Island Park District facility

* ShoreBank bailout probe kicked out of Wall Street reform bill

* ShoreBank probe killed

* CTA’s ad agency has track record of going off the rails

* Metra forces out its chief lawyer in new Pagano fallout

* Weis makes change at Deputy Supt. of Patrol Division

* Wrongfully convicted veteran could get $6.3 million from city

A man who spent 25 years behind bars for a brutal rape he did not commit stands to get $6.3 million from the city of Chicago under a legal settlement the City Council Finance Committee recommended today.

* [Springfield] to pay $225,000 over noose incident

* [Palatine] Officials say budget woes may put vehicle stipends on chopping block

* Some suburban officials say car allowances necessary to perform job duties

* Residents say report on future airport is absurd

The Illinois Department of Transportation last week publicly announced the results of a report it compiled and released in mid-May, which forecast population growth and demand for air cargo, passenger and general aviation services at a yet-to-be-built airport near Peotone.

It updates IDOT’s forecasts from 2004, which also found strong demand for a third Illinois airport. According to Susan Shea, IDOT’s Director of Aeronautics, the updated data demonstrates “strong future demand.”

Opponents of the state’s plans to build the airport maintain IDOT’s data are skewed to show demand and growth, when in reality demand is low and the airport is not needed.

* Drop in state revenue leaves Rock River Valley budgets in limbo

* Rockford City Council OK not needed to close 2 fire stations

* Quincy crime index shows 3 percent overall drop in 2009 compared with 2008

* Pekin inmate died in agony while pleading for help

* Job losses slow in Decatur area; construction takes harder hit

* DeWitt County Board turns down hiring of zoning administrator applicant

* Sun-Times Media chief Tyree gets ‘Lifetime Achievement’ award

* Chicago Reader’s longtime Editor Alison True is out

* Baughman family recovering after accident

- Posted by Barton Lorimor   6 Comments      


*** UPDATED x2 *** This just in… SCOTUS rules against Chicago gun ban

Monday, Jun 28, 2010

* 9:43 am - The divided US Supreme Court ruled against Chicago’s gun laws today. An excellent source of information is the SCOTUS Blog. The full opinion can be read by clicking here.

Here are a few stories, but we’ll be updating as the day goes along. The Hill

The Supreme Court struck down a Chicago ban on handguns, ruling that the Second Amendment applies to states.

A 5-4 decision by Justice Samuel Alito ruled that the Constitution’s guarantee on the right to “keep and bear arms” prohibited Chicago from banning the possession of handguns.

“We have previously held that most of the provisions of the Bill of Rights apply with full force to both the Federal Government and the States,” Alito wrote. “Applying the standard that is well established in our case law, we hold that the Second Amendment right is fully applicable to the States.”

The high court two years ago struck down Washington, D.C.’s handgun ban in District of Columbia v. Heller. But the city of Chicago contended its ban was still legal because the Second Amendment, which addresses gun rights, applied only to the federal government.

* Bloomberg

The ruling broadens the sweep of the court’s 2008 ruling interpreting the Constitution’s Second Amendment as protecting the rights of individuals, rather than just those of state-run militias. It’s a victory for the National Rifle Association, which joined a group of Chicago residents in challenging the city’s laws.

It will open a new front in the fight over gun rights, setting the stage for courtroom battles over the constitutionality of weapons restrictions around the country.

The high court’s 2008 decision said the right to bear arms “is not unlimited.” The majority said the ruling didn’t cast doubt on laws barring handgun possession by convicted felons and the mentally ill or restrictions on bringing guns into schools or government buildings.

* Time Magazine

The court was split along familiar ideological lines, with five conservative-moderate justices in favor of gun rights and the four liberals, opposed.

Two years ago, the court declared that the Second Amendment protects an individual’s right to possess guns, at least for purposes of self-defense in the home.

That ruling applied only to federal laws. It struck down a ban on handguns and a trigger lock requirement for other guns in the District of Columbia, a federal city with a unique legal standing. At the same time, the court was careful not to cast doubt on other regulations of firearms here.

Gun rights proponents almost immediately filed a federal lawsuit challenging gun control laws in Chicago and its suburb of Oak Park, Ill, where handguns have been banned for nearly 30 years. The Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence says those laws appear to be the last two remaining outright bans.

* Tribune

The City Council could consider new gun-control measures as soon as Wednesday, Mayor Richard Daley said last week.

City Hall has been drawing up plans after the justices heard arguments in McDonald v. Chicago in early March and appeared to indicate they would rule against the city.

In an interview with the Tribune, the mayor said his primary goal would be to protect police officers, paramedics and emergency workers from being shot when responding to an incident at a home. He said he also wants to save taxpayers from the financial cost of lawsuits if police shoot someone in the house because the officer felt threatened.

“If the ban is overturned, we will see a lot of common-sense approaches in the city aimed at protecting first responders,” Daley said. “We have to have some type of registry. If a first responder goes to an apartment, they need to know if that individual has a gun.”

* Sun-Times

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.

As sweeping as those provisions are, they apparently don’t go far enough for Daley, who hinted strongly at an insurance component to protect police officers and paramedics.

“You have to think about the first-responders. You’re putting them in a difficult position to make decisions. What happens if they don’t make the right decision? A person has a gun, but is [it] the person in the house? Does he have a right to carry a gun or is he the person [who] broke in?” the mayor told reporters last month.

“I’m not laying it out, but there are gonna be many topics we’re gonna talk about and who pays for it. And [the city may require] authorized people like the Chicago Police Department to train you.”

*** UPDATE 1 - 10:35 am *** From the Illinois State Rifle Association…

The following is a statement by Richard A. Pearson, Executive Director, Illinois State Rifle Association (ISRA), regarding the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in the McDonald v. Chicago case:

“On behalf of the officers, directors, and members of the Illinois State Rifle Association, and law-abiding citizens across Illinois, I would like to express my utter delight over the Supreme Court’s decision in the McDonald case. Today is certainly a great day for anyone who believes in the timeless wisdom the founding fathers set as the foundation of our Bill of Rights. As happy as we are with the Court’s decision in McDonald v. Chicago, we must all keep in mind that our work is not finished. The McDonald decision, along with the Court’s 2008 decision in the D.C. v. Heller case, serve merely as cornerstones to a much larger effort to fully restore the law-abiding citizen’s rights guaranteed by the 2nd Amendment to our Constitution.”

“In the weeks and months ahead, our legal staff will be thoroughly analyzing Illinois gun control statutes along with the myriad of local firearm restrictions to assess their compliance with the McDonald and Heller decisions. Law-abiding Illinois citizens may rest assured that the ISRA will employ whatever political or legal means are necessary to ensure that no element of government persists in infringing upon their constitutionally-protected right to keep and bear arms.”

“In closing, I would like to recognize the tireless efforts of all of those who helped make this day possible. Among those are the named plaintiffs, the Second Amendment Foundation, the National Rifle Association of America, and the many dozens of support elements who contributed greatly to the success of this challenge to the egregious infringement on individual rights. But, most of all, I would like to recognize the 80 million or so law-abiding American firearm owners whose patience and determination have served as such great inspiration during this 40-year fight to restore honor to, and recognition of, the Second Amendment.”

*** UPDATE 2 - 11:23 am *** From the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence

Paul Helmke, President of the Brady Center and Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, issued the following statement:

“We can expect two things as a result of today’s decision by the U.S. Supreme Court in McDonald v. Chicago: the gun lobby and gun criminals will use it to try to strike down gun laws, and those legal challenges will continue to fail.

“We are pleased that the Court reaffirmed its language in District of Columbia v. Heller that the Second Amendment individual right to possess guns in the home for self-defense does not prevent our elected representatives from enacting common-sense gun laws to protect our communities from gun violence. We are reassured that the Court has rejected, once again, the gun lobby argument that its ‘any gun, for anybody, anywhere’ agenda is protected by the Constitution. The Court again recognized that the Second Amendment allows for reasonable restrictions on firearms, including who can have them and under what conditions, where they can be taken, and what types of firearms are available.

“Chicago can amend its gun laws to comply with this ruling while continuing to have strong, comprehensive and Constitutional gun laws, just as Washington D.C. has done. After the Heller decision, at least 240 legal challenges have been brought to existing gun laws, nearly all of which have been summarily dismissed. There is nothing in today’s decision that should prevent any state or local government from successfully defending, maintaining, or passing, sensible, strong gun laws.”

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