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*** UPDATED x2 *** This just in… Quinn calls special election

Thursday, Jul 29, 2010

* 6:09 pm - Gov. Pat Quinn has called a special US Senate election before a federal judge could issue a final ruling on the matter. From the AP

Illinoisans will vote twice to fill President Barack Obama’s old Senate seat in November.

Gov. Pat Quinn filed paperwork Thursday for a special election before lawyers went to court to try to finalize the details of what that ballot will look like.

Voters will pick a senator to serve a six-year term in the regular election and a senator to serve the final weeks of Obama’s term in a special election.

The appellate court suggested that Quinn could call the special election on his own. But how Quinn could simply call this election without a federal judge’s order is unknown to me at the moment. It looks like a political move to get out in front of the issue. …Adding… The trial judge will issue an order soon, so I’m told that since the governor would have to order a special election anyway, he figured he might as well get it out of the way. This is still probably a political decision to not wait, but he is following the order of the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals.

The trial judge held a hearing today to discuss the matter and the outline of the pending order became pretty clear

Voters will see two U.S. Senate contests on the fall ballot: one to elect a senator to serve from Nov. 3 to Jan. 3 and one to elect a senator to serve for six years starting Jan.3.

Still to be decided by a federal judge is who qualifies as candidates for what will be a two-month Senate gig. But U.S. District Judge John Grady said he’s inclined to list the same candidates that won the state’s Feb. 2 primaries to also appear as the special election candidates. Any independent candidates who qualified for the six-year term would automatically appear on the ballot for the two-month Senate job.

You’ll know more when I do.

*** UPDATE 1 - 7:05 pm *** To see the governor’s formal writ, click here. In the writ, he declares that the special election will be held…

…in conformity with any applicable federal court orders and, to the extent feasible, with the Illinois Election Code and other Statutes in such case made and provided.

So, there’s the answer to my original question.

*** UPDATE 2 - 7:12 pm *** From the Chicago Elections Board…

In the U.S. Senate Special Election case today, Judge John H. Grady indicated the following items will be in the final order … but did not issue the final order:

– The exact same list of candidates running for the full six-year term for U.S. Senator in the Nov. 2 General Election also will be running directly below that on the ballot in a Special Election for the last six weeks of the current U.S. Senate term for the seat currently held by Roland Burris.

– The candidate lists for the six-year and six-week terms will be identical: those who won the established party primary elections on Feb. 2, plus any new-party or independent candidates whose petitions qualify them to be on the ballot. (The deadline for filing those petitions was June 21.)

– The political parties will NOT select the candidates for the Special Election.

– The accelerated schedule for proclaiming results in the Special Election is likely to be:
+ Nov. 19 for election officials to proclaim local results, and
+ Nov. 24 for the State Board of Elections to proclaim statewide results.
The Court indicated a desire to preserve the ability absentee voters’ ballots, particularly those from military and overseas voters, to be able to arrive and be counted up to 14 days after the election.

………………………………..

The order is a work in progress. Judge Grady indicated that once the parties sign off on the draft order, he would enter the order without conducting another hearing.

The net effect of this will be that voters will need to make a selection in each contest to have a say in both the six-year term and the six-week term. There can be “voter fall-off” in situations like this, where voters make a choice in the first contest but not the second. Also, the margins of victory are likely to be different between contests.

There will need to be efforts by both the campaigns and election authorities to educate voters on this special situation.

The six-year term and the unexpired term for U.S. Senator will be the first two offices on the ballots.

This will be similar to a federal court decision that created a Nov. 3, 1970 Special Election in the 6th Congressional District to fill the vacancy created by the death of U.S. Rep. Daniel Ronan – all on the same ballot that voters used to pick the Congressman for the next full two-year term.

In that case, the Court ruled that the candidates who won their primaries would be listed first for the vacancy and then for the full two-year term.

In the resulting voting, the voter fall-off rates and differences in vote totals were as follows: Democrat George W. Collins won both contests over Republican Alex J. Zabrosky, but the margins (68,949-to-54,746 and 68,182-to-53,240) meant a voter fall-off rate of 1.8% and an increase in the victory margin of 0.8% for Collins.

- Posted by Rich Miller   33 Comments      


Jurors ask for prosecution’s closing argument transcript

Thursday, Jul 29, 2010

* There was a bit of a flurry this morning at the federal courthouse when it was announced that the jury had sent a note to the judge. Could there be a verdict this soon? No way, right? Well, it turns out, they wanted a transcript of the prosecution’s closing arguments

The jury in Rod Blagojevich’s federal corruption trial has asked its first question during deliberations: Whether it could have a copy of the prosecution’s closing arguments.

Prosecutors laughed when the question was read. Judge James Zagel denied the request.

Zagel denied the request because closing arguments are not evidence. More

In closing arguments, Prosecutor Chris Niewoehner extensively laid out the charges in the case with an explanation of each count and what evidence the prosecution believed proved their case.

Zagel noted that the indictment in the case, which does go back with the jury, was complicated and repetitive.

“If they are unable to work their way through this without the statements, I expect this issue to rise again,” Zagel said. “And I will deal with it.”

More

Zagel said he could see why the jury would want the transcript, since it might provide a “roadmap” for deliberations. Assistant U.S. Atty. Christopher Niewoehner’s closing had been especially detailed and given in Powerpoint style on an overhead screen.

The judge said he might be willing to revisit the request if it is made later in deliberations. But he said if he were to grant it, he would be inclined to give the panel transcripts of all the closing arguments.

It just goes to show that the prosecution did a great job in closing arguments. The defense? Not so much.

* By the way, if you want to read a copy of the jury instructions, click here. The indictment is here. I’ve put links to both, plus the jury form, in the “Blagojevich Trial” pull-down menu on the right side of the page.

* So, how long will the jury deliberate? The George Ryan jury deliberated 10 days. Tony Rezko’s jury hashed things out for 13 days. The Daily Herald has more

Because of the sheer size and complexity of the case - including nearly eight weeks of evidence, more than an hour of instructions from Judge James Zagel issued Wednesday, and an 11-page worksheet that lays out requirements for guilt - the consensus around the federal courtroom is a verdict is likely to take at least a few days.

“I’m not anticipating one,” Zagel said of the likelihood of a quick verdict.

* Sam Adam, Sr. shared his thoughts with WBEZ

ADAM, SR: My gut tells me this jury will be out at least until Friday. […]

ADAM, SR: …there’re several jurors I think that are with us. There are several jurors - I’m sure - haven’t really made up their mind. And there may or may not be one or two who are against us.

* Intrade is starting to hedge

Intrade, the futures prediction market, has Rod Blagojevich’s conviction trading at 70 – which translates into the market predicting that there is a 70% chance the former Illinois governor will be convicted.

While this might not be the most encouraging odds for Blagojevich, the market has been dropping from a peak at 90 in early June, and from 75 two days ago – suggesting that investors are becoming less confident that the jury will return a guilty verdict.

The betting history

If it drops to 60, buy.

* And Mark Brown asked a good question today. Why didn’t anybody call the coppers on Blagojevich?

Neither racetrack owner John Johnston nor those road-building executives in search of tollway work went running to the feds to seek protection from Blagojevich’s efforts to pry campaign donations from them. At the time of the governor’s arrest, they obviously were still holding out hope they’d get what they wanted without coughing up the money. No sense rocking the boat.

Even Children’s Memorial Hospital CEO Patrick Magoon, the guy most clearly on the side of the angels in this affair, didn’t go out of his way to help catch the governor in the act.

Magoon consulted a criminal attorney to advise him how to handle what he perceived as an improper attempt by the Blagojevich crew to collect campaign contributions in exchange for increasing state aid to benefit the hospital.

Did the lawyer advise Magoon to go to the feds? No, he told him to quit taking phone calls from the governor’s team.

The strategy clearly was to sit tight and see if Blagojevich came through on his promise to authorize the funding.

I’m not trying to blame the victims. The point is that the no-snitch culture transcends the streets. It’s in our corporate boardrooms and under the Capitol dome.

Brown may have forgotten one alleged victim. Mother Tribune.

* Roundup…

* Blago jurors enjoy cocoon

* Blagojevich trial: Inside the jury room

* Jury begins deliberations

* Jury gets case in Blagojevich corruption trial

* Blago judge makes right call on jurors

* Sam the Ham’s closing didn’t impress me

* What kind of parents take kids to court?

* Blagojevich saga a lesson for pols

* Sam Adam light? Well, lighter

* Mell outraged

- Posted by Rich Miller   41 Comments      


Question of the day

Thursday, Jul 29, 2010

* The setup

The legendary team of Bill Kurtis and Walter Jacobson are returning to CBS 2 to anchor the 6 p.m. newscast, station boss Bruno Cohen announced on Thursday.

With Kurtis and Jacobson at his side, Cohen delivered the news at a staff meeting in the newsroom. Cohen also introduced Kate Sullivan, who will anchor the 5 p.m. and 10 p.m. newscasts with Rob Johnson starting on Sept. 13.

* The Question: Good move or not? Explain.

- Posted by Rich Miller   53 Comments      


Rasmussen: Brady expands lead to 44-37

Thursday, Jul 29, 2010

* The Democratic Governors Association is spending about $500,000 a week on TV ads these days for Gov. Pat Quinn, which is way more than the $200,000 a week being spent by Bill Brady’s campaign. But the Quinn ads may not be working yet, according to Rasmussen’s latest poll, which has Brady increasing his margin to seven points, up from three earlier this month. Numbers in brackets are results from the pollster on July 7, June 7, April 28, April 5 and March 8…

Brady: 44% [43%, 47% 45%, 45%, 47%]
Quinn: 37% [40%, 36% 38%, 38%, 37%]
Some Other Candidate 11% [9%, 8% 5%, 7%, 6%]
Not sure 9% [8%, 10% 11%, 10%, 9%]

* From the pollster

Thirty-seven percent (37%) of Illinois voters approve of the job [Quinn] is doing as governor, down seven points from earlier this month, while 61% disapprove.

The Republican holds a 13-point lead among men, but women are evenly divided between the candidates. Brady picks up support from 88% of Republicans, while Quinn is supported by only 61% of those in his party. Brady has a modest lead among voters not affiliated with either major political party.

They’re tied with women again? Not good for Quinn, especially since the DGA is so heavily targeting women in their TV ads.

Back to the pollster

Quinn is viewed Very Favorably by seven percent (7%) and Very Unfavorably by 32%.

Brady’s ratings are 15% Very Favorable, 15% Very Unfavorable.

At this point in a campaign, Rasmussen Reports considers the number of people with strong opinions more significant than the total favorable/unfavorable numbers.

* Other results, with July 6th results in brackets for Quinn…

* How would you rate the job Barack Obama has been doing as President… do you strongly approve, somewhat approve, somewhat disapprove, or strongly disapprove of the job he’s been doing?

37% Strongly approve
18% Somewhat approve
7% Somewhat disapprove
36% Strongly disapprove
1% Not sure

* How would you rate the job Pat Quinn has been doing as Governor… do you strongly approve, somewhat approve, somewhat disapprove, or strongly disapprove of the job he’s been doing?

7% Strongly approve [10%]
30% Somewhat approve [34%]
27% Somewhat disapprove [23%]
34% Strongly disapprove [31%]
2% Not sure [3%]

Approval is down, disapproval is up. Not good.

* Methodology

The survey of 750 Likely Voters in Illinois was conducted on July 26, 2010 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/-4 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence.

* Rasmussen’s job approval chart for Quinn, which hasn’t been updated to include the latest poll…

* TPM’s poll tracker


* Thoughts?

- Posted by Rich Miller   67 Comments      


Vaught: Income tax could rise 67 percent in January

Thursday, Jul 29, 2010

* As I told subscribers this morning, Gov. Pat Quinn’s budget director went off script with Bloomberg yesterday, telling the news service that Illinois will raise its income tax in January to plug its budget hole…

Lawmakers will likely increase the personal tax to 5 percent from 3 percent, generating $6 billion of new revenue, the budget director, David Vaught, said in an interview. The legislature failed to address the deficit this year because of the pending November election, he said.

“We’re going to pass a tax increase in January,” Vaught said. “We expect it is going to be substantial.”

That’ll be a great campaign ad, I’m sure.

Congressman Mark Kirk’s campaign has already responded via press release…

Kirk Opposes Quinn-Giannoulias Plan to Raise State Income Tax

Northbrook, Ill. – One day after the governor’s budget director said state lawmakers will likely increase the state’s personal income tax by 66 percent in January, Congressman Mark Kirk today reaffirmed his opposition to Governor Pat Quinn and State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias’ plan to raise the state income tax.

“With unemployment in Illinois above the national average, we should not make Illinois even less competitive by raising the state income tax,” Congressman Kirk said. “Alexi Giannoulias’ plan to increase state and federal income taxes would put our economic recovery at risk. I oppose tax increases in Washington and I urge state lawmakers to oppose the Quinn-Giannoulias tax increase in Springfield.”

Yesterday, David Vaught, the Director of the Governor’s Office of Management and Budget, told Bloomberg, “We’re going to pass a tax increase in January. We expect it is going to be substantial.”

Earlier this year, Alexi Giannoulias called for a state income tax increase. He also said he would allow federal tax relief to expire.

* Meanwhile, there’s a new rationale for the furlough program

Gov. Pat Quinn based his recent order requiring 2,700 non-union state workers to take 24 unpaid days off — a move expected to save $18 million this fiscal year — on fears that Congress won’t extend a federal boost in Medicaid payments beyond December.

If the enhanced Medicaid payments are allowed to expire, however, the resulting loss of $750 million in federal funding would have a much broader effect on the state, according to advocates for hospitals, doctors and people with developmental disabilities.

Hospitals might have to lay off employees and pay vendors late, Medicaid patients would have a harder time finding doctors, and programs for the developmentally disabled would face further cutbacks, they said.

That’s a swell cover story, but it would be far more believable if Quinn wasn’t under fire at the time for handing out bigtime pay raises to his staff.

* And we’ve got yet another victim of the budget crisis

Tourism has been on the upswing in Southern Illinois in recent years. But efforts to promote the region hit a snag on Tuesday. The Southern Illinois Tourism Development Office was forced to lay-off its executive director because of state funding shortages.

The office worked with cities and counties to promote tourism across 22 counties in Southern Illinois. Now, some of those counties are left with no means to market themselves.

There’s a lot to see in Southern Illinois and tourism officials say the average family of four will spend about $500 a day to hit the hot spots.

“It really turns into an economic driver for the Southern Illinois region- it really does.”

But shortfalls in state funding forced the Southern Illinois Tourism Development Office to lay off executive director, Russell Ward. He’s the office’s last employee.

* Related…

* Is Quinn’s veto of U-46 funding bill a political move?: Gov. Pat Quinn’s last-minute veto of school funding legislation Tuesday has Elgin Area School District U-46 officials seething.

* State budget hampers local job development, Chamber officials say

* Bernard Schoenburg: Quinn forgetting some ‘paycheck-to-paycheck’ folks: While I may have missed it, I haven’t heard Quinn use the same phrase about some people whose livelihood he is directly affecting now — nonunion state workers.

* Republican: Furloughs bad idea

* Union Bridles at Youth Prisons Merger

* Southern Ill. tourism office closes doors

* Our View: Local carp plant worth a look for state assistance

- Posted by Rich Miller   60 Comments      


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Thursday, Jul 29, 2010

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- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      


Must-see morning video: Pets for Pat

Thursday, Jul 29, 2010

* Pat Quinn’s new Internet promo video starts out light and funny, ends up harsh. Watch it


Simon is back to his fighting form.

- Posted by Rich Miller   41 Comments      


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