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Cook GOP official resigns in wake of scandal

Wednesday, Jul 28, 2010

* Just when you think the Republicans might have a shot at something big, stuff like this always happens.

I strongly encourage you to read the whole article, but the gist is that a young woman complained about a way too handsy president of the Chicago Young Republicans, Jeremy Rose…

When she tried to leave, it only got worse. “Jeremy and the other guy refused to walk me out, saying I needed to stay and hang out with them, and Jeremy took my phone away from me (I had been trying to call a cab) and sat on my lap, not letting me up.

“At this point I felt like his behavior was bordering on keeping me there by force. At last the girl who was there walked me out to the street and I hailed a cab and went home.”

After allegedly being briefed on the complaint, Cook County Republican Party Chairman Lee Roupas hired Rose as the county party’s political director, then promoted him to executive director. Roupas now claims that he didn’t really know much about what was going on, a claim that is challenged in a sworn statement.

And if that wasn’t enough, Roupas then attempted to foment a rebellion against Eloise Gerson, the chairwoman of the Chicago Republican Party, after Gerson and her chief legal counsel demanded that Roupas’ executive director resign…

Frustrated with his failure to oust Gerson, Roupas was allegedly overheard in an angry rant after the meeting, calling Gerson “boss b**ch.” And, despite objections by many committeemen that the new post appeared to undermine Gerson’s authority, Roupas announced the appointment of a Chicago Chair of the CCRP in an email on July 1.

“This is like the Catholic Church all over again, where the cover-up is worse than the crime, and there’s this concerted effort to try to shut down the whistleblower,” said CRP political director Tom Swiss in an interview. “He [Roupas] has a meeting and tries to vote her out and get her removed from her position, because she brings this complaint to him and he doesn’t want to be bothered by it.”

This scandal has been building on smaller blogs for weeks. Kudos to Huffington Post for ferreting out the full story. And it had results. Rose has resigned

And indeed, though many details of the story remain to be unearthed, the inquiries have already caused one head to roll: within an hour of concluding his interview with Huffington Post Chicago, Chairman Roupas circulated a letter to Republican officials announcing the resignation of Jeremy Rose.

“I feel it is best for our GOP team that I step aside as executive director so you and the Republican Committeemen can continue without distraction the work needed to win in November,” Rose writes in his resignation letter.

Again, go read the whole thing. Rose may be gone, but Roupas apparently still has some explaining to do.

- Posted by Rich Miller   74 Comments      

Budget office challenges NCSL study

Wednesday, Jul 28, 2010

* NCSL has a new report that has caused more than a few eyeballs to pop out…

Thirty states plan to spend more in FY 2011 than last year. Four of these boosted appropriations by more than 10 percent, with the largest increases in Illinois (15.1 percent) and Texas (14.8 percent). […]

Thirty-three states expect year-over-year growth in revenue collections, although in three the increase is less than 1 percent. Five states project double-digit increases: Illinois (17.9 percent), Alabama (16.0 percent), Washington (14.1 percent), North Dakota (13 percent) and Kansas (10.2 percent).

* What the heck? That’s gigantic growth in both spending and expected revenue increases. What’s going on here? I asked the governor’s budget office for a response. Here it is…

1. SOURCE: NCSL report does NOT cite where the data is coming from, especially regarding revenue (17.9%) and spending (15.1%) growth amounts cited. If there is any “wishful thinking”, it is on part of NCSL, not GOMB or the State.

2. FACTUAL BUDGET INFORMATION: The State’s Budget information incorporated in recent bond documents can be found in Table 5 (attached):

a. FY11 Revenues (all General Funds sources including State Revenues, Federal Revenues and Transfers In from Other State Funds) are forecast as $27,655M versus actual FY10 Revenues of $27,090M (per the IOC) or a 2.1% growth.

b. FY11 Spending (Appropriations plus Transfers Out to Other State Funds) are budgeted at $33,502M versus estimated FY10 Spending of $28,865M. However, FY10 Pension Contributions of $3,466M were NOT appropriated in the General Funds so the FY10 Spending in Table 5 (see footnote #1) must be adjusted to provide an apples-to-apples comparison. Using the adjusted FY10 amount of $32,331M ($28,865M + $3,466M) results in a 3.6% increase ($1,171M) in FY11 Spending over the adjusted (for pensions) FY10 Spending.

3. FY11 SPENDING GROWTH: FY11 growth can be attributed to pensions, as follows:

a. Statutorily Required Pensions – as Certified by the Pension Boards: The FY10 amount was $3,466M while the FY11 amount is $4,157M, or an increase of $691M.

b. Debt Service of FY10 Pension Bonds: The FY10 pension contribution of $3,466M was financed using GO Pension Bonds sold in January 2010. The FY11 Debt Service on those bonds increased by $1,095M over the FY10 Debt Service amount for those bonds. The debt service is shown in the Statutory Transfers Out to Other Funds in Table 5.

c. Appropriations – Excluding estimated FY10 Unspent Appropriations and FY11 estimated Reserves, Appropriations DECREASED by $509M ($26,340 in FY10 vs. $25,831M in FY11).

d. Remaining Difference: Relates to REDUCTIONS in other Statutory Transfers Out to Other Funds beyond the pension bond debt service.

* Related and a roundup…

* ADDED: Metra claims reforms, but state panel wants more: Too little, too late. That was the prevailing sentiment about Metra on Wednesday at a state Senate hearing at which the commuter train operator won praise for reforms in the wake of the death of Phil Pagano, but lawmakers made it clear they’d like to see more.

* Report: Illinois Budget Crisis Worst in Nation

* Illinois Has Nation’s Largest Budget Deficit - Study Says Deficits For All States Together Will Total $83.9 Billion Next Year

* Sharp: State has moral obligation to get budget in line

* Illinois named Race to the Top finalist

* Illinois named education grant finalist

* Union pans plan to merge Department of Children and Family Services with Juvenile Justice

* Illinois supports social services hot line, but not with money

* Quinn vetoes measure that would boost U-46 funding

* Disabled school may close without state money

* Amid ‘Transformers 3′ filming, tax incentives come under scrutiny

* New Illinois Blue Book contains error

- Posted by Rich Miller   8 Comments      

Question of the day

Wednesday, Jul 28, 2010

* The setup, from Jamey Dunn

Gov. Pat Quinn issued another amendatory veto [yesterday] that drastically changes the content of the original bill. […]

Quinn left the content of the bill intact but tacked on provisions that would create a citizens’ initiative process for ideas pertaining to “ethical conduct and campaign finance reform.” […]

Under the new version of HB 5206, proposals that receive 100,000 petition signatures would be drafted into a bill and voted on by the General Assembly. If the legislation failed to become law, it would go onto the ballot as an advisory referendum, which does not have any binding legal power.

* The Question: Leaving aside the amendatory veto power used here, what do you think of the governor’s idea? As always, explain fully. Thanks.

* Related…

* Quinn strikes blow to dead voter bill

* Quinn Uses Veto Pen on Ethics Bill

- Posted by Rich Miller   17 Comments      

*** UPDATED x10 *** Stupid Internet tricks

Wednesday, Jul 28, 2010

* In the age of the Internet, nothing ever disappears. For instance, somebody claiming to be with Bill Brady’s campaign radically changed the candidate’s Wikipedia page. Actually, it was more of a hack than a change, and there’s a complete record to back up what was changed and why.

Wikipedia is a community-based product, but Brady’s campaign supporter went in and whacked the page but good, deleting references to gay rights, gun control, stem cell research and other basic policy proposals.

The original, unedited by Brady, page is here. It included stuff like this…


Brady supports replacing the Illinois State Board of Education, with a smaller agency.[6]

Brady believes that intelligent design should be taught in public schools “through the principles of the Founding Fathers’ design” along with evolution.[7][8]

The Brady-edited page is pure campaign talking points. Check it out

The Bill Brady Record: Clean Break, Common Ground

In office, Bill Brady has always stood for the principles on which he has run. Since joining the Illinois House in 1993 and his appointment to the Illinois Senate in 2002, Brady has also worked with Democrats and others seeking to promote the best interests of Illinois. For example, he has pushed for:

Protection of pharmaceutical benefits for seniors Creation of an Illinois Conservation Corps for young adults. Bipartisan teacher pension and banking and insurance reform. Protecting children from sexual predators. Expansion of property tax breaks for disabled veterans.

The campaign supporter twice explained why it substituted facts for drivel in the page’s change log

Changed by Bill Brady and his family to better represent him as a person. This page does not give an accurate description of who I am and what I stand for. […]

This page misrepresented Bill Brady, (R) Candidate for Governor. It has been changed to reflect the truth about Bill Brady by his campaign, Brady for Illinois.

Yeah. OK.

The original page has since been restored. Hat tip: Rebecca Mastey.

…Adding… From the Quinn campaign…

If Bill Brady doesn’t think his record is too extreme - then why did he erase it….?

*** UPDATE 1 - 1:09 pm *** As if all that wasn’t enough, the Brady campaign person is now claiming that the revisions which undid its attempts at posting blatant propaganda are “vandalism.” Give me a break. And, since I know that the Brady campaign monitors this site, I have a message for it: Stop playing around with Wikipedia because you look like total morons.

*** UPDATE 2 - 1:36 pm *** Unreal. The Brady campaign backer just changed the Wikipedia page back to propaganda mode. The reason?…

changed it back to the best representation of Bill Brady)


*** UPDATE 3 - 1:50 pm *** The Brady Interwebtube goofballs have even changed the discussion section to mirror the propaganda page. These guys are just bizarre.

*** UPDATE 4 - 1:58 pm *** The page keeps going back and forth. Check the history logs. The pro-Brady forces are now saying that the original Wikipedia article is propaganda

The propaganda is on the page created to make Brady look bad. This is the truth.

*** UPDATE 5 - 2:07 pm *** Added references to campaign supporter/backer/person for accuracy’s sake. That person may be Brady’s niece.

*** UPDATE 6 - 2:20 pm *** Weirder and weirder it gets. The blog apparently run by Sen. Brady’s niece just went private. I had posted a question to her on the blog a few minutes ago about the Wikipedia changes.

*** UPDATE 7 - 2:37 pm *** Wikipedia has now locked down the page

Editing of this article by new or unregistered users is currently disabled to prevent Biographies of living persons violations.

The discussion page is now back to the way it was as well.

Mess with the bull, get the horn.

*** UPDATE 8 - 3:09 pm *** Somehow, the lock has been broken. Brady’s Wikipedia page has been changed back to propaganda mode.

*** UPDATE 9 - 3:13 pm *** This is like watching a bad ping-pong game. We’re back to normal Wiki mode.

*** UPDATE 10 - 3:28 pm *** The whole point of this post is how things posted on the Internet never go away. If you’re interested in screen shots of the now-private blog by what appears to be the person behind some of these changes, click here.

[ *** End Of Updates *** ]

* Meanwhile, 10th District Republican candidate Bob Dold posted this on his Facebook site not long ago

That post prompted a stinging press release from Dold’s Democratic opponent, Dan Seals

Yesterday, Republican Congressional Candidate Bob Dold announced his support for Rep. Paul Ryan’s Roadmap for America’s Future, a radical plan to privatize social security, eliminate Medicare and Medicaid, and raise taxes on the middle class.

“I will not support a proposal that hurts middle-class families and ends Social Security and Medicare as we know it,” said Democratic Candidate Dan Seals. “Older Americans have been investing in and counting on these programs for decades, and sticking them with the bill now is not only morally objectionable, it is fiscally irresponsible.”

Dold removed the post from his Facebook site. But it lives on thanks to the Seals campaign and ArchPundit, who notes…

This is especially interesting since Dold is running as a ‘moderate’ while he keeps getting endorsed by nutters on the right like the Eagle Forum.

That refers to a dustup over whether Dold is actually pro-choice or not.

* Anyway, I asked Dold’s campaign why the candidate posted that item to Facebook. The response…

Robert believes we should analyze any serious proposal –Republican or Democratic – that discusses how to get control of spending in Washington and ensure the viability of Medicare and Social Security. Paul Ryan’s proposal has opened an important debate about how to do that. Robert didn’t endorse the proposal but encouraged people to study it.

Let’s be clear. Doing nothing is a disaster, because analysis of our Medicare and Social Security programs shows they are on a path toward insolvency. Dan Seals only attacks any proposal and then ducks from providing any solutions of his own.

…Adding… The Seals campaign responded to the crack on not having solutions by providing this link.

And why did he delete it?…

It’s Facebook. We put things up and take things down all the time. We’re not announcing policy on Facebook. Seals seems pretty desperate already, probably because Bob outraised him last quarter and is outworking him in the District.

You can’t ever “take things down” on the Internet. It’s somewhere forever. And that deletion sure looks suspicious to me.

* Related…

* Pollak confirms support for Breitbart’s

* Dold Calls on Seals to Return Tainted Rangel Contribution

* House Democrats line up TV ad buys for fall races

* House Democrats reserve $49 million in ad time

* Schock a celebrity judge on Bravo’s ‘Top Chef’

* Six lawmakers make ‘Beautiful‘ list

* GOP Women’s Conference to Give Pointers on Turning Illinois Red

- Posted by Rich Miller   56 Comments      

Republicans question pay to play on Quinn cash

Wednesday, Jul 28, 2010

* I’ve been telling my subscribers about massive labor union donations to Gov. Quinn for weeks. The Republicans are a bit late to the game, but better late than never, I suppose

Two leading state Republicans questioned [yesterday] whether union donations given last month to Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn had anything to do with administration pressure on road builders to settle a strike that had brought area highway construction to a halt.

Pat Brady, the state GOP chairman, and unsuccessful Republican governor candidate Kirk Dillard tried to tie the donations to the trial of Quinn’s predecessor, disgraced former Gov. Rod Blagojevich, which was being held across the street from the site of their news conference in downtown Chicago.

Quinn blasted the allegations as a political ploy.

Both Republicans wouldn’t say whether they believed the donations led to actions by the Illinois Department of Transportation to threaten road construction firms with a rebidding of contracts and other moves if roadbuilders didn’t settle with union workers. They said they were only “questioning” if pay to play politics had occurred.


Dillard and Illinois Republican Chairman Pat Brady are linking Governor Pat Quinn’s acceptance in June of a $500,000 campaign contribution from labor unions to the administration’s intervention in July aimed at ending a laborer’s strike that shut down highway and construction projects.

On July 19, Illinois Transportation Secretary Gary Hannig sent a letter to inform road builders their state highway contracts might be rebid if the work stoppage continued.

“In fact, the letter sent by Secretary Hannig is very threatening in its tone. It is not impartial,” said Dillard.

“I think it’s sickening that citizens could again be subjected to the same pay-to-play politics that rocked Illinois under Rod Blagojevich,” Pat Brady said

It wasn’t one $500,000 contribution. It was several totaling about that amount, from the Operating Engineers and the Laborers.

* The governor responds

“When you take a look at that letter from your transportation secretary to the contractors, it seemed to be pressuring the contractors more than unions. How does that not pass the smell test?” Levine asked Quinn.

“That’s a lot of baloney, and you know it and they know it,” Quinn replied. “We told the unions the same thing we told the contractors: get to the bargaining table, be serious, resolve your differences. They came up with a contract.” […]

“That’s a smear,” Quinn shot back, “And those who made it, the Brady Bunch, know it’s a smear. It’s totally untrue, it’s completely untrue, and they know it. It’s all politics.”

Though Quinn made no apologies for his allegiance to labor.

“The unions, they have a right to support their candidate, and I happen to be their candidate,” said Quinn.

Actually, the letter, which can be downloaded by clicking here, was quite one-sided, even though IDOT claimed to remain “impartial” in the matter. The meat of its threats…

Not only could IDOT have cost the contractors a fortune in loss of their incentive bonuses, but they were in danger, via a PLA, of actually being replaced by contractors who would sign a union deal.

The contractors caved almost immediately.

Quinn is definitely a pro-union guy. Those big contributions certainly raise questions that he has to answer. The question is whether he knew about the strike when he got that money. I’m told he didn’t. But it’s a fair hit.

* Related…

* Brady bus stops at Almost Home Kids

* GOP Accuses Gov. Quinn Of ‘Pay To Play’

* Quinn opponents accuse gov of pay-to-play

* GOP questions Quinn’s motives in construction workers’ strike

* Quinn: Bill-signing no ploy for votes

* Changing The Rules In Springfield

* Pantagraph: New law more logical way to address ’sexting’

* News-Democrat: Keep records open to public

* SJ-R: FOIA should apply to police

* Public worker info veto draws praise, ire

* Southern Illinoisan: Lawmakers’ pay no laughing matter

* Herald & Review: Smoking isn’t budget payday it used to be

* Prank-calling 911 now felony in Illinois

* Commission to begin study of how to pay for higher education in Illinois

* After school programs will be under state watch

* Illinois racing board lets fairgoers bet on ponies

* Quinn signs sprinkler bill at ISU

* Ill. Gov. Quinn moves to give citizens new power. Sort of.

* Quinn: Give Illinois citizens say on ethics bills

* Senator Heather Steans wins approval of new law to reduce mercury contamination risk in Chicago

- Posted by Rich Miller   17 Comments      

Rasmussen: Giannoulias 43, Kirk 41

Wednesday, Jul 28, 2010

* Rasmussen’s latest poll shows that Democrat Alexi Giannoulias continues to trend slightly upwards, while Republican Mark Kirk has stopped slipping, at least for now. Previous results from Rasmussen’s polls conducted July 7, June 7, April 28, April 5, March 8 and February 3 are in brackets…

Kirk: 41 [39%, 42% 46%, 41%, 41%, 46%]

Giannoulias: 43 [40%, 39% 38%, 37%, 44%, 40%]

Other: 6 [9%, 7% 5%, 8%, 5%, 4%]

Unsure: 10 [12%, 12% 12%. 13%, 10%, 10%]

From the pollster

Kirk carries 74% of conservative voters in the state, while 79% of liberals support Giannoulias. Moderates favor the Democrat by a 47% to 35% margin.

Forty-four percent (44%) say Kirk’s views are in the mainstream, but 30% say they are extreme. Forty-two percent (42%) view Giannoulias in the mainstream, while 33% say he’s extreme.

Seven percent (7%) of Illinois voters hold a Very Favorable opinion of Giannoulias, while 25% view him Very Unfavorably.

Kirk is viewed Very Favorably by 10% and Very Unfavorably by 14%.

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

Kirk holds a modest lead among male voters, and Giannoulias has a similar lead among women. Voters not affiliated with either major party prefer the Republican by nearly 20 points.

That big lead among independents is crucial and means that Kirk has a very good shot at winning this one, despite the toplines. Illinois has lots more Democrats than Republicans, but they’re not a firm majority. Independents are a must-get. But moderates are also very important, and Giannoulias’ lead is important there.

* More results

* Is Mark Kirk more ethical, less ethical, or about as ethical as most politicians?

10% More ethical
21% Less ethical
50% About as ethical
19% Not sure

* Is Alexi Giannoulias more ethical, less ethical or about as ethical as most politicians?

8% More ethical
31% Less ethical
44% About as ethical
17% Not sure

* Is Rod Blagojevich more ethical, less ethical, or about as ethical as most politicians?

2% More ethical
59% Less ethical
32% About as ethical
7% Not sure

Almost half say Giannoulias is less ethical than most politicos or aren’t sure. The Kirk camp will do its best to push that up as high as possible with the “mob banker” stuff. Whether it’ll work this year is another story, however.

And, let’s all hope that none of that crazy 2 percent who think Rod Blagojevich is more ethical than most is sitting on the jury.

* More results…

* Would it be more accurate to describe Mark Kirk’s views as mainstream or extreme?

44% Mainstream
30% Extreme
27% Not sure

* Would it be more accurate to describe Alexi Giannoulias’s views as mainstream or extreme?

42% Mainstream
33% Extreme
25% Not sure

* 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.

* TPM’s poll-tracker


* Related…

* Sweet: Illinois Special Senate election Nov. 2 could trigger confusion, fund-raising boom

* Quinn: Dual U.S. Senate election won’t be pricey

* Obama Senate seat special election could make big waves

* Tribune: Burris for Senate?

* Giannoulias Uses DISCLOSE Act to Push for Senate Rules Reform

* Plouffe gearing up to get Giannoulias elected

* Big Guns Jump On Board Giannoulias Campaign

* Some Democrats wary as Obama ramps up fundraising

* Obama hitting the campaign trail in August

* Senate name calling escalates

* Kirk and Giannoulias, You’re no Lincoln and Douglas

* Kirk proposes 7 debates, forums in Senate race

* Who’d You Rather? Governor Santa, or Governor Scrooge?

- Posted by Rich Miller   39 Comments      

*** UPDATED x3 *** Hemmed in by the law

Wednesday, Jul 28, 2010

*** UPDATE 1 - 12:53 pm *** From the jury instructions

“A conspiracy may be committed even if its purpose is not accomplished,” the judge reads steadily

*** UPDATE 2 - 1:14 pm *** Download a copy of the blank jury verdict form by clicking here. [fixed link]

And here’s a note from the US Attorney’s office…

Also, please be advised that I or my office will issue a blast email when we receive notice that a verdict has been reached ONLY. We will NOT be issuing any alerts if the jury has a question or other notes.

*** UPDATE 3 - 3:55 pm *** Another day, another mistrial motion

“Determinations of credibility and findings of fact are the province of the jury. Throughout the closing argument of Attorney Sam Adam, Jr., the government objected approximately three dozen times, with improper objections. The court, in an apparent endorsement of the government in front of the jury, erroneously ruled on the government’s improper objections, making findings of credibility and fact. This violated Rod Blagojevich rights to due process, a fair trial, effective assistance of counsel and the right to present a defense case, in contravention of the United States Constitution, Amendments 5 and 6.”

It continued: “The government objected to Attorney Adam around three dozen times. The objections were intended only to obstruct and disrupt the closing argument. The government’s objections were disingenuous and misleading.”

[ *** End Of Updates *** ]

* Eric Zorn quotes Judge James Zagel

“The law I give you is the law you must follow, whether you like it or not.”

Zagel was speaking to Rod Blagojevich’s attorney Sam Adam, Jr., who had just been shot down again by a prosecution objection. The quote was used by Zorn to make this spot-on analysis…

The federal statutes on wire fraud, extortion, bribery, racketeering and making false statements to law enforcement that Blagojevich is accused of violating may strike some of the jurors as severe — fussy, sometimes victimless sanctions against bluster and big talk. This is certainly, clearly how SAJr (left, Tribune photo by Antonio Perez), feels about them.

Most of the charges against Blagojevich lack the “smoking gun” that so many people say they want to see in such cases — the envelope stuffed with unmarked bills peeking out of the inner breast pocket of a public official’s suit jacket as he signs off on a boondoggle to enrich his benefactor.

Blagojevich’s allegedly corrupt schemes tended to go nowhere, as notable for their fecklessness as for their arrogant perfidy. Adam dismissed them as “just yakking” in his closing argument.

But the cold wording of the law and the jury instructions simply won’t leave jurors much room to acquit, whether they “like it or not.”

The law is the law and the jury instructions will hem the panel in.

* John Kass rightly keys in on a crucial moment, the prosecution’s rebuttal of Sam Adam, Jr’s closing argument

[Assistant U.S. Attorney Reid Schar eviscerated] Adam’s argument, ridiculing the defense notion that the feds and Blagojevich’s own inner circle conspired to take him down.

“There’s a conspiracy of liars,” Schar said sarcastically. “Everyone’s lying to frame defendant Blagojevich. It’s one of the great frame-ups of all time. What’s amazing about this massive conspiracy is that not only are these people lying, they somehow managed to get Blagojevich on all those tapes you heard, to frame himself.”

When Schar was talking, several jurors leaned forward.

* More from prosecutor Schar’s rebuttal

Rod Blagojevich has “more training in criminal background than the average lawyer,” and yet the defense portrays him as a victim of circumstance who was unaware he was doing anything wrong, prosecutor Reid Schar argues.

“Somehow he is the accidentally corrupt governor? I mean, come on. Come on,” Schar says, his voice rising a little.

“He is the decision maker. He is the governor,” the prosecutor said. “He is the one who makes the ultimate decision.” […]

Earlier, Schar hit back at Sam Adam Jr.’s argument that Blagojevich’s alleged crimes are “all talk.”

“The crimes the defendants are charged with are crimes that involve a lot of talking,” Schar said. “When you go to rob a bank, you talk about it for a while.”

* More Schar

[Schar] also broke down the charges related to the head of Children’s Memorial Hospital and its head, Patrick Magoon. As part of the charges, Blagojevich allegedly told others, including aide John Wyma, who was working as a lobbyist for the hospital, that he was going to approve a rate increase that would help pediatric doctors. […]

He also noted that when the fundraiser wasn’t immediately forthcoming and Magoon wasn’t calling Robert Blagojevich back, the governor spoke to a Deputy Gov. Bob Greenlee, who held up the measure.

He said any talk on the calls that Blagojevich wanted to hold up the effort for budgetary reasons also makes no sense. There are no other calls at that time about the budget and Blagojevich makes it clear to Wyma in a call caught by the feds.

“But you don’t need to guess what was in defendant Blagojevich’s mind,” Schar said. “He tells John Wyma, ‘I’m doing Children’s Memorial Hospital for $8 million, I want him for $50,000.’”

* Still more

Schar told jurors not to believe Blagojevich when he says on one wiretap that pending horseracing legislation has nothing to do with his quest to secure a donation from a local track owner. Prosecutors have alleged that the governor’s effort to secure a campaign donation from the track owner was extortion.

“If it’s not one for the other, you don’t say that,” Schar said.

Schar also has urged jurors to ask themselves how state government should work. Campaign donations should never be a factor when deciding to sign or support legislation, he said.

“You don’t sit around debating whether you’ll get your money,” Schar said. “How backward can you get?”

* Mark Brown’s take is definitely worth noting

One of the odd things about trials is that the person in a courtroom with whom jurors most tend to identify is the judge. For starters, the judge gives them their meal and bathroom breaks. He’s the boss in the courtroom.

So if a lawyer openly feuds with the judge, it’s going to be difficult to get an entire jury to believe the judge is unfairly biased against him.

But again, one or two just might, which in this case could make them more amenable to apply Adam’s suggested common sense understanding of extortion and bribery rather than the legal definition the judge will provide. If so, a hung jury is a possibility. I could also see the jury knocking out any charge not supported by wiretap evidence.

* Roundup…

* Judge James Zagel to jury: “You’ve heard all the evidence and the arguments”

* Attorneys offer competing portraits of Blagojevich

* Attorneys Make Their Closing Arguments in the Blagojevich Trial

* A Final Day of Back-and-Forth Arguments in Blagojevich Trial

* Final attorney skirmish sends Blagojevich case to jury

* Rebuttal concludes; case will go to jury Wednesday

* Deliberation Time Almost Here for Blagojevich Jury

* Is Blagojevich a ’silly’ victim or a scheming crook?

* Blagojevich girls coming to court sparks debate

* Stress possible for Blagojevich daughter after court

* Tribune: Be kind to your kids…

* Walter: Blagojevich Kids In Court Is Child Abuse

* Patti Blagojevich in Tears as Closing Arguments End

* Blagojevich brothers finally hug, say ‘I love you’

* Marin: Rod doesn’t look ready for crash landing

* Brown: Move over armchair jurors, it’s up to real ones

* Schmich: If I were a juror …

* Talking Politics: Blago and the Democrats

* Kass: Blago lawyer’s show doesn’t change reality

* Sun-Times: Blago judge makes right call on jurors

* Sam Adam Jr.: I Gave the Best Performance I Could

* Judge to Adam: Don’t worry about jail

* Rod Blagojevich to supporter: “That’s in case I run for office again”

* Sam Adam Jr. concludes closing argument with plea to jurors: Ask yourself, “What would Sam say?”

* Zagel: “This is all I have to say … because it’s all I have to say, it’s all you have to say.”

* Blago’s lawyer calls ex-governor foolish but not corrupt

* Sam Adam Jr. on Patti allegations: “Kickbacks for work is a job, man!”

* Adam: If Blago’s corrupt, why is he broke?

* Sam Adam Jr.: Rod Blagojevich is “broke, man, BROKE!”

* Sam Adam Jr. questions Chicago Academy charge: Football field got made, where is the fund-raiser?

* Sam Adam Jr. accuses Barack Obama’s transition team of negotiating with Rod Blagojevich

* Judge Zagel to Sam Adam Jr.: This is beginning to look more like a show

* Sam Adam Jr: “You know who didn’t get arrested? Jesse Jackson Jr.”

* Adam says Blagojevich is the real victim

* Sam Adam Jr. in closing: Former deputy governor made “the most ridiculous statement I’ve ever heard”

* Sam Adam Jr. in closing: “There’s a big pink elephant in the room”

* ‘The pink elephant in the room’

* Adam works up a sweat

* Blagojevich trial: Sam Adam Jr. quietly prepares for closing argument

* Judge to Sam Adam Jr: I will sit you down if you bring up missing witnesses — but here’s how you can get away with it

* Blagojevich trial: Crowd awaits the Zagel-Adam showdown

* Last word in the Blagojevich trial: Prosecutor to give government rebuttal

* Prosecution begins rebuttal argument

* Prosecutor Reid Schar: Rod Blagojevich “is not stupid. He is very smart.”

* Prosecutor Reid Schar: Rod Blagojevich “is the accidentally corrupt governor? I mean, come on.”

* Prosecution urges jurors to use ‘common sense’

* Prosecutor Reid Schar: There is no conspiracy here — “the time for accountability for these crimes is now”

* Prosecution: Blago is a liar, blames others for his actions

- Posted by Rich Miller   54 Comments      

Morning Shorts

Wednesday, Jul 28, 2010

* Think tank’s audit finds suburban government websites lacking

Each piece of township government had its website quietly evaluated and scored on 10 criteria - including the online availability of officials’ contact information, public records, budgets, financial audits, taxes, salaries and benefits.

Between May 24 and June 2, Costin said, institute staff contacted each entity for the first time after its audit was completed to talk about the score - and ways it could be improved upon before a second audit was conducted six weeks later.

* Local Case-Shiller index up for 2nd straight month

* CPS students score higher on tests

The number of students meeting or exceeding state standards on the Prairie State exam rose to 29.4 percent, up from 27.9 percent last year. Average ACT scores inched upward — from 17 to 17.3 out of a possible 36. That’s the highest ACT score for CPS students in a decade.

And college readiness — students achieving an ACT score of 20 or better — rose by 2.6 percentage points, from 21.8 percent to 24.4 percent. In 2001, only 17.1 percent of CPS students hit that benchmark.

* Chicago public high school test scores post increase

* Got flood damage? Watch out for home repair scams

* Families closer to Burr Oak settlement

U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Pamela S. Hollis has approved a settlement that routes $7 million in insurance money to Burr Oak and $150,000 to Cedar Park Cemetery in Calumet Park, Howard Korenthal, a court-appointed reorganization specialist who has been overseeing Burr Oak, said Tuesday.

* Public funds end up in Lake Co. sheriff’s campaign war chest

A $500 contribution from the Lake County Metropolitan Enforcement Group to Sheriff Mark Curran’s campaign fund was a mistake, both groups said Tuesday.

But Curran’s Democratic opponent in the November general election, Waukegan attorney Doug Roberts, said the fact Curran accepted public funds as a campaign donation in violation of the law is a telling fact about his opponent.

“He can’t be that stupid,” Roberts said after bringing the donation listed on Curran’s campaign disclosure forms to the attention of the media.

“Anyone who could look at that check and not realize it was public money and send it right back is not fit to hold any office in any jurisdiction in any state,” he added.

The money, paid with a MEG check, was written June 1 to pay for four MEG agents to play in Curran’s annual golf outing fundraiser, MEG Director Larry Lindenman said.

* Former Stroger campaign staffer gets county consulting job

A one-time campaign staffer for Cook County Board President Todd Stroger was awarded a $15,000 consulting job to help the county negotiate contracts with its labor unions.

Raymond L. Harris Sr., of Bolingbrook, worked on the Stroger campaign briefly, but that wasn’t the reason he was tapped, said Stroger spokesman Eugene Mullins.

“It’s not because he was a campaign worker — it was because of his extensive experience in labor relations,” Mullins said. “He has over 40 years experience, and he’ll be sitting at the table with the … bargaining units.”

Harris, who is retired from the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, is described as an expert in labor negotiations — even working on 13 previous collective bargaining agreements in the county — in a recommendation letter written by the county’s human resources chief Joseph Sova.

* Cook County lists lobbyist work online

* Cook County lobbyist reports online

* Lobbying Cook Co. officials a million dollar business

“We know that a lot of lobbyists contacted 60 elected officials between January and June — some of them [elected leaders] more than 30 times,” said Cook County Clerk David Orr.

Orr worked with Cook County Commissioner Bridget Gainer to pass a stricter ethics ordinance that requires lobbyists to provide more detailed information about who they’re meeting with, the subject matter and how much they’re paid for the work.

The searchable database reveals that 188 lobbyists —representing 84 firms and five sole proprietors — registered in Cook County earned $1.1 million, down from $1.3 million reported between July and December 2009.

* Daily Herald: A welcome tool for open government

* $175K in county deals won’t get fed cash

* Cook commissioners question 24-9 contracts and lost grant money

* Attendance dropping as county fairs struggle to remain relevant amid suburbanization

“We’re in a more urban area than what we used to be,” said Jim McGuire, first-year president of the DuPage County Fair, which finished its run in Wheaton on Sunday. “That has been a challenge: to be able to put on a good agricultural fair, but to still keep it relevant and exciting to the community that we’re in.”

* Swimming ban lifted at city beaches

* Cook County, towns appeal for federal aid

* State offers low-interest loans to flood victims

* Cicero blames water agency for flooding

* [Park Ridge] Mayor: Floods could’ve been worse, city’s response could’ve been better

* Many At Breaking Point In Storm-Swept Westchester

* Cincinnati radio host Bill Cunningham to get syndicated TV talk show in Chicago

* Orlando reporter coming home to join ABC 7 news

* Mokena mayor head of Blue Island water department

* New Lenox lifts restrictions on campaign signs

* Panel backs funding for Ride in Kane

* $24.5 million makeover planned for Glendale Heights Civic Center Plaza

* Mississippi crests overnight in Q-C at 17.26 feet

* Times: One Q-C, one chamber

* Police may shift focus of anti-crime effort to new areas in Peoria

* [Peoria] County considers buyouts

* Macon County Clerk Steve Bean sounds off over budget decisions

* [Sangamon] County expecting another tight budget next year

* [Springfield] plans to buy, demolish vacant homes

- Posted by Barton Lorimor   Comments Off      

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Wednesday, Jul 28, 2010

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- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      

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