Thursday, Sep 30, 2010 - Posted by Rich Miller
* Dear Bill Brady,
During yesterday’s debate, you mentioned how Texas was doing so well. They ain’t…
Earlier this month [Texas] House Speaker Joe Straus told county administrators the state budget deficit would be at least $18 billion.
Tuesday legislative budget staff said the shortfall has grown to $21 billion.
But on the same day, when Governor Rick Perry sat down with KERA, Perry said the gap to fund the next two-years of state government will be only half that bad, no more than $11 billion.
Yeah. No problems there.
And New Jersey’s Chris Christie, who is coming to town to raise money for you, ain’t doing all that great either…
Meredith Whitney, the analyst who correctly predicted Citigroup Inc.’s dividend cut in 2008, will release a report rating California’s financial condition as the worst among the 15 largest U.S. states, Fortune said. […]
After California, New Jersey, Illinois and Ohio tie as the second-worst
* Dear Rich Voltair,
The problem was not your “word choice“…
A suburban political candidate said he regrets saying the nation’s attitude toward gay marriage will change because older people eventually will die.
“It was a poor choice of words,” said Rich Voltair, a Round Lake Beach Democrat running for the 62nd District seat. “I definitely realize that.” […]
“As a 32-year-old, I hold views that are consistent with my age group,” he said in that story, which was based on e-mail exchanges with both candidates. “These views represent the future and it is only a matter of time before the previous generation expires and our generation takes over.”
The Great Die-Off you speak of will also “solve” our Social Security, Medicare and state pension problems. But it’s not something you’re supposed to cheer for, dude.
* Dear Jason Plummer,
Chicago is a border city, too, ‘ya know…
Over the last several months, [Republican lt. governor nominee Jason Plummer] said he has been on the campaign trail, visiting those cities – Rockford, Moline, Danville – that are located near borders with other states.
But, then again, Chicago also has reporters who probably wouldn’t write puff pieces about you. So, better stick with the little towns.
* Dear Adam Andrzejewski,
Timing is everything. If the primary was later, you and your “forensic audit” proposal might’ve actually won the governor’s race. I mean, even a Chicago alderman is hyping the phrase…
[Ald. Scott Waguespack] now plans to put together an “agenda” — including a “forensic audit” of city finances and contracts — for a City Council expected to assert itself more forcefully in the post-Daley era.
“Open the books. Let’s look at how we’re spending and re-direct the monies towards our most important needs, including the Police Department,” he said.
* Dear Sun-Times,
Hope is not a plan…
But by referring to leaving “daily operations of the bank,” the Giannoulias camp clearly was trying to leave the impression that he had walked out the bank’s doors for good.
Giannoulias’ opponent, U.S. Rep. Mark Kirk, has been no more straightforward on Broadway Bank issues. Last week, in a meeting with the Sun-Times editorial board, he ominously said the Giannoulias family “took $70 million out of the bank before its collapse” without mentioning that most of that money went to pay taxes.
We can only hope both campaigns get more straightforward in the final weeks before Nov. 2.
The public floggings need to continue on a regular basis.
* Dear national Democrats,
You may be seeing a “dead cat” bounce…
Democrats say they see a bounce
The story line for Election 2010 has been set for months: Republicans are on the march; Democrats are in deep trouble. Is it possible that Democrats have begun a comeback?
Several Democrats say there is modest movement in their direction and some reason for optimism after many dismal months
* Dear John Shimkus spokesman Steve Tomaszewski,
Careful, the Interwebtube Gods can be vengeful…
“It was an unknown person from an internet media source, and I did not reply,” said Steve Tomaszewski, spokesman for Shimkus, when asked about Cary’s request.
* Dear Mike McRaith…
The name of Illinois Insurance Director and Chicago resident Michael McRaith is being floated as the first chief of the new Federal Insurance Office, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal.
* Dear scientists…
I’m not sure this is such a good thing…
If huge, hungry Asian carp end up reaching Lake Michigan, their long-dreaded invasion might turn out to be less ferocious than once expected because a tiny competitor is gobbling up their primary food source, some Great Lakes researchers say.
The quagga mussel — a thumbnail-sized foreign mullosk first spotted in the lakes two decades ago — has devoured so much plankton in southern Lake Michigan that the entire food web is being altered, federal and university scientists say in a series of newly published articles.
Hey, maybe we can use the carp and the mussels to clean up this problem…
Illinois is failing to crack down on water pollution from large confined-animal farms, the Obama administration announced Wednesday in a stinging rebuke that gave the state a month to figure out how to fix its troubled permitting and enforcement programs.
Responding to a petition from environmental groups, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said its nearly yearlong investigation found widespread problems with the Illinois EPA’s oversight of confined-animal feeding operations, or CAFOs. Many of the cattle, hog and chicken operations produce manure in amounts comparable to the waste generated by small towns.
* Your turn…
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* And, now, we get Rahm Emanuel’s lunch schedule…
Rahm Emanuel lunched [yesterday] with Chicago billionaire Sam Zell, chairman of the Tribune Company, as the White House chief of staff mulls a run for Chicago mayor.
The two dined at a chic eatery, Central Michel Richard, a restaurant manager confirmed. The spot is about six blocks from the White House, where Emanuel serves as chief of staff to President Barack Obama.
“They have lunch all the time when he (Zell) comes to D.C.,” according to a source close to Emanuel, who cautioned against reading too much into the power lunch. “He’s known him (Zell) for a long time and I imagined they talked about the race, Chicago, the economy, education and other issues.”
In other words: This is not news. But, hey, if they were really enterprising reporters, they’d tell us what the two men ordered.
* Speaking of not news…
WASHINGTON — Rahm Emanuel, the White House chief of staff, is resigning to run for mayor of Chicago, people familiar with his plans said today.
We’ve known this for days now. Thanks for retelling us.
* But there was one useful story about Emanuel this week. Medill Reports took a close, even-handed look at his residency questions. State law requires a mayoral candidate to reside in the city for a year before an election. Chicago’s election is February 22nd. Election law attorneys Burt Odelson and James Nally claimed Emanuel can’t run…
Odelson noted that a section of the statute in the Illinois election code allows individuals who are in service to the U.S. to keep their residency status, but only for voting purposes.
“Even if Mr. Emanuel could make a claim that he’s in service of the U.S. and still vote absentee, he cannot make the claim he has been a resident of the city of Chicago for one year prior to the election because he leased his house to a family,” Odelson said.
And while Nally admitted that election law weighs heavily on “intent,” it also requires an actual physical presence for candidates…
“Physical presence is very important,” Nally said. “The statute asks, ‘Were you residing in that municipality a year prior to election?’ That’s a pretty straight-up fact question.”
However, Jim Allen with the Chicago Board of Elections disagrees, and says if a candidate maintains a residence and voter registration, then he’ll pass muster. And Ron Michaelson, the former Chairman of the Illinois State Board of Elections, agrees with Allen…
“Intent goes a long way in determining where one’s residency actually is,” he said.
Michaelson also noted that in these types of residency laws, the benefit of the doubt is usually given to the individual claiming intent.
* Del Valle: No Money from Connected Donors
* Dart close to signing Joe Trippi as mayor campaign adviser
* Daley has nice words for Gery Chico in mayor’s race
* Emanuel to kick off mayoral campaign with city “listening tour”
* Emanuel Has a Campaign Manager [No name listed in story, but the author claims Emanuel is “a campaigner of mythical status”]
* Sneed: Out of the gate The Rahm run . . .
* Emanuel White House departure for mayor’s race likely to come Friday
* Emanuel faces hurdles if coming home to Chicago
* Rahm Emanuel no friend on immigration
* Rahm Snags Chicago Apartment
* Fioretti Makes Campaign for Mayor ‘Public’
* Mayoral race: Ald. Fioretti in, Ald. Waguespack out
* McQueary: Assessor’s race: Looking for love, coming up short
* Kadner: Berrios a minority of a different sort
* VIDEO: 90% of Tax Reductions Go to Berrios Donors
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|Question of the day
Thursday, Sep 30, 2010 - Posted by Rich Miller
* The Highway Loss Data Institute released a study this week that claims state bans on texting while driving don’t work. Jamey Dunn fills us in…
The institute compared insurance claims data with stats from before and after the bans, as well as with those of neighboring states that did not have bans. Researchers also considered other factors that can affect collision rates, such as seasonal changes in traffic. The instance of collisions did not go down in any of the states; in fact, it went up a small amount in three of the four states studied. The largest increase was 9 percent in Minnesota. According to the study: “If the goal of texting and cell phone bans is the reduction of crash risk, then the bans have so far been ineffective.”
And I can attest to this…
From the report: “This unexpected consequence of banning texting suggests that texting drivers have responded to the law perhaps by attempting to avoid fines by hiding their phones from view. If this causes them to take their eyes off the road more than before the ban, then the bans may make texting more dangerous rather than eliminating it.”
I’ve held my iPhone down low when looking up phone numbers because I didn’t want to get busted for texting, even though I wasn’t texting. I stopped doing that when I realized what an idiot I was being.
* So, what to do? Ban cellphone usage entirely? Rep. John D’Amico, a sponsor of the Illinois texting ban, says that’s a way to go…
D’Amico said a ban on using cell phones while driving would be a better solution. Illinois currently bans drivers from talking on phones in school and construction zones. He compared a possible ban to laws against driving while intoxicated, which have become more strictly enforced, causing the drunken driving to elicit more of a social stigma than it did in past decades. He said people will eventually see using a cell phone the way people see driving drunk now, and will say: “‘Boy I can’t believe we used to be allowed to do that.’”
But the Institute says that won’t help much, either…
Fleming said another study from the institute found hands-free options to be just as dangerous as standard cell phones. However, the same study also found cell phone bans to be ineffective in cutting accidents. Fleming acknowledges that such results are disappointing to those interested in improving driver safety. But, she said, if police can find better ways to catch violators in the act of texting or talking on the phone, bans could help make roads safer.
* Mobile phone usage while driving is potentially very dangerous, however...
A Virginia Tech study last year found that among truckers, dialing a cell phone made a driver 5.9 times more likely to cause an accident, while text messaging increased the likelihood 23.2 times.
* The Question: Should the state ban cellphone usage while driving? Period. Not just mandate hands-free use, but ban it entirely. Explain.
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|Not much “there” there
Thursday, Sep 30, 2010 - Posted by Rich Miller
* While written in a way that implies quite a bit, there’s a serious hole in today’s Tribune story…
[Gov. Pat Quinn} has received political contributions connected to at least 77 of the people he has chosen for state task forces, agencies, boards or commissions since he became governor in January 2009, according to a Tribune review of public records. At least 20 of the donations from the appointees, their families or their businesses came within two months of the appointment.
We know via the story that three of those contributions were rather large. But we don’t know how big the rest of them were. We don’t even know their average size. $100? $500? $10,000? The Tribune doesn’t tell us, except to say that “many” are under the $25K asking price that Rod Blagojevich had set. They don’t define “many.” And until they tell us, I don’t think we should jump to any conclusions here.
* And of those four examples they gave? The first one was from the father of Mariyana Spyropoulos. Quinn supported her more than two years ago for MWRD. She lost the race, applied for an opening, Quinn gave her the appointment. Shortly before this year’s primary, when Quinn was literally desperate for money, her father contributed $25,000, then another $25,000 after the primary. She kicked in $1K.
While it doesn’t look great, Quinn appears to have known the father for quite a while, and dined with him twice in Copenhagen during the city’s Olympics bid.
Another appointee, William Brandt Jr., is described as a “high school chum” of Quinn’s. People with decent piles of cash often go in heavy for their oldest friends. No surprise The other is Steven Gilford, who worked with Quinn in the Walker administration.
* The last example shows you how much of a stretch some of these “connections” may be…
For an appointment to the Executive Ethics Commission, Quinn needed a Republican because state law required a degree of balance among political parties. He turned to retired Pinckneyville attorney Gayl Pyatt, a former member of the Illinois Gaming Board.
The job comes with a $37,571 annual salary and a ban on political activity. Quinn appointed Pyatt in October. Her husband, Richard, a retired funeral director, gave $500 to Quinn in November.
Gayl Pyatt said the “contribution was made because a very, very good friend” of her family held a fundraiser for the governor. If not, Pyatt said, “that check would never have been written.”
$500? Really? Move along. Nothing to see there.
…Adding… From a commenter…
Also, could the brain trust at the Trib let us know how many of those 77 received appointments to boards that PAY? Most don’t, as I recall.
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* Two publicly released polls in two days showing a single digit governor’s race. Something’s up. Subscribers know one theory. From Public Policy Polling…
Bill Brady continues to lead the Illinois Governor’s race but Pat Quinn’s pulling a little closer, trailing 42-35 in PPP’s newest survey of the race. Independent Scott Lee Cohen gets 6%, Green Party candidate Rich Whitney is at 4%, and Libertarian Lex Green is at 2%.
Quinn’s doing better than he was in an August PPP poll, when he trailed by 9, largely because of an improved standing with independents. He continues to trail Brady 39-27 with them, but that’s a significant improvement from his 25 point deficit in the last poll. Quinn is incredibly unpopular with independent voters, at an 18/67 approval spread. But those voters don’t like Brady either, viewing him negatively 32/38.
It’s amazing that Quinn’s still in this given his continuing incredible unpopularity. 60% of voters in the state now disapprove of the job he’s doing to only 24% who are happy with it. In addition to those dreadful numbers with independents only 6% of Republicans think he’s doing a good job and even with Democrats he’s at just a 42/38 spread. But he’s fortunate that GOP voters nominated a very weak candidate themselves. Only 36% of folks in Illinois see Brady in a favorable light while 44% have a negative opinion of him.
The two biggest things to watch in this race over the final five weeks are the undecideds and the 10% of voters currently leaning either toward Cohen or Whitney.
The undecideds are an overwhelmingly Democratic bunch. 67% voted for Barack Obama while only 20% supported John McCain. They’re planning to vote Democratic for Congress by a 44-17 margin this fall. They’re supporting Alexi Giannoulias by a 21 point margin over Mark Kirk. But they don’t like Pat Quinn- only 14% of them approve of him with 42% disapproving. Whether their Democratic loyalties outweigh their dislike of Quinn in the end may determine whether he can still pull out this race despite his very poor personal numbers.
The folks supporting Cohen or Whitney right now are also a Democratic leaning bunch. 52% voted for Obama to only 32% who supported McCain. They’re planning to vote Democratic for Congress by a 43-28 margin. But they really hate Quinn- 4% approve of him and 83% disapprove of him.
If you allocate all of the undecideds who voted for Obama to Quinn and the ones who voted for McCain to Brady, the Brady lead shrinks to 44-43. My guess is that most of the undecideds will indeed end up in the Quinn camp and make this a much closer race. Quinn’s path with the Whitney and Cohen voters is tougher though and he needs to hope those folks’ dislike of him isn’t so strong that they’ll go so far as to vote for Brady to get him out.
This is a pretty fascinating race.
Yes, it is. That undecided info is also quite interesting. The question is whether the Democrats can keep them moving their way and then turn those people out. From the company’s president…
“Things are starting to look a little more encouraging for Pat Quinn than they did earlier in the summer,” said Dean Debnam, President of Public Policy Polling. “He remains personally unpopular but the minor candidates are starting to pick up some of the anti-Quinn instead of it all going to Brady.”
That can happen in a multi-candidate race. You slam the other guy, but those voters don’t automatically go to you if they have other options. It’s the biggest reason why Rich Whitney scored 10 percent four years ago.
PPP surveyed 470 likely Illinois voters from September 23 to 26. The survey’s margin of error is +/-4.5%.
* Crosstabs are here.
* Meanwhile, the pollster also had some very good news for Republicans Judy Baar Topinka and Dan Rutherford…
Notice, however, that they didn’t poll the two third-party candidates. Not good.
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Thursday, Sep 30, 2010 - Posted by Barton Lorimor
* Home prices to take hit next year in many markets
The Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller 20-city index released Tuesday ticked up in July from June. But the gain is merely temporary, analysts say. They see home values taking a dive in many major markets well into next year.
That’s because the peak home-buying season is now ending after a dismal summer. The hardest-hit markets, already battered by foreclosures, are bracing for a bigger wave of homes sold at foreclosure or through short sales. A short sale is when a lender lets a homeowner sell for less than the mortgage is worth.
Add high unemployment and reluctant buyers, and the outlook in many areas is bleak. Nationally, home values are projected to fall 2.2 percent in the second half of the year, according to analysts surveyed by MacroMarkets LLC. And Moody’s Analytics predicts the Case-Shiller index will drop 8 percent within a year.
* Index Shows Increase in Housing Prices
* Mortgage companies may be contributing to delinquencies in foreclosure rates
Despite the passage last year of the federal Home Affordable Modification Program, foreclosure filings in Chicago’s six-county region rose 38 percent from the first half of 2009 to the first half of 2010, according to data from the Woodstock Institute, which tracks foreclosure activity in the region.
The program, part of President Obama’s comprehensive plan to address the housing crisis and restore economic stability, helps struggling homeowners avoid foreclosure by reducing their monthly mortgage payments.
Among other criteria, eligible candidates must have a monthly mortgage payment greater than 31 percent of their gross monthly income and have suffered a loss of income that prevents them from making payments.
But Katie Buitrago, policy communications associate for the institute, said actual delinquency is not a requirement.
* Marin: Feel Safer? Thanks to Cook County government, you’re not
* Chicago’s uninsured ahead of national average
There were more than 550,000 uninsured people — or 19.7 percent of the population — in the city of Chicago last year, according to the bureau’s American Community Survey. In Illinois, nearly 1.7 million people, or 13 percent of the state’s population, did not have insurance.
Nationally, there were 50.7 million uninsured residents, or 16.7 percent of the population, according to the data.
* Joliet Census data shows bump in population, steady poverty levels
Despite a 24 percent spike in the number of people below the poverty level statewide over the past 10 years, Joliet’s numbers remained steady over the years between 10 and 13 percent. In 2009, the number of people in poverty was 11 percent.
However, Joliet’s median household income did dip slightly from $61,061 in 2008 to $53,687 in 2009, likely due to an increase in unemployment.
* Median household income in Peoria County drops 7.8 percent
* State’s Attorney calls for probe into delinquent tax sale auctions in Madison County
Mudge’s request follows by two days the publication of a News-Democrat investigation, which showed that Bathon took in about $140,000 in campaign donations from investors who bought delinquent property tax debts.
Those investors were routinely allowed to buy property owners’ tax debts at an 18 percent penalty rate — the maximum allowed under state law. The investors took in up to $200,000 apiece in penalties for some years.
“State law affords county treasurers wide latitude on how to conduct these sales,” Mudge wrote. “However, I believe an independent review is in order in light of the recent concerns expressed about these former practices.”
Mudge, a Democrat, added: “Everyone should be careful not to politicize this exercise during a campaign season. These authorities are aware of the situation, and I am confident that they will conduct a fair, independent and proper review.”
* Investigation: Tax auctions look ‘like government-sponsored loan-sharking’
* Tax buyers, politicians benefit from tax sales
* Madison County Republicans call for investigation
* Madison County Democrats fire back on tax sale
* News-Democrat: What’s really up for auction?
* LORIMOR: Timing is right to push for southern Illinois MSA
Despite it being one of the larger communities south of Springfield, Carbondale and its surrounding area is not within one of those designated areas. That’s not uncommon, but most of the land within Illinois’ borders east of Interstate 55 and south of Interstate 72 is also outside of an MSA. That means communities such as Charleston-Mattoon, Effingham, Mount Vernon, Marion and, of course, Carbondale can be easily overlooked in government reports.
Seems like quite a blind spot, especially when talking about a region that relies heavily on government programs to get by.
* Unemployment Figures Improve in Some Counties
Franklin County dropped 1.4%, but is still ranked 3rd highest statewide.
Hardin County remained the same at 12.3 unemployed. Perry County dropped from 12.5% to 11.8% And Saline County is out of double digits now at 9.9% from last year’s 11.2%.
* Cook County Property Tax Bills Out Late This Year
Different officials are blaming each other for why the bills are going out late. But regardless of who’s to blame, Blue Island Mayor Don Peloquin says his city will be hurt by the late payments.
* Conrad Black asks judge to toss conviction
* Judge Posner: Conrad Black’s crimes ‘old-fashioned fraud’
* Demonstrators call for jobs program funding
* Some progress on Metra watchdog
Metra officials said they also want an independent watchdog but prefer someone picked by the Regional Transportation Authority, which has oversight of the three transit agencies in the region. Another option is an IG named by the people who appoint the Metra board of directors, who include the Chicago mayor, the chairman of the DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry and Will County Boards, and Cook County Board members.
* 2011 CTA budget to avoid fee hikes, service cuts
Once again the CTA, which faces almost $7 billion in unfunded capital needs, will reluctantly use capital funds meant for improvements to help balance the day-to-day 2011 operating budget and avoid reducing services again, according to the proposed budget released Wednesday.
* CTA bus driver OT soars since layoffs
* Lehner: A Metra rider’s lament
* Pedestrians face local fines for ignoring train signals, crossing tracks
* Milbank: The power of Jarrett
Certainly, Jarrett fills an important role for Obama: She has deep and personal ties to the president, as well as undivided loyalties, and can talk honestly to him on a first-name basis. But current and former White House officials I spoke with raised questions about Jarrett’s effectiveness and judgment.
* Daley on Olympics: “It’s all about money”
* Southtown Star: Commissioners now free to just tweet it. But why?
* Aurora seeks to slash payroll costs
With a projected $18 million deficit looming for 2011, the city has once again offered its employees the chance to voluntarily leave city service, with incentives.
For those who stay, the city is requiring each employee to give up 10 percent of their salary. That money can come from wages or benefits. Chief Management Officer Carie Anne Ergo said that however it’s done, the city is seeking a total of $8.4 million in savings.
That amount, Ergo said, would minimize upcoming layoffs, but not prevent them.
* Mt. Prospect offers buyouts to avoid layoffs
* Carol Stream mayor defends red-light cameras
* Orland Square Mall tax objection could take more than 18 months to resolve
* I-Team Report: Cicero’s Super Car
* Tazewell County adjusts health plans
* Veterans Home receives second round of funding for construction projects
* Champaign schools budget shows deficit
* Grafton City Council to vote for annexation
* Vote fraud, tax trial resumes for former East St. Louis councilman
Prosecutors allege that Collins lived at 4382 Redfield in Swansea but voted from 22 Loisel Drive in East St. Louis in an election in which a federal candidate was on the ballot. Collins is accused of using the Loisel address to get work in and around East St. Louis and to be the Democratic committeeman in Precinct 26.
* Judge allows former ESL councilman limited mobility until sentencing
* Fairview Heights Mayor says council has formed voting blocs that harm city
* Tea Party to host rally Saturday in O’Fallon
* New Mayor in West Frankfort
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