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Question of the day

Tuesday, Dec 21, 2010

* HBO will be filming a new TV series in Chicago this coming spring

Chicago natives and stage/film actors Phil Donlon and Joe Sikora are currently developing “Lords of the Levee,” a series based on the book “Bosses in Lusty Chicago” written by Herman Kogan, father of the Chicago Tribune’s Rick Kogan. Nick Pileggi (“Goodfellas,” “Casino”) is writing the show with creators Donlon and Sikora (whom you can also check out on HBO’s “Boardwalk Empire”). The production company is Robert DeNiro’s Tribeca Enterprises. Hoping to shoot in Chicago in mid-2011 it’s in, very early stages,

[h/t: Chicagoist]

* The Question: If a movie or series were made about current Illinois politics, which actors would play our major figures?

- Posted by Rich Miller   53 Comments      

Feds can’t bid on Thomson prison

Tuesday, Dec 21, 2010

* Another screwup

The state’s effort to sell the Thomson Correctional Center hit a snag today when no one showed up to bid on the prison located along the Illinois-Iowa border.

The Federal Bureau of Prisons was expected to bid on the facility, but sent a letter saying it could not participate in the auction because of a conflict between state and federal law regarding the sale and purchase of the property.

The agency said it was still “very interested” in buying the prison, but still needed to come up with the necessary funds. By law the state could not sell the prison for less than its appraised value of $219.9 million.

Bureau spokeswoman Traci Billingsley said federal law does not allow for the agency to purchase property through an auction, though state law required the facility to be sold in such a manner. Further, she said Congress has not yet approved funding to buy the prison.

So, what genius came up with the idea of auctioning the prison when the feds can’t buy a property at auction? Sheesh, man. Get it together over there.

…Adding… The state’s surplus property law required an auction. That has been fulfilled. It’s not clear what comes next.

* Meanwhile

The governor is pushing for an income tax increase and a borrowing scheme to make the state’s pension contribution, both controversial. He says he’s not waiting until the New Year to work lawmakers on these concerns. He’s talking to them before they return to the capital.

“It’s time for courage and backbone and people to do the right thing, not the political thing, the right thing,” he said. “And I’m going to be asking legislators of both parties in both houses to put Illinois first, our state, the common good. It’s time to do it.”

Quinn says as the economy improves, so will the state’s financial picture. He says the state public works program is partially responsible for declining unemployment. Illinois unemployment has declined eight months in a row, and is now lower than the national average for the first time in four years.

Quinn just left for Germany and won’t be back until Sunday, December 26th. He’s visiting troops (and paying for his own flight), so that’s fine, but the House reconvenes on January 2nd, so the clock is definitely ticking quite loudly.

* And a spot of good news

SunCoke Energy, a subsidiary of Sunoco Inc., is investing $6.6 million to relocate its corporate headquarters from Knoxville, Tenn., to Arboretum Lakes in Lisle, Gov. Pat Quinn’s office announced Monday. The state is providing a $4.8 million business investment package to support the project, which will create 105 new jobs, a release from Quinn’s office said.

* Related…

* FutureGen narrows potential carbon sites to 4

* Quinn: SunCoke Energy to move headquarters to Ill.

* Governor Quinn attends Winick service and celebration of life

* ISP Trooper Mitchell asks for workers’ comp payment for the injuries he sustained in fatal crash

* Lisa Madigan gives $1.2 million to 8 Ill. food banks

* Internet safety not a lost cause for parents

- Posted by Rich Miller   15 Comments      

*** UPDATED x4 - No release for Ryan - No decision on Emanuel *** It could be a busy day - George Ryan, Rahm Emanuel rulings expected

Tuesday, Dec 21, 2010

*** UPDATE 1 *** No release for Ryan

A federal judge has denied Ryan’s early release from prison, despite pleas from his ailing wife, Lura Lynn.

U.S. District Judge Rebecca Pallmeyer announced her decision in a written ruling at noon.

*** UPDATE 2 *** The ruling is here.

…Adding… In reading the opinion, Judge Pallmeyer takes several not so subtle swipes at Jim Thompson, Ryan’s lead attorney. Thompson successfully prosecuted former Gov. Otto Kerner in what is considered the first honest services fraud case and Pallmeyer relies heavily on that case in her opinion.

…Adding More… Ryan’s attorneys argued strenuously that the “Skilling” decision which undermined the honest services fraud statute required an actual quid pro quo. Pallmeyer’s reading of the decision and other cases disagrees…

As the case law cited by the Supreme Court reflects, a showing of bribery need not include direct quid pro quo exchange; two of the three cases cited by the Court as examples of honest services bribery rest on a “stream of benefits” bribery theory.

…Sill More… Pallmeyer concluded that two jury instructions were in error, in light of the Skilling decision. One involved conflict of interest, the other involved violations of state law. However, Pallmeyer wrote she was “satisfied that the instructional errors identified above were harmless”

And in the end…

The court need not dwell on the appropriate standard for release of a convicted prisoner. In today’s ruling, Ryan’s § 2255 petition is dismissed on the merits and his conviction is upheld on all counts. Under any legitimate standard, this context is not appropriate for the “very sparing” exercise of the court’s power to set bail. Ryan’s motion for release is denied.

*** UPDATE 3 *** No surprise here. There will be an appeal

“Obviously we’re very disappointed and we do expect we will appeal,” said attorney Albert Alschuler, who argued on Ryan’s behalf in a recent hearing before Pallmeyer.

Alschuler said he was still reading the ruling, but said the team would have to file a case before the U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals before asking for bond.

The 76-year-old former governor has served three years and one month of his 6 1/2-year prison sentence for corruption. Ryan, who is scheduled to be released in 2013, is being held at a federal prison camp in Terre Haute, Ind.

[ *** End Of Updates 1-3 *** ]

* Tuesday will probably not be a slow news day. The judge overseeing George Ryan’s motion to be set free will reportedly make her decision known by noon today

Former governor George Ryan will learn Tuesday if he will be released from prison early and get to be with his ailing wife in her final months.

U.S. District Judge Rebecca Pallmeyer is expected to issue her ruling George H. Ryan, Sr. v. United States of America, Case No. 10 C 5512, by noon Tuesday. Ryan, 76, has served less than half of his six-and-a-half-year sentence for racketeering, tax fraud, conspiracy and lying to the FBI. Ryan’s attorney– former governor Jim Thompson– argues Ryan’s sentence should be reduced to time served due to the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decision on the ‘honest services’ law.

Also, Mrs. Ryan claims she has three to six months to live after doctors found cancer. So the attorneys are attempting to use that to at least get the guy sprung on bail for a while.

…Adding… Gov. Pat Quinn says he’s against Ryan’s release

“Personally, I think that Gov. George Ryan should complete his sentence, in prison. I know it’s a very sad situation if his wife is in very poor health,” Quinn said. “You know he was sentenced by a jury, twelve men and women, good and true and they, well, they convicted him of a crime and a judge issued the sentence and it should be carried out. It’s, I think, the way to go.”

Quinn says he will turn down Jesse Jackson’s request to lobby President Obama to free Ryan because Ryan’s wife, Lura Lynn, is dying.

This case is about a whole lot more than Ryan’s wife. It’s about the greatly changed status of the honest services fraud laws by the US Supreme Court. Quinn is just pandering here.

* And the hearing officer in Rahm Emanuel’s Chicago residency case will make his decision sometime today as well

Hearing officer Joe Morris, the bow-tied conservative Republican who presided over marathon hearings in the case, is expected to make his recommendation to the Chicago Board of Elections Commissioners as early as Tuesday.

The three-member election board then will decide Thursday whether to uphold or overturn Morris. That will be followed by a court challenge that’s almost certain to end with the Illinois Supreme Court.

*** UPDATE 4 - 5:30 pm *** The Chicago elections board has just notified reporters that the hearing officer in the Rahm Emanuel residency case won’t turn in his decision until tomorrow, perhaps by midday.

* Related…

* More steps, support for George Ryan release

* Rev. Jackson calls for George Ryan’s release

* Ryan and equity

* The Kankakee Daily Journal: Ryans should be reunited

* Mitchell: Let George Ryan come home

* Sneed: Plea to Obama

* Prosecutor who fought Ryan appeal named federal judge

* ‘Compelling’ points made for ballot spot, Emanuel says

* Rahm Emanuel residency dispute moves forward

* Emanuel confident he’ll survive residency fight

* Friend-of-court brief tossed in Emanuel case

- Posted by Rich Miller   51 Comments      

*** UPDATED x2 - Illinois loses a seat *** Apportionment Day is upon us

Tuesday, Dec 21, 2010

* It’s Apportionment Day

December 21st at 11:00am eastern time, the Census Bureau will release the first official data from the 2010 census–the total U.S. population and the population for each state. For redistricting geeks, this is like Christmas Eve to the 10th power (since it only happens once a decade). The Secretary of Commerce, along with the Director of the Census Bureau, will hold a press conference at the National Press Club to release the numbers. These numbers will tell states how many seats they get in the U.S. House of Representatives for the next ten years. Those numbers also correlate to the total electoral college votes each state gets for President.

The Bureau will update their website simultaneously as they release the new data in DC. It’s a cool website that you should check out. The website has an interactive, state-by-state map that allows you to looks at historic population trends by state back to 1900. You can access the snazzy population widget here:

If you would like to listen to the Bureau’s announcement live, they will be streaming it on the Internet here:

It is widely expeceted, based on projections and estimates data, that southern and western states will be the big winners [today] at the expense of great lakes and northeastern states.

The apportionment data will be here. Illinois has gained congressional seats just once in the past hundred years: 2 seats in 1910. We’ve lost seats after six apportionments, and broke even after three. We’re expecting to lose another seat this year.

* From the AP

Census data so far suggests new Hispanic-dominated districts could emerge, particularly with growth in some Chicago area neighborhoods. States are required under the Voting Rights Act to respect the interests of minority voting blocs.

Other scenarios include a lost seat in downstate Illinois, which has lost population.

“It could be good news for Democrats,” said U.S. Rep. Phil Hare, who lost a former Democratic stronghold to tea party-backed GOP challenger Bobby Schilling in November, but could benefit from redrawn lines if he decides to run again in 2012.

Pat Brady, chairman of the Illinois Republican Party, warned that the GOP would push back if the Democrats in Springfield become too “heavy handed” and don’t cooperate in creating new congressional and legislative districts that are competitive for both sides.

* 10:36 am - Illinois was not one of the five states with the slowest growth. New York and Michigan were included in that list. From the Washington Post’s Twitter page

The West is now more populous than midwest for 1st time

A U.S. House district, on average will be 710,767 residents. Up from 646,000 in 2000.

The apportionment results are in. 8 states gained seats in the House of Representatives. 10 states lost seats.

NE grew 3.2 percent; Midwest 3.9 percent; south 14.3 percent and west grew 13.8 percent.

*** 10:46 am *** Illinois has lost a seat. Here is the regional map. Orange means the state lost at least one seat. Grey means no change. Blue indicates seat gains…

* The initial estimate had Illinois missing the cutoff for staying even on its congressional seats by just 75,046 residents.

* National map

*** UPDATE 2 *** David Weigel

This is about as bad as it could get for Democrats, and as good as it could get for Republicans. The next GOP presidential candidate gets six free electoral votes from South Carolina, Texas, Utah. The Democratic caucus in the House is about to see internal warfare in the rust belt and northeast, as their members are forced into Thunderdome battle for the diminished number of seats.

Only in Illinois, I think, will the Democrats be able to create a map that hurts the GOP’s newly elected members and takes back a seat or two.

- Posted by Rich Miller   77 Comments      

* Declared winners
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