Wednesday, Jan 5, 2011
* The House Elections & Campaign Reform Committee held a hearing today to discuss the blowup this past fall over some county clerks mailing military absentee ballots late.
So, now seems to be a good time to publish an e-mail which was sent by Warren County Clerk Tina Conard in reply to a State Board of Elections e-mail in October notifying county clerks throughout the state that the Department of Justice and the attorney general’s office were investigating the matter and urging them to provide all information that they could.
Unfortunately for Clerk Conard, she hit “reply all,” so it’s been preserved for posterity…
“I was probably just angry and venting,” Clerk Conard said when I called her today. “I apologize. I truly believe everybody has the right to vote. I wish every citizen would get out and vote.”
Soldiers, she said, “move so often that we don’t know where to send their ballots to. So I just think that there needs to be a better way to get a correct and current address to us.”
She also added: “I’ve not done one election since 2002 the same way because they keep changing the laws… Every election, it changes.”
The lesson: Take a deep breath and maybe a few moments before hitting the “send” button.
* The Champaign News Gazette’s latest editorial criticizes House Speaker Madigan’s proposed constitutional amendment to cap annual state spending increases to the average level of per capita income increases over the past five years…
Oh, please. Look, there are some loopholes in this thing. Special funds, for instance, don’t appear to be capped. And Ms. Rasmussen definitely should’ve been allowed to testify. But the editorial is just hokum on many levels.
The reason the effective date is the beginning of Fiscal Year 2014 is because FY14 is the first full fiscal year after the 2012 election, when the proposal would be voted on by the electorate. So, no great conspiracy there. Sheesh.
Pensions aren’t included because, I’m assuming, there’s another constitutional provision requiring the state to fulfill its contractual pension obligations. If you included pensions in the cap, their annual increases could force huge cuts to other programs. This is definitely a debatable point, but I wonder if the paper would agree to cuts in the U of I’s funding in order to make pension payments.
And that work-around provision derided by the IPI and the News-Gazette isn’t really a loophole. The governor declares an emergency. Then, both the comptroller and the treasurer have to agree there is an emergency. Then both chambers of the General Assembly can increase spending above the cap, but only with a three-fifths super-majority in each chamber. That ain’t really a loophole. And it’s certainly no “blank check.”
Also, this is from the IPI itself…
It would save billions, we’d be almost $2 billion in the black right now if it had been in place, yet this proposal is, according to the IPI, a sham. Yeah. OK. What a crock.
The lesson: The IPI has essentially become an arm of the Illinois House Republican caucus, which has an interest in undermining anything the majority party proposes. Be wary of quoting them.
* A bill seemingly being fast-tracked by the Illinois General Assembly would add a new tax…
The lesson: Don’t count your chickens, etc.
…Adding… The Better Government Association is throwing an “election watch” party next month. The shindig is being held at the Chicago offices of the Jenner & Block law firm. The firm lobbies the Statehouse for Midwest Gaming & Entertainment, LLC, which owns the Des Plaines casino.
The lesson: There’s nothing wrong with this at all. The firm has a solid reputation. But reformers are often quick to point out these one degree of separation appearances of conflicts of interest, so a quick background check is usually in order.