* 4:43 pm - Chicago’s Mayor-Elect Rahm Emanuel has said he would likely be playing in some aldermanic runoffs now that he avoided one himself. His campaign just sent out this e-mail…
In response to a request from many of you, I wanted to provide an estimate of cash-on-hand remaining in the campaign fund. It’s only an estimate because we have subtracted what we know are the outstanding expenditures, but there could be something we are missing and the final report with all of the expenditures is not immediately due.
The estimate of cash-on-hand remaining is $2.1 million — and again I caution you that the final number could be slightly different when all is said and done.
* Emanuel visits South Side charter school: The mayor-elect said he and his wife have not yet decided whether to send their children to Chicago Public Schools. “Amy and I are going to make this decision as parents,” said Emanuel, adding that they are considering both public and private schools. “If it comes with political price, I am willing to pay it…”
* Mayor-elect Emanuel teachers AP class; treated to student rap: Emanuel told reporters not to read too much into his decision to teach his first post-election class at a charter school. The mayor-elect called charters a “tool in the tool box,” but said he does not consider them the “end-all-and-be-all” of education.
* Miguel del Valle Says No to Rahm Emanuel: I had one brief conversation with him. He called me on Wednesday, and he asked me if I would consider being a co-chair of his transition team. I replied no because I’ll be working on a number of things.
* How bad was it for Carol Moseley Braun?: In 174 of the city’s 2,570 precincts, mayoral candidate Carol Moseley Braun received zero votes. In approximately 1,000 precincts, she received 9 or fewer votes
* Suburban leaders, residents react to Emanuel election
* Rahm Gets a Lesson in Press Relations: Once reporters arrived at the school, they were told they couldn’t ask questions of the children, wouldn’t have access to Emanuel and would be limited to shooting a few moments of video of Emanuel teaching. To add isnsult to injury, members of the media were told about the limited access while being held in the principal’s office.
[Comments are off because I’m about to shut them down anyway.]
Checking the comment section under stories about the mayor’s race at SJ-R.com, I have noticed that some people seem to think Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, is on [Mike Coffey’s] side in the Springfield mayor’s race.
Madigan often eats at Saputo’s, the Coffey family restaurant. Although Coffey is a Republican, he made a point during the campaign of noting that Mike Thompson, a lobbyist and former Madigan staffer, was part of his campaign team. But there’s no indication that Madigan himself is on board.
“I have no idea if Mike Madigan’s for me,” Coffey said. “He eats in the restaurant, like many customers. Some are probably for me. Some are probably against me. I have no idea, and I don’t ask people. … All’s I care about is that they come into Saputo’s.”
Madigan spokesman Steve Brown, who happened to be in Saputo’s when I asked him about this, said Madigan wasn’t involved in either the Chicago or Springfield mayoral campaigns.
Working for Madigan usually means you always work for Madigan. But the top brass has gone far out of their way to insist that Thomson was on his own on this one. And Madigan seems to be eating elsewhere more often, lately.
The Regional Transportation Authority has come up with an interesting solution of sorts to its continuing Springfield woes. It’s hired the son-in-law of Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan for a $130,000-a-year job.
The RTA a little while ago announced that Jordan Matyas will begin work next week as its deputy executive director, overseeing the agency’s government affairs department. […]
The RTA’s spokeswoman says there is “no relationship” between the hiring and the fact that RTA Chairman John Gates has had a rocky relationship with Mr. Madigan, with continual talk that the speaker might even run a bill to abolish the agency.
“We wouldn’t call it a peace offering,” the spokeswoman said. “We’d call is the hiring of a person for a posted vacancy who we have determined is very highly qualified.”
Jordan used to lobby for the Humane Society, so he’s a do-gooder from way back. He started working for former state Rep. Judy Erwin when he was 15.
Matyas and I talked a few times about the “appearance” problems he was going to have after he married Madigan’s daughter. There’s just no avoiding it. Like his sister-in-law the attorney general, he’s just going to have to expect these questions about whether he accomplished something on his own or not. And he’ll never really know if he’s being offered stuff because of his experience (and he has plenty) or his super-powerful father-in-law.
I don’t think we’ve ever had this situation at the Statehouse before, so we’re in uncharted waters here. It would be easy to tell him to get outta the business, but that’s where his career is. So, it’s a tough one.
And, before you go weird in comments, Jordan and Tiffany are the real deal. Also, take if from me, you can’t help who you fall in love with. That’s just life. Sometimes, it causes problems, but it’s usually worth it.
Freshman State Representative Daniel Biss (D-Evanston) on Wednesday introduced a Constitutional amendment that would impose term limits on the Illinois General Assembly’s legislative leaders, a measure that force fellow Democrat House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago) out of his post.
“The legislature is too tightly controlled by four individuals who are not accountable to most citizens,” Biss said. “This bill aims to make the legislative process more responsive by ensuring that we hear fresh ideas from new leaders, which is vitally important to how the legislative process takes shape.” […[
With a January 2014 effective date, House Joint Resolution Constitutional Amendment 20 would prohibit a member from serving in a leadership position for longer than ten years.
In addition to ending Madigan’s tenure as Speaker, who has held the job since 1983, with two-year hiatus between 1995-1997, Biss’ measure would also end the reign of House GOP Minority Leader Tom Cross (R-Oswego). Cross won his leadership job in 2002.
Circular file fodder, but that’ll play well in his district.
Powerful Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan has joined as a sponsor of a House bi-partisan resolution calling for an audit of the Illinois Workers’ Compensation program “as it applies to state employees.”
The resolution, H.R. 131, filed Thursday, is co-sponsored by state Rep. Tom Holbrook, D-Belleville, and Rep. Dwight Kay, R-Glen Carbon. According to the official synopsis of the resolution, it seeks an audit that would include “the number of claims filed by state workers during the last four years, a review of the settlement contract process, an analysis of any fraud identification and control policies and procedures, an analysis of arbitrator caseloads over the four-year period, and a review of conflict of interest policies applicable to arbitrators and commissioners.” […]
“I’m pleased to work with Speaker Madigan in sponsoring legislation to audit the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission,” Kay said. “The legislature is now serious about auditing the (commission), and obtaining the support from Speaker Madigan is a big step in the right direction.
“Bipartisan support is necessary to move this legislation forward, and I’m optimistic an audit will be conducted quickly and thoroughly,” Kay said.
Kay is not one of the Speaker’s favorite people because he took a House seat away from the Democrats last year. Even if it was Jay Hoffman’s House seat.
*** UPDATE *** Rockford was briefly used as a hideout by those fleeing Wisconsin Democratic legislators, so now the city’s convention and tourism bureau is trying to turn the notoriety to their advantage with a new PR campaign. “Hide-Away in Rockford” has its own Facebook site and a new promo video featuring Cheap Trick’s Rick Nielsen, as well as other local types. Watch…
Illinois young republicans today called for Governor Pat Quinn to take action against the 14 Democratic State Senators who are hiding out in Illinois. The demand came in the form of a video released by the Illinois Federation of Young Republicans. […]
The ad, showing the 14 Wisconsin Senators as fugitives on the run, asserts that the individuals are avoiding making tough decisions and evading their responsibilities as lawmakers. The ad goes on to state that, “These democratic legislators must be returned to their home state to face their voters and force them to do the job that they were elected to do and the job that they were paid to do.” The ad ends with an appeal to call Illinois Governor Pat Quinn to tell him to return the Senators to Wisconsin.
Illinois Young Republican Chairman Dennis Cook said, “Governor Quinn should not allow Illinois to become a safe haven for legislators on the run. They were elected by the people of Wisconsin to do a job and they should own up to their responsibility. If our legislators fled to their state, we would want them to do the same thing.”
What’s Quinn supposed to do, send out the coppers to arrest the fleeing lawmakers for crossing state lines without a visa? I don’t get it. But, I’ve made plenty of jokes about rounding up the intruders and deporting them back to their inferior home states, so I kinda chuckled.
“Tell [Quinn] to return the fugitives to Wisconsin, where they belong.”
…Adding… I put this in comments, but I figured I’d share it on the front page…
Maybe the CIA can do a “rendition.”
Can you imagine? Black helicopters descend predawn on a sleepy McHenry County town. The fugitives are immediately hooded and shackled and flown to Madison, where they are all promptly waterboarded and then forced to watch Barney episodes for days on end until they agree to vote “Yes” on Walker’s entire legislative agenda.
Also, those are some pretty slick production values for the Federation of Illinois Young Republicans. The Republican Governors Association has become involved with the Wisconsin protests, so money is flowing.
“It’s purely a cost-saving measure that a number of candidates ran on during the campaign season,” Brown said. “I think the opportunity to abolish that office is overdue. It’s largely a figurehead position.”
Even though such an idea could only take effect after her term ends in 2014, Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon said Thursday that she’s opposed.
“I think we need a lieutenant governor,” Simon said. “Of course, you have to understand I’m kind of biased about that.”
* The Question: Abolish the lt. governor’s office, yes or no? Take the poll, and then don’t forget to explain your answer in comments…
* The overreaction by Gov. Pat Quinn to stories about how the Department of Corrections released violent prisoners against his direct orders has caused some serious problems…
Without MGT, and Randle’s ramped-up version, tagged MGT-Push, the state effectively put a lid on its often overcrowded prisons. The result is the number of inmates in Illinois prisons has exploded to an all-time high of 48,760 as of Feb. 14.
“We shot ourselves in the foot by ending MGT,” DOC senior policy analyst Cory Foster told an audience at Northwestern School of Law in December.
During its brief, three-month tenure, MGT-Push allowed the early release of 1,754 inmates. Another 24,172 prisoners in 2009 were eligible for good-time credits under MGT. Keeping them behind bars (the numbers represent about half of the state’s total prison population) for lengthier stays increases the likelihood of violence against other inmates and for prison staff, said John Maki, executive director of The John Howard Association of Illinois, a nonprofit group that monitors Illinois prisons.
“Overcrowding undermines the cost effectiveness of our prison system and threatens the safety of correctional officers and inmates. It decreases the chances that inmates will have access to rehabilitative services, which increases the likelihood that they’ll re-offend once they are released,” said Maki.
MGT-Push was the problem. It was carried out against the governor’s direct orders. MGT has been around for years and was not necessarily the problem. But, as is typical when the media kicks up a ruckus, the administration overreacted and stopped everything. And now the prisons are filled to the rafters.
Belleville police are making more traffic stops because of a new rule that they make two self-initiated contacts per 12-hour shift. Those can include any combination of traffic tickets, traffic warnings and field interview reports.
In January 2010, before the requirement was in place for those assigned to patrol, officers wrote nine speeding tickets and 13 warning tickets. Last month, the first full month of the new rule, officers wrote 45 speeding tickets and 165 warning tickets.
Also, for all of 2010, police made 2,259 traffic stops. In January, the first full month of the two-contacts-per-day standard, police made 1,603 stops — 70 percent of last year’s total, all in one month.
Police Chief William Clay said it’s not just busy work, and it’s not about money from tickets. It’s his initiative to get officers more proactively engaged with the public. He thinks that’s the best way to address crime. In other words, the more contact officers have with the public, the more likely the officers are to find people with drugs, guns or arrest warrants.
Looks like the policy is “working,” but it really comes close to a quota system. Actually, it is a quota system, but it isn’t technically a ticket quota system.
Zagel said he was troubled by juror accounts after the first trial that they had been hounded by reporters in the hours and days following their verdict. A helicopter hovered over one juror’s home, and another juror complained that the same reporter rang the doorbell every half an hour, according to the judge. […]
The judge referred to the news media as “rapacious” at one point in the hearing and expressed concern that the dogged pursuit of jurors after a verdict will deter people from wanting to serve.
“We have clear evidence that some members of the media will disregard the ordinary rights of citizens … to get the story,” Zagel said.
Early this year Duffy introduced SB0026, a bill that would make it illegal for red-light cameras to be used to ticket drivers who turn right during a red light.
Duffy himself has received a ticket for a red-light violation after failing to come to a complete stop when he made a right turn during a red light. He said this infraction produces about 90 percent of all red-light tickets.
“Put a ‘No Turn On Red’ sign there, don’t bait the hook by putting a camera there that picks people out if they don’t stop on the white line,” Duffy said.
Actually, Sen. Duffy has received two red light camera tickets. Here’s the video from his second citation…
The problem isn’t that there was no “No Turn On Red” sign at the intersection. You are allowed to turn on red at that light. But you’re supposed to stop first.
* Dangerous doctors slipping through the cracks - It took the discovery of guns and grenades to suspend the license of a psychiatrist who some say should have come under scrutiny years earlier
* Illinois Blue Cross and Blue Shield to pay $25 million fraud settlement - Plan reportedly denied coverage to sick children in need of nursing care by “fraudulently” shifting their claims to Illinois’ Medicaid program
* Attorney General Madigan Announces Bill to Strengthen Illinois Prevailing Wage Act
* Environmental groups say agribusiness lobbying to blame for weak pollution regulations
Gee whiz, moans Capital Fax, which has an abiding tolerance for Leftist demagogues…in contradistinction to the Right which it despises…the Illinois Senate “won’t be the same without Rickey Hendon.” No-no, the publication sees no connection between the West Side flash-in-the-pan’s instant resignation and the federal probe underway for state grants he authorized—of course not; it would be mean-spirited and racist, that’s what. Also that’s the courtesy the publication gives to all its liberal friends (no connection, see, because he seems so calm—just suffering from hypertension).
The same salute “won’t be the same without Rickey Hendon” could have been said years earlier by some indiscriminate drinking buddies about the departure of Mississippi’s Theodore Bilbo. Like Bilbo Hendon had an acid tongue which he used unsparingly after which he would slink over to his victim and apologize. For no particular purpose other than Bill Brady is a conservative did Hendon assault him before the cameras as “the most racist, idiotic, sexist, homophobic” person he ever knew. Then he tried to apologize to Brady who deserved none of those epithets….tried to apologize as he featured himself as a character who could say whatever he wanted and be forgiven later.
It may be good old Hollywood Rickey to Capital Fax because he practiced the bigotry and character assassination lefty hypocrites secretly enjoy as they snuffle their laughter behind cupped hands—language they would faint over near-dead about if it were conveyed to any of their friends who, like Hendon, practiced the art of racial racketeering and slander. We’ll see how much of that hypertension is caused by hidden concern that the Feds may be on to something. No-no-no, not our Rickey.
* Some commenters gave Rep. Mike Tryon (R-Crystal Lake) a lot of heat yesterday for announcing that he’d introduce legislation to require those fleeing Wisconsin and Indiana Democratic state lawmakers to pay income taxes to Illinois while they’re here.
The announcement was, in my opinion, basically an attention-grabbing stunt and mostly a joke. But, overall, Tryon is one of the more thoughtful House members. He has several good bills in the hopper to make government run better. For instance…
Creates the Long-Term Accounting Act of 2011. Provides that the purpose of the Act is to improve transparency and accountability during the State budget process
Amends the Legislative Information System Act. Requires, for the 98th General Assembly and thereafter, the Legislative Information System to make available on the General Assembly’s website each vote taken on a bill in any committee of the General Assembly showing, in searchable form, each committee member’s vote, Representative or Legislative District, and political party.
He’s also a co-sponsor of a bipartisan resolution calling on the governor to rescind his zeroing out of substance abuse treatment programs.
Tryon said he opposed a 2007 bill that extended the 5% Illinois tax to temporary workers — including professional athletes and movie stars. But if it’s on the books, the Wisconsin senators should pay, Tryon said.
“We believe they are working because they are on TV saying they are working,” he said.
Tryon’s maneuver, essentially, is all for political show since there is virtually no chance Illinois’ Democratic-led House will allow the measure to move, particularly given how the state budget meltdown is first and foremost on the legislative agenda.
“We’re dealing with a huge budget problem in our state,” said Rep. Jack Franks (D-Marengo), whose legislative district has hosted the Wisconsin legislative delegation. “I know we can have some fun with this … but we have to be very focused on what we’re doing. We have plenty of problems in Illinois, more than most states do.”
When Jack Franks whacks you for showboating on a tax issue, you know you’ve gone too far. [/Snark]
Tryon’s bill has been filed, but yesterday was the filing deadline, so LIS is behind. I’ll link to it later today, but here’s the text…
(v) Compensation paid to nonresident state legislators.
The Illinois source income of a nonresident individual who is a member of a state legislature other than Illinois includes the portion of the individual’s total compensation for services performed as a legislator when: (a) the legislator is physically located in Illinois; and (b) the legislator is in Illinois for the purpose of denying a quorum to the legislative body of which the legislator is a member.
Illinois source income shall not count as income any segment of a legislator’s total compensation for services covering time periods when the legislator is in Illinois for reasons of legitimate legislative business, other than denial of a quorum, or for the purpose of receiving required health care or assisting a member of the legislator’s family to receive required health care.
Anyone looking for a quiet getaway with no distractions at the Urbana Comfort Suites this week may be out of luck.
And for a group of Indiana Democrats seeking asylum from voting on what they call a radical bill, the cat’s out of the bag.
A group of Tea Partiers today are rallying outside the hotel on North Lincoln Avenue – they are telling the Indiana state legislators to go home. Across the parking lot driveway, another group – mostly University of Illinois students – has gathered to counter the Tea Party rally and to tell the legislators and passing cars that they are happy to give shelter to the out-of-state representatives.
The Democrats have left Indianapolis to block a vote on a Republican-supported “right-to-work” bill that prohibits union membership from being a condition of employment.
Indiana House Minority Leader Patrick Bauer said Thursday he’s not sure whether boycotting Democrats will return to the Statehouse on Monday because so far “nothing’s changed” as House Republicans refuse to negotiate or drop contentious labor and education bills from their agenda.
Most Democrats have fled to Illinois in an effort to derail legislation they consider an assault on the working class. Republicans who control the House adjourned until Monday after Democrats said they won’t be back this week.
Bauer, D-South Bend, said Democrats won’t return from Urbana, Ill., where they fled Tuesday, until House Republicans are willing to negotiate their agenda. He said he would like to meet with Wisconsin Senate Democrats who also have fled to Illinois to block GOP-backed legislation that would strip public employees of most of their collective bargaining rights. Bauer said such a meeting would be like a pair of crime victims meeting to talk about their attacker.
Gov. Mitch Daniels signed into law Thursday a plan aimed at fixing Indiana’s debt-ridden unemployment fund that labor unions had opposed because it will reduce jobless benefits for some people while softening business tax increases.
* The national fight over labor rights has moved to another neighboring state. Iowa…
Despite 15 hours of debate and delay by Democrats, Republicans in the House Labor Committee were finally able to pass a bill Friday morning that would weaken collective bargaining rights for Iowa’s public employees.
Democrats offered 48 amendments, starting at noon Thursday and culminating in a 9 to 5 party-line vote around 6 a.m. Friday morning. The bill – House Study Bill 117 — was left unchanged and will now go to the full House.
The legislation makes numerous changes to collective bargaining laws, ranging from allowing the legislature or governor to veto decisions made by an arbitrator to denying unions the ability to negotiate their health insurance or retirement plans. Restrictions or limitations on outsourcing would be lifted, and unions would no longer have any say regarding layoffs. The bill also allows employees to become “free agents,” who can negotiate their terms of employment directly with employers even if they are in a union shop.
Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal (D-Council Bluffs) said Thursday: “Make no mistake, it repeals collective bargaining rights, plain and simple. And that’s all it seeks to do.”
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy told the paper that his Democratic members wouldn’t be fleeing, however, so we can breathe at least a small sigh of relief.
Democratic state Sen. Robert Jauch, a longtime Wisconsin lawmaker, said Thursday that despite rumors that some of his colleagues had returned to the state, “everybody is outside of Wisconsin . . . all of us.”
Jauch criticized what he called the “police state mentality” of Republicans in the Capitol and took issue with Walker’s assertions that Democrats who had fled the state were abandoning their duties.
“I’m doing more from the Land of Lincoln to communicate with citizens in my district than he is,” Jauch said, adding that the Senate Democrats talk regularly and are “trying to reach out through back channels to see what the solution could be. This governor has dug himself in - that’s very clear.”
A week after leaving their home state, at least five Wisconsin state senators met Thursday in a private residence in Woodstock. […]
Several senators had met Monday and Tuesday in a Harvard hotel conference room, but said the have not returned to that hotel since a group of local tea party protesters showed up at the hotel. It is unknown when the group began meeting at the Woodstock residence, but neighbors said they had seen large groups of cars with Wisconsin license plates showing up to the home for three days.
* Also, a rally has been called for tomorrow at noon in Chicago. From a press release…
Across the country, tens of thousands of people are gathering on Saturday to show their solidarity with Wisconsin and Indiana public employees. Hundreds of people will gather in Chicago to demand an end to the assault on organized labor. In Chicago and across the country, union and non union residents have come together to stand up to the corporate greed and conservative ideology that is trying to strip away protections for all workers in America.
The Thompson Center rally is sponsored by Moveon.org, Citizen Action/Illinois and AFSCME Council 31.
• Negative Factor Affecting Bond Ratings. The audited financial statements contained in the CAFR [Comprehensive Annual Financial Report] are one of the primary documents used by the bond rating agencies when assessing the State’s financial condition. The bond rating agencies view negatively the late release of the audited financial statements. Illinois’ untimely financial reports have been highlighted as negative factors in two recent reports issued by Moody’s. […]
• Negative Impact on Federal Funding. Each year, the State of Illinois depends heavily on funding received from the federal government. In fiscal year 2009, Illinois expended $23.7 billion in federal awards. Officials from the federal Department of Health and Human Services, which is the federal oversight agency for Illinois, noted that, although it was unlikely that a State would lose its federal funding, untimely financial reporting could have an effect on the amount of discretionary funding received. In May 2010, the Illinois Student Assistance Commission received a letter from the U.S. Department of Education regarding the single audit. The letter stated that if the audit was not submitted within 15 days, it would be classified as missing. The letter further stated that the Secretary of Education may “…suspend the payment of account maintenance fees, default fees, and claims to an entity that does not submit its audit within the required time period.”
In other words, this is really hurting us.
* Another reason why these reports are so important…
• State Financial Management/Oversight Adversely Affected. Legislative and oversight bodies are one of the primary users of financial reports. When financial reports are not available, legislative and oversight officials are forced to use outdated information or unaudited numbers.
* More details…
In addition to the lack of a centralized GAAP compliant financial reporting system, other factors have an adverse impact on the timeliness and accuracy of financial reporting:
• The Comptroller’s Office is responsible for financial reporting but does not have authority over the agencies from which it collects information. Furthermore, there is no penalty if the agencies do not cooperate with the Comptroller. The Comptroller’s Office and the Governor’s Office should work together to establish financial reporting target completion dates and ensure that such dates are met.
• The State of Illinois has a complex fund structure that utilized an estimated 900 funds in fiscal year 2009. A complex fund structure increases the level of effort necessary to account for and report transactions and increases the risk of errors and omissions.
• Many State agencies have a lack of competent trained staff in the area of financial reporting and reported that the personnel system impedes their ability to hire qualified staff.
• Agencies reported that only 16 percent of the systems are compliant with Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP).
• Half of the financial reporting systems in use at State agencies are more than 10 years old.
• Fifty-three percent of the financial reporting systems are not interrelated which consequently requires manual intervention to convert data from one system so it can be used in another.
• The total estimated cost of maintaining the systems in fiscal year 2010 was not determinable. Agencies provided cost estimates totaling $24 million which covered only 56 percent of the systems.
I’ve been reading Auditor General reports like this since I started doing this job, back in 1990. It’s simply amazing to me that Illinois can’t get its act together. Or, maybe I shouldn’t be so amazed. How about disgusted? Yeah, that’s better.
What a mess.
…Adding… And speaking of screwed up numbers, Gov. Pat Quinn’s office recently released a list of past-due bills it owes to vendors, universities, schools, etc. Turns out, the list has lots of mistakes. Here are a few in the Southland…
According to the list, the state owes Trinity Services $17.70. But [Rep. Renee Kosel] said the nonprofit agency, which helps the disabled, may be owed more than $1 million.
Dr. Susan Rife, an Orland Park physician on the list for $55, believes that figure is much too low. Her office bills the state for Medicaid patients, and the state is at least six months behind in paying, she said.
“It’s why doctors are refusing patients on public aid,” Rife said. “My office does not take any new patients who are on public aid. Now, if circumstances change with my current patients, we make accommodations.”
Rife said she would be in favor of the state borrowing to pay its vendors but only if it wasn’t from the federal government.
Some 640 Southland creditors were owed $500 or less from the state. About 290 of those are owed $100 or less, but 25 towns and school districts each still await $1 million or more in state payments, according to the SouthtownStar’s analysis.
* We’ve talked about most of this already, but I thought I’d include it in my Sun-Times column…
Carol Moseley Braun’s loss on Tuesday was “the embarrassment of a lifetime for black people,” said Rickey Hendon moments after he resigned from the Illinois Senate on Thursday.
Hendon was just being Hendon. Rhetorical flourishes are his specialty.
The fault lies not with “black people,” but with folks who worked to make Braun the “consensus” candidate. They figured that a woman in an all-male field would be a tremendous advantage. Add that to her proven vote-getting history in the black community and she was a mighty contender on paper.
But anybody who knew anything about her U.S. Senate career understood that Braun would be a disaster. She’s simply unmanageable. Her supporters were left disappointed and dejected within months of her departure for Washington, D.C. And in the end, her election proved to be a fluke that she could not repeat.
The worst mistake by the consensus crew, however, was looking backward for a standard bearer instead of promoting someone with fresh, new ideas. That’s probably because most of the people doing the choosing cut their political teeth decades ago and have been in power so long that they’ve lost touch with today.
And it’s not like they haven’t had any recent experience to guide them. Barack Obama’s sudden ascendancy to the U.S. Senate caught the Old Guard completely by surprise. His rise to the presidency did the same for entrenched African-American leaders in other states, who mostly backed Hillary Clinton.
Toni Preckwinkle was another prominent example. There she was in a Democratic primary race with two other African-American candidates and just one white candidate and she won the Cook County Board presidency with a truly extraordinary 50 percent of the vote because of the force of her ideas and the content of her character.
Instead, the consensus crowd chose a stale, 20th century rerun in a 21st century contest. I saw a factoid that blew my mind. Braun won just one precinct in all of Chicago. One. This election wasn’t about black people rejecting the concept of black political power. It was about black voters deciding that a candidate who happened to have their same skin color was wholly unqualified to be their mayor. And the blame for that one falls squarely on the consensus crew.
It didn’t help matters much, of course, that Obama more than subtly weighed in on Rahm Emanuel’s behalf. But if a stronger, more vital candidate had been fielded, Obama might have been forced to stay away. Instead, Obama and Emanuel saw their opportunities and they took ’em.
Slowly, but surely, young African Americans are moving up the political ladder. I’ve watched several grow into maturity through service in the Illinois General Assembly. But I’ve also seen their frustration at the unwillingness of the Old Guard to relinquish their grip on power.
There have been setbacks for this new generation. Former state Representatives David Miller and Robin Kelly won Democratic primaries for statewide office last year, then lost their general election contests. Miller made an unfortunate choice of running against the very well-known Judy Baar Topinka, and Kelly just never put together much of a campaign. But just as Obama learned from his loss to Bobby Rush, the new generation can learn from Miller and Kelly. Choose your contest wisely and then go absolutely all out to win.
I do not believe Braun’s loss is the end of black political power in Chicago. I think the proper lesson to learn here is that this could be and should be the last gasp of the Old Guard. They blew it as much as she did. It’s time for something new.
* No Council Wars for Ald. Ed Burke and Mayor-Elect Emanuel: “Some things are said in the heat of battle,” Burke told us. He indicated that he would fight to retain his chairmanship, declaring. “Twenty six aldermen will decide whether I do or not.” In campaign disclosure reports filed last month, Burke revealed a multi-million dollar political war chest second only to Emanuel’s.
The electric grid underpins our entire economy and data-driven way of life. Designed a century ago, the Illinois grid has served us well. But it’s an analog system struggling to serve a digital age. The grid works well for the purposes of yesterday; but is simply incapable of meeting the demands of tomorrow.
The Energy Infrastructure Modernization Act (HB 14-1) will build the electric grid that the 21st century demands. ComEd’s $2.6 billion investment will mean:
• Fewer outages and faster restoration times.
• Enhanced ability to manage utility costs.
• Reduced carbon emissions.
• A smart meter in every home to allow customers to manage energy use and save money.
• 2,000 direct Illinois jobs; additional business growth and expansion.
• $100M in Illinois tax revenues.
• Enhanced competitiveness in attracting businesses to our state.
But to modernize, regulatory reform is needed. Today’s regulatory framework forces short-term thinking when a long-term view is needed. We need ratemaking that protects consumers, encourages investment and holds utilities accountable.
The Energy Infrastructure Modernization Act is a program whose time is now. Digitizing the grid is an economic imperative to help restore Illinois’ competitiveness.
* First, the Department of Human Services was ordered to cut childcare services in this fiscal year by $100 million. Then, DHS pulled back after a ferocious public response. Then, DHS ordered $208 million in immediate cuts to programs like substance abuse. And, now, DHS has pulled back again, reducing that target to $100 million, apparently on orders from the governor...
If there was any good news coming out of the hearing today, it was that the human services budget needed only to find $100 million in savings for the current year — a number down from the $208 million previously assumed; Saddler said aides to Gov. Pat Quinn gave her the new number only this morning in fact.
But the Quinn administration’s budgeting maneuvers were blasted by some of the General Assembly members who attending today’s hearing; there is deep frustration with the shifting reductions target, repeatedly leaning on human services for cuts and savings, and spending priorities.
State Sen. William Delgado (D-Chicago) was among the most vocal. Delgado accused the governor’s office of failing to share information, describing talk of $100 million in reductions as “another movement to keep everybody pacified.”
He called the governor a “ferocious bear” and posed stark questions about whether cuts in addiction services and other programs would result in a larger prison population; the Department of Corrections (DOC) is getting more money, he said today.
The trouble is, it’s not clear what will be cut. So, we’re going to do this all over again. Meanwhile, the clock is ticking on this fiscal year. Every cut they make is magnified because there are so few days left.
Facing a torrent of protest, Gov. Pat Quinn on Thursday cut in half plans to impose more than $200 million in drastic reductions next month on the Department of Human Services, including a cutoff of state funding for drug and alcohol abuse treatment programs that threatened to shutter several providers of addiction services.
Quinn’s budget office and the human services officials recently informed social service providers of planned cuts totaling $208 million. But on Thursday, the size of the cuts was reduced to about $100 million. Quinn said he had concerns about the fairness of how programs were targeted for cutbacks, including drug and alcohol treatment for individuals who did not qualify under federally reimbursed Medicaid coverage for the poor.
“I don’t want to have such a severe situation that it causes great harm, so part of my job in balancing (the social service needs) is to step in,” the governor told reporters after speaking to the City Club of Chicago. “My ultimate responsibility is to find the right balance and sometimes to step in and say, ‘OK, this is enough and that will be the way it goes.’ ”
State Senator Rickey Hendon has resigned his office. He denies any federal “problems.”
The spokeswoman for Illinois Senate President John Cullerton confirms that the senate secretary has received Hendon’s letter of resignation.
Hendon has served as senator for the 5th District since 1992.
Hendon’s hypertension has been a serious problem lately. I’ve talked to him a few times about that federal investigation and he appeared wholly unconcerned. I seriously doubt that was the reason he left. Subscribe for more info.
The Senate just won’t be the same without Rickey Hendon.
*** UPDATE *** Gov. Quinn was asked about Hendon earlier today. His response…
“He’s been a friend of mine for a very long time… I’ve always liked Rickey Hendon… I know he’s had a few health problems of late. I know he’s a good man.”
“Today is a wonderful day and as much as I have enjoyed working with you and all of my fellow senators, I have decided to call it a day and retire from this wonderful institution,” Hendon wrote in a letter to Senate President John Cullerton (D-Chicago).
Nicknamed “Hollywood” for his TV and film-production aspirations, Hendon, 57, was a member of Cullerton’s leadership team, had hypertension and frequently was a lightening rod for controversy.
* Rep. Mike Tryon (R-Crystal Lake) just rose on the House floor to demand legislation which would require “non resident legislators” who’ve fled to Illinois to pay income taxes. Tryon said that the Wisconsin and Indiana Democratic legislators should pay taxes here just like the Green Bay Packers players had to pay taxes when they played the Bears during the NFC Championship game.
In his first interview since voting to eliminate a $230 million federal grant to build an Amtrak line from Chicago to Iowa City, U.S. Rep. Bobby Schilling sat down with News 8 to discuss his decision, and how he thinks that rail service through the Quad Cities could still eventually happen. […]
Ironically, Schilling said two players from opposite sides of the aisle will make sure the rail comes across his desk again.
“Durbin and [Sen.] Mark Kirk aren’t going to let a lot of this stuff flow through, and then it’s going to come back and then we break it down on an individual basis,” he said. “You know, that’s just how the process works.”
Schilling said he met with Paul Rumler, the executive director of the Quad Cities Passenger Rail Coalition, and for the first time he was willing to go on the record on the issue.
“Rumler, he’s explained to me exactly why the rail will help our area and I’m in agreement with almost 100 percent of what he’s had to say,” he said. [So if it comes down to it] I’d be with it, yeah.”
So, he voted against it, but he finally checked into the biggest project in his district in years and now he’s OK with it.
A long-simmering standoff between Gov. Pat Quinn and the Illinois Senate over the nomination of Illinois Commerce Commission Acting Chairman Manuel Flores is coming to a head, with signs pointing to Mr. Flores’ imminent departure.
The Senate Executive Committee has scheduled a vote for Tuesday on Mr. Flores, who’s been acting as head of the state’s utility regulatory body for over a year but hasn’t been confirmed. People familiar with the matter said Senate President John Cullerton privately has told the governor’s office in recent months that the votes aren’t there to confirm Mr. Flores, a former Chicago alderman who has run into a buzzsaw of opposition from some members of the state Senate’s Latino caucus and from utilities who see him as pro-consumer.
A spokeswoman for Mr. Cullerton referred questions about the nomination to Sen. Willie Delgado, D-Chicago, in whose district Mr. Flores lives.
Sen. Delgado is vice-chairman of the committee and an ardent opponent of Mr. Flores due to a long-standing feud over their differing political allegiances within the Hispanic community. In an interview, he predicted Mr. Flores will be voted down in committee if the governor doesn’t withdraw the nomination.
They’re looking for another job for Flores, but he doesn’t want to move. And the problem isn’t solely with Delgado. Subscribers know more, and they may know even more tomorrow if the stories I’ve been hearing this week are true.
A year ago, nearly 80 percent of Republican primary voters voted for somebody other than Bill Brady to be their candidate in the general election. Brady’s support was astoundingly poor in the six-county Chicago area. His best showing: 8.5 percent of the vote in McHenry County. He got less than 6 percent in Cook, DuPage and Lake. […]
Take note: There also would have been a runoff in the general election. Gov. Pat Quinn’s 46.79 percent on Nov. 2 wouldn’t have gotten it done.
The drawback to adding a round of balloting is the cost. It’s expensive to run a state election. But what if Illinois fully adopted the Chicago system: Everybody runs without party labels on the first ballot, and there’s a runoff if necessary. That would be two trips to the polls, same as now. Both elections could be held in the fall, so we wouldn’t have the ridiculous nine-month gap between the primary and general elections.
* The Question: Should Illinois have non-partisan primaries for all state offices with a runoff if anyone doesn’t score at least 50 percent plus one vote? Explain.
Blue is for Emanuel (who won 2,087 precincts), red for Chico (410), orange for del Valle (47). Oh, and green for Carol Moseley Braun, but you can’t tell with her, since she won exactly one precinct. There were also 11 ties. (The dashed line toward the top represents Rahm’s old congressional district, IL-05, now held by Dem Mike Quigley.)
* Perhaps the only person in the entire city more clueless than Carol Moseley Braun is Rob Halpin…
Rob Halpin, the cantankerous tenant of Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel’s house in Ravenswood who refused to budge before his lease was up, tells Sneed he wouldn’t mind staying! […]
† Quoth Halpin, who lives in Rahm’s two-story family house on North Hermitage: “The lease is up at the end of June 2011. I doubt that they would move back here, as it is a long way from City Hall and the Latin School, where we heard their children may attend.
“It is also a security nightmare as the house has abundant glass and open space. If they wanted us to stay on we would consider it. There aren’t any hard feelings on our part.”
Mr. Halpin should take a cue from a good friend of mine who lives in the 19th Ward. My friend’s entire family backed Chico for mayor. He called yesterday to ask if he and his family could move in to my Springfield house until the heat blew over.
Emanuel’s pledge not to entertain a property tax increase of any size came in response to a question about how he planned to solve the city’s pension crisis.
A bill approved by the Illinois General Assembly over Mayor Daley’s objections would saddle homeowners and businesses with a $550 million property tax increase in 2015 unless pension concessions are negotiated or another new revenue source is found.
During the campaign, Emanuel ruled out raising property taxes that much, which would amount to a 90 percent increase. On Wednesday, he was asked whether he would entertain a property tax increase of any size. His answer was an emphatic no.
No sooner had Rahm Emanuel taken the stage Tuesday night as mayor-elect than his thoughts turned toward restoring confidence in the city’s fractured public school system.
Emanuel pledged to try to improve student safety in violent communities, boost the fortunes of struggling neighborhood schools and urge parents to take a more active role.
But Emanuel knows the problems at CPS, the nation’s third-largest school district, run much deeper, and even before his sweeping victory Tuesday he made enemies of the Chicago Teachers Union with his strong support of charter schools and his plan to keep the school board under mayoral control.
The divide culminated last week when union president Karen Lewis stood before reporters and said: “The fact is Rahm Emanuel does not seem to support publicly funded public education as we know it.” The union chose not to endorse a candidate for mayor.
Gov. Pat Quinn today was asked about Rahm Emanuel’s victory in the Chicago mayor’s race and somehow got into a comparison of energy levels.
The Democratic governor said he called the mayor-elect Tuesday night and offered congratulations on the big win and “oustanding campaign.”
“He’s a person of great energy and idealism. I’ve known Rahm Emanuel for 31 years. And he’s a person who has as much energy almost as I do. And I think I look forward to energetically working for the city of Chicago, where I live, as well for the whole state of Illinois,” Quinn continued.
Wait. I thought the governor said he lived at the mansion because that’s where he kept his undergarments?
Scott Cisek, who lives in the 47th Ward and is political director for the Cook County Democratic Organization, said O’Donnell ran an old-fashioned campaign in an upwardly mobile ward.
“They were counting on a model that doesn’t exist anymore,” said Cisek, who ran Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle’s successful Democratic primary campaign last year. “They were counting on a buggy-and-whip model.”
The outcome was also partly a result of “people being upset with Schulter trying to endorse a successor,” said Dick Simpson, a former alderman and political science professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago who lives in the 47th Ward and gave Pawar advice on his campaign.
The 47th Ward hasn’t been up to snuff in years. Back in the 1990s, Speaker Madigan’s operation put Lisa Madigan into the state Senate over the strong objections of the “Fighting 47th.” But it was still better than some organizations, and Pawar avoiding a runoff was no easy feat.
* Most Carbondale voters stay home: A total of 1,897 ballots were cast Tuesday in Carbondale’s primary election out of 11,040 registered voters, good for a turnout rate of 17.2 percent, according to official precinct-by-precinct numbers released Wednesday morning by the Jackson County clerk’s office.
Illinois legislators are facing tough budget problems and many are asking if our minority party could follow in the footsteps of Wisconsin and Indiana’s. However to some of them walking out just isn’t an option.
“I may lose that battle but at least I go on the record and I fight for my community,” says Illinois’ 34th District Senator Republican Dave Syverson.
Republican senators in Illinois have been the minority party for nearly a decade. In that time a walkout has never been staged and according to some senators it will never happen.
“They understand that their job is not to run away even when the decisions are hard. The people send them down there to have debates about the issues and stand up for what they believe in,” says Illinois’ 35th District Senator Republican Christine Johnson.
It’s pretty easy to say you wouldn’t follow in others’ footsteps when you are barred by law from doing so. The minority party simply doesn’t have the option of walking out in Illinois. Our state Constitution requires only a majority be present and accounted for, unlike the extraordinary majorities in Indiana and (on fiscal matters) Wisconsin. So, unless a whole lot of Democrats are missing, the Republicans cannot halt business by bolting the chamber.
I’m not sure what the quorum rules were in the 19th Century, but Abraham Lincoln infamously jumped out a window during a failed attempt to prevent an Illinois House quorum call. Lincoln was eventually elected the House Minority Leader.
Indiana House Democrats stayed away from their desks for a second day on Wednesday in an attempt to block a proposed law curbing union power, prompting Gov. Mitch Daniels to say they were showing “complete contempt” for the Democratic process.
“You know, if they persist, the Democratic Party of Indiana will need a rebranding effort because this is as anti-democratic as behavior can be,” Republican Daniels said.
Like their counterparts in Wisconsin, most House Democrats left Indiana for Illinois to prevent the Indiana house from voting on “right-to-work” and other Republican-sponsored legislation. The measure would have made it a misdemeanor for an employer to require workers to become or stay members of a labor union.
“I can tell you I don’t know what will happen,” Daniels said. “I can tell you what won’t happen: We will not be bullied or blackmailed out of pursuing the agenda we laid in front of the people of Indiana. That agenda is going to get voted on. If it takes special sessions from now to New Year’s, we will hold them. We will send the bill to (former) Speaker Bauer and to the Democratic Party of Indiana.”
How far apart are they? Miles.
[House Minority Leader Pat Bauer, D-South Bend] called House Bill 1003, the voucher program for private school tuition, and Senate Bill 575, the bill limiting teacher collective bargaining to only wages and wage-related benefits, “deal breakers.”
Daniels called those bills “non-negotiable.”
* Gov. Pat Quinn has apparently reached out to welcome some of the fleeing Democrats. The governor was asked again about the situation yesterday…
Gov. Patrick Quinn of Illinois seemed to delight in the new arrivals, some of whom said Quinn, a Democrat, had telephoned them to offer his personal welcome.
“We believe in hospitality and tourism and being friendly,” Quinn said Wednesday, quickly adding: “I also believe in unions.”
While its proximity made it the obvious choice, Illinois seemed a fitting hideout. As Republicans seized control of many statehouses in the Midwest in November, Illinois was one of the few where Democrats had held on to theirs.
“It seems like very friendly territory,” said state Rep. Win Moses, 68, one of the Indiana Democrats who say they have been meeting in a hotel conference room, working on business as usual (so far, they have drawn up 105 amendments to the Republicans’ proposed state budget), dining at the Cracker Barrel and waiting for some sign from Indianapolis that efforts to limit unions would be dropped.
* At least we don’t have to worry about our southwestern border being breached…
The situation in Missouri is much different than Wisconsin’s. From a practical standpoint, Missouri does not allow collective-bargaining for public employees like teachers and firefighters. Another difference: Teachers, firefighters and police in Missouri have separate pension agreements with school districts and local governments that don’t count on any financial contributions from the state government.
The other big difference between Missouri and Wisconsin? Missouri has a Democratic governor who has no desire to challenge the state’s unions because they are likely to be key in Gov. Jay Nixon’s quest for re-election in 2012.
* But the Wisconsin standoff - and our “guest” situation - continues…
The 14 wayward Wisconsin lawmakers have given no hint about when they might return, even amid recall threats, a Senate rule change that forces them to appear in person if they want to receive their paychecks and the GOP-controlled Legislature returning to work on other business without them.
Gov. Scott Walker has implied that if the Democrats don’t come back soon, they’ll be responsible for thousands of state workers losing their jobs because Wisconsin won’t be able to refinance its debt.
Ohio Republicans edged back on a plan to strip public workers of their union rights while their counterparts in Wisconsin slogged ahead on a similar proposal, pushing through a punishing debate that stretched into its third day in the state Assembly. […]
Republicans in Ohio offered a small concession on Wednesday, saying they would support allowing unionized state workers to collectively bargain on wages — but not for benefits, sick time, vacation or other conditions.
That Ohio GOP “concession” was Wisconsin’s starting point. Wow.
A majority of the Democratic members of the Indiana House of Representatives have temporarily moved to an Urbana hotel in an effort to prevent votes on bills they consider to be bad for teachers, workers and families.
“This is not a walkout; it’s a seminar that is taking place in a lovely place: Urbana, Illinois,” said Indiana House Minority Leader Patrick Bauer of South Bend.
I’ve been wondering whether they’re ordering food from Jimmy John’s.
Investors skimmed over Illinois’ well-known financial troubles to vie for a piece of a $3.7 billion taxable pension bond sale on Wednesday.
The state received $6.1 billion in orders from a record 128 investors, according to John Sinsheimer, the state’s capital markets director.
“Well, I have $6.1 billion of bids to tell me the market was comfortable with the budget. And 128 investors must have reached that conclusion as well,” he said. […]
Bonds due in 2014 were priced at a 280 basis point spread over comparable Treasuries, versus 285 basis points from Tuesday. The spread on the longest bonds, due in 2019, also narrowed 5 basis points to 240 basis points over Treasuries.
The amped-up hysteria causes prices to jump, and smart investors know a good buy when they see one. They understand, unlike the freaked out tribe, that Illinois hasn’t missed a bond payment since 1818. The problem is, the hysteria causes prices to jump, which means taxpayers are on the hook for higher interest rates.
The longest maturity in the Illinois bond deal, due in 2019, was sold at a yield of 5.877%. In comparison, a $400 million “junk” bond issued by auto-parts maker Dana Holding Corp. and maturing in 2019 had a yield of 6.24%.
* Speaking of the state’s budget troubles, right now, Downstate and suburban school districts pay only about half a percent of payroll to the Teachers Retirement System. Senate President John Cullerton wants the districts to increase their payments by about $700 million a year…
The shift from the state being entirely responsible for downstate and suburban teachers’ pensions to a hybrid of state and local funding would be phased in, Cullerton told The State Journal-Register’s editorial board on Wednesday.
School districts would be responsible only for the “normal costs” of pensions – the cost of paying out benefits to retirees for the current fiscal year and funding part of the future benefits for teachers still on the job. The state would continue to pay down the debt created by decades of underfunding by legislatures and governors, Cullerton said.
Cullerton estimated that normal costs account for one-third of the state’s annual ($2.1 billion) payments to the state Teachers’ Retirement System.
Teachers currently contribute 9.4 percent of their salary to the pension fund.
* Meanwhile, the furor over the governor’s decision to immediately zero out all funding for substance abuse programs continues to resonate…
Jacksonville’s Wells Center is preparing to shut down by the end of March unless Gov. Pat Quinn changes his mind about drastically cutting funding for addiction treatment and prevention.
Providers of such services were notified this week that state funding will end March 15.
“For us, the cuts began on Tuesday,” said Bruce Carter, Wells Center executive director. “We have already begun to prepare layoff notices and patient discharges, creating medical risks involved in the sudden disruption of a patient’s addiction treatment.”