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Questionable headlines

Wednesday, Apr 27, 2011

* The Illinois Review gets Drudgian

Absolutely nothing in the SJ-R story has anything close to such a reference about Quinn being compared to God. It’s about the governor’s annual prayer breakfast, for crying out loud

“I admire the governor for abolishing the death penalty,” he said. “I think that has brought a lot of credit on the state. I should say I admire Illinois for doing that, not just the governor.”

* From the Bloomington Pantagraph

I try to use the two-letter abbreviation for Illinois whenever I shorten the name. I don’t care for the “Ill.” because it can have another meaning, although in this case, it may not be far off.

* Crain’s

And who are these people?…

The Missouri-based group that’s trying to get TV personality and developer Donald Trump into the race for president Tuesday announced two co-chairs of its Illinois campaign.

They are Eric Johnson, an attorney and former Young Republicans activist who currently is DeKalb Township supervisor in the Rockford area, and DuPage County restaurateur Michael LaPidus.

The two men volunteered, says Mr. LaPidus, who runs a small firm named Q Restaurant Group but also serves on the board of the Illinois Restaurant Assn.

“Washington needs a CEO who can get our nation back on track,” he added.

Trump’s casino business has filed for bankruptcy three times. Also, his airline never turned a profit. I suppose that qualifies him.

* Kankakee Daily Journal

And why does state Rep. Jason Barickman (R-Champaign) believe it has failed?…

“The tax increase was sold to us as a way to pay down the state’s debts,” he said. “The backlog then was announced at $4 billion. Now it stands at $4.2 billion.”

Actually, the tax hike was sold as a way of eliminating the state’s structural deficit. Part of the tax hike was supposed to be used to pay borrowing costs which would’ve paid off the state’s past-due debts, but the Republicans as a whole as well as some Democrats are against that.

* No, the Illinois State Museum does not appear to be doing a Mark Kirk retrospective…

* What a crock

From the AP story…

A data file publicized by security researchers last week doesn’t store users’ locations, but a list of Wi-Fi hotspots and cell towers in their general area, the company said. It promised software fixes to address concerns over that file.

It’s the same thing.

…Adding… From my father comes this pic of a sign in front of a Moline office development…

Some developer really needs to catch up on his work.

- Posted by Rich Miller   17 Comments      

Question of the day

Wednesday, Apr 27, 2011

* The setup

Lawmakers voted 97-1 during the first week in April to adopt legislation that would require people convicted of first degree murder to register with the Illinois State Police for 10 years after they leave prison.

Proponents of the bill state that if adopted, Illinois would be the first in the nation to enact a murderers registry, which at this time would require up to 500 parolees and another 3,000 yet to be released inmates to sign up. […]

Named after Batavia’s Andrea Will, who was strangled to death by her boyfriend when they were students at Eastern Illinois University in 1998, the bill requires all people convicted of first-degree murder to register with Illinois State Police for 10 years after they leave prison. The legislation was sparked when Will’s ex-boyfriend, Justin Boulay, was released from prison last year after serving 12 years of a 24-year sentence.

“The murder registry would allow not only law enforcement but also the community to know who resides here, who our family members are associating with and who our children are dating. We already track sex offenders, child murderers and arsonists, and the murder registry is a natural extension to the state’s current registries,” said State Rep. Dennis Reboletti, the sponsor of the bill and an Elmhurst Republican.

* The Question: Should Illinois establish a “murderers registry”? Take the poll and then explain your answer in comments, please. Thanks much.

- Posted by Rich Miller   38 Comments      

Topinka: State could owe $8 billion at end of fiscal year

Wednesday, Apr 27, 2011

* When Gov. Pat Quinn said he wanted to borrow $8.7 billion to pay off past-due bills, lots of people were skeptical that he needed so much money. Well, he may not have been that far off

Illinois is on track to end fiscal 2011 with $8 billion in unpaid bills and other obligations, the state comptroller said on Wednesday. […]

The $8 billion owed to school districts, hospitals, social service agencies, as well as $1.2 billion due for state employee health insurance and $850 million in corporate tax refunds, would match the amount of unpaid obligations the state had at the end of fiscal 2010, according to the comptroller. […]

Topinka, however, said her projection could change depending on actions taken by state lawmakers.

* Despite the ongoing problem, state Sen. Bill Brady wants to eliminate the estate tax

We all recognize Illinois’ dire fiscal condition and the need to finally come to grips with our out-of-balance budget, but siphoning more money from families and businesses is not the solution. A tax on dying in Illinois will be especially onerous for small-business owners and family farmers, who could be faced with the prospect of selling their businesses and farms to pay the tax collector.

Only 17 states impose their own estate taxes. Illinois imposes an estate tax on estates valued at more than $2 million. The applicable rate depends on the size of the estate and increases with the size of the estate, starting at 8 percent and going as high as 16 percent, on top of the federal 35 percent estate tax rate.

* Sen. Brady also has a pension solution that appears to rely on a lot of magic. First, he would put all current employees in 401(k)-type programs, and then

These changes still leave the system’s legacy cost, estimated by Messrs. Rauh and Novy-Marx at $140 billion. Ideally, the majority of that will be funded through future investment growth and a modest change to cost-of-living adjustments. Challenges include a state budget that cannot afford unreformed costs and citizens who are not undertaxed. The incentive of a solvent pension plan should motivate government officials and union representatives to reach an acceptable compromise.

* Meanwhile, the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability estimates that a service tax could yield $4-8 billion a year, depending on what was taxed, but don’t hold your breath

A new report says Illinois is ignoring as much as $8 billion in potential tax revenue, but there is little support from either political party in Springfield for a grab at the money.

The Legislature’s Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability took a look at how Illinois taxes services, everything from providing electricity and natural gas to cutting hair and lawns. The report states that Illinois does not tax many services — only 17 — and that other states tax many more, the average is 56. COGFA’s analysis estimates that the state could generate between $4 billion and $8 billion if lawmakers were to expand the service tax base.

* Related…

* State sales tax loophole alarming for Cook County - Some say legislation could lead to businesses fleeing, millions in lost revenue

* Illinois RTA Decries Shell Game

* Press release: Governor Quinn Announces Full-Fill Aerosol Plant Expansion - $2.5 Million State Investment Package Will Help Danville Company Add Approximately 150 Jobs

* Quinn has worker’s comp reform proposal, but no details

* House approaches looming deadline to pass budget

* Editorial: No money? Big problem

* VIDEO: Mike Tryon on Service Taxes

* VIDEO: Elaine Nekritz on service taxes

* VIDEO: Rep. Roger Eddy on budget

* VIDEO: Rep. Sara Feigenholtz on budget

- Posted by Rich Miller   11 Comments      

*** UPDATED x1 *** Quote of the day

Wednesday, Apr 27, 2011

* Freshman Republican Congressman Joe Walsh

Walsh also said he’s been encouraging local tea party members - many of whom have begun scrutinizing local government spending, to begin focusing more on state-level politics.

“My hope is the tea party movement will set their sites next year on (state Democratic Party Chairman and Illinois House Speaker) Michael Madigan. He’s a king, he’s a tyrant, he runs this state. You’ve got to educate the tea party movement to that fact,” he said.


*** UPDATE *** The National Journal claims that Congressman Walsh is one of the top ten most vulnerable members to the remap process

Illinois Democrats are still stunned by Walsh’s shocking defeat of three-term Rep. Melissa Bean last year. After all, Walsh was supposedly a marginalized tea party candidate with so much baggage (he lived outside the district in a home under foreclosure) that local Republicans wouldn’t even carry his literature. So Democrats will do everything they can to make Walsh a one-term wonder. They could make the 8th CD even more Democratic by adding heavily Hispanic Elgin, or they could combine it with veteran GOP Rep. Don Manzullo’s 16th CD.

Also on the list, Bob Dold…

After winning GOP Sen. Mark Kirk’s open House seat impressively last fall, Dold now has the most Democratic district of any Republican in the country. As such, it’s going to be hard for Democrats to make this district even bluer, but they could try by adding Skokie or other parts of the North Shore. Even if they don’t alter the 10th CD’s partisan fundamentals, Democrats could weaken Dold simply by giving him hundreds of thousands of new and unfamiliar voters.

Judy Biggert…

Illinois Democrats probably won’t be content to wait until Biggert retires to make a play for her suburban seat. At 73, Biggert is one of the few socially liberal Republicans remaining in the House and has proven a strong general-election candidate, winning seven elections in a row. So Democrats could either make the 13th CD much more Democratic by adding cities like Aurora and Joliet, or they could fold it into the 6th CD of more conservative GOP Rep. Peter Roskam to make way for a new Hispanic-majority seat on Chicago’s North Side.

And Bobby Schilling…

Democratic legislators in the Land of Lincoln could embark on the ultimate takedown: combining Schilling and one of two neighboring Republicans, 18th-CD Rep. Aaron Schock or 16th-CD Rep. Don Manzullo, into a Democratic-leaning western Illinois district none of them may be able to win. If either scenario comes to fruition, Schilling could well be the underdog in a primary against the skillful Schock or the seasoned Manzullo. Then, the winner could be an underdog in a general election. At worst, Democrats will have succeeded in collapsing two Republican seats into one.

- Posted by Rich Miller   87 Comments      

*** UPDATED x2 - AG Madigan preps defense *** Simon defends flooding Missouri farmland to save Illinois town

Wednesday, Apr 27, 2011

*** UPDATE 1 *** The Illinois attorney general’s office is in the process of working out the details on how it will fight off the Missouri lawsuit…

Our office has already been actively talking to the Army Corps of Engineers to assess the situation on the ground.

Recognizing the urgency here, we’re considering several legal avenues and in the process of determining the most expeditious one. The end goal being to defeat the motion filed by Missouri and to allow the Army Corps to do whatever it needs to do to protect the people in Illinois who’re in the path of this potential disaster.

*** UPDATE 2 *** Explosives-laden barges are being moved into place

The Memphis District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, has moved barges loaded with explosives and equipment upriver on the Mississippi. The Corps plans to operate the Birds Point-New Madrid Floodway. Overnight, the barges made their way from Memphis, Tenn., to Charleston, Mo.

There could be a commission ruling tomorrow

The head of the Mississippi River Commission is expected to announce Wednesday whether to allow the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to blow a 2,000-foot-wide hole in a Missouri levee to ease record flooding near the confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi rivers.

And the Army Corps of Engineers may wait until the weekend to do anything

The Army Corps of Engineers will wait until this weekend to decide whether it is necessary to punch a massive hole in a levee to protect an upstream Illinois town from the rising Mississippi River, a regional spokesman said Wednesday.

The corps has said it may have to blow holes, perhaps using explosives, in the Birds Point levee in southeast Missouri’s Mississippi County to ease rising waters near the 2,800-resident Illinois town of Cairo (KAY’-roh), which sits near the confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi rivers.

Missouri has filed a federal lawsuit to block the effort because it would swamp farmland. A hearing is scheduled for Thursday in Cape Girardeau.

But corps spokesman Bob Anderson told The Associated Press that even if a judge gives the go-ahead, the agency cautiously will wait until it gets a better forecast of the river crests to see if the breach is necessary to relieve pressure on Cairo’s levees — or if conventional flood-fighting efforts such as sandbagging could suffice.

[ *** End Of Updates *** ]

* Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon defended the Army Corps of Engineers plan to dynamite a Missouri levee in order to relieve severe flooding pressure on Cairo. Missouri has filed suit to stop the levee breach, claiming farmland would be flooded

Simon told The Associated Press on Tuesday that farmers will be compensated for their losses and will be able to use the land next year. On the other hand, flooding could devastate the poor town of Cairo.

She noted an Illinois levee was intentionally breached during 1993 flooding.

Simon also says the Army Corps of Engineers would not break the Birds Point levee until water had already topped the levee.

The Corps of Engineers says it will put off a decision until at least Wednesday.

* Via Jon Musgrave, we have this history about that particular levee that the Corps wants to blow. from the Red Cross book “The Ohio-Mississippi Valley Flood Disaster of 1937: Report of Relief Operations”…

Simultaneous with the havoc in the Ohio Valley was the insistent threat of another major disaster in the valley of the Mississippi River below Cairo, Illinois. New levees constructed after the Mississippi Flood of 1927 were being put to a severe test for the first time. […]

On January 25, the “fuse-plug” levees along the Missouri shore of the Mississippi River near Cairo were dynamited by U.S. Engineers to relieve the pressure on the sea wall of that city.

This action was part of a definite plan devised since 1927. Cairo stands upon a narrow and low-lying neck of land at the confluence of the Ohio and the mighty Mississippi Rivers. The city’s sea wall can withstand a stage of 60 feet; more than that brings disaster.

In anticipation of what was now happening, and for the purpose of slowing the velocity and reducing the depth of flood waters in the Mississippi, the Engineers, under an act of Congress, had purchased flowage rights through a 130,000 acre strip of rich plantation land extending from Bird’s Point to New Madrid, Missouri.

In other words, the federal government purchased the right to flood that very spot after the disastrous 1927 flood, which permanently displaced 700,000 people. The nation owns the flowage rights. Missouri ought to back off. But Gov. Jay Nixon still says the Corps is wrong

Nixon told reporters Tuesday he was concerned the corps is “trying to solve the entire watershed pressure on the back of Missouri farmers and Missouri communities” and should instead explore other methods of relieving pressure on the levees.

* Roundup…

* Cairo residents prepare for flood

* Cairo mayor in southern Illinois says 100 have evacuated as flood threat looms

* Levees strain in Midwest; volunteers keep fighting

* Roads closed because of flooding; more rain likely

* Illinois residents advised to consider flood insurance

- Posted by Rich Miller   40 Comments      

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Wednesday, Apr 27, 2011

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