* Yesterday, the AP ran this quote from Gov. Pat Quinn about the ComEd bill, which had been held in the Senate via a parliamentary maneuver for almost two months…
“I think we’re going to veto the [ComEd] bill as soon as it arrives,” Quinn said.
Now that the bill is officially on his desk, Quinn was asked when he would veto it…
“Yeah, I have to officially do that. We’ll find the right moment to do that.”
First, though, he went through one of his trademark long, rambling responses…
“Well, that just arrived yesterday. That’s a bill to raise utility rates on people who are Ameren customers and ComEd customers. I’m not sure anybody in Illinois is for higher utility rates, whether you’re in agriculture, or business or you’re a consumer in your household. I don’t think we should be raising utility rates. I started the Citizens Utility Board about 30 years ago and we’re going to fight hard to make sure customers and consumers and businesses get first [unintelligible].”
There’s lots more, but I have other things to do today. If you don’t, listen to the full audio…
* And here’s Gov. Quinn responding not long ago to a question about expanding gaming to the State Fairgrounds…
“Harness racing has been at the fair for a long time but when you put in slot machines, that’s a wholly different situation. I was never excited about that. We’ve got Lady Antebellum coming on Sunday. Can’t go wrong with that. I think that’s enough. Who needs slot machines when you have MC Hammer?”
Attendance at the MC Hammer show: 3,618.
- Posted by Rich Miller
|Question of the day
Tuesday, Aug 30, 2011
* The setup…
…as September draws near, there’s growing suspicion the curtain is about to close on either manager Ozzie Guillen or general manager Ken Williams — or maybe both.
A major-league source told the Sun-Times that the fragile relationship between Guillen and Williams is now beyond repair.
Not that the Guillen-Williams saga is anything new.
What is new? Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf and the Sox are feeling pain in the pocketbook during this frustrating season. Whether it’s because of the drama doesn’t matter anymore. Lost money is lost money.
A year ago, Reinsdorf was willing to play peacemaker, put a Band-Aid on the wound and let it heal over time. It seemed like it did when Williams announced at SoxFest that Guillen’s 2012 club option was picked up. Hugs and kisses for everyone.
That was almost seven months ago, but it feels more like seven years.
There have been at least two known heated blowups between Guillen and Williams, according to sources. But even more significant is the recent talk in baseball circles that the White Sox have been getting a feel for managerial candidates. Sources said that also included renewing talks with the Florida Marlins about compensation for Guillen with the team set to open its new stadium next season.
* The Question: Should Guillen be fired, or Williams, or both? Or neither? Take the poll and then explain your answer in comments, please. Thanks.
- Posted by Rich Miller
* Here in Illinois, the Republicans are bitterly complaining about the Democrats’ new state and congressional district maps. Elsewhere, though, the GOP is crowing about its wins…
Republicans romped last November, gaining 63 House seats to secure the majority, winning 11 governorships, including Ohio and Pennsylvania, and seizing control of the most state legislative seats they’ve held since 1928. The GOP is capitalizing on its across-the-board control in 26 states — governorship plus legislature — in the census-based drawing of a new political map that will be a decisive factor in the 2012 elections and beyond.
“Republican freshmen are finding the ground harden beneath them as their current swing districts become less competitive for Democrats,” said Rep. Pete Sessions, R-Texas, chairman of the National Republican Campaign Committee. “Even seemingly small changes in district political leanings can mean big returns at the ballot box.”
Nearly half of the states have finished redrawing House lines based on population changes, although lawsuits and Justice Department reviews loom. The immediate post-election claims that the GOP could add 15 to 30 seats in the U.S. House through redistricting have proved unfounded, in large part because Republicans captured so many seats last November. Instead, the GOP has used the redistricting process to shore up its most vulnerable lawmakers, people such as Ellmers and Farenthold.
“Redistricting starts with Republicans at a peak,” said Tim Storey, an elections analyst with the nonpartisan National Conference of State Legislatures. “They hold a solid majority of seats in the House. It’s hard to gain much more.”
* Illinois has no school voucher program. Indiana does, however, and it’s starting to take off…
Weeks after Indiana began the nation’s broadest school voucher program, thousands of students have transferred from public to private schools, causing a spike in enrollment at some Catholic institutions that were only recently on the brink of closing for lack of pupils.
It’s a scenario public school advocates have long feared: Students fleeing local districts in large numbers, taking with them vital tax dollars that often end up at parochial schools. Opponents say the practice violates the separation of church and state.
In at least one district, public school principals have been pleading with parents not to move their children.
* A new report from Moody’s could presage what might happen here in Illinois if Chicago and several areas near our borders are given riverboat casino licenses…
Massachusetts leaders have ended more than a year of negotiating over proposed gambling legislation by agreeing to open three casinos and a slots parlor in the Commonwealth. Even before the plan is voted on by rank-and-file lawmakers, however, it is causing anxiety for adjoining states.
A new report by Moody’s Investors Service confirms what many state officials in Connecticut and Rhode Island feared: The opening of four gambling venues in Massachusetts will drive business away from their own casinos. That, in turn, could hurt tax collections in both states.
* In Illinois, our Democratic governor has focused mainly on tax hikes and some minor union concessions. He’s had to implement cuts only because of the Democratic General Assembly. Connecticut’s Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy has taken a far more balanced approach…
$2.8 billion in increased taxes. Malloy’s changes added three brackets to the state income tax and raised the top rate from 6.5 percent to 6.7 percent, while adding an Earned Income Tax Credit for those with lower incomes. The sales tax also rose from 6 percent to 6.35 percent, with many sales-tax exemptions eliminated.
$1.8 billion in budget cuts. These cuts involve items that are required to be paid for by law or contract and are expected to grow based on caseload increases. The cuts would hit, among other things, Medicaid dental and vision benefits, as well as cost-sharing increases for seniors receiving home care.
$1.5 billion in labor-union concessions. Most unions agreed to a two-year wage freeze, plus changes to health-care and pension benefits, in exchange for protection from layoffs for four years.
When state troopers refused to accept a pay freeze, he laid off 56 acadamy grads…
In a step avoided by governors and legislators for the past two decades, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy announced Tuesday that he will lay off state troopers to cut costs and help balance the state budget.
The decision to lay off the 56 rookie troopers marks the first trooper layoffs since the state’s fiscal crisis in 1991 under Gov. Lowell P. Weicker Jr. The state has suffered through recessions, budget deficits, Wall Street losses and economic ups and downs during the 20 years since then, but troopers had always been treated as a specialized class in the state workforce and not subject to reductions.
* Tight state budgets are also a topic of discussion in the wake of Hurricane Irene…
The recession hit states’ budgets hard, leaving them fewer funds to respond to emergencies and in fiscal 2010, the latest year data is available, the median budget for crisis response fell to $3.3 million from $3.41 million the year before, according to the National Emergency Management Association.
North Carolina, for example, pulled money from its disaster relief funds and other reserves to patch a budget this fiscal year. To save money last year, New York consolidated its homeland security, emergency management, fire control and infrastructure offices. And New Jersey has implemented spending cuts of 10 percent and cut aid to local governments.
…Adding… From a recent Tribune story…
Frustrated, Tiawanda Moore quietly flipped on the recorder on her BlackBerry as she believed that two Chicago police internal affairs investigators were trying to talk her into dropping her sexual harassment complaint against a patrol officer.
But Moore was the one who ended up in trouble — criminally charged with violating an obscure state eavesdropping law that makes audio recording of police officers without their consent a felony offense. […]
The case against Moore as well as pending charges against a Chicago artist have drawn the attention of civil libertarians who argue that the state’s eavesdropping law is unconstitutional.
Illinois is one of only a handful of states that make it illegal to record audio of public conversations without the permission of everyone involved. Laws in Massachusetts and Oregon are similarly strict but not as broad, according to the American Civil Liberties Union.
Because the alleged victims in this case were the two police officers, Moore had faced a maximum prison sentence of 15 years for the alleged felony.
* That Massachusetts law may be about to end. From a federal appellate court decision this week in Boston…
In summary, though not unqualified, a citizen’s right to film government officials, including law enforcement officers, in the discharge of their duties in a public space is a basic, vital, and well-established liberty safeguarded by the First Amendment.
* An Illinois roundup…
* ADDED: Judge gives preliminary nod to disabilities deal: Illinois could save $2,320 per person annually by providing low-income disabled people with services in their own homes instead of in nursing homes.
* Townships begin measuring value of road commissioners: Cook County township officials can soon start deciding if they want to do away with their road districts and highway commissioners, now that Gov. Pat Quinn has signed legislation to let them.
* New Illinois Law Mandates Insurance Coverage for Quitting Smoking
* COGFA override would cost taxpayers, lawmaker says
* SJ-R: Opinion: Confusion still part of health deal
* Joliet woman tormented by ex inspires new law to help others
* Records Broken at 2011 Illinois State Fair
* Alderman’s daughter gets state job
* New chief of schools looks forward to job, even though paycheck remains uncertain
* Sex offenders kept from children conceived through abuse
* Righter bill providing additional newborn screenings
* Cronin to lay down law to DuPage boards
* Quincy School District faces financial difficulty status, must create deficit reduction plan
* Interim East St. Louis schools chief sees hope for turnaround
* Cicero spends $120,000 at hot dog stand linked to board member
- Posted by Rich Miller
* After losing a case when the judge declared that it had no “property rights” to a state contract, Catholic Charities plans an appeal that will focus on religious rights to continue to refuse to handle adoptions and foster-care placements involving couples joined under the civil unions law…
Peter Breen said the group will ask for a stay of Sangamon County Circuit Judge John Schmidt’s Aug. 18 ruling that sided with the state, which severed work with Catholic Charities after the agency refused to recognize Illinois’ civil union law. Breen said the charity also will ask the judge to reconsider, then take the matter to a state appellate court if Schmidt declines. […]
Illinois authorities had said they were canceling the contracts because Catholic Charities’ practice of referring unmarried couples to other agencies was discriminatory, a violation of the state’s civil union law. Catholic Charities argued that it was exempt under a provision in the civil unions law that protects religious practices.
Breen said Monday that Catholic Charities will seek a stay to give it time to appeal, believing “the financial impact on the charities of not receiving (such a reprieve) would be catastrophic.” Breen added that the not-for-profit agency’s “main thrust (on appeal) would be that you do not need to hold property in order to exercise religious rights.”
Catholic Charities hopes Schmidt reconsiders his ruling, “particularly on the issue of religious freedom,” Breen said.
* Springfield’s Bishop Thomas John Paprocki pretty well summed up the position of the church…
The message from the state of Illinois is simple: Organizations that only place children in accord with their religious beliefs are barred from state contracts – Catholics need not apply.
* A columnist at Catholic Online was far more blunt…
[I]f the state of Illinois wanted, it could easily pursue its secularist agenda without forcing Catholic Charities to violate its beliefs or shut down it services.
But the state clearly refuses to do this: the pattern of lies, manipulation, and abuse by the state, reveals an extreme level of intolerance and malevolence toward the Catholic Church and an utter disregard for the children. We need to pray for the welfare of children and religious freedom in our country.
* The Belleville News-Democrat wants the focus put back on the kids…
However, just because the state can legally cancel its contract with Catholic Charities doesn’t mean it should.
Catholic Charities has a decades-long track record of providing high-quality services for the children of Illinois at a reasonable price for taxpayers. These agencies combined handle about 20 percent of adoptions and foster care placements in Illinois; more than 600 children are served by Catholic Charities based in Belleville.
Why won’t the Department of Children and Family Services allow a religious exemption? Some other states with same-sex laws including New York do. Gov. Pat Quinn just signed into a law a bill that could allow Amish people to not have their photograph on state IDs, but Illinois can’t accommodate a Catholic group on the issue of civil unions?
Everyone in state government keeps talking about acting in the best interest of the children. Well, it’s in children’s best interest to keep this proven social services network in place.
* And what about those children?…
The battle between the Catholic Church and state of Illinois over foster care and adoption services has real-life ramifications for more than 250 East Central Illinois children.
Currently, about 135 children in Champaign County are in foster care homes managed by Catholic Charities, according to state figures. In Vermilion County, the agency oversees 125 foster cases. […]
Lutheran Social Services of Illinois, the other major provider in this region, has a caseload of 131 in Champaign County and 48 in Vermilion. The remaining cases are handled by DCFS caseworkers directly or other agencies where families may have moved to another county. […]
DCFS will send a team from its licensing division to review the status of every child’s case. At the same time, it will review the capacity and performance of other agencies that may be interested, he said.
“If we get asked, yes we’re interested,” said John Schnier, executive director of Lutheran’s Children’s Community Services. “At this point, nobody’s heard anything from DCFS.”
- Posted by Rich Miller
* I don’t think the question here is whether the penalty was too stiff. A verbal reprimand to an employee with no record of trouble seems appropriate. What is in question, though, is whether the case warranted being placed on the Executive Ethics Commission’s website. The Commission doesn’t have to publish any case unless an employee discipline results in a suspension…
An investigator for Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn’s human rights agency got a slap on the wrist for forwarding an e-mail before last November’s election that contended the Republican Party had been hijacked by “dangerous, radical hate mongers called the ‘Tea Party.’ “
The e-mail, sent on a state computer, claimed talk show host Glenn Beck and former GOP vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin led the tea party effort to “take down President Obama and the government.”
* The employee is upset about the reprimand, but seems regretful about the forwarded e-mail in question…
Forbes, 56, of Chicago, said in an interview that the case against him was “petty as hell.” He called the reprimand “bogus,” saying he sent the e-mail accidentally to some of his co-workers. He said his sister had sent it to him.
“I didn’t endorse it at all,” Forbes said. “It was just something I inadvertently sent. Had I thought a little more about it and were able to perceive the ramifications that I would have experienced, I would have just eliminated that e-mail altogether.”
That would have been the better course for Forbes. But I still wonder why the Executive Ethics Commission decided to publicly humiliate the guy. Your thoughts?
Polls have been showing a drop in [the tea party’s] approval, and a new AP/GfK poll shows that its unfavorable rating has seen a sharp rise. 46 percent of those surveyed said they have a negative view of the Tea Party movement, versus 28 who say they view it favorably.
The last time the AP conducted a national poll on Americans’ favorability of Tea Partiers was in their pre-governing period: throughout 2010 the conservative movement was viewed slightly unfavorably but the splits were close. In June of 2010 it even earned a positive rating, with 33 percent of over 1,000 adults surveyed finding the movement favorable against 30 percent. In the last AP rating, taken Nov. 3-8, 2010, directly after the 2010 election, the split stood at a slim negative rating of 32 percent favorable against 36 unfavorable.
The jump of ten points in the negative number is all in the “very unfavorable” category. In November of 2010 there were 22 percent who viewed the Tea Party that way, which has risen to 32 percent. The “somewhat unfavorable” number remains unchanged in the last nine months, steady at 14 percent.
The most recent CNN/ORC poll had tea party favorability at 31 percent, with 51 percent viewing it unfavorably. USA Today/Gallup’s poll found that a plurality of 42 percent would be less likely to vote for a congressional candidate with tea party support.
* By the way, remember when I wrote yesterday about what some call the “Cold Civil War” that strengthened during the fight over the debt ceiling? Well, back in March, Republican Illinois Congressman Adam Kinzinger compared the coming battle to an actual shooting war…
Just wait, said Rep. Adam Kinzinger, for the fireworks over next year’s budget, as well as a must-pass bill to allow the government to borrow more money to meet its commitments. Republicans hope to use that measure to force further spending cuts on the president.
“What I tell folks is: This is like Fort Sumter in the Civil War,” the Illinois Republican said Wednesday. “This is the first fight. The big battle is still ahead of us.”
Did he really compare his compatriots to the Confederacy? Perhaps he should check to see which state he represents before making more comments like that.
* Other stuff…
* Job Fair Draws Demonstrators - Congresswoman Judy Biggert hosted a jobs event in Romeoville Monday.
* Schock draws a crowd to Elmwood town hall meeting
* Editorial: Regional primaries make sense
- Posted by Rich Miller
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* As I already told you, Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s own poll shows his job approval at 79 percent. His operation released more poll numbers late yesterday…
[B]y a 48%-to-41% margin, Chicagoans now believe the city is headed in the right direction — a lousy economy notwithstanding. That’s up from a 31%-55% split in a similar survey taken in September.
On key issues, about seven in 10 Chicagoans approve of Mr. Emanuel’s handling of budget matters, crime, schools and the economy.
A total of 82% find him to be a “strong leader” compared to “just” 70% who say he’s honest.
You gotta wonder how many Chicagoans feel the same about Illinois’ direction and Gov. Pat Quinn.
*** UPDATE *** Lynn Sweet ran the actual polling memo…
[ *** End Of Update *** ]
Voters have tremendous confidence in Emanuel’s ability to handle the most pressing issues facing Chicago, especially tackling the budget crisis. By a 73-23 margin, they approve of his job performance on this key issue.
The Mayor also receives high marks on fighting crime, improving education, and strengthening the economy. The support for Emanuel’s performance on these issues cuts across racial and neighborhood lines.
Table 2: Mayor Emanuel’s Approval Rating on Key Issues
Approve - Disapprove
Addressing the budget crisis 73 - 23
Fighting crime and keeping your neighborhood safe 72 - 24
Improving education in the city 69 - 24
Strengthening Chicago’s economy 70 - 25
Voters have a well-formed impression of the Mayor and give him very high marks on key personal attributes, including leadership, conviction, management, and honesty.
Table 3: Mayor Emanuel’s Personal Attributes
Total Describes Well
Is a strong leader 82
Fights for what’s right for Chicago 76
Is an effective manager 79
* He’s certainly doing many of the right things. For instance, Gov. Quinn hasn’t yet really addressed the state’s huge number of paid boards and commissions. From an Emanuel press release…
Mayor Rahm Emanuel [yesterday] announced a 50% reduction of compensation received by members of City boards and commissions, saving taxpayers over $314,000 a year.
“Those chosen to represent the interests of the people of Chicago lend their time and expertise to serve the public,” said Mayor Emanuel. “My administration is committed to using taxpayer funds wisely and responsibly to deliver the highest-quality services in the most efficient way possible.”
In July, the Mayor set the goal of cutting City board and commission compensation in half and tasked his Chief of Staff with conducting an extensive review of these stipends. Today, the Mayor also implemented a new compensation policy, which goes into effect immediately, tying stipend payments to meeting attendance.
The boards impacted by this reduction in compensation are the Building Board of Appeals; the Human Resources Board; the Chicago Police Board; the Zoning Board of Appeals and the License Appeal Commission. Prior to this review, the Mayor eliminated the stipends paid to members of the City’s Cable Commission and Board of Local Improvements.
* Emanuel announced a series of TIF district reforms yesterday as well…
Mayor Rahm Emanuel made it clear Monday that the city will continue to rely on special taxing districts as an economic development tool, even as he tries to wash away the stain of public criticism that marred them in recent years.
The mayor plans to establish specific benchmarks that tax increment finance districts, known as TIFs, must meet to continue receiving the same level of property tax dollars — or any at all.
The standards will be crafted to help meet the goals of a 5- to 10-year citywide economic development plan, Emanuel said. Now the hard work begins: The city has to draw up both the economic plan and the benchmarks for goals like job creation, private investment, property value increases, worker training and new affordable housing.
* Mark Brown is a bit skeptical, however…
Chicago now has 165 TIF districts encompassing 10 percent of the city’s property tax base and 30 percent of its geographic area.
That’s one reason I’m not as impressed about Emanuel slowing the growth of TIFs. There aren’t many places left to put them.
* Congressman Quigley was far more impressed…
Congressman Mike Quigley, who as a county board member criticized Daley’s use of TIFs, called Emanuel’s report a move away from abuses of the program.
“It’s a good day,” Quigley said. “I’m not after Rich at this point in time, but this report is in such sharp contrast with past TIF policy.”
* Kind of a misleading lede…
Mayor Rahm Emanuel faced a boisterous and sometimes angry crowd Monday night during the first of two “Town Hall” meetings to discuss ways to plug the city’s $635 million 2012 budget shortfall.
* The anger, as it turns out, came from a few people whose ox had been gored…
Mental health advocates questioned the new mayor about his decision to privatize seven primary health clinics. And traffic aides who were laid off last month greeted Emanuel with boos, with one man in the audience even calling the mayor a “liar.”
It wasn’t just “mental health advocates” who were upset about the privatization…
“I wonder where you got the idea it would be a good idea to privatize health services,” said Maria Randazzo, a laid off traffic control aide.
* Interesting nugget…
“Can you stop printing the mayor and elected officials’ names on doors, buildings, etc.?” read City Colleges Chancellor Cheryl Hyman, who acted as the moderator of the event.
The mayor replied ‘yeah’ to that suggestion, but sounded skeptical it would make a dent in the city’s financial problems.
Gov. Quinn criticized Emanuel for this practice last week.
* The strength of public criticism, however, is likely to ramp up..
Mayor Rahm Emanuel says he’s not giving up on getting a longer school day this school year even though the teachers union has said no to a two percent cost of living raise to do it.
Emanuel is not taking ‘thanks but no thanks’ for an answer from the teachers union. He’s vowing to keep trying because he thinks the public is behind him. [..]
Meaning, his school board will impose a longer school day and year if the teachers don’t come around.
- Posted by Rich Miller
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