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One of the most spiritually uplifting stories I’ve read in a very long time

Tuesday, Dec 20, 2011

* A story published in the Tribune earlier this week moved me almost to tears when I read it today. You must read it

Eli Evans doesn’t dwell on the horrific violence that surrounded his birth 16 years ago.

He has known the unfathomable details for years since he and his older brother Jordan came to live with their grandfather in this rural southeastern Illinois community. Sam Evans still encourages the boys to come to him whenever they feel the need to discuss what happened. […]

Late on the night of Nov. 16, 1995, his mother, Debra Evans, was fatally shot in her Addison apartment. Eli, a full-term baby, was cut from her womb with a pair of shears.

Also slain were her 10-year-old daughter, Samantha, and 7-year-old son, Joshua, whose body was later discovered in a Maywood alley. Jordan, then 22 months old, was found in the apartment, sobbing, “Mommy hurt.”

Eli was whisked away by the killers but was rescued within hours after police closed in on three suspects who were later convicted of the slayings.

Take a moment from your busy day and go read the whole story about this remarkable young man and his wonderful grandfather. It’s worth it. Trust me.

- Posted by Rich Miller   15 Comments      


When “likely voters” lie

Tuesday, Dec 20, 2011

* After the 2008 election, a Democratic polling firm named Greenberg Quinlan Rosner went back and compared the names of 12,979 people who had answered polls that year and compared them to a voter file. Here’s what they found

Eighty-seven percent of those who described themselves as “almost certain to vote” that November had done so, compared to 74 percent of those who said they “probably” would. […]

They also looked up the records of those who had said they “will not vote,” an answer that prompts the operator to politely end the call and dial someone else. Greenberg Quinlan had excluded those people from their surveys, but Aida and Rogers found they were lying too, and at a higher rate than those who identified themselves as certain voters. Despite claiming they would not cast a ballot, 55 percent had. More than half the people whom Greenberg Quinlan call-center operators kicked off the line should not have been.

In other words, the “likely voter” screen used by just about every “public” media pollster doesn’t work very well. People lie, especially those who tell pollsters that they aren’t voting.

* The pros who work for campaigns (and, therefore, have much bigger budgets) don’t usually trust self-identification. Instead, they use voter file lists and other data to make sure they’re calling the likeliest of voters. And it works out better…

Among respondents who had voted in both of the previous two elections, 93 percent of those who said they would vote did so; only 24 percent of those who said they would not vote actually failed to vote. (A similar pattern held among those who had not voted in the past two elections.)

* So why do people say they’re not voting? Maybe they just don’t want to participate in the poll, or…

One possible reason that regular voters might consistently declare their lack of interest in voting, Aida and Rogers speculate, is “to convey disaffection toward the political process rather than a sincere lack of intention to vote.” The question of whether it’s better to include such people in a poll or just leave them out altogether remains open. “If I can’t trust them to be honest about whether they’re going to vote or not,” asks McHenry, “how can I trust them on all the other questions I want to ask them?”

* Meanwhile, US Sen. Mark Kirk and Illinois Republican Party Chairman Pat Brady talked to ABC7 about the failure of the court challenge to the Democratic-drawn district map

“The map has worked out far better than the other side thought because of how unpopular the governor is and now the growing unpopularity of the president,” Senator Mark Kirk, Republican, said. […]

“Even the court in its ruling said it was a blatantly political map. For legal reasons they said they couldn’t overturn it, or set up a new map, so we’re just gonna keep doing what we’ve been doing… setting up the campaigns,” Pat Brady, Illinois Republican Party, said.

* Roundup…

* ADDED: Judge rejects plea to stop toll hike

* State pardons — some swift, others stall

* Editorial: Lawmakers shrug off those who can’t lobby

* Measure that prevents layoffs is signed into law

* Cross: A realistic plan to create jobs for Illinois families

* ‘He knows the ins and outs’: Group admits Sen. Clayborne helped on inmate deal

* Quinn stays quiet on future of Chicago speed cameras

* Rep. Walsh on crusade for Christmas, Hanukkah mailing

* Long expected but no less dreaded, shutdown of 32 US power plants to cost towns jobs, taxes

* Elmhurst native trying to get on track for NASCAR Hall of Fame

- Posted by Rich Miller   23 Comments      


Question of the day - Golden Horseshoe Awards

Tuesday, Dec 20, 2011

* We’re getting some coverage lately. Peoria Journal Star

As some readers of this site are probably aware, one of the most comprehensive sites covering state politics and the Illinois Legislature — and aggregating stories from around the Land of Lincoln about the same topics — is Rich Miller’s Capitol Fax Blog.

The longtime watcher of Illinois government boasts a following that not only includes political junkies from around the state, but plenty of staffers in each of the three branches of government, not to mention plenty of elected officials (and wannabes) besides.

For the last several years Miller has let followers of his site weigh in on a series of awards — named Golden Horseshoes, after Springfield’s signature dish — that started as a jest but quickly became a serious annual competition. The experts who follow government are never shy about weighing in and justifying the people they believe to be deserving of these “best of the best” honors. (Miller makes the selections, but only after readers make their comprehensive arguments as to who deserves the awards.)

* Daily Herald

Capitol Fax’s Rich Miller and his commenting class has given its coveted Golden Horseshoe award to state Sen. John Millner of Carol Stream as the best GOP state senator. […]

The Golden Horseshoes are Miller’s annual awards that honor legislative staff, members and even local bartenders. They’re named after Springfield’s signature culinary contribution to humankind.

Maybe one day we’ll have to hold an awards ceremony or something.

* Anyway, on to our winners. The Steve Brown Golden Horseshoe Award for Best Government Spokesperson goes to Mica Matsoff who runs Gov. Quinn’s shop…

Interpreting Quinnspeak has to be a tough job and she does it well.

Her boss alone is reason enough to give her the award. That cannot be an easy gig, but she seems to enjoy it.

* Runner-up is Kelly Kraft at the budget office…

Does a good job expressing the administration’s budget positions when quite frankly they are hard to figure out. There are few reporters that don’t go to her and IMO she’s heads and shoulders about the other flaks on budget matters. Her background in reporting allows her to know what the reporters want and she is able to soften the all too often ugly budgetary news. It’s easy to see who the reporters look for, do a key word search and you’ll find her more frequently.

Kelly took a weekend call from me several days ago and she was whispering when she answered her phone. I asked if she was in a meeting, but she said she was putting a baby down for a nap (I think it was her niece or nephew, can’t remember though). That’s dedication, folks.

* The Golden Horseshoe Award for Best State Agency Director goes to Catherine Shannon

Catherine Shannon, acting director at Historic Preservation. Canned at Labor earlier this year after doing, by all accounts a very good job, and then put in to a directorship outside her area of expertise (labor) and receiving rave reviews there now. Makes you wonder what Quinn was thinking.

Yes, it does. Catherine really got the shaft this year, but I’m glad to see her back in government service. She’s top notch.

* Runner-up is Malcolm Weems

I have to go with Malcolm Weems too. Not just because I find him attractive (which I do) or that he has a very pleasant personality (which he does) but he is one of the few people in the administration that follows up on things, gets back to you and gets the job done.

I’ve known Malcom for a long while and that commenter (who I also know) was dead on.

* The Golden Horseshoe Award for Best Statewide Officeholder goes to Secretary of State Jesse White

Jesse White because he has integrity, raises morale, and runs a completely functional agency. Have you been to other states and tried to get a license? Choose Jesse White!

The man never ceases to amaze me.

* Runner-up is Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka

When she started running for Comptroller, she said I’m back and boy is she ever. She is your kooky aunt that you love because she’s a straight shooter and makes the often scary GOP look just a little less crazy. JBT is a character in every sense of the word when that trait is lacking in our statewide officials. Her office his only out front when it needs to be and her other policy initiatives have been noble. The state would be a lot better off if other statewide leaders, especially the four tops would learn from her.

Fully agreed. The only reason JBT didn’t win was the lack of broad support, but that nomination alone just about did it for her.

* OK, on to today’s nominations. We have a new category today…

* Best chief of staff (legislative, statewide, congressional, etc.)

* Best state legislative staffer - non-political

* Best Illinois congresscritter

As always, please nominate in all three categories and fully explain your nominations. Just mentioning the person’s name won’t help at all. It’s about intensity, folks, not numbers. Have at it.

- Posted by Rich Miller   88 Comments      


Illinois has fewest per capita state employees in nation, but residents still leaving

Tuesday, Dec 20, 2011

* Some of the state government haters may be surprised by this, but most of us already know that Illinois has long had one of the lowest per capita workforces in the nation. And now, we’re the lowest, excluding schools and higher ed

Alaska had the most with 34.9, while Illinois had the fewest with 4.1 after cutting more than 4,000 workers from the state payroll since 2007. The AP figures exclude K-12 teachers and employees in higher education systems.

Indiana, Ohio and Michigan were the only other states with five or fewer state employees per 1,000 residents. Each has seen steep reductions in the number of state workers since 2007 because of budget pressures. […]

In Texas, the number of state government employees rose by more than 7,300 between 2007 and 2011. But Mark Miner, a spokesman for Republican Gov. Rick Perry, stressed that the state’s rising population meant the number of state workers dropped from 6.07 to 6.02 as measured per capita. Perry is seeking the GOP presidential nomination. […]

…Wisconsin ranks 41st in the country with 6.2 state employees per 1,000 people…

* AFSCME Council 31 executive director Henry Bayer has already issued a response…

“After all the extreme rhetoric from politicians and pundits attacking public employees, here is the reality: Illinois has the nation’s fewest state employees per resident. It’s been true for years. Yet in recent months politicians of both parties have pushed for thousands of layoffs, pension cuts and limits on collective bargaining, while the governor claims he can’t afford a 2 percent pay increase for frontline workers.

“The men and women who do the real work of state government deserve thanks, not blame. Despite skeleton staffs, unmanageable caseloads and dangerous overcrowding, they care for the elderly and disabled, protect children from abuse, help struggling families and keep prisons safe.

“The state’s fiscal problems are caused by backward budget priorities and an unfair tax structure that offers special treatment for big corporations and rich individuals.”

* Meanwhile, the Illinois Policy Institute took a look at some new IRS data

Recent data from the Internal Revenue Service shows that, in 2009, Illinois netted a loss of people to 43 states, including each of its neighbors – Wisconsin, Indiana, Missouri, Kentucky and Iowa. Over the course of the entire year, the state saw a net of 40,000 people leave Illinois for another state.

The data reflects a continuation of a trend of out-migration from Illinois that has lasted more than a decade. Between 1995 and 2009, the state lost on a net basis more than 806,000 people to out-migration.

When people leave, they take their income and their talent with them. In 2009 alone, Illinois lost residents who took with them a net of $1.5 billion in taxable income. From 1995 to 2009, Illinois lost out on a net of $26 billion in taxable income to out-migration.

You can see the raw IRS data here.

Keep in mind this data was compiled well before the tax hike. Also, the net out-migration actually seems to be slowing. The average over 15 years is just under 54,000, so 40,000 net outmigration is less. That could be because of the recession and the fact that lots of people can’t sell their houses, however.

- Posted by Rich Miller   52 Comments      


Today’s number: One in three arrested by the age of 23

Tuesday, Dec 20, 2011

* Wow

Nearly one in three people will be arrested by the time they are 23, a study to be published today in Pediatrics found. […]

The new data show a sharp increase from a previous study that stunned the American public when it was published 44 years ago by criminologist Ron Christenson. That study found 22 percent of youth would be arrested by age 23. The latest study finds 30.2 percent of young people will be arrested by age 23.

Criminologist Alfred Blumstein says the increase in arrests for young people in the latest study is unsurprising given several decades of tough crime policies.

“I was astonished 44 years ago. Most people were,” says Blumstein, a professor of operations research at the Heinz College at Carnegie Mellon University who served with Christenson on President Lyndon Johnson’s crime task force.

Now, Blumstein says, youth may be arrested for drugs and domestic violence, which were unlikely offenses to attract police attention in the 1960s. “There’s a lot more arresting going on now,” he says.

The new study is an analysis of data collected between 1997 and 2008 by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The annual surveys conducted over 11 years asked children, teens and young adults between the ages of 8 and 23 whether they had ever been arrested by police or taken into custody for illegal or delinquent offenses.

The question excluded only minor traffic offenses, so youth could have included arrests for a wide variety of offenses such as truancy, vandalism, underage drinking, shoplifting, robbery, assault and murder — any encounter with police perceived as an arrest, Brame says. Some of the incidents perceived and reported by the young people as arrests may not have resulted in criminal charges, he says.

Discuss.

- Posted by Rich Miller   38 Comments      


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