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Caption contest!

Tuesday, Mar 27, 2012

* From Illinois Review

Their link goes to our caption contest of Attorney General Lisa Madigan yesterday.

But we’re not gonna caption that ridiculous little post. I just thought you’d get a chuckle out of the site’s silly hostility.

* By the way, Jeff Trigg won yesterday’s caption contest and a free ticket to Wednesday’s benefit party for Lutheran Social Services of Illinois (5 o’clock at Boone’s) for this one

Don’t worry, these drug dogs I brought with me aren’t actually searching anything.

* Our first two roasters at the black tie optional charity roast for Lutheran Social Services of Illinois this Saturday night in Chicago are Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno and Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka…

Leader Radogno has a funny, biting wit, but she doesn’t show it very often in public. I’ve been pushing her people to make sure she ups her game for Saturday night. Maybe this caption contest will prod them into retaliation.

Comptroller Topinka has a well-known reputation as a smart aleck, and she is that way in private, too. But she also has a sweet side that she doesn’t often show. Let’s hope JBT leaves her softer side at home. Saturday’s roast of yours truly is supposed to be funny, but it can’t really be funny if the roasters don’t go over the top.

* Anyway, commenters with the best two captions today will get a free ticket to tomorrow night’s big charity bash at Boone’s. The fundraiser starts at 5 o’clock. Admission is $20. Tom Irwin, Brooke Thomas and Mike Burnett will all be performing live and Mike Fountain is our DJ. I’ve heard a rumor that Luke Turasky might also be playing. I love Luke. He’s the best around, so I hope he makes it.

As I write this, a friend of mine is cooking a 28-pound roast for Italian beef. Another friend is making more Italian beef. Another friend is contributing some other foodstuffs. And last night, a blog fan gave me a case of barbeque sauce made in tornado-ravaged Harrisburg. I’m gonna sell those bottles for as much as we can get and give the money to the relief fund. It’s good stuff, by the way. I tried it this morning (I’m keeping that test bottle for myself, however).

Also, if anyone wants to bring food or stuff to sell or whatever, send me an e-mail or call me. I’ll say yes.

* Oh, there’s one other thing. Legislative staffers don’t make much money, so they get in Wednesday for $5. All the legislative staffers (including secretaries) have to do is show their state ID cards and they get the discount.

* OK, have at the caption contest, campers.

- Posted by Rich Miller   87 Comments      


*** UPDATED x3 *** House Investigating Committee live coverage

Tuesday, Mar 27, 2012

* As I mentioned earlier, the bipartisan House Investigating Committee meets at 11 this morning for the first time. The committee, chaired by Rep. Elaine Nekritz, will determine whether there is enough evidence against Rep. Derrick Smith to warrant referring the issue to a committee that will decide what the punishment should be. The full House will then have to vote on that punishment. Expulsion requires a two-thirds vote.

* Live video from the committee will be available here, but I’ll also embed the video feed in this post as soon as the hearing begins.

*** UPDATE 3 *** From our friends at BlueRoomStream.com, here’s the video of the proceedings

*** UPDATE 2 *** And here’s our ScribbleLive feed. BlackBerry users click here

* From the AP

The leader of an Illinois House committee investigating alleged misconduct by a lawmaker wants to find out how much federal prosecutors can reveal about their bribery case against Rep. Derrick Smith. […]

A spokesman for Fitzgerald declined comment Monday on the proposal. Although she doesn’t anticipate the committee gathering much of its own evidence, Nekritz said the committee should try to collect information beyond the criminal complaint.

“We need to ask the question of the U.S. attorney what they’re willing to provide us because if we didn’t we would simply be acting on allegations of which no one has testified or proved,” Nekritz said Monday. […]

If the committee sends a letter to prosecutors, the committee would be inactive until it gets a response. If there’s no assistance the U.S. attorney can provide, “then it will be a fairly short proceeding,” Nekritz said.

“We will just have to engage in a discussion among the committee as to whether or not we think that the criminal complaint is sufficient to send it to the next level,” she said.

The House asked much the same thing of the US Attorney after Rod Blagojevich’s arrest.

* Meanwhile, Gov. Pat Quinn reiterated his call for Rep. Smith to resign

With expulsion hearings set to begin Tuesday, state Rep. Derrick Smith should resign his House seat rather than holding onto it as his federal bribery case unfolds, Gov. Pat Quinn reiterated Monday.

“I really feel that Rep. Smith would do himself a favor by taking the advice of Secretary of State Jesse White and many, many others and resigning,” Quinn told reporters.

* But check out how the governor bobbed and weaved several times when reporters asked him about why he didn’t call for Smith’s resignation before the primary. It’s vintage Quinn and the reporters never do get a decent answer...

Heh.

- Posted by Rich Miller   30 Comments      


Question of the day

Tuesday, Mar 27, 2012

* The setup

Illinoisans eagerly awaiting their state tax refunds could be in for a big letdown under a new law that went into effect earlier this year.

In its search for a quick infusion of cash, the city of Chicago and a handful of other local governments have struck an agreement allowing the state to withhold millions of dollars in tax refunds from people who owe the cities money.

Since going into effect, Illinois Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka’s office has notified 40,735 people that their tax refunds will be smaller or nonexistent because they owe money for old traffic tickets and unpaid water bills.

While the bulk of people affected by the Local Debt Recovery Program are from Chicago, it could affect residents throughout Illinois. Other governments participating in the program include Aurora, Joliet, Springfield, Collinsville and Lakeland Community College in Mattoon.

* The Question: Should all local governments be allowed to tap state income tax returns to recover money owed for unpaid traffic tickets and water bills? Take the poll and then explain your answer in comments, please. Thanks.


- Posted by Rich Miller   46 Comments      


Motion or movement?

Tuesday, Mar 27, 2012

* On Sunday, the Chicago Tribune demanded that Senate President John Cullerton allow a floor vote on a bill to abolish the legislative scholarship program

Yet the Illinois Senate probably won’t get around to voting on a bill to abolish this irredeemably corrupt program, even though the House voted Wednesday to do just that. What’s standing in the way? Senate President John Cullerton.

For years — years — the Chicago Democrat has refused to allow a vote on any of several measures that would kill the scholarships. He insists the program should be reformed rather than scrapped, though there’s been no meaningful effort to do so. Lately his excuse is that he wants to review all state university waivers instead of focusing only on those handed out by lawmakers, which is like saying there’s no point in wiping that big dirty handprint off the kitchen counter until you’ve searched every corner of the upstairs closets for dust bunnies.

Let’s not play games here. There are at least three bills to abolish those scholarships sitting in committee in the Senate. The version filed by Sen. Dan Kotowski, D-Park Ridge, is identical to the measure that just passed the House. It has 31 co-sponsors, more than enough votes to pass. That list includes the entire Republican caucus. But there are Democrats on the list, too, and they ought to be hammering Cullerton to stop blocking a vote.

Cullerton doesn’t want an up-or-down vote on the scholarships because he knows which way it will go. He’s not trying to fix things. He’s protecting the corrupt status quo. He’s running interference for the few lawmakers who don’t want to give up this lucrative political perk.

* Gov. Pat Quinn also tossed in his two cents

Gov. Pat Quinn ratcheted up the pressure on Senate President John Cullerton Monday in an attempt to end a decade’s old perk allowing state lawmakers to hand out university scholarships.

Talking with reporters, Quinn called the controversial tuition waiver program “political scholarships,” owing to the program’s reputation of abuse by some lawmakers. He urged Cullerton, D-Chicago, to call legislation abolishing the waivers for a vote.

“I really feel that its time for the Illinois Senate to step up and do what I’ve urged for two years in a row, that the whole political scholarship program be abolished, especially be in these times of austerity,” Quinn said.

Quinn’s call comes after the Illinois House last week voted 79-25 to end the program, which allows members of the House and Senate to dole out scholarships to students in their districts.

* Gatehouse lays out the next steps

A spokeswoman for Cullerton said the measure, Senate Bill [2914], will go to the Senate Executive Committee, where it then will be assigned to the Subcommittee on Special Issues.

“If it passes the Executive Committee, there will be a floor vote,” said Cullerton’s press secretary, Rikeesha Phelon. “These bills will follow the normal legislative process. They will be heard in committee. Proponents and opponents will have the opportunity to testify, and there will be an opportunity to vote. If it passes, it moves on.”

Subcommittees typically have only three members, two of them Democrats. That means fewer Democrats are exposed to political blowback if they kill bills that might be popular with the public.

The SB2914’s sponsor, Sen. Dan Kotowski, D-Park Ridge, said he thinks his legislation will get fair treatment.

“It looks very possible to resolve this issue this session. … We’ve got to make sure the money goes toward helping students. I have every expectation this will get a fair hearing.”

* The bill is currently in the Executive Subcommittee on Education. Two of the subcommittee’s three members are co-sponsors. No hearing is scheduled yet, but the bill is likely to be sent to the full Executive Committee if the chairperson, Sen. Kimberly Lightford, allows a vote. Lightford has strongly supported the scholarship program in the past.

If it passes subcommittee, you can probably expect a big round of news stories about how the proposal “advanced.” But if it does move, it will only advance to the Executive Committee, where, as they say, it’s fate remains uncertain. The Democrats in charge of the committee are mostly opposed to abolishing the scholarship program.

In other words, only believe there’s progress if the bill actually gets out of Exec.

And then there’s the issue of whether the House will take up the Senate bill after passing its own House bill. But I’ll save that for another time.

- Posted by Rich Miller   16 Comments      


There They Go Again…

Tuesday, Mar 27, 2012

[The following is a paid advertisement.]

As opponents of SB 678 and the Taylorville Energy Center unleash their latest onslaught on the truth, Ronald Reagan’s famous line seems particularly apt.

There they go again.

The only thing that’s happening faster than the Exelon/ComEd/STOP penchant for saying anything to defeat the bill regardless of accuracy is the rapid-fire closing of coal-fired plants. And their seemingly endless collection of false claims hasn’t gone unnoticed by objective observers.

    “This episode was a lesson for us. It said ComEd would do anything necessary to protect its bottom line and keep competition away, no matter how much hyperbole and alarmism was necessary.”

    - Springfield Journal-Register Editorial – September 13, 2011

As the Chicago Tribune recently reported, ComEd parent Exelon spent $40,000 on a lopsided report full of “sky-is-falling” claims. Not only did this Exelon-funded “study” grossly exaggerate the unfavorable effect of natural gas price changes, but it ignored big improvements such as falling interest rates and increasing coal plant retirements that more than offset lower natural gas prices.

Why is Exelon/ComEd/STOP engaged in such a massive misinformation campaign and unleashing thousands of robocalls throughout the state? Here’s why:

    “If the plant is built, Exelon could lose more than $107 million each year in fees it receives from consumers as part of the auction-based system that reserves power in advance from generators to ensure lights stay on,’ according to Mark Pruitt, the immediate past director of the Illinois Power Agency.”

    - Chicago Tribune, March 16, 2012

So next time Exelon/ComEd/STOP try to scare you about SB 678 and the Taylorville project, remember: there they go again.

- Posted by Advertising Department   Comments Off      


ComEd Modernizing and Strengthening Electric Grid

Tuesday, Mar 27, 2012

[The following is a paid advertisement.]

ComEd is investing $2.6 billion over the next ten years to strengthen and digitize the electric grid. Our work – a direct result of the historic Energy Infrastructure Modernization Act passed last October – is already underway. In the past few months alone, ComEd has:

Replaced more than 22,000 feet of mainline cable. Replaced or injected more than 300,000 feet of underground residential distribution cable (URD). By replacing cable where necessary or injecting cable to fill in voids in insulation, ComEd will reduce the number of service interruptions.

Reinforced and replaced utility poles in over 200 locations: ComEd is inspecting, treating and, where necessary, replacing or reinforcing wood poles. Properly maintaining utility poles will help ComEd keep customers’ power on during severe weather.

Installed more than 110 distribution automation devices: These devices will automatically detect problems on the electrical grid and reroute power, making service more dependable.

These and other improvements made in recent months are just the beginning of ComEd’s commitment to delivering power you can depend on. We will continue to update you on our progress in the weeks and months ahead.

- Posted by Advertising Department   Comments Off      


*** LIVE SESSION COVERAGE ***

Tuesday, Mar 27, 2012

* The House’s Special Investigating Committee will meet today at 11 to begin proceedings against Rep. Derrick Smith (D-Chicago). We’ll have live video and a separate ScribbleLive Feed which will look a lot like this one.

Anyway, the House convenes at noon and the Senate is in at 4. BlackBerry users click here and everyone else can just hang back and watch all of today’s events unfold…

- Posted by Rich Miller   2 Comments      


Protected: SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Supplement to today’s edition and a post election roundup

Tuesday, Mar 27, 2012

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- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      


Protected: SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Today’s edition of Capitol Fax (use all CAPS in password)

Tuesday, Mar 27, 2012

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