* Earlier today, I told you about an effort by Gov. Pat Quinn’s office to claim that the governor isn’t anti-union. Here’s AFSCME’s response…
Sadly, there they go again. Governor Pat Quinn and his staff routinely twist reality, mislead the public and insult the men and women who do the real work of state government in their communities every day.
Endlessly repeating lies does not make them true. Yet the 1200 words of empty political talking points issued today by a Quinn spokeswoman are riddled with repeated falsehoods and glaring omissions.
· Quinn deliberately understates the danger posed by his litigious assault on workers’ right to collective bargaining and his long-running refusal to honor union contracts. The governor has broken his contracts with several unions representing state employees, refusing to honor workers’ fairly bargained pay schedules to which he himself had agreed. In a strongly worded award siding with workers, an independent arbitrator found that if the governor gets his way, “the collective bargaining process will be severely undermined.” Rather than complying with the arbitrator’s order, Quinn has provoked an ongoing court battle.
· Quinn echoes Mitt Romney-Paul Ryan talking points on health care and retirement security, arguing to slash the modest pensions earned by public employees and excusing his devastating $2 billion cuts to Medicaid—that eliminated prescription drug help for seniors and took health insurance from thousands of working families—in order to “preserve” these programs, just as Romney and Ryan seek to privatize Social Security and voucherize Medicare on similar grounds. The people understand that the governor’s “forced choice” pension scheme in unfair and unconstitutional, causing retirees to either lose their health insurance or tens of thousands of dollars in pension benefits that enable seniors to keep up with rising costs for food and medicine.
· Quinn time and again minimizes the damage of his threat to lay off some 4,000 disability and mental health caregivers, child protection workers, correctional officers, state police dispatchers and other state employees. He callously claims credit for the job protection provisions guaranteed by the union contract—but is utterly silent on the human consequences of slashing their essential work to protect public safety, prevent child abuse and care for the most vulnerable. He cries poverty but ignores the fact that the General Assembly fully funded nearly all the services and jobs he’s trying to cut. And as for the claim that alternative employment has been offered to every state worker whose job is threatened, it is simply false.
· Quinn’s state-employee pay claims are patently false and wholly misleading. The net general increases received by most union members over the past 8 years equal just 23.25%–less than 3% per year. (Math: Gross increase 32.5% less 4% additional employee pension contribution and 5.25% withheld by Quinn.) Just 2 in 5 state employees are eligible for additional pay that rewards experience and encourages stability in the state workforce, and only a miniscule number could have been eligible for the sort of increases the administration claims all workers received. Meanwhile, Quinn pretends to forget the hundreds of millions of dollars these employees saved state taxpayers via pay deferrals, unpaid furlough days, health plan changes and innovative efficiencies, and never mentions that many do the jobs of two or three workers, since Illinois has the nation’s fewest state employees per capita.
· Quinn ignores the reality of the state’s dangerously overcrowded prisons—built to safely hold just 33,000 inmates but now overflowing with an all-time high of more than 49,000—instead incredibly claiming the seven facilities threatened with closure are “empty,” “half full” and “no longer needed”.
· Quinn twists his record on corporate tax loopholes by emphasizing what he failed to do and failing to mention what he actually did. Seeking accolades for his feeble support for closing a loophole that allows big oil companies to hide profits on offshore drilling platforms—a loophole that was never actually closed–Quinn neglects to mention his cheerleading role in tax giveaways to profitable corporations like Sears, Boeing, Motorola and the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. They pocketed hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars with his support, then he cut health care for the elderly and disabled.
In each case, the administration’s playbook is the same: Dehumanize public service workers. Devalue the services they provide. And say anything to drown out or discredit them, regardless of the relationship of Quinn’s claims to the truth.
A pair of surveys asked Americans a more concrete question: in 1960, whether they would be “displeased” if their child married someone outside their political party, and, in 2010, would be “upset” if their child married someone of the other party.
In 1960, about 5 percent of Americans expressed a negative reaction to party intermarriage; in 2010, about 40 percent did (Republicans about 50 percent, Democrats about 30 percent).
On Wednesday, the freshman Republican said Duckworth’s spot does little to explain to voters where she stands on key issues.
“I have always been careful to say that we respect her service and we have so much respect for her loss, but to be an elected member of Congress, you’ve got to have enough respect for voters that you tell people what you believe and where you stand on the issues,” Walsh said. “It’s not just good enough to be a candidate based on biography.”
Walsh also questioned why Duckworth was scheduled to speak at Santa Monica College in California on Thursday, saying she should instead be meeting with voters in the district. Walsh teamed with the Illinois Republican Party to give away plane tickets to a GOP donor to attend the speech.
“It’s almost like she’s this national celebrity who stays away from her own district,” Walsh said. “I just don’t think voters are going to appreciate that.”
After an $810,000 ad buy last week by Washington, D.C.-based Now or Never PAC, three groups have reported another $243,788 in expenditures, according to the Federal Election Commission.
LaGrange-based Lunch Pail Republicans, a pro-union Republican-backing SuperPAC, is spending $6,618 on a billboard supporting Walsh, according to the commission. Lunch Pail officials did not return requests for comment Wednesday.
Tea Party-affiliated SuperPAC Freedom Works for Americas spent $100,000 on a mailing for Walsh, of McHenry, and another $15,000 on online ads, according to the commission. It also spent another $3,000 on voter guides and books opposing Duckworth, of Hoffman Estates.
Since last week’s ad buy, Now or Never has spent another $122,000 on online advertising and direct mail, spokesman Tyler Harber said.
* A big reason for legalizing video poker is that it takes the illegal video poker rackets out of play. It’s now a felony to possess poker machines that pay out, and as a consequence, the licenses are declining…
Check a dozen bars at random in Springfield and you’ll find more ashtrays, smoking ban notwithstanding, than video poker machines or any of the other so-called gray machines that once were as ubiquitous as beer on St. Patrick’s Day.
“They’re all gone,” says Mike Walton, a board member of American Legion Post 32 who acknowledges that the establishment on Sangamon Avenue was one of scores in Springfield that once offered video gambling without oversight from state gaming regulators.
Possession of so-called gray machines became a felony in mid-August, but numbers from the state Department of Revenue and the Springfield city clerk’s office show the decline began three years ago.
The number of amusement-device licenses issued in Springfield has dropped from more than 1,000 in 2010 to 815 this year, with those figures also including jukeboxes, video games such as Golden Tee and other gizmos that aren’t used for gambling. The state Department of Revenue issued more than 64,800 amusement-device licenses in 2010 and 62,200 in 2011. Fewer than 46,000 licenses have been issued for the current licensing year that began Aug. 1.
Sue Hofer, spokesman for the state Department of Revenue, says the state is still issuing licenses for “simulated gaming” devices that are perfectly legal so long as no jackpots are paid.
“It is up to the taxpayer to know whether their machines are in compliance with the new gaming law,” Hofer wrote in an email. “A number of taxpayers have indicated they have been getting rid of their simulated gaming machines over the past three years in anticipation of video gaming going online. This could be a potential cause of the decline in the number of decals issued.”
The next logical step would be to prevent DoR from issuing any license for any “simulated gaming device” at all. Nobody ever “simulates” gambling on those machines.
* The Tribune ran an editorial this week entitled “Mr. Madigan’s bill, Ms. Purkey’s pension.” It was regarding an earlier Trib story…
A former lobbyist for a powerful teachers union is reaping a $100,000-a-year state pension thanks to wide-ranging retirement legislation sponsored nearly six years ago by her former boss, House Speaker Michael Madigan, and his legislative allies.
The 2007 law let Gail Purkey, who worked at two state jobs in the 1980s, receive a state pension based mostly on her long career and six-figure salary with the Illinois Federation of Teachers, the Tribune has found.
So let’s reflect on three facts that may or may not be related to Democratic lawmakers’ desire to take kind care of IFT personnel during the lame-duck legislative session after the 2006 general election. According to an analysis for the Tribune by Kent Redfield, a campaign finance expert from the University of Illinois at Springfield:
• The IFT had contributed about $567,000 to Madigan, the state Democratic chairman, and his rank-and-file candidates. Democratic victories assured Madigan’s continued role as speaker.
• The IFT had contributed about $388,000 to Senate Democrats, and their victories kept Senate President Emil Jones in charge of that chamber.
• The IFT had contributed more than $515,000 to Rod Blagojevich, who had been re-elected governor.
What can you do about this?
If your legislators were in office six years ago, be sure to ask each one how he or she voted on this pension bill.
* Not mentioned in either the editorial or the news article are some inconvenient facts.
So, if this was some grand Democratic conspiracy, then the Republicans were either complicit or ignorant. And I’m not sure how they could’ve been ignorant if they’d even skimmed the bill synopsis…
Provides that an individual who represents or is employed as an officer or employee of a statewide labor organization that represents members of the State Employees’ Retirement System of Illinois may participate in the System and shall be deemed an employee under specified circumstances
The Catholic Conference of Illinois plans to more aggressively argue against gay marriage, said its executive director, Robert Gilligan. Brochures with questions and answers about the subject will go out to parishes around the state, he said, and pastors will receive talking points to help them discuss gay marriage more effectively.
As Catholics, we must recognize that not all issues carry the same moral weight. The continuing slaughter of innocent children through legal abortion—to take the most appalling example of such “intrinsic evil”—is a grave offense against God and our own human dignity, and cries out for justice. Accordingly, “the moral obligation to oppose intrinsically evil acts has a special claim on our consciences and our actions.”
Those who knowingly, willingly and directly support public policies or legislation that protect and perpetuate such injustice cooperate with that grave evil. Candidates who promise to support the common good, while at the same time glossing over their support for intrinsic evils such as abortion, perpetrate a lie. Catholic candidates who do so are also a cause of scandal among the faithful.
Finally, two other issues of particular importance in this election year demand our attention. The first is marriage: the permanent, faithful relationship of a man and a woman as husband and wife is the root of a family and the foundation for all of society. The decline of marriage in our culture has already inflicted untold spiritual and material costs upon society and individuals alike. Attempts to redefine marriage are contrary to the natural and moral law and only serve to further erode this fundamental institution. The defense of marriage is a matter of social justice.
*** UPDATE *** The Catholic Conference called to clarify that these are bulletin inserts and are not the “talking points” that Gilligan referred to above.
[ *** End Of Update *** ]
The official talking points make the case that “not all issues carry the same moral weight.” Abortion is referred to as an “intrinsic evil,” while opposition to gay marriage is said to be a “matter of social justice.”
Moreover, the Democratic Party Platform also supports same-sex marriage, recognizes that “gay rights are human rights,” and calls for the repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act, the federal law signed by President Clinton in 1996 that defined marriage as the legal union of one man and one woman.
Now, why am I mentioning these matters in the Democratic Party Platform? There are many positive and beneficial planks in the Democratic Party Platform, but I am pointing out those that explicitly endorse intrinsic evils. My job is not to tell you for whom you should vote. But I do have a duty to speak out on moral issues. I would be abdicating this duty if I remained silent out of fear of sounding “political” and didn’t say anything about the morality of these issues. People of faith object to these platform positions that promote serious sins. I know that the Democratic Party’s official “unequivocal” support for abortion is deeply troubling to pro-life Democrats.
So what about the Republicans? I have read the Republican Party Platform and there is nothing in it that supports or promotes an intrinsic evil or a serious sin. The Republican Party Platform does say that courts “should have the option of imposing the death penalty in capital murder cases.” But the Catechism of the Catholic Church says (in paragraph 2267), “Assuming that the guilty party’s identity and responsibility have been fully determined, the traditional teaching of the Church does not exclude recourse to the death penalty, if this is the only possible way of effectively defending human lives against the unjust aggressor. If, however, non-lethal means are sufficient to defend and protect people’s safety from the aggressor, authority will limit itself to such means, as these are more in keeping with the concrete conditions of the common good and more in conformity to the dignity of the human person. Today, in fact, as a consequence of the possibilities which the state has for effectively preventing crime, by rendering one who has committed an offense incapable of doing harm — without definitely taking away from him the possibility of redeeming himself — the cases in which the execution of the offender is an absolute necessity are very rare, if not practically nonexistent.”
One might argue for different methods in the platform to address the needs of the poor, to feed the hungry and to solve the challenges of immigration, but these are prudential judgments about the most effective means of achieving morally desirable ends, not intrinsic evils. [Emphasis added.]
Springfield’s Bishop might have been unclear on the concept.
* There are no statewide races in Illinois except president, and Obama will cruise here, so this really means nothing in the larger picture…
With two weeks left to register to vote, the number of people on Chicago’s voting rolls is about 225,000 less than it was by the time registration closed four years ago, election officials said today.
And it’s going to be tough, if not impossible, to make up the difference, because this election so far lacks the excitement of 2008, when President Barack Obama’s historic bid for the nation’s top office energized Chicago voters, said Langdon Neal, chairman of the Chicago Board of Elections.
Efforts to purge voter rolls in three financially strapped southern Illinois counties are over for now, but state election officials say they are continuing efforts to clean up Illinois’ lists of registered voters.
Alexander and Massac counties at the southern tip of the state culled more than 4,000 voters from the rolls for reasons, such as death and moving.
“Having good, clean election rolls avoids any possibility of people attempting impersonation voting,” said Ken Menzel, an attorney with the Illinois State Board of Elections. “While it’s not a huge problem from what we can tell, keeping your rolls clean limits the opportunity for mischief along that line.”
In May, Alexander County was at 117 percent, and Massac County was at 106 percent. By early September, Alexander dropped to 80 percent and Massac dropped to 88 percent. Alexander County was able to cull more than 2,300 voters from its rolls that in May stood at more than 7,400 registered voters. Massac culled more than 2,000. Its rolls showed more than 12,600 voters in May.
That leaves Alexander County with about 5,100 registered voters and Massac with about 10,600.
Two years ago, 2,754 people voted in Alexander and 4,735 voted in Massac. Four years ago, 3,937 people voted in Alexander and 7,186 voted in Massac.
It’s not like we’re seeing more people voting than actually live there. It’s just that the counties don’t have the cash to purge their registration lists.
According to the 2008 Gallup World Survey, 47 percent of Americans have faith in the honesty of their elections, compared with the 42 percent average across the 134 countries surveyed.
More than half of Illinoisans in our survey (56 percent) said they had confidence in the honesty of U.S. elections—about the same level of confidence reported by Austrian or French respondents to the Gallup World Survey.
However, when asked about their confidence in Illinois elections, somewhat fewer (50.4 percent) had confidence in their home-state elections’ honesty. This is about the same level of confidence reported by Iranians or Czechs in the Gallup survey.
• Republicans (60.7 percent) were more likely to say they do not have confidence in the honesty of Illinois’ elections than were Democrats (31.9 percent) and Independents (55.6 percent).
• Similarly, voters Downstate were more likely to say they do not have confidence in the honesty of Illinois’ elections (50.7 percent) than were voters in Chicago (40.0 percent) or in the Chicago suburbs (43.3 percent).
Old myths die hard.
We had two very close elections in 2010, the Republican gubernatorial primary and the gubernatorial general. Fraud was not an issue in either.
* This is from an op-ed for Progress Illinois written by Brooke Anderson, Governor Pat Quinn’s press secretary…
- AFSCME claims the governor wants to lay-off 4,000 employees. False. Every employee laid off as the result of a closure of a juvenile facility or prison is offered another job within their own agency or other state agencies. The governor believes it is NOT in the interest of taxpayers to keep empty or half-full, very expensive facilities that are no longer needed open at taxpayer expense.
- AFSCME claims the governor is “breaking union contracts and undermining collective bargaining. False. Governor Quinn believes in collective bargaining. AFSCME has enjoyed the best contract in the nation. Over the past eight years, AFSCME employees have received pay increases that equate to 45 percent. Illinois AFSCME members make, on average, 23 percent more than their peers in comparable states.
- AFSCME claims the governor wants to take away pensions from employees. False. Governor Quinn wants to preserve the pension system because the status quo is unsustainable. Illinois has the worst-funded pension system in the country. Governor Quinn has proposed a plan that repairs the pension system by giving existing employees a choice – they can either keep their pensionable Cost of Living Adjustment the way it is and not access the state’s excellent healthcare or they can access the healthcare and accept a reduction of COLA to lesser of 3% or ½ of CPI, simple interest. At a time when some states have frozen COLA’s and many employees have seen their retirements eliminated, the governor’s plan preserves the system and ensures employees have access to benefits.
- AFSCME claims the governor has doled out hundreds of millions in tax breaks to corporations and resisted closing loopholes for oil companies. False. Governor Quinn proposed and pursued legislation that closes the oil derrick loophole this year. In fact, the governor has long supported closing loopholes that are based on politics and not economics. In fact, Governor Quinn fought for and doubled the Earned Income Tax Credit, the best tool we have available to provide targeted tax relief to working families.
- AFSCME claims that the Governor refused to pay for pay raises that were promised: False. In fact, the governor included the raises in his proposed budget – the General Assembly took the raises out. To be clear, we cannot pay for raises if there is no money in the budget to pay for those raises.
However, AFSCME and the governor do agree on this - AFSCME refuses any change to the status quo. They would prefer no closures, no pension reform and no spending cuts. They’re fine with things just as they are.
I’m betting there will be an AFSCME response in my in-box in 5, 4, 3…
* The House Majority PAC, a super PAC for US House Democrats, has canceled two very large TV buys for Illinois candidates. The PAC claims it did so because the candidates are doing so well…
The House Majority PAC, the Democratic aligned super PAC, has canceled a hefty television buy in two Metro East congressional races.
The PAC had previously announced a $439,864 ad buy for Democrat candidates Bill Enyart (IL-12) and David Gill (IL-13). But that won’t materialize.
“Both Democrats in IL-12 and 13 are leading in the polls and running aggressive, competitive campaigns against their Tea Party opponents,” said Andy Stone, a spokesman for the House Majority PAC. The group released a poll last week showing Enyart leading Plummer in the once solidly Democratic district that has shown conservative trends in recent years.
From what I know, the polling is actually mixed in both of those races.
So much for the National Republican Congressional Committee leaving Rep. Joe Walsh (R-Ill.) out to dry.
The committee reserved about $457,800 on cable stations in Illinois’ 8th district for spots to run Oct. 5 through Election Day, multiple sources confirmed to Roll Call. It’s a significant buy, but it doesn’t reach saturation level.
For months, national GOP operatives privately conceded Walsh would lose his re-election bid against Iraq War veteran Tammy Duckworth (D) in the suburban Chicago, Democratic-leaning district. Duckworth is still favored to win, but there are signs the race has become more competitive.
Last week, a super PAC dropped $810,000 on advertisements to boost Walsh. National Republicans have been circulating internal GOP polls showing the race in a statistical dead heat.
Roll Call rates this race as Likely Democratic, but that could change soon.
The closest recent poll I’ve seen (privately) has Walsh losing by ten. A poll last month had it closer, but a recent Democratic poll had this as a blowout.
* The Illinois GOP is spinning both moves as good news for Republicans. From a press release…
Illinois Republican Party Chairman Pat Brady today released the following statement regarding yesterday’s news that a Democrat Super PAC canceled hefty television buys in two downstate congressional races while the National Republican Congressional Campaign Committee (NRCC) purchased its own hefty cable TV buy in one suburban race:
“Democrats are finally realizing that voters are rejecting their message of higher taxes, increased spending and fewer jobs,” Brady said. “Bill Enyart and David Gill preach a radical, liberal tax-and-spend agenda that will kill jobs in the Metro East and in Central and Southern Illinois. Tammy Duckworth thinks people in the 8th District are better off today than they were four years ago. Mike Madigan did his best to give Democrats a hyper-partisan map but no matter where lines are drawn on a map, the people of Illinois will vote for lower taxes, reduced spending and pro-growth policies that create jobs.”
One side or the other, or maybe both, are badly misreading the tea leaves.