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Apparently, it wasn’t much of a catastrophe

Wednesday, Jun 26, 2013

* Despite all the media hype, today’s bond sale was way oversubscribed and Illinois got a fairly decent rate, considering the state’s miserable credit rating and a muni panic which appeared to abate only yesterday. From a Gov. Quinn press release…

The state received more than $9 billion in bids Wednesday from 145 investors for $1.3 billion in General Obligation bonds. The average interest rate on the bonds was 5.042 percent.

* Bloomberg

The revised yield is about 1.5 percentage points more than benchmark munis. In April, the state sold 10-year securities yielding 3.3 percent, or 1.29 percentage points above AAAs.

The state was still able to lower borrowing costs from preliminary levels as investors said the biggest losses since 2008 in municipal bonds signal a buying opportunity. The $3.7 trillion municipal market has lost about 5 percent this month as of June 25, Bank of America Merrill Lynch data show.

Yields on 10-year debt have risen to the highest since April 2011, leading issuers such as Georgia to cancel sales this week. Individuals have pulled $5.3 billion from muni mutual funds in the past three weeks, the most since February 2011, Lipper US Fund Flows data show.

* There is a price for legislative inaction, however. Back to the guv’s press release…

Without the downgrades the state has suffered as a result of inaction on its pension shortfall, the rate would have been lower, based on the prices other units of governments that did not suffer similar downgrades earned Wednesday. That difference works out to about $130 million over the 25-year life of the bonds.

That’s an average of about $5 million a year.

* Related…

* Committee likely to mine old ground for pension compromise: “I think the healthy way to do this is to walk into the room and say, ‘We’ve got a lot of different things that have been Frankensteined together, and let us now examine all of them and see what we can assemble that can get 30 votes in the Senate, 60 votes in the House and achieve adequate savings to put the state on a manageable fiscal course,’” said Sen. Daniel Biss, an Evanston Democrat.

* Lawmaker Says Pension Deal Could Happen Soon: Tracy, like the majority on the committee, supported a plan that would unilaterally cut benefits to teachers, state employees and university workers. But she says that was the only plan that came before the House. She says she is open to alternatives.

* Dan Montgomery: Rhetoric vs. reality on pensions: Last Thursday, a column by R. Eden Martin relied more on rhetoric than reality. In it, Mr. Martin argued that the unions protect the status quo while everyone else fights for “major reform.” While Mr. Martin is entitled to his opinion, his assertions are patently false.

- Posted by Rich Miller   31 Comments      


Question of the day

Wednesday, Jun 26, 2013

* The setup

Former Illinois GOP Chairman Pat Brady of St. Charles has started a new lobbying firm called Next Generation Public Affairs Inc.

He’s teaming up with former Iowa Republican Chairman Matt Strawn and Chicago business adviser Bob Fitzsimmons.

“NGPA is a full-service public affairs firm providing clients with comprehensive and technologically sophisticated government affairs, issue advocacy and media relations strategies,” Brady said in a statement.

* The Question: Likely clients…?

- Posted by Rich Miller   27 Comments      


The little things in life

Wednesday, Jun 26, 2013

* Um, OK

The top Illinois House Republican is urging creation of a new coin to commemorate the 150th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s death in 2015.

House Republican Leader Tom Cross of Oswego has introduced a resolution urging the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee to study the issue and make a recommendation to the U.S. Treasury.

Cross’ resolution asks that the coin be minted in time for circulation during April and May of 2015. Those months mark the 150th anniversary of the journey of Lincoln’s funeral train from Washington, D.C., to Springfield.

Well, I guess that is more important than a recently introduced Speaker Madigan resolution

Congratulates Rob Dwyer on the occasion of his retirement as executive director of the Quincy Society of Fine Arts.

Somehow, I sense the deft hand of our Golden Horseshoe Insider award winner there.

* Illinois and Missouri disagreed over what to name a new Mississippi River bridge, so Congress stepped in and took charge. Yeah, hard to believe Congress could take charge of anything, but it did

The U.S. House approved a compromise Tuesday that would name the span the Stan Musial Veterans Memorial Bridge.

Missouri lawmakers had sought to name it after Musial, the late Cardinals baseball great. Their Illinois counterparts had wanted to name it after military veterans.

The resolution now heads to the U.S. Senate.

* Back to the Illinois General Assembly

Illinois legislators recently passed a bill that will affect food service manager training and examinations.

If you are a food service sanitation manager or a trainer in Illinois, here is how this will affect you:

    - The number of training hours required by the Department of Public Health will be reduced from 15 to 8
    - Illinois will cease using its own state food safety exam and will recognize exams accredited under standards established by the Conference for Food Protection

* And, finally, I never would’ve expected this

Former 56th District state Rep. Paul Froehlich and his wife Marilyn — herself a former Schaumburg Township District Library trustee — have sold their Schaumburg home and retired to Panama.

The couple have temporarily moved into a condominium while awaiting completion of their new home in a small development catering to American and Canadian expatriates, according to friend and former Schaumburg trustee Pat Riley.

- Posted by Rich Miller   26 Comments      


*** UPDATED x2 *** Springfield Bishop: Supreme Court ruling “absolutely devoid of moral authority”

Wednesday, Jun 26, 2013

* Springfield Bishop Thomas Paprocki has issued a statement on the DOMA ruling….

As in the case of Roe v. Wade striking down abortion laws 40 years ago, the United States Supreme Court has again usurped its legitimate prerogative through a raw exercise of judicial power by giving legal protection to an intrinsic evil, this time by striking down the Defense of Marriage Act in the case of U.S. v. Windsor and in refusing to take up the defense of Proposition 8 in California in the case of Hollingsworth v. Perry.

These hollow decisions are absolutely devoid of moral authority. It is becoming increasingly and abundantly clear that what secular law now calls “marriage” has no semblance to the sacred institution of Holy Matrimony. People of faith are called to reject the redefinition of marriage and bear witness to the truth of Holy Matrimony as a lasting, loving and life-giving union between one man and one woman.

Most Reverend Thomas John Paprocki
Bishop of Springfield in Illinois

Via WUIS.

Despite the rhetoric, the Bishop may have actually stumbled onto a revelation: “It is becoming increasingly and abundantly clear that what secular law now calls ‘marriage’ has no semblance to the sacred institution of Holy Matrimony.”

Well, yeah. That’s the point here. And that’s why folks like Sen. Mark Kirk have taken to referring to it as “civil marriage.” Holy Matrimony is blessed by the church, not the state - never the state. So the concept of Holy Matrimony is untouched by a gay marriage bill.

*** UPDATE *** The Catholic Conference of Illinois was far more reserved

“The Catholic Conference of Illinois regrets the U.S. Supreme Court’s wrong decision to invalidate the Defense of Marriage Act. Marriage comes to us through God’s nature as the union of one man and one woman,” the group said in a prepared statement.

“The ruling, however, does not mandate a redefinition of marriage across the nation, so the citizens of Illinois can still preserve marriage by telling their state lawmakers to honor the natural truth of marriage as the union of one man and one woman,” the group said. “The Catholic Church in Illinois and across the world will continue to promote this truth.”

A “natural truth” does not necessarily translate into a “legal truth.” This whole debate has been one side talking past the other.

*** UPDATE 2 *** From the Illinois Family Institute…

And the reason the state is involved in marriage is to protect the needs and rights of any children that may result from the particular type of sexual union that is marriage.

Well, if it’s all about protecting needs and rights of children, then what’s the big deal here?

[ *** End Of Updates *** ]

* And here’s the Heritage Foundation’s response to the DOMA decision

In its ruling on the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), the Court struck down Section 3, declaring that the federal government cannot define marriage for its own federal policies and federal laws but must accept whatever the states decide about marriage. The Court’s ruling, however, does not affect Section 2, which provides that no state is required to give effect to another state’s recognition of same-sex marriages.

Here, the Court got it wrong. The Court ignored the votes of a large bipartisan majority of Members of Congress. It is absurd for the Court to suggest that Congress does not have the power to define the meaning of words in statutes that Congress itself has enacted. Just as the states have constitutional authority to make state policy about marriage, so too Congress has constitutional authority to pass a federal statute defining a term for federal programs created by federal law.

DOMA imposes no uniform definition of marriage upon the individual states, and the states should not be able to impose varying definitions of marriage upon the federal government. This is a serious loss for federalism and democratic self-government. We must work to reverse it and to defend the rights of all Americans to make marriage policy. And we should promote the truth about marriage between a man and a woman and why it matters for children, civil society, and limited government.

Nothing in the text, history, logic, or structure of the U.S. Constitution requires redefining marriage. Indeed, in a Heritage Legal Memorandum, John Eastman explains why marriage laws are constitutional:

    Nothing in the Court’s jurisprudence suggests that the right of same-sex couples to have their relationships recognized as marriages is so fundamental as to be protected by the Constitution’s Due Process Clause. Nor does the Equal Protection Clause require that result, given the societal purpose and value of marriage as furthering procreation and child-rearing. Because the Constitution does not speak to this question, it is one that is left to ordinary political processes, not to judicial fiat.

Marriage policy should be worked out through the democratic process, not dictated by unelected judges. The American people and their elected representatives have constitutional authority to make marriage policy.

- Posted by Rich Miller   47 Comments      


Check out the excuses on that guy

Wednesday, Jun 26, 2013

* If this is Mayor Emanuel’s idea of getting “very involved” in the gay marriage debate, then maybe he’s unclear on the concept

After the November election, Emanuel ranked legalizing gay marriage as his No. 3 legislative priority in Springfield–behind pension reform and a Chicago casino—and said he planned to get “very involved” in passing a gay marriage bill.

The mayor followed through on that promise, by turning up the heat on state lawmakers in a failed attempt to put the bill over the top in the Il. House.

In an e-mail to the vast network of supporters he created during the mayoral campaign, Emanuel created a vehicle for gay marriage proponents to pressure their state representatives with the click of a mouse.

“The clock is ticking,” Emanuel wrote then.

You’re kidding me, right? This is how he followed through on his promise? A blast e-mail? Really?

* And what about pension reform?

Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Tuesday blamed the Legislature’s failure to grant pension relief to the Chicago Public Schools and resolve the pension crisis for devastating school budget cuts that threaten the enrichment programs he touted as cornerstones of his longer school day.

“Your own paper and you have written about the fact that we have deferred choices for years and that this day of reckoning would come to our classrooms, which is why I pushed so hard for pension reform,” said Emanuel, who was in Israel when 48 schools closed and surviving schools got wind of their bottom lines. […]

“I went to Springfield [in May, 2012] and I said, `If we don’t reform our pension, there are gonna be some very difficult choices to be made. I warned everybody….I said, `This is a critical decision.’ …[Lawmakers said], `Not now. We won’t deal with this.’ Small problems became big problems. When we all debate the choices around pensions, that’s exactly what’s happening.”

The mayor noted that nearly 45 percent of the $1 billion shortfall at the Chicago Public Schools is tied to pension payments.

He “pushed so hard for pension reform” by making one visit to Springfield, last year? So impressive.

I can’t wait to see how hard he worked to put a gaming bill on the governor’s desk.

- Posted by Rich Miller   38 Comments      


Raoul reacts to Voting Rights Act decision

Wednesday, Jun 26, 2013

* I didn’t post anything yesterday on the US Supreme Court’s Voting Rights Act ruling because I didn’t have much of an Illinois angle. This press release provides it. Try to stay Illinois-centric in comments, please…

State Senator Kwame Raoul (D-Chicago 13th) issued the following statement on the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Shelby County v. Holder to invalidate the formula that determines which jurisdictions were required under the federal Voting Rights Act to obtain preclearance of proposed changes to voting procedures:

Yesterday’s decision, with which I am extremely disappointed, highlights the ongoing need for strong, state-level voting protections such as those found in Illinois law. I’m proud to live in a progressive state that values full participation by all citizens in the democratic process. Historically, African-Americans in many parts of the country faced discrimination and outright intimidation when they tried to make their voices heard at the polls; today, voting is made more difficult not only for racial minorities but also for senior citizens, students and low-income individuals when procedural hurdles such as ID requirements are put in their path.

Prior to the latest round of legislative and congressional redistricting, I introduced the Illinois Voting Rights Act to protect language and racial minorities from having their electoral influence diluted in the redistricting process. I also worked this year to make voting more accessible through online voter registration, early voting on college campuses, later in-person early voting hours on Sundays and protections for provisional voters.

Congress should take action to restore a strong federal Voting Rights Act that addresses the barriers to minority electoral participation still in existence today. Meanwhile, I believe Illinoisans can be proud of this state’s voting laws. I pledge to continue working to make them stronger and fairer.

- Posted by Rich Miller   33 Comments      


*** UPDATED x3 - Videos posted *** Bill Brady’s campaign kick-off

Wednesday, Jun 26, 2013

* Sen. Bill Brady is scheduled to kick off his 2014 gubernatorial campaign this morning at 10 o’clock. Our good friends at BlueRoomStream.com are providing a live video feed. No embed is available, but click here to watch and help us live-blog it in comments. Thanks.

*** UPDATE *** BlueRoomStream.com reports “network problems at the hotel” and therefore can’t provide a live feed. Brady was already getting buried by the DOMA decision and now this.

We’ll have archived footage later today.

*** UPDATE 2 *** Sun-Times coverage from yesterday

In a clear shot at millionaire venture capitalist Bruce Rauner who is already hit the airwaves in anticipation of the March 2014 primary, Brady said his best asset is his history in the Illinois Senate state, where voters can review his record.

“In a big state like Illinois, running ads doesn’t make people comfortable with you,” Brady told the Sun-Times. “History and time makes people comfortable with you.”

Brady said Tuesday he would formally launch his campaign in a series of news conferences Wednesday, starting in Chicago and moving Downstate.

Brady didn’t flinch when asked about Rauner, who is already miles ahead in fund-raising. (Brady had about $200,000 in his campaign fund at the close of the last reporting period while Rauner had $1.3 million).

“I think (Illinois) primaries have proven that millionaires don’t win it by being millionaires. You’ve got to lay the groundwork. The voters know me, they’ve shown that they can trust me,” Brady told the Sun-Times on Tuesday.
“We won the last primary, we spent a little over $1 million, it’s no question that Mr. Rauner’s personal wealth can outspend anybody. We will raise the resources necessary to get our message out.”

*** UPDATE 3 *** Here are the vids. First up, the announcement itself…

Click to view

* And here’s the Q&A…

Click to view

I haven’t had time to watch the announcement video yet, but he did dodge questions on today’s Supreme Court decision, saying he was focused on economic issues.

“Social issues are just that, there are people who are on one side or the other side of an issue,” Brady said, adding that he would “honor what the Supreme Court of the land as an abider of the Constitution decrees.” He said he believed the gay marriage bill is “flawed” and would violate the rights of churches.

* Tribune

Republican state Sen. Bill Brady, who lost to Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn by less than 1 percent of the vote in 2010, formally kicked off his third attempt for the office today.

“It’s time to finish the job we started four years ago,” said Brady who noted he expects to do better in the four of the state’s 102 counties he did not win last time, including Cook County.

- Posted by Rich Miller   51 Comments      


LaHood claims he’s only spoken once with Quinn about third airport

Wednesday, Jun 26, 2013

* For years, politicians in both parties have promised the south suburbs that a third Chicago-area airport was a top priority, and then nothing ever happened. This spring, Gov. Pat Quinn pushed through a proposal giving the state more control over development of the airport, which the governor has said makes it more likely that local squabbling can be overcome and the airport can then be built.

But departing US Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood isn’t so sure that the project is a real priority for Quinn. Jon Hilkevitch of the Tribune interviewed LaHood on his way out the door and here’s what he had to say about the Peotone project

Q: One local issue I can’t recall you ever addressing is the proposed south suburban airport near Peotone. Why?

A: You know why I haven’t talked about it? I talk about things that either the elected officials or the stakeholders have as their priorities. In the last 41/2 years, I’ve never had, except for maybe Jesse (Jackson) Jr. and Gov. Pat Quinn on one occasion, talk to me about the south suburban airport. I don’t know that it has been high up on a list of priorities for Illinois.

I’ve asked the governor’s office for a response and will post it when I get it.

- Posted by Rich Miller   26 Comments      


Supremes strike down “Defense of Marriage Act”

Wednesday, Jun 26, 2013

* From the US Supreme Court opinion

DOMA’s principal effect is to identify and make unequal a subset of state-sanctioned marriages. It contrives to deprive some couples married under the laws of their State, but not others, of both rights and responsibilities, creating two contradictory marriage regimes within the same State. It also forces same-sex couples to live as married for the purpose of state law but unmarried for the purpose of federal law, thus diminishing the stability and predictability of basic personal relations the State has found it proper to acknowledge and protect.

Make sure to check the SCOTUS Blog for live updates.

I don’t usually post about national issues, but this is pretty relevant to Illinois’ debate over gay marriage, so I decided to go ahead with it. Please, do your best to avoid national political talking points here. Thanks.

…Adding… From Equality Illinois…

“The Supreme Court today affirmed America’s promise of equality by ruling that the federal government cannot ignore constitutional principles when it comes to gay and lesbian couples and their marriages, and it is a moment to celebrate. But today’s historic victory overturning the Defense of Marriage Act is bittersweet in the states like Illinois where couples are still denied the right and recognition of marriage. For anyone who doubts that civil unions in Illinois created an unacceptable second-class status, the court’s ruling is a powerful message that the state House urgently needs to join the Senate and pass the freedom to marry. It is crystal clear now that by failing to act the House denied gay and lesbian couples equal access to the federal protections that married couples in other states will now enjoy.”

* In his rather harsh dissent, Justice Scalia claims that the decision will be used to overturn state laws banning gay marriages, even though the opinion makes clear this the decision applies only to the federal law

By formally declaring anyone opposed to same-sex marriage an enemy of human decency, the majority arms well every challenger to a state law restricting marriage to its traditional definition. Henceforth those challengers will lead with this Court’s declaration that there is “no legitimate purpose” served by such a law, and will claim that the traditional definition has “the purpose and effect to disparage and to injure” the “personhood and dignity” of same-sex couples, see ante, at 25, 26. The majority’s limiting assurance will be meaningless in the face of language like that, as the majority well knows. That is why the language is there. The result will be a judicial distortion of our society’s debate over marriage—a debate thatcan seem in need of our clumsy “help” only to a member of this institution.

* From Gov. Pat Quinn…

“Today the Supreme Court took a historic step by providing equal access to more than 1,100 federal rights and benefits for same-sex couples.

“Members of the Illinois House now have more than 1,100 new reasons to make marriage equality the law in Illinois.

“This is a monumental day for freedom in the history of our nation. The opportunity to guarantee equal rights and benefits to all citizens - under both state and federal law - is one we must seize here in the Land of Lincoln without delay.

“Now is the time for all to put differences aside, band together and redouble our efforts to make it happen.

“I will continue working with members of the Illinois House and all of our tireless community advocates to bring marriage equality to Illinois as soon as possible.”

* The Tribune answers some questions that have popped up in comments

Because Illinois only allows civil unions and doesn’t recognize same-sex marriage, Camilla Taylor, an attorney with Lambda Legal in Chicago, said most gay and lesbian couples in the state are unlikely to see their status in the eyes of the federal government changed by today’s decision.

“In the vast majority of circumstances, Illinois couples in civil unions are uncertain, if not unlikely, to get any of these benefits,” she said.

Taylor said the Obama administration will have to provide guidance on how the government will treat same-sex couples who were legally married in another state and now live in Illinois. It’s possible, she said, that those couples will now have federal recognition.

“We should expect some federal guidance from the IRS, for example, on how same-sex couples will be treated in states like Illinois if they got married in a state like Iowa, where they can legally marry,” Taylor said.

* Journal Star

The U.S. Supreme Court ruling Wednesday giving married same-sex couples access to federal benefits will have little impact in Illinois unless the state legalizes same-sex marriage, a spokesman for the ACLU of Illinois said.

The court’s decision to strike down the section of the Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA, that denies federal benefits to married same-sex couples applies to couples in the 12 states and the District of Columbia where same-sex marriage is legal.

“It also means couples in civil unions in Illinois don’t have access to those benefit because they are not married,” said Ed Yohnka, spokesman for the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois. “Frankly, the House ought to convene and pass the marriage bill.”

* These stories have lots of react…

* Sun-Times: Supporters hope DOMA ruling pushes Illinois House on gay marriage

* NBC5: Illinois Reacts To Supreme Court’s DOMA Ruling

- Posted by Rich Miller   58 Comments      


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Wednesday, Jun 26, 2013

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* WARR Hyperloop pod hits 284 mph to win SpaceX competition
* MyRepublic pays AU$25k NBN speed claims penalty
* Labor wants Canberra to extend My Health Record opt-out window
* NAB stands up enterprise security team and appoints new security chief

* Lopez's rough first sinks White Sox in Seattle
* Mariners beat White Sox 8-2; first inning dooms Lopez
* Mariners beat White Sox 8-2; first inning dooms Lopez
* Healy's pair of 3-run homers lift M's over White Sox...
* Mariners 8, White Sox 2
* Lopez's rough first sinks White Sox in Seattle
* Scouting report: White Sox vs. Los Angeles Angels


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