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This just in… Leaders file pay lawsuit - Quinn responds - Topinka reserves comment - We Are One responds - Radogno: Suit addresses “legitimate issue” - Daley: “likely unconstitutional” - Nekritz responds - Cross: “may be a legitimate issue” - Rauner react

Tuesday, Jul 30, 2013

* 2:39 pm - From the Senate Democrats…

Speaker Michael J. Madigan and President John J. Cullerton today filed a lawsuit challenging Governor Pat Quinn’s unconstitutional action to suspend lawmaker pay. Their letter to members of the General Assembly and the official legal complaint is attached.

As the joint letter states, “the purpose of this lawsuit is to protect the independence of the legislature and preserve the separation of powers. It is our hope that the court will remedy this constitutional violation and that future governors will not feel empowered to use such coercive tactics.”

More in a minute.

* The lawsuit is here. It was filed in Cook County.

* The Cullerton/Madigan letter to legislators…

Dear Fellow Legislator:

As you know, Governor Quinn took unprecedented action when he used the line item veto to eliminate General Assembly members’ salaries for the entire year. This action was purely political and an unconstitutional attempt to coerce the legislature to comply with his demands. We write to inform you that later today we will file a lawsuit challenging Governor Quinn’s unconstitutional action.

This matter is of fundamental constitutional importance, as Governor Quinn’s action threatens the independence of each branch of government. The Illinois Constitution protects the salaries of members of the judiciary, the legislature, and the executive branch. These provisions were added to safeguard the people from a weakened judiciary, to ensure the legislature could not diminish the power of the executive, and to prohibit the governor from running roughshod over the legislature.

By eliminating General Assembly member’s salaries, the Governor has chosen to disregard separation of powers and its necessity if our government is to work properly and efficiently.

For us to ignore the Governor’s actions, or override the veto, would severely and irrevocably compromise the independence of the legislature and set a very dangerous precedent. Just as it would be inappropriate for the General Assembly to refuse to appropriate a constitutional officer’s salary simply because we disagree with his or her philosophy, it is no less offensive for the Governor to attempt to withhold legislators’ salaries because they have not complied with his demand for action on a particular issue. If unchecked, any governor could attempt to employ the same tactic to threaten the legislature, the judiciary, or another constitutional officer to accomplish his or her own personal agenda. In this case, the Governor is seeking changes to the pension system, but next time it could be tax policy, gun control, or education reform. The possibilities are endless.

The purpose of this lawsuit is to protect the independence of the legislature and preserve the separation of powers. It is our hope that the court will remedy this constitutional violation and that future governors will not feel empowered to use such coercive tactics.

* From the suit

* Statutory reasoning

* Constitutional reasoning

The suit asks for pay plus any back interest.

* The lawyers

* From the Twitters…


…Adding… From the Senate Democrats in response to that Tweet…

It comes out of the General Assembly existing appropriations.

* Gov. Pat Quinn’s response

“Today’s lawsuit filed by two members of the Illinois General Assembly is just plain wrong.

“If legislators had put forth the same effort to draw up a pension reform agreement that they did in crafting this lawsuit, pension reform could have been done by now.

“Instead of focusing on resolving the state’s pension crisis – which is costing taxpayers millions of dollars a day – legislators have chosen to focus on their own paychecks and waste taxpayer time and money on this lawsuit.

“My action to suspend the appropriation for legislative pay is clearly within the express provisions of the Illinois Constitution.

“Legislators should not be rewarded for an endless cycle of promises, excuses, delay and inertia on the pension problem.

“I’ve spent a lot of time with working people across Illinois who understand the importance of this issue. They work hard for their paychecks and they do what’s hard to support their families.

“They don’t get paid if they don’t do their jobs. And neither should members of the General Assembly.

“I will defend the interest of Illinois taxpayers in the courts. Nobody should be paid until the pension reform job gets done for taxpayers.”

Man, some of that is extremely childish. The same effort into the lawsuit as pension reform? Is he kidding?

Roddish.

And speaking of Roddish, from the lawsuit…

Oof.

* From Comptroller Topinka’s spokesperson

We’re reviewing the suit and will hold off on further comment. But as she noted last week, the Comptroller welcomes additional guidance from the Court.

* Sun-Times

At mid-afternoon Tuesday, Cullerton spokeswoman Rikeesha Phelon said the case had not been assigned to a judge, leaving it unclear how quickly — or if — an injunction may be issued to set aside the governor’s action while its legality is vetted in court.

* From the We Are One Illinois coalition

“Today, legislative leaders sued over the constitutionality of Governor Pat Quinn’s line item veto of legislators’ salaries.

“We remind lawmakers that the entirety of the Illinois Constitution must be upheld for all citizens, including public employees and retirees — teachers, police, nurses, caregivers, and others — whose modest pensions are protected in Article XIII, Section 5.

“Legislators take an oath to support this constitutional provision — just as they promise to support all constitutional provisions equally.

“Lawmakers must not cherry-pick or apply a double standard in determining what parts of the constitution should be defended. They shouldn’t adhere to the constitution only when it’s convenient.

“To this end, we continue to urge adoption of the constitutional pension reform plan embodied in Senate Bill 2404, unchanged, and the closure of wasteful corporate tax loopholes to fund vital services.”

* From Senate GOP Leader Christine Radogno

“A lawsuit now will unfortunately take the focus off pension reform, which must be accomplished. However, there are legitimate issues concerning a governor’s use of power to intimidate a General Assembly. If those issues are not resolved now, this practice could become more widespread and misused.”

* Bill Daley’s response

Governor Quinn’s governing by side show is doing nothing to end the pension mess that is hurting our school kids and stands in the way of creating jobs. The Governor’s action is likely unconstitutional and has not gotten us any closer to fixing the pension problem.

* With a hat tip to a commenter, the Tribune may wanna rewrite this false headline

…Adding… Ask and ye shall receive. Headline fixed.

* AP

But the 10 members of the bipartisan pension committee have repeatedly said that pressure from Quinn won’t rush their work. They say they are making progress on developing a plan to present to the Legislature but are waiting for actuarial numbers to come in.

State Rep. Elaine Nekritz, a committee member and House point person on pension reform, called the suit and the pension committee’s work “apples and oranges.”

“I think the basis for the lawsuit is the separation of powers which had nothing to do with pension reform,” she said.

Nekritz said she knew the two leaders were considering filing the suit, but was not consulted about it.

“I do share the view that this is a very dangerous place for us to tread,” Nekritz said. “And it doesn’t mix with good government.”

* From House GOP Leader Tom Cross

“While there may be a legitimate separation of power issue, we need to make sure that we remain focused on what must be our top priority – finding a solution to our pension crisis.”

* Bruce Rauner

“Springfield has never looked more dysfunctional, and the people of Illinois deserve better. Instead of showing leadership and solving the pension crisis, the politicians running Springfield are once again pointing fingers at each other and are afraid to take on the government union bosses. This is why we need to shake Springfield to its core.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   172 Comments      


*** UPDATED x2 - No list, but under consideration *** Will Burns floated as possible running mate

Tuesday, Jul 30, 2013

*** UPDATE *** Bill Daley just called about an unrelated matter, so I asked him about the Will Burns name float. Daley said he hadn’t spoken to Burns yet, but joked that maybe he should now that his name is out there. He said you could put Burns’ name on a list with at least ten other people, and had a nice chuckle about the whole thing.

In other words, it didn’t sound to me like Burns - who Daley clearly respects - is necessarily on a short list.

*** UPDATE 2 *** A credible, knowledgeable source just informed me that the selection process is pretty much just beginning, there is no real list yet, but that Ald. Burns is being considered.

[ *** End Of Updates *** ]

* Greg Hinz

…(Former state Rep. and current Chicago Alderman) Will Burns, a well-respected former state lawmaker, and he is among those that Mr. Daley is believed to be considering asking to serve as his running mate.

More specifically, I’m told that Mr. Daley — who overnight made it official that he’s not just exploring running but actually will do so — really would like to find someone in the private sector but appreciates that Mr. Burns has deep experience and would help Mr. Daley attract votes from African-Americans.

I called, texted and e-mailed Ald. Burns an hour or so ago seeking comment. No word yet.

Thoughts on this name float?

* Meanwhile, Rick Pearson takes a look at how the new running mate law is playing out

Democratic challenger Bill Daley said he doesn’t feel bound to get his nominating petitions circulated on opening day, affording a bit more leeway in the timing of his choice. […]

State Sen. Kirk Dillard of Hinsdale, who lost the GOP nomination to Brady by a razor-slim margin in 2010, said he has begun forming a review process that includes questionnaires and the formation of a panel to examine potential running mates. The vetting effort includes Bill Roberts, a former federal prosecutor from central Illinois.

“Sure, it comes down to the standard kind of things,” Dillard said of the political considerations, “but compatibility on a personal basis is also very important.” […]

Rutherford said he wants a lieutenant governor qualified to take over the job if he becomes incapacitated. “I’m not interested in an exact replica of me,” said Rutherford, who added that he is interested in diversity and the unique abilities a candidate can bring to the ticket. Still, the treasurer said, there must be a “comfort zone” that exists between him and a running mate.

Bruce Rauner, a wealthy equity investor from Winnetka, has started a lieutenant governor screening process that he has begun working through, campaign spokesman Mike Schrimpf said.

“The most important factor is compatibility with Bruce, especially in terms of sharing his commitment of shaking up Springfield and not being afraid of taking on the union bosses,” Schrimpf said. While Rauner is a Capitol outsider, having someone from within state government is not a priority, the spokesman said.

- Posted by Rich Miller   30 Comments      


Question of the day

Tuesday, Jul 30, 2013

* From commenter Norseman…

* The Question: Well, why the heck not?

- Posted by Rich Miller   88 Comments      


Chiraq

Tuesday, Jul 30, 2013

* HBO’s “Vice” program did something last month that I haven’t seen much in any local reporting. Instead of just interviewing Chicago crime victims, social and violence experts and the police, the documentarians also interviewed teenage gangsters.

I watched the documentary, entitled “Chiraq,” when it first came out and was quite disturbed, but also incredibly fascinated. You just don’t see stuff like this.

* Fair warning, there is a lot of profanity in this video. Don’t play the video at work if you’ll get in trouble for that sort of thing. There’s also a lot of hyperbole, as we’ll discuss in a minute. Keeping all that in mind, make sure to watch it

* From Chicagoist

Toward the end of VICE’s segment on Chicago, the narrator says “younger kids in Chicago … have so internalized their situation by proudly calling their city Chiraq and themselves soldiers or savages.”

The narrator goes on to say “the South Side of Chicago is basically a failed state within the borders of the U.S.”

We’re not sure what it is about “Chiraq” that bothers us. Perhaps it’s that it implies there are two sides to the war, both suffering fatalities. The last time we checked the innocent bystanders are not armed soldiers fighting a war, but neither are the civilians in Iraq. Perhaps “Chiraq” is oversimplifying the problem. There aren’t two sides, and this isn’t a war with a definitive end.

There are plenty of disturbingly dramatic and chilling moments in the documentary.

But one thing that stuck out for me was the lack of trauma centers on the South Side to deal with the shootings. As a result, victims are dying because they can’t get treatment in a timely manner.

* So far, the Sun-Times has ignored the documentary. The Tribune made passing reference the other day

The term has been tossed around on social media and even has its own Twitter handle. It has been uttered in an HBO documentary series that explored urban violence. The Urban Dictionary added it as an entry last year, defining the word as a way to summarize Chicago’s violent history. There are even T-shirts that boast the label.

“Why we make that comparison, is because very, very unfortunately, the term is true,” said Malcolm London, a 20-year-old spoken-word artist from Austin. London said he heard the moniker used in everyday language, but it didn’t really strike him until he saw it printed on shirts.

“It’s a scary term, but it’s a true term. Coming from the West Side, it’s not a joke. The sad part is, people who may not be here, or live here, may use the term to glorify the violence. But no one enjoys living in a war zone.”

This isn’t the first time Chicago has been compared to a war zone. In the 1980s, the Wall Street Journal dubbed the city “Beirut on the Lake” because of political infighting.

Once again, missing from that article were the voices of the combatants. You may not care about those people, and maybe they shouldn’t be glorified by giving them coverage. But how else are we gonna find out what they’re thinking and how they live and why they do what they do? “Chiraq” is a somewhat flawed start, but at least it’s a start.

Maybe some media outlets should send some experienced war reporters into the hot zones and tell us what’s really going on.

* On the other hand, Eric Zorn did a good job in a recent column quelling the hype on the city’s murder rate

Chicago had the most murders of any city in America last year, 506, and was the site in late January of a heartbreaking killing that made international news — when Hadiya Pendleton, 15, a King College Prep honor student, was mistakenly gunned down in an attempted gang hit just days after she’d returned from performing in Washington, D.C., at presidential inaugural festivities.

But even with its 17 percent spike in murders in 2012, Chicago was far from the deadliest city in America. Our murder rate, 18.5 per 100,000 residents according to preliminary FBI data, was 21st in the nation, better than Atlanta, Philadelphia, Baltimore, St. Louis, New Orleans and Detroit, to name a few.

Chicago also wasn’t even close to the most dangerous city in America last year, ranking 43rd in overall per capita violent crime in preliminary data.

Further, we’re not experiencing an “epidemic” of murder, per the talking heads. Nor is the city’s homicide rate “spiral(ing) out of control,” as a guest essayist on these pages put it Wednesday.

He also listed per capita crime rates for dozens of cities that were higher than Chicago’s last year. Included on that list: Rockford and Springfield. Rockford’s media appears to get it. I’m not sure there’s much of a recognition in Springfield, however.

* Related…

* King L Explains The Term “Chiraq”: “Iraq, people like you go over, things blowing up, like that’s natural,” he added. “It ain’t natural to see [something] just blow up in the middle of the street. That’s not natural in Chicago, you don’t get used to that.”

* Black Caucus discusses urban violence at Chicago State

* Emergency Summit On Urban Violence Opens In Chicago

- Posted by Rich Miller   33 Comments      


Our monied overlords

Tuesday, Jul 30, 2013

* From the Associated Press

U.S. energy regulators are accusing JPMorgan Chase & Co. of manipulating electricity prices in California and the Midwest in 2010 and 2011.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission said in an enforcement notice Monday that the bank used improper bidding strategies to squeeze excessive payments from the agencies that run the power grids in California and the Midwest. […]

FERC’s enforcement staff said its investigation had found improper trading practices were used at the company’s Houston-based subsidiary, JPMorgan Ventures Energy Corp.

The energy unit used five “manipulative bidding strategies” in California between September 2010 and June 2011, and three in the Midwest from October 2010 to May 2011, FERC said. The agency that runs the Midwestern power grid, now called the Midcontinent Independent System Operator, covers all or parts of 15 states and the Canadian province of Manitoba.

* From Bill Daley’s BusinessWeek bio

Mr. Daley served as Head of Corporate Social Responsibility at J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. from June 28, 2007 to 2010 and served as its Chairman of Midwest Region since May 2004.

I can’t help but wonder if the duties of the bank’s “Corporate Social Responsibility” unit would include making sure that its traders weren’t manipulating energy markets.

* In other news

A former employee of SAC Capital Advisors’ Chicago office was once part of an “insider trading group” at a rival hedge fund, according to an indictment filed on Thursday against SAC.

A source familiar with the matter said the hedge fund was Citadel. A Citadel spokeswoman said there was no such “insider trading group” at the firm.

Charges filed in U.S. District Court in New York on Thursday against prominent hedge fund manger Steven A. Cohen’s SAC Capital said his former employee, Richard Lee, moved from a firm, identified only as “Hedge Fund A” to SAC, despite a warning that Lee “was known for being part of Hedge Fund A’s ‘insider trading group.’”

The source familiar with the matter said “Hedge Fund A” is Citadel, the Chicago-based firm founded by Kenneth Griffin. Citadel managed roughly $13.3 billion at the end of 2012, according to a regulatory filing. Citadel was one of several hedge funds subpoenaed by federal authorities in 2010 as part of the government’s broader insider trading investigation.

Lee worked at Citadel from 2006 until he was fired in 2008, according to a spokeswoman for the firm.

* More response from Ken Griffin’s Citadel

Citadel, which has not been accused of any wrongdoing, defended itself against the allegation.

“Citadel does not have, and never has had, an ‘insider trading group,’” it said. “Citadel has strict rules against, and oversight designed to prevent, insider trading. Any suggestion to the contrary is baseless and without merit.”

Citadel elaborated on its reasons for firing Lee, which it said had nothing to do with insider-trading. Instead, the hedge fund said, Lee had violated its policies on internal transfers of positions.

“Mr. Lee’s actions would have impacted only his potential future compensation,” Citadel said. “Within hours, Mr. Lee’s misconduct was reported to Citadel management. Mr. Lee was immediately terminated.”

* And now for some good news. I sent this e-mail yesterday to Republican gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner’s spokesman. Rauner, as you may know, sits on the Civic Committee’s board…

Did Bruce ever contact any bond credit rating agency to ask them, suggest to them, etc. to downgrade Illinois’ bond rating? Did he ever contact any credit rating agency even to speak with them about Illinois’ bond ratings?

The response…

No.

- Posted by Rich Miller   26 Comments      


So, what’s with this Roskam stuff?

Tuesday, Jul 30, 2013

* You may have seen this story

The House Ethics Committee announced Friday it was probing Rep. Peter Roskam (R-Ill.) without detailing what was at issue. Roskam’s office disclosed that at issue was a trip he took with his wife to Taiwan in October, 2011–at a time his daughter was living in Taiwan.

At issue is whether the $25,652 costs for the trip were paid for by the Chinese Culture University–a permitted funder — or as the independent Office of Congressional Ethics asserts, the Roskam visit was “organized and conducted by the government of Taiwan, with little to no involvement by the University,” which would make it an impermissible funding source.

Roskam is the Chief Deputy Whip, a top member of the House GOP leadership team. Roskam’s office released documents associated with the investigation and said Roskam has done nothing wrong and got advance permission for the trip. Roskam has retained the law firm of Patton Boggs to represent him and has been paying the firm through his campaign fund.

Interesting that he retained one of the top DC lobbying firms to represent him in this matter.

Also, isn’t 25 grand a whole lot of cash for a single week in Taiwan? Living large.

* More

According to the OCE report on Roskam, the Illinois Republican’s office was contacted in May 2011 by an official for the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office, which is Taiwan’s “de facto” embassy in the United States.

The TECRO official, Gordon Yang, asked whether Roskam was interested in taking part in a congressional delegation traveling to the Asian nation in late June 2011. Under the Mutual Educations and Cultural Exchange Act, foreign governments are allowed to pay for such trips. However, a lawmaker cannot accept travel expenses for a spouse or family member.

According to the OCE report, a Roskam aide told Yang that the Illinois Republican wanted to take his wife to Taiwan with him. Since the Taiwanese government could not cover the cost of Elizabeth Roskam’s expenses, a private sponsor for the trip needed to be found.

On July 19, 2o12, Yang sent Roskam’s office an itinerary for the trip saying it would be sponsored by the Chinese Culture University, located in Taipei. Yang even said he would forward documents saying CCU was the sponsor that could be filed with the Ethics Committee. Yang provided a copy of an official invitation to Roskam from CCU as well, the OCE report states. […]

OCE’s report asserts that “While the Chinese University was identified as the private sponsor of Representative Roskam’s trip, the travel arrangements and itinerary continued to be planned by Taiwanese government officials.”

* This isn’t the first time that the Chinese Culture University has been implicated in a congressional travel scandal

Two days after Christmas last year, Rep. Bill Owens (D-N.Y.) and his wife, Jane, boarded a first-class flight to Taiwan for a four-day tour of the island. Owens and his wife roomed at $500-a-night luxury hotels and enjoyed fine meals between meetings with Taiwanese officials and a day trip to Taipei’s famed National Palace Museum.

The Chinese Culture University in Taiwan had ostensibly invited the congressman and his wife “to promote international cultural exchange.” In fact, lobbyists for Taiwan’s government had organized the trip. Congressional ethics rules prohibit members from participating in most trips arranged by lobbyists.

Although Owens filed a travel disclosure with the House Ethics Committee that identifies the trip’s sponsor as the Culture University, email messages and other documents reviewed by ProPublica show that lobbyists from the New York firm Park Strategies, founded by former New York Sen. Al D’Amato, had invited Owens on the trip and spent four months organizing it.

A rule passed by Congress after the Jack Abramoff scandal states: “Member and staff participation in officially-connected travel that is in any way planned, organized, requested, or arranged by a lobbyist is prohibited.” […]

The Constitution bars gifts from foreign governments to U.S. officials unless Congress specifically authorizes them. But under the MECEA law, the State Department can approve programs to promote culture exchange that are proposed by other countries. Once a program is approved — Taiwan’s was OK’d in 2006 — members of Congress can take a qualifying trip paid by that government.

But Owens’ trip was not paid under MECEA, which strictly applies to programs funded by foreign governments. Instead, a private entity — the Chinese Culture University — was brought in to pay for it. Spouses and other family members are not allowed to go on MECEA trips, and Owens’s wife was to accompany him, emails show.

Like with Roskam, Congressman Owens’ trip was also approved ahead of time. He paid back the cash.

But unlike Roskam, Owens’ trip was apparently arranged by a lobbying firm. The difference here is that Roskam’s trip may have been funded by the Taiwanese government.

* Roskam heatedly denied any wrongdoing

“The trip was vetted and approved by the House Ethics Committee, the body legally authorized to make determinations on Congressional conduct,” Roskam spokesperson Stephanie Kittredge said in a statement. “The OCE is wrong to take issue with the involvement of the Government of Taiwan in planning and conducting the trip, a matter that is routine, allowed under the law, and was known to the House Ethics Committee as they thoroughly vetted and approved the trip.”.

* Important to keep in mind

In a brief statement, the committee said the members “have jointly decided to extend the matter regarding Representative Peter Roskam, which was transmitted to the Committee by the Office of Congressional Ethics on June 13, 2013.”

That office is an independent non-partisan investigative body which works out of public view.The office, established by the House of Representatives, is, “charged with receiving and reviewing allegations of misconduct concerning House Members and staff and, when appropriate, referring matters to the Committeeon Ethics.

The ethics panel statement added, “The Committee notes that the mere fact of a referral or an extension, and the mandatory disclosure of such an extension and the name of the subject of the matter, does not itself indicate that any violation has occurred, or reflect any judgment on behalf of the Committee.

* And he still has Speaker Boehner’s confidence

When asked if Speaker Boehner was comfortable with Congressman Roskam continuing as Chief Deputy Whip while under investigation, Boehner’s spokeman, Michael Steel replied “of course.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   15 Comments      


Quinn setbacks

Tuesday, Jul 30, 2013

* Kurt Erickson reports

Gov. Pat Quinn’s push to close the Warren G. Murray Developmental Center in Centralia took another step back Monday.

Clinton County Judge Dennis Middendorff ruled that no wards of the state currently housed at the center can be transferred to other facilities or smaller, group homes until further hearings are held.

The ruling comes after a separate federal court ruling earlier this month barred the administration from transferring residents with private guardians while the matter is being litigated.

The Friends of Murray Center, consisting of parents of residents at the facility, is suing to stop the governor from moving forward with the closure of Murray and the dispersal of 270-plus residents.

Quinn announced last year he wanted to close Murray in October 2013. He was successful in shuttering the Jacksonville Developmental Center earlier this year.

* Meanwhile

The biggest plank in a 2012 law designed to save the state $1.6 billion a year and help shore up Illinois’ Medicaid program was a strengthened effort to remove ineligible people from the rolls.

The future and effectiveness of that effort, however, remain in doubt after an arbitrator’s ruling that orders the state to cancel its contract with the governmental consulting company Maximus by the end of December.

The administration of Gov. Pat Quinn hasn’t decided yet whether to appeal arbitrator Edwin Benn’s ruling or hire the estimated 100 additional state workers who would be needed to completely take over the work Maximus has done since January.

Um, y’all might want to make a decision soon. Just sayin…

* Other stuff…

* South Loop land deals at the corner of business and politics: The company and its executives have been regular supporters of Quinn, who appoints members to McPier’s board. The company has contributed more than $35,000 to the governor’s campaign fund, including twice picking up the tab for food and beverage expenses likely tied to fundraisers.

* OfficeMax tax debate so far not like Sears: State Rep. Barbara Flynn Currie, a Chicago Democrat and House Speaker Michael Madigan’s No. 2, said there’s no agreed-to way to move forward. “There is no clear plan at this point,” she said.

* A Chicago privatization deal that doesn’t suck

* Lawmakers, Advocacy Groups To Hold Hearings On Sexual Abuse in IL Juvenile Detention Centers

- Posted by Rich Miller   7 Comments      


Now, hey you, mister, can’t you read?

Tuesday, Jul 30, 2013

* A recent Tribune photo

Cutline

Diners pass a NO WEAPONS sign at Keefer’s Restaurant on the Near North Side. “I just don’t think alcohol and guns go together,” said Glenn Keefer, managing partner of the restaurant and a supporter of the Second Amendment.

* Wait a second. Didn’t Glenn Keefer say a few days ago that signs won’t work? Why, yes, he did

Glenn Keefer, managing partner of Keefer’s Restaurant at 20 W. Kinzie in the River North neighborhood, said a provision in the current law for restaurants to post signs that guns are unwelcome won’t work.

The existing bill’s language, which Quinn said comes straight from the National Rifle Association-endorsed concealed carry law in Texas, allows concealed-carry weapons in bars and restaurants whose alcohol sales are less than 50 percent of their gross receipts. The existing bill lets those restaurants put up signs saying guns are unwelcome, while establishments with greater than 50-percent alcohol sales are required to post such signs.

“After more than 40 years in the bar and restaurant business, I can tell you that signs do not work,” Keefer said, noting that he took down his own restaurant’s sign asking men to take off their hats while dining because it was ignored.

Signs definitely don’t work, Keefer says, but even though the concealed carry law hasn’t even kicked in yet and no official signs have yet been issued, Keefer is already posting signs?

Huh?

* Along these same lines, the Senate Democrats have posted a handy concealed carry FAQ. From the list

8. Where am I not allowed to carry a firearm?

    • Schools
    • Preschools and child care facilities
    • Government buildings
    • Courts
    • Correctional facilities
    • Hospitals, mental health facilities and nursing homes
    • Public transportation
    • Establishments where more than 50 percent of sales come from alcohol
    • Public gatherings and other special events open to the public
    • Any building that has received a Special Event Retailer’s license
    • Public playgrounds
    • Public parks or athletic facilities
    • The Cook County Forest Preserve District
    • Colleges and universities
    • Gaming facilities
    • Stadiums
    • Libraries
    • Airports
    • Amusement parks, zoos and museums
    • Nuclear energy facilities
    • Places where guns are already prohibited by federal law
    • Businesses where a sign is posted indicating that the owner does not allow guns on the property
    • Someone else’s private residence, unless you have the owner’s permission

The “50 percent” rule on liquor sales has always been a curiosity to me. Here’s the statutory language

Any building, real property, and parking area under the control of an establishment that serves alcohol on its premises, if more than 50% of the establishment’s gross receipts within the prior 3 months is from the sale of alcohol. The owner of an establishment who knowingly fails to prohibit concealed firearms on its premises as provided in this paragraph or who knowingly makes a false statement or record to avoid the prohibition on concealed firearms under this paragraph is subject to the penalty under subsection (c-5) of Section 10-1 of the Liquor Control Act of 1934.

Notice anything missing? Who’s auditing these percentages? It appears nobody.

* And punishment is not exactly intense. Subsection (c-5) of Section 10-1 of the Liquor Control Act of 1934

Any owner of an establishment that serves alcohol on its premises, if more than 50% of the establishment’s gross receipts within the prior 3 months is from the sale of alcohol, who knowingly fails to prohibit concealed firearms on its premises or who knowingly makes a false statement or record to avoid the prohibition of concealed firearms on its premises under the Firearm Concealed Carry Act shall be guilty of a business offense with a fine up to $5,000.

Discuss.

- Posted by Rich Miller   42 Comments      


“Exploratory” bid now a “real” bid

Tuesday, Jul 30, 2013

* Sun-Times

Bill Daley says he is finished exploring.

His campaign tells the Chicago Sun-Times that on Tuesday morning it will file papers with the Illinois State Board of Elections that “tears the exploratory label” off his committee.

Of course, he’s the one who put it there in the first place.

Nonetheless, Daley wants to convey that he’s not waffling; he’s committed to running for governor. That’s an important signal to send now after many donors are still reeling over Lisa Madigan’s flirtation with a run that ended up going nowhere. And Daley has a reputation for teasing about public office but never pulling the trigger.

Gov. Pat Quinn has said he will run for reelection. But the withdrawal of Madigan — whom Daley considered his biggest threat — gives the former White House Chief of Staff a much greater edge.

Yes, he has a better shot since Madigan dropped out, but I’m still not totally clear on his path to victory here.

- Posted by Rich Miller   33 Comments      


*** UPDATED x1 - It’s a drive-around *** Simon fly-around tomorrow

Tuesday, Jul 30, 2013

*** UPDATE *** From Simon’s campaign manager…

I just wanted to clarify that Sheila won’t be flying around the state tomorrow. She’ll be driving, in her own car, at her own expense.

[ *** End Of Update *** ]

* It’ll be interesting to see if she attracts much of a crowd at these stops

Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon will announce her plans for the 2014 campaign season Wednesday during a day-long fly-around starting in Chicago and ending in her hometown of Carbondale.

The Democrat hasn’t confirmed she’s looking at a bid for comptroller, but a campaign aide earlier said she has expressed interest in the office currently held by Republican Judy Baar Topinka. […]

Topinka has a wide fundraising edge, with $805,000 in her campaign account as of July 1. Simon had $272,000.

* Her campaign website at this moment is just a splash page.

* From a campaign e-mail…

I will be announcing some very exciting news about the next step in my campaign on Wednesday, July 31. We will be visiting Chicago, Springfield, and ending the day in my hometown of Carbondale. If you would like to come out and show your support at one of these events it would be great to see you! Here are the details:

Chicago – 10:00AM
Hotel Allegro
Cinema Room 1, 3rd Floor
171 W. Randolph St.
Chicago, IL

Springfield – 3:00PM
Cafe Moxo
411 E. Adams St.
Springfield, IL

Carbondale – 8:00PM
Carbondale Civic Center
200 S. Illinois Ave.
Carbondale, IL

* From a May 6th Capitol Fax/We Ask America poll

Topinka leads Democratic Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon 45-38.

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