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Mike Bost’s greatest hits

Monday, Jul 29, 2013 - Posted by Rich Miller

* The Democrats have compiled a mix tape of GOP state Rep. Mike Bost’s House floor outbursts. Bost, you already know, has announced a run for Congress. Have a look

* Southern Illinois Democratic Women’s Barb Brown announced the video via e-mail today…

Today GOP extremist Mike Bost announced that he is running for Congress. I hoped that this wasn’t going to happen, because when I think about Washington and all that is broken, I think about Bost.

This shocking new video that shows a compilation of meltdowns Bost had in the Springfield Statehouse pretty much sums up why. Time and time again, he would rather scream at his opponents and those who disagree with him. That is why I wanted you to be the first to see this video so that you could get to know what Mike Bost is really like.

I’m not so sure. His anger may play well. We’ll see.

* In other campaign-related news, Crain’s has an interesting story about David Axelrod’s former firm AKPD

David Axelrod is not an easy name to replace in Democratic politics. That’s especially true for the political consulting firm whose name starts with his initial: AKPD Message & Media LLC.

But now it’s Larry Grisolano’s turn to put his stamp on the Chicago-based partnership, after it has spent the past four years focusing almost exclusively on its most important client, President Barack Obama.

Mr. Axelrod, the former Chicago Tribune political editor who founded AKPD and became one of Mr. Obama’s most trusted advisers, was known as a word slinger and message guru. Mr. Grisolano, on the other hand, has a reputation as a master of digital advertising and micro-targeting, having served as the Obama campaign’s director of paid media for both the 2008 and 2012 campaigns.

While insisting he’s not trying to “sell the Obama fairy dust,” Mr. Grisolano is trying to position AKPD as the go-to shop for the data-driven political ad strategy that the Obama campaign made famous. “There are plenty of people in the commercial and political space that are basically riding on how things have always been done,” he says, “and what I think distinguishes us (is) we are embracing the change.”

* Other stuff…

* VIDEO: Walsh: Boehner and Illinois delegation want me to stay away from Washington

* Would Bill Daley Be Governor 1 Percent?

* Secretary of State Jesse White questions voter policies

* Desire for facts drives UI professor Gollin to Congress

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New stuff

Monday, Jul 29, 2013 - Posted by Rich Miller

* From my Twitter page

The old ScribbleLive feeds were causing problems on iPhones, IPads, etc. because they messed up the site’s rendering. The new ScribbleLive widgets won’t do that. But they’ll continue updating in real time, so, as before, there’s no need to refresh to watch those particular widgets do their magic.

* I added four ScribbleLive widgets. One for the Statehouse and one for breaking news are updates from before. I figured out how to add far more Twitter accounts, so lots more people/entities can be followed here.

One of the new feeds is for statewide/congressional candidates. I’ll update that list as more candidates begin Tweeting. The other new feed is for state legislators. There are close to 70 state legislative Twitter accounts, but not everyone actively Tweets.

* The feeds are limited to the ten most recent items, and they won’t display posted photos, but you can click the icon above an individual feed to see the whole thing.

All this adds up to even more reasons to visit during the day and even around the clock. Heck, you should probably keep your browser sitting here all the time.

* One day, maybe later this summer or in the fall, I hope to do a much-needed site revamp. But it won’t be a radical failure like the last one. I promise. It does need to be cleaned up, though, and I’ll get to it.

* Also, stay tuned for a new General Assembly iPhone app that I created with a national company. It’s done, I just haven’t rolled it out yet. Soon.

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Now, that would’ve been something to see

Monday, Jul 29, 2013 - Posted by Rich Miller

* The RTA deferred action on a little-noticed item at its July 17th meeting which focused primarily on allegations of clout at Metra

At that same meeting, the RTA had been set to award a consulting contract for as much as $120,000 to Compass Public Affairs LLC, a politically connected Chicago firm whose owners include Mike Noonan, a former top legislative aide to Madigan. In his bio on his firm’s website, Noonan also boasts of his campaign work for the speaker’s daughter, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, saying he is “proud of his job as Lisa Madigan’s campaign manager, helping Lisa become the first female Illinois attorney general.”

Despite the RTA staff having recommended hiring Compass to develop a suicide-awareness and prevention program aimed at reducing the number of suicides involving commuter trains, chairman John Gates Jr. pulled the contract from the RTA board’s July 17 agenda days before the meeting. He says the delay was over concerns about the contract and that it had “nothing to do with the speaker.”

“We believe it deserved much more thorough consideration and benchmarking against similar programs in other jurisdictions,” says Gates, whose agency employs Michael Madigan’s son-in-law Jordan Matyas as a top administrator.

Joe Costello, the RTA’s executive director, says clout also wasn’t a factor in recommending that Compass be given the contract.

“It’s on the merits,” says Costello.

Steve Brown, spokesman for the speaker, echoes that, noting that the RTA chose Compass after going through competitive bidding. […]

There have been 11 deaths this year involving Metra commuter trains: nine believed to be suicides and two accidental, says Metra spokesman Michael Gillis. In 2012, of 29 deaths involving Metra trains, “Sixteen were apparently intentional or intentional, 10 were accidents, and three were not clear,” Gillis says.

That really would’ve been something had the RTA actually gone through with the contract at that meeting.

* From a Bill Daley press release…

“The fact is, were it not for the Metra scandal drawing attention to waste in our public transit agencies, the RTA was ready to give a six figure contract to a political insider. It’s just another reason to get rid of the RTA.”

A Daley talking about insider contracts? That’s kinda rich.

* Meanwhile

Metra Board members already have racked up more than a quarter million dollars in legal fees trying to address the mess created by their ex-CEO’s charges that he was subjected to political arm-twisting.

Throw in Alex Clifford’s hefty “separation agreement’’ of up to $718,000; the $75,000 in Clifford’s legal fees, which Metra promised to cover, and $18,000 in “crisis-strategy” fees through June 30 and the taxpayer tab is more than $1 million — and counting, the Chicago Sun-Times has learned.

Who’s getting what

Heavily redacted documents obtained by the Sun-Times under a Freedom of Information Act request and information from a Metra spokesman indicate that as the drama unfolded Metra turned to these firms for help:

† The law firm of Johnston Greene, which represented board members through the crisis.

† The law firm of Laner Muchin, whose attorney, Joe Gagliardo, represented Metra during what Gagliardo described as a 12-hour May 15 mediation and spoke for the board and Metra at public hearings.

† Former Downstate U.S. Attorney Rodger Heaton, a partner and an associcate — all at Hinshaw & Culbertson — asked by the Metra Board to investigate Clifford’s allegations of patronage pressure. So far, Metra officials say, Heaton has found nothing illegal.

† Dennis Culloton and the public relations/crisis strategy firm Culloton Strategies, which has been billing for work since April 9.

Early on, the Metra Board turned to Culloton, a former spokesman for Gov. George Ryan, even though Metra has an ongoing $500,000 contract through February 2015 with Mack Communications for “media relations” in “crisis situations,” as well as its own full-time media relations staff.

Heaton was a George W. Bush appointee. Mack Communications also works for Kirk Dillard’s campaign. The other guys appear to be Democrats.

* The transit agencies have always been political entitites. Pat Durante, a Republican township committeeman in DuPage, sits on the RTA board. So does Al Jourdan, the former McHenry County Republican Party Chairman. Don Totten, who used to run the Schaumburg Township GOP, is an RTA member.

Over on Metra, there’s Jack Schaffer, a former GOP state Senator from McHenry County. Metra board member Arlene Mulder is the former mayor of Arlington Heights, and Bill Widmer is a prominent labor attorney. And etc.

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Judge tosses gun lawsuit

Monday, Jul 29, 2013 - Posted by Rich Miller

* From the Associated Press

A federal judge is rejecting a legal bid by gun-rights advocates who wanted people to be able to immediately carry firearms in Illinois under the state’s new concealed carry law.

East St. Louis U.S. District Judge William Stiehl threw out the lawsuit filed by Mary Shepard and the Illinois State Rifle Association, siding with the state and saying the legal action is moot.

Shepard and the rifle group had argued it was unconstitutional to make people wait for the permit process to be outlined under the new concealed carry law that lawmakers passed July 9.

This is not a surprise. The 7th Circuit set a deadline for the enactment of a new law, not its actual implementation.

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Question of the day

Monday, Jul 29, 2013 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Former US House Speaker Newt Gingrich posed for a picture with Republican gubernatorial candidate Kirk Dillard the other day. From Dillard’s Twitter page

* The Question: Caption?

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One attacked from the right, another attacked from the left

Monday, Jul 29, 2013 - Posted by Rich Miller

* We have two anonymously registered websites to look at today. The first is, which has some opposition research on Senger’s tax hike record…

Some of it is kind of a stretch, but go check it out.

* Senger announced a bid for Congress today against Bill Foster. From a press release…

When elected to Congress, Senger said she will focus on creating more good paying jobs here at home, reducing government waste, and protecting Social Security 100%, all while improving educational opportunities.

“We are fortunate to have the potential for a world-class technology corridor in our community, and we should be providing an environment in which our manufacturing sector can grow and expand, but only if we stop politicians and bureaucrats from over-regulating, over-taxing and just flat out killing new jobs here at home,” said Senger. “We can become one of the most economically innovative and diverse regions in the nation but only if we all work together to change the nonsense coming out of Washington.”

As a State Representative, Darlene Senger has earned accolades for her work to hold the line on taxes and promote job creation in Illinois. Recently, the Illinois Chamber of Commerce awarded Darlene with their “Champion of Free Enterprise” Award for her legislative work to encourage job creation and economic expansion in Illinois and the National Federation of Independent Business honored Senger with their ‘Guardian of Small Business Award’ for her efforts to help small businesses in Illinois expand and succeed. Senger was also integral to the effort bring Navistar to Lisle, creating new jobs in our area.

Senger is also known as one of the top fiscal watchdogs in Springfield, working to curb pension abuse and corruption while finding a fair solution to stabilizing the state’s teetering public pension fund.

* From her blog

In a poll conducted by Harper Polling, only 27% of the voters in the 11th District approve of Bill Foster’s job performance and even fewer voters believe he deserves to be re-elected.

75% of voters are saying no to Bill Foster!! In fact, only 25% say he should be re-elected to his fourth term in Congress.

If you agree with 75% your neighbors, join the fight to replace Bill Foster in Congress. Sign up today to help Darlene Senger bring common sense solutions to Washington as your new congresswoman.

Because even if only 25% want Bill Foster back, Nancy Pelosi and her far left Democrat special interest cronies will be backing Bill Foster 100%.

That’s kinda misleading. Her own poll reportedly shows her trailing Foster by nine points, and subscribers know even more

* And then there’s this e-mail…

Congresswoman Cheri Bustos Targeted In 17th District Primary:

US Congresswoman Cheri Bustos is out of step with voters in the 17th District, and could be vulnerable to a challenge in next year’s Democratic primary according to a new scoring system.

The group ‘Primary Colors’ released a website Monday teasing “primary scores” for 58 House Democrats. Congresswoman Bustos received a score of 9, out of a possible 10, putting her near the top of the priority list for replacement.

The group’s scores were determined by an algorithm which compared Congresswoman Bustos’s voting record to other Democratic members of Congress who represent districts with a similar political lean.

“Illinois’s 17th District is seven points more Democratic than the median House district,” said Jon Geeting, co-founder of Primary Colors, “Most members of Congress from districts like the 17th vote progressive approximately 82% of the time. Congresswoman Bustos has only been voting with us about 58% of the time. Democrats shouldn’t be afraid to replace her with a nominee whose voting record will be more in line with the constituents of the 17th district. And when our full-site launches later this summer, we will be on the front-lines of that effort.”

What Is the Purpose of the Primary Colors Scoring System?

Every election season activists have the same debates: to primary or not to primary? Risk-averse campaign professionals wince at the thought of primaries to any sitting Democratic members of Congress, while ideological activists and party interest groups are more enthusiastic about challenging errant Blue Dogs and conservative Democrats.

These debates unfortunately remain one of the last redoubts of hazy gut-based analysis and decision-making in politics, but that’s all about to change. Primary Colors will bring a Moneyball approach to this guessing game, and help progressive activists target their resources on the lowest-value members in the lowest-risk districts.

The e-mail was signed by Jon Geeting and Ryan O’Donnell. Geeting is a lefty East Coast blogger.

No way in heck will Bustos get a credible primary opponent, but whatever.

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The brick wall and another Fahner angle

Monday, Jul 29, 2013 - Posted by Rich Miller

* The Civic Committee of the Commercial Club of Chicago is refusing comment on an apparent admission by its leader Ty Fahner that he and some club members lobbied ratings agencies to lower the state’s bond ratings

An influential group of business executives is declining to comment on the possibility it helped to lower Illinois’ credit rating. But public employees’ unions are calling for an investigation. […]

But so far, there’s been no word of anyone following up on the unions’ calls for an investigation. And the Civic Committee isn’t commenting.

* Meanwhile, our esteemed commenter Wordslinger came up with another angle on this story. Ty Fahner is the former chairman of the Mayer Brown law firm and is currently listed as a partner.

But since September of 2011, Mayer Brown has been overseeing the state’s bond disclosures

With close to $1 million in legal fees on the line, Chicago law firm Mayer Brown LLP beat out 17 other firms to win a hotly coveted job overseeing public disclosures on bond offerings by the state of Illinois over the next two years.

So, Illinois pays Mayer Brown a million bucks for bond work at the same time its former chairman and partner essentially admits that he tried to jaw down the state’s bond rating?

What the heck?

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Legislators qualify for loans to help them survive Quinn veto

Monday, Jul 29, 2013 - Posted by Rich Miller

* I told subscribers about this development last week and WUIS picked it up today. Gov. Pat Quinn’s been hoping to starve out legislators until they pass pension reform by vetoing their salaries, but some now qualify for zero-interest loans on up to half their vetoed paychecks

At least one financial institution - Credit Union 1, based in Rantoul - says it’ll help. President Paul Simons says the credit union will give legislators who are members zero-interest loans worth half their paychecks.

    “Obviously we don’t want to get into the middle of any dispute between the Governor and the legislators, our intent is just to take care of our members.”

Simons says legislators aren’t getting special treatment - the credit union’s done it since the early ’90s, for striking union members, and state employees.

He says it was in place when it looked like state workers wouldn’t get paid in 2007 when a previous General Assembly and Governor were feuding over state spending, though a budget passed before it got to that point.

Legislators who are not Credit Union One members can also apply for loans, but at a much higher rate and with a credit check.

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*** UPDATED x1 - Cole not running *** Bost to announce congressional bid today

Monday, Jul 29, 2013 - Posted by Rich Miller

* GOP State Rep. Mike Bost will make his congressional candidacy official today

Long-time state Rep. Mike Bost will make his 2014 candidacy for Illinois’ 12th congressional district official with a series of announcements Monday.

Bost, R-Murphysboro, a member of the Illinois House since 1995, will make campaign announcements in Belleville, Mount Vernon and Murphysboro.

His local announcement in Murphysboro will be at 6:30 p.m. in the Davis-McCann Civic Center, located at 15 North 14th St. […]

“It’s frustrating to see out of control spending in Washington and watch immigration that is not being dealt with wisely,” he continued. “It’s rough to see when we are losing jobs and have high unemployment…nothing being done.” […]

“I was around when (former president) Jimmy Carter cut the military. That’s why we failed to save the hostages in Iran and get them out of Iran. And we were using equipment at that time we had left over from Vietnam,” Bost said. “That sent a clear message then and it does now we are not a force in readiness and we need to be.”

So, slash the budget except for the military?

* Funny

“Now I really believe that we need a voice in D.C. for southern Illinois, to really speak for southern Illinois in a loud way,” Bost explains.

Bost knows all about the “loud way.” Heh

* He’ll have a primary

Bost will have competition in the Republican primary from Doug Bucshon, an Illinois Army National Guard veteran and former sports journalist.

* Illinois Review

Bost’s announcement opens the way for a House successor next year, and word from the district is Carbondale Mayor Brad Cole as well as former Jackson County state’s attorney GOP candidate Sharee Langenstein may be interested. Neither are expected to announce until after Bost makes his 2014 intentions public.

*** UPDATE *** Mayor Cole sent me an e-mail this morning to say he’s not running for the Bost House seat.

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Behind the scenes on the governor’s veto

Monday, Jul 29, 2013 - Posted by Rich Miller

* My weekly syndicated newspaper column

House Speaker Michael Madigan has always strongly guarded the powers of the General Assembly as a co-equal branch of government, so it was a little surprising when he appeared to support Gov. Pat Quinn’s line-item veto of legislative salaries back in mid July.

The governor vetoed the salaries in retaliation for the GA’s failure to pass a pension reform bill. In a press release the day of the veto, Madigan said he understood the governor’s frustration with the lack of progress, adding, “I am hopeful his strategy works.”

Behind the scenes, though, Madigan is said to be furious with the governor’s veto. Madigan’s legal staff has been meeting with other lawyers to set strategy to either get around the veto or oppose it. So far, they are not finding much in the way of non-court options.

Attorney General Lisa Madigan would have to defend the state in a lawsuit, so she’s reluctant to issue any sort of official opinion. Also, the attorney general long has maintained that checks can’t be cut without an appropriation or a judge’s order, logic that Illinois Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka used last week when she announced she couldn’t issue paychecks. And since the veto means there is no appropriation, a legal opinion wouldn’t give the comptroller any actual authority to cut the paychecks anyway.

The governor vetoed the individual salary lines (base House salaries and base Senate salaries, for instance), but didn’t veto the “total” lines (e.g. base House and Senate salaries combined). Could that be a loophole? Doubtful. An old attorney general opinion essentially ruled that the “total” lines aren’t actual appropriations. But why not go ahead and do it and then force Quinn to sue, some strategists have asked. The comptroller, who strenuously opposes the Quinn veto, reportedly refused because several lawyers involved with the discussions strongly opposed the idea.

So that could leave a court challenge by legislators, which may have been filed by the time you read this. The lawyers appear to have ruled out filing the case in Springfield, mainly because they don’t trust the Republican-leaning appellate district.

But a lawsuit would be a last resort. Obviously, such a challenge would be roundly attacked by the media and probably by a lot of Republicans as cowardly. Why not just pass a pension reform bill and then override the veto later?

Quinn’s legislative team has assured top Democrats that he would, of course, not oppose an override if pension reform is passed. But Senate President John Cullerton, for one, reportedly doesn’t want to give Quinn the ability to claim such a victory. And both he and Speaker Madigan are reportedly loathe to allow this veto to set a precedent.

What if, for instance, Quinn vetoes salaries again to prod the General Assembly to make the income tax hike permanent?

Or, what if Bruce Rauner is elected? The Republican gubernatorial candidate has pledged to wage an all-out war with Springfield’s entrenched interests, privately telling some House Republicans earlier this year that he would “bring Madigan to his knees.” So allowing him this veto power would set up a near certain annual battle.

State Sen. Kirk Dillard, another Republican gubernatorial candidate, has said he approves of Quinn’s veto. If Dillard is elected, would he use a similar action to force passage of what he considers to be a balanced budget, as he has implied?

And even though the legislative leaders, Topinka and even, reportedly, the attorney general all seem to be in agreement that the governor’s veto is blatantly unconstitutional, what if they lose in court? The veto was an unprecedented move, so nobody is absolutely certain that a court would rule in their favor.

Because the veto hasn’t yet been overridden, is it “ripe” enough for a court case? Or can they make the argument that their individual salaries are constitutionally guaranteed and set in statute and, therefore, they shouldn’t have to muster a three-fifths majority to receive them? Nobody really knows the answer.

A favorable court ruling, even a temporary one, could allow pension reform to move forward, top Democratic sources say. Again, the leaders are loathe to do anything unless and until they come up with a new pension reform plan, so even a temporary order to issue the checks might do the trick.

* Meanwhile, an op-ed by Michael J. Hayes has been published by several newspapers. An excerpt

In opining about the governor’s actions, some have pointed to a provision of the Illinois Constitution that prohibits changes to General Assembly salaries that would take effect during a member’s current term. Ironically, this section of the Constitution was intended by the 1970 Constitutional Convention to prevent legislators from giving themselves immediate pay raises.

But the governor’s action neither triggered nor violated this section of the Constitution. Acting within his authority to veto appropriations in whole or in part, the governor did not attempt to change the salaries nor did he try to alter the pay structure of the legislative salaries. Quinn simply exercised his ability to temporarily suspend payment to the General Assembly by vetoing that line item. The salary numbers established and set into law remain unchanged and in place.

The veto did not “temporarily suspend payment.” That argument assumes the veto will eventually be overridden. It may not be. A veto can also be permanent.

The argument also ignores the very real probability that the eventual lawsuit may not even be filed against Quinn. It could very well be filed against Comptroller Topinka, to demand payment of a constitutionally guaranteed salary.

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* Pritzker signs unemployment insurance agreement into law
* Respiratory viruses leading to highest hospital bed usage since January, but ICUs not yet flooded
* Unfunded pension liability rose, but state payments still scheduled to fall slightly
* Afternoon news roundup
* Sen. Bennett hospitalized
* Poll: Large majorities of Illinoisans support assault weapons ban, increasing FOID card age to 21
* Stop pointing fingers and do better now
* Question of the day: 2022 Golden Horseshoe Awards
* Local elections news coverage roundup
* Republican state central committee member says Gay Pride tree is a "sex tree," calls Black legislators "idiots"
* GOP pollster: "The Republican strategy of screaming 'the sky is falling' and 'all is lost' is clearly not working"
* Rate the new Lightfoot TV ad
* State's attorney says he may drop out of lawsuit challenging SAFE-T Act
* Morning briefing
* Open thread
* Live Coverage
* Yesterday's stories

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