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A black mark on apparent success

Tuesday, Aug 27, 2013 - Posted by Rich Miller

* From the AP

After shutting down all early-out programs for three years, a revised, stricter plan was approved by Quinn and lawmakers last spring that overall appears to be less problematic. Records analyzed by the AP show that since March, more than 1,600 inmates have been let go up to six months early, and only 20 have been returned to prison for violating parole — just over 1 percent.

* But one of those early parolees may have committed a murder

The suspect in the recent fatal shooting of a Decatur man was released from an Illinois prison five months early as part of a revamped out-for-good-behavior prisons program, according to records reviewed by The Associated Press.

Joshua A. Jones served 19 months of a four-year sentence for drug-dealing and left the state prison in Vandalia May 3. Jones is now in Macon County Jail charged with murder in the Aug. 17 shooting death of 22-year-old Marvin E. Perry in Decatur — three months before his original release date.

The case is a potential embarrassment for Gov. Pat Quinn and the Department of Corrections under the revamped early-release program, just three years after the governor struggled to win the 2010 election following a scandal involving the early release of more than 1,700 inmates within weeks or even days of arriving at prison. The AP reported at the time that they included hundreds of prisoners convicted of violent crimes or with violent histories.

* Background on Jones from the Decatur paper

Jones has had three felony cases, including two involving firearms, in the past eight years.

He received his four-year sentence on Dec. 10, 2012, after pleading guilty to charges of dealing cocaine and heroin. In that case, he was arrested after police received a report of a man with a handgun near the intersection of Main and Hilton streets on Oct. 3, 2011. When officers arrived, Jones reportedly ran from them while holding a semiautomatic handgun. When he was booked into the jail, a bag was recovered from his rear end containing 18 crack cocaine rocks and 25 heroin rocks.

Felony charges of armed violence were dropped as part of a plea deal. With credit for time served awaiting trial and day-for-day prison credit for good behavior, Jones was released May 3.

In 2009, Jones was charged with felony aggravated unlawful use of a weapon for carrying a handgun in a vehicle. As part of a plea agreement, he received 18 months conditional discharge, a lighter form of probation, and his charge was reduced to a misdemeanor.

* How it went down

Perry was shot to death about 9:30 p.m. Aug. 15 in the 1200 block of North Union Street, as he stood near his girlfriend’s home. There were many people in the vicinity at the time, including some who were involved in a verbal altercation. The victim was apparently briefly engaged in the argument before he was fatally shot in the chest.


Fahner blasts Poe

Tuesday, Aug 27, 2013 - Posted by Rich Miller

* The Civic Committee’s Ty Fahner has come out from under a rock to blast the possible election of Rep. Raymond Poe as House GOP Leader

“Poe’s selection as leader would be another reason why employers large and small would think it prudent for those companies and shareholders to look for a less hostile business climate,” said Mr. Fahner, noting that Mr. Poe favors only the relatively modest plan that was bargained with state unions by Senate President John Cullerton, rather than the much deeper cuts that Mr. Cross has supported.

Then came the knife. “Any member who supports Poe can expect little or no financial support (from business) going forward given the critical need for meaningful pension reform and Poe’s public opposition to it.”

Subtle. As is another comment from Mr. Fahner: “Poe has taken a very substantial amount of money from all of the public employee unions. . . .I guess his leadership would not be overly concerned with the interests of the roughly 95 percent of the people in Illinois who are not public employees.”



Pat Brady to lobby for gay marriage

Tuesday, Aug 27, 2013 - Posted by Rich Miller

* From WBEZ

The American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois has hired former state Republican Party Chairman Pat Brady to lobby for a same-sex marriage bill in Springfield, months after his own support of gay marriage sparked a controversy that led to his resignation.

The ACLU confirmed Tuesday that it has hired Next Generation Public Affairs, the lobbying and public relations firm Brady co-founded after he left his party job in May.

“I think the very core of the conservative movement, which I consider myself a part of, is application of equality under the law for all,” Brady said Tuesday in an interview with WBEZ.

Brady will focus on lobbying House Republicans in hopes of getting the same-sex marriage bill passed during this fall’s veto session, he said. He’ll also tap the political donors he cultivated during his four years as party chairman to raise money for groups that support gay marriage, and for Republican lawmakers who may be hesitant to cast a yes vote, fearing a challenge in next year’s primary.

Brady’s hiring comes after the ACLU launched a $10 million national push in June, aimed at winning support for same-sex marriage from Republican lawmakers and voters in a handful of states, including Illinois.

Steve Schmidt, a GOP strategist who was formerly a top advisor to Arizona U.S. Sen. John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign, is heading up the national effort.

It’s probably not a bad hire at all, particularly if he follows through on the fundraising aspect. That alone could make him more effective than he was as chairman, when he couldn’t convince more than one Senate Republican and two House Republicans to vote for gay marriage. Brady also wasn’t the only Republican operative pushing gay marriage in Illinois last spring. Aside from Sen. Mark Kirk, some highly experienced and capable GOP lobbyists were also on board. They didn’t have much success.

I have no evidence yet, but I figure Tom Cross might decide to be a “Yes” vote now that he’s stepping aside as House GOP Leader. But that won’t have anything to do with lobbying. It’ll be about the fall campaign.


Protected: SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Another HGOP leadership update

Tuesday, Aug 27, 2013 - Posted by Rich Miller

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Question of the day

Tuesday, Aug 27, 2013 - Posted by Rich Miller

* From Tedd McClelland

Some time next spring, Michael Madigan will become the longest-serving state House Speaker in American history.

The current record is held by Thomas Bailey Murphy, who ruled the Georgia House of Representatives for 29 years, from 1973 to 2002.

First elected speaker in 1982, Madigan has held the job for all but two years — 1995 and 1996, when Lee Daniels sneaked in, as a beneficiary of Newt Gingrich’s “Republican Revolution.” Madigan long ago eclipsed the Illinois record of 11 years, held by Republican David Shanahan, who served from 1915-21, 1923-25 and 1929-32. […]

Madigan has a few things in common with Murphy. Both reigned as political bosses whose style was formed in an earlier period in their state’s history. In Murphy’s case, it was an era when rural courthouse gangs dominated Georgia politics. In Madigan’s case, it’s been the Democratic machine that reached its maximum effectiveness under his first patron, Mayor Richard J. Daley.

According to the New Georgia Encyclopedia, Murphy “could with the nod of his head make or break legislation.”

* Reboot Illinois has a list of the top ten longest-serving Illinois legislators

* The Question: Do you support term limits for state legislators? Bonus Question: Do you support term limits for the four top legislative leaders? Take the polls and then explain your answers in comments, please.

survey services



A cautionary tale

Tuesday, Aug 27, 2013 - Posted by Rich Miller

* I was visiting a good friend’s office yesterday and accidentally left my mobile phone behind. I was sitting at a stop light in front of her office building listening to some loud tunes on the radio when my passenger door suddenly opened. The next thing I knew, there was a smiling person pointing my phone at me.

Needless to say, I was startled out of my mind, although I eventually managed a big smile and a “Thank you!” to my friend.

As I drove away, the incident got me to thinking. Even if I had a concealed carry permit, it wouldn’t have done me much good if my friend had been a carjacker. No way did I have enough time to react, let alone respond. I didn’t see her walk up to my vehicle. If she’d been a carjacker, my truck would’ve been gone, along with my gun.

Your response might be, “Well, you were in a ’safe’ area, so there was no need to be on your guard.” I’d point to the horrible murder of Sen. Napoleon Harris’ brother-in-law in a pretty safe South Loop neighborhood this summer. The family said they believed it was a carjacking.

* All I’m saying here is that I doubt most criminals are stupid enough to come at you from the front and give you time to respond. Predators try to take advantage. So, as someone who is himself planning to get a concealed carry permit once they’re available, I’m under no illusions that I’ll be all that much safer.

And God help me if I had overreacted and shot my extraordinarily helpful friend. I don’t want to even think about that. I wasn’t carrying yesterday, of course, because I don’t have a permit. But one day I may be.


New play to debut about Stu Levine

Tuesday, Aug 27, 2013 - Posted by Rich Miller

* From a press release…

During the federal investigation of former Governor Rod Blagojevich, one of the biggest stories became the unsavory life of political insider and star government witness, Stuart Levine. As the judge said at Levine’s sentencing: “you are certainly one of the most corrupt individuals this district has ever seen.”

The tawdry and salacious headlines about Levine - bribes, kickbacks, sex, drugs, and E-cigarettes - grabbed the attention of actor and writer Tim Touhy, a native Chicagoan and lifelong political junkie. Touhy also worked as a senior communications staffer for the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office and a former Governor of Illinois (Republican Jim Edgar). Using court transcripts, news articles and group devising techniques, Touhy and The Agency’s Artistic Director, Andrew Gallant, put together this ground-breaking work.

“This is not the story of how the feds caught up with Rod Blagojevich; frankly, who cares anymore,” said Touhy. “This is a story of how one man yanked the business-as-usual politics of Chicago and Illinois out from behind the curtain and put them on display for the world to see.”

“I Wish to Apologize to the People of Illinois” is the name of the play. It premieres at Collaboraction’s Pentagon Theatre in the Flat Iron Arts Building, 1579 N. Milwaukee…

Previews Oct. 31 - Nov. 3; press opening Nov 7; runs Nov. 8 - Dec. 8. Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays at 7:30 PM; Sunday matinees at 3 PM.

Maybe we should do a group outing? Some of you may remember that I once held a party at the “How the Blagojegrinch Stole Christmas” play a few years back.


Grogan to announce this afternoon

Tuesday, Aug 27, 2013 - Posted by Rich Miller

* From a press release…

DuPage County Auditor Bob Grogran will hold a press conference to formally announce his candidacy for Illinois State Treasurer on Tuesday, August 27, in Du Quoin. Grogran (R) would be the first CPA to serve as State Treasurer.

What: Bob Grogan press conference, announcing for State Treasurer
Date: Tuesday, August 27th
When: 4 p.m.
Where: Republican Tent, Du Quoin State Fair, Du Quoin, IL

Notice the misspelling of his own name. Oops.

* Shall we welcome him to the race with a caption contest? From Grogan’s Facebook page


Dillard promises to appoint conservative advisory committee, wants “second gas tax” instead of casinos

Tuesday, Aug 27, 2013 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Illinois Review has an interesting roundup of the weekend’s “Conservative Summit,” which picked state Sen. Kirk Dillard as their guy for governor

Dillard promised the group conservatives would have unprecedented access to him, and that he would appoint, and regularly meet with, a committee of conservatives to strategize on public policy.

* But he also created an opening for anti-tax candidate Bruce Rauner

When asked about gambling expansion, [Dillard] said he would try and pair down the number of casinos, preferring a second gas tax rather than gambling expansion to fund roads.

* And what about that Obama TV ad? It’ll help him in the general, Dillard said

As to the 2008 ad he did praising Barack Obama, Dillard told the attendees he has never supported Obama, but that the ad does give him some credibility in the Black community.


Protected: SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Follow-up on HGOP Leader election

Tuesday, Aug 27, 2013 - Posted by Rich Miller

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Union coalition blasts pension reform outline

Tuesday, Aug 27, 2013 - Posted by Rich Miller

* From a We Are One Illinois press release…

“Published reports suggest the legislative conference committee on pension reform is ready to rehash the same unfair, unconstitutional attacks on retirement security.

“Particularly harmful is the committee’s threat to delay and sharply reduce the cost-of-living adjustment that protects retirees from inflation. Research shows that a COLA cut to half the rate of inflation slashes the benefit earned by a retiree just as deeply as the drastic Senate Bill 1 that was twice rejected in the Senate.

“Teachers, police, nurses, caregivers and hundreds of thousands more working and retired public servants earned their pension, never missed a payment, and in most cases aren’t eligible for Social Security. They deserve better from the conferees. So does the Illinois Constitution, which lawmakers are sworn to uphold and which provisions of the committee’s outline would directly violate.

“We urge conferees and all legislators to abandon unconstitutional cuts and focus on Senate Bill 2404, a compromise pension solution that maintains basic fairness, saves nearly $140 billion and has majority support in both the Senate and House.”

The research referenced in the statement is here. Over twenty years, the half-CPI proposal would reduce SERS pension benefits by 25.4 percent, according to the study.

…Adding… Tribune

The Teachers’ Retirement System, which covers 700,000 working and retired teachers outside Chicago, downgraded its estimated savings from the Madigan plan by about $24.5 billion. That cuts the estimated overall savings for the Madigan plan to $163.2 billion.


Democratic Rep. Elaine Nekritz of Northbrook, Madigan’s pension leader, also cautioned that the elements that have surfaced don’t represent a deal.

“No one said ‘yes,’ but no one said ‘no’ either,” Nekritz said about the overall “package or on individual components.”


* Reader comments closed for the weekend
* New laws (Updated)
* SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Campaign update: Circling the wagons
* Isabel's afternoon roundup
* Southern Illinoisan newspaper journalists say goodbye to their community after new owner fires all employees
* Report examines Illinois women’s political power
* Proposal to save suburban, Chicago public transit transit includes tax on services, parking and raising RTA sales tax
* AG Raoul, others file antitrust lawsuit against NCAA
* Question of the day: 2023 Golden Horseshoe Awards
* SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Supplement to today's edition
* SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Today's edition of Capitol Fax (use all CAPS in password)
* Open thread
* Isabel’s morning briefing
* Live Ed Burke Trial Coverage
* Live coverage
* Yesterday's stories

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