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Reader comments closed for Thanksgiving

Wednesday, Nov 27, 2013

* I just want to say one more time how thankful I am for all of your contributions to our tornado relief effort. We raised over $10,500 since last Friday. Special thanks to David Yepsen, Dan Egler, Andy Raucci, Gary Saake, Jeff Dixon, Terry Steczo, Vince Persico, Raja Krishnamoorthi, Bob Glaves, “Loop Lady” and everyone else who contributed today.

What a nice kickoff to Thanksgiving.

Of course, if you haven’t yet contributed, or would like to contribute more, just click right here.

* I’ll be back on Monday, but watch the blog Friday for a possible update on pension reform.

* As is our custom, we’ll close out the week with Alice’s Restaurant..

Kid, have you rehabilitated yourself?

- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      

Pension reform deets

Wednesday, Nov 27, 2013

* Greg Hinz has the best details on the pension reform bill of anyone in the mainstream media

Under the proposed new formula, the COLA only would apply to one’s years on the government job, times $1,000. That means, for instance, that a 25-year government veteran would get a 3 percent annual COLA only on the first $25,000 of their pension, even if the total pension was $50,000. That employee would get no COLA on that second 25-grand.

That $1,000 figure would increase with inflation. But insiders say there would still be huge savings because of the portion of one’s pension that would not get a COLA. Those with particularly high pensions would be really zapped; lower-salaried workers, less so.

Subscribers have known about this for quite a while now.

* This isn’t new, either, but won’t please many

In addition, all COLA would be eliminated for one to five years for current state workers (not retirees), depending on their age.

* More

Another savings would come from raising the retirement age. Those workers who are at least 45 years old would see no change. But younger workers would gradually have to work up to five years longer to start receiving their pension. (In some plans, you can retire as young as 58.)

In exchange, workers would contribute 1 percentage point less of their salary toward their retirement than what they pay now.


- Posted by Rich Miller   18 Comments      

Protected: SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Clearing up some contradictions

Wednesday, Nov 27, 2013

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A few things to ponder

Wednesday, Nov 27, 2013

* As I told you earlier, Senate President John Cullerton visited Quincy this week, which is in Sen. John Sullivan’s district

Sullivan and Cullerton described the differences between their Senate districts to the QU students. Sullivan has the largest geographic district in the state Senate with about 6,000 square miles in it. Cullerton’s district is one of the smallest, with about eight square miles, including Wrigley Field.

Both men have about 220,000 residents in their districts.

Sullivan’s district is larger than three US States - Connecticut (5,543 square miles), Delaware (2,489 square miles) and Rhode Island (1,545 square miles).

Bruce Rauner’s proposed term limit constitutional amendment would also reduce the number of state Senate districts, so Sullivan’s turf would get much larger.

* Speaking of Bruce Rauner, Jack Craver at The Capital Times up in Madison, Wisconsin has some interesting thoughts on how Rauner’s campaign looks a lot like a familiar one to cheeseheads

(T)he frontrunner for the Illinois Republican gubernatorial nomination is trying his best to mimic the regular guy persona that [Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker] used in his first campaign for governor in 2010. Remember the brown bag lunch, the old Saturn and the Harley?

Here’s an excerpt from candidate Bruce Rauner’s official campaign bio: “He still drives a 20-year-old camper van, wears an $18 watch, and stays in the cheapest hotel room he can find when he’s on the road. He is the proud father of six children — two boys and four girls — and his wife Diana is the love of his life. He hunts birds, hikes, loves riding his Harley, and jumps at every opportunity to fish.” […]

Rauner’s campaign manager is Chip Englander, who was in charge of former U.S. Rep. Mark Neumann’s unsuccessful bid for Wisconsin’s Republican gubernatorial nomination in 2010. Neumann, the multimillionaire who touted his executive business experience and his master’s degree, lost to Walker, the college dropout who claimed to pack two ham-and-cheese sandwiches (with mayo on wheat) in a brown bag for lunch every day.

Englander may have learned the hard way that the regular-guy persona works.

In addition, Rauner’s communications director is Mike Schrimpf, the twin brother of Chris Schrimpf, a former Walker flack. Until recently, Mike was a spokesman for the Republican Governors Association, a group that poured millions of dollars into boosting both of Walker’s gubernatorial campaigns.

* And Maria Konnikova has an interesting story in the New Yorker about how the way politicians look can correlate into the votes they get. A smallish excerpt here, so go read the whole thing because there is a lot more to this

In 2003, the Princeton psychologist Alexander Todorov began to suspect that, except for those people who have hard-core political beliefs, the reasons we vote for particular candidates could have less to do with politics and more to do with basic cognitive processes—in particular, perception. When people are asked about their ideal leader, one of the single most important characteristics that they say they look for is competence—how qualified and capable a candidate is. Todorov wondered whether that judgment was made on the basis of intuitive responses to basic facial features rather than on any deep, rational calculus. It would make sense: in the past, extensive research has shown just how quickly we form impressions of people’s character traits, even before we’ve had a conversation with them. That impression then colors whatever else we learn about them, from their hobbies to, presumably, their political abilities. In other words, when we think that we are making rational political judgments, we could be, in fact, judging someone at least partly based on a fleeting impression of his or her face.

Starting that fall, and through the following spring, Todorov showed pairs of portraits to roughly a thousand people, and asked them to rate the competence of each person. Unbeknownst to the test subjects, they were looking at candidates for the House and Senate in 2000, 2002, and 2004. In study after study, participants’ responses to the question of whether someone looked competent predicted actual election outcomes at a rate much higher than chance—from sixty-six to seventy-three per cent of the time. Even looking at the faces for as little as one second, Todorov found, yielded the exact same result: a snap judgment that generally identified the winners and losers. Todorov concluded that when we make what we think of as well-reasoned voting decisions, we are actually driven in part by our initial, instinctive reactions to candidates.

Again, go read the whole thing.

- Posted by Rich Miller   15 Comments      

Rauner responds to leader deal on pension reform

Wednesday, Nov 27, 2013

* I asked Bruce Rauner’s campaign spokesman Mike Schrimpf to respond to House Speaker Michael Madigan’s claim that Rauner opposed the pension reform proposal…

Unfortunately, the Springfield insiders have kept Illinoisans in the dark about the details of this bill. We’ve seen politicians do this before and it is rarely a good sign for taxpayers.

Any deal that would rank pension payouts to government union bosses ahead of priorities like education and public safety should cause grave concern and will lead to higher taxes.

I’m not really sure what that means. First, details will be released five days before the scheduled start of the special pension reform session. Second, Speaker Madigan said today that Rauner was opposed to the deal because of a pension funding guarantee mechanism.

Anyway, maybe you can translate.

- Posted by Rich Miller   30 Comments      

Question of the day

Wednesday, Nov 27, 2013

* It’s still really early, but with two polls now showing Bruce Rauner taking the lead in the GOP primary race for governor, do you think any of the other candidates should drop out?

If not, why? If so, which one, or which ones and why?

- Posted by Rich Miller   21 Comments      

This just in… Leaders make a deal on pension reform

Wednesday, Nov 27, 2013

[Subscriber protection removed and comments opened because the Sun-Times now has this story independently.]

* 11:58 am - From House Speaker Michael Madigan’s press secretary…

Leaders have reached a pension agreement.

Details will be distributed to members on Friday.

Final elements were put together by the Speaker in recent days.

*** UPDATE - 12:09 pm *** From the Senate President’s spokesperson…

Yes, there is an agreement on a plan. We are notifying our members that they should return to Springfield for session on Tuesday.

I’m hearing a one-day session on December 3rd beginning at 11 o’clock in the morning.

* Sun-Times

“We have a deal,” House Minority Leader Jim Durkin, R-Western Springs, told reporters at the Bilandic Building, where leaders met Wednesday morning. […]

Without offering specifics, Durkin identified three elements to the package, including a change to the COLA, a defined contribution plan and an adjustment to the retirement age.

Asked why the deal came together now, Radogno said, “It’s just the urgency. Every leader had concerns, and we’ve all accommodated.”

“Having the leaders, all four agree, is a huge step in the right direction.” Radogno said.

* 12:12 pm - From the House Republicans…

There is an agreement. The leaders are beginning the process of reaching out to the members. Details will be released to members and the media in short order.

In a follow-up e-mail, I was told by the House GOP spokesperson not to expect any details today.

* 12:28 pm - From the twitters…

Subscribers know more about that. So far, though, Rauner hasn’t pulled off too many votes, if any. We’ll see.

* 12:34 pm - Greg Hinz

The deal reportedly would save taxpayers about $160 billion over the next three decades.

* More from the twitters…

* As subscribers already know, Madigan has been doing shuttle diplomacy for several days…

* AP

Despite no knowledge of the details, the state’s major employee unions said Wednesday they were opposed to the deal, saying they were left out of negotiations and that they believe elements are unconstitutional.

“We have tried for three years now to work with legislative leaders and the governor to develop pension reform … that is fair to workers and retirees,” American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees union spokesman Anders Lindall said Wednesday.

* 12:57 pm - I asked Bruce Rauner’s campaign a while ago to comment on Speaker Madigan’s statement about Rauner being opposed due to the bill’s guaranteed funding mechanism. Awaiting a response.

* Sun-Times video of Madigan…

* From Gov. Pat Quinn…

Governor Pat Quinn issued the below statement regarding today’s agreement among the legislative leaders on a comprehensive pension reform solution:

“I commend the legislative leaders – Senate President John Cullerton, House Speaker Mike Madigan, Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno and House Minority Leader Jim Durkin – for their hard work to reach this critical agreement. I also commend members of the conference committee for their work throughout the summer and fall to get us to this point.

“When I proposed the creation of a conference committee in June, I asked members to draft a plan that eliminated the unfunded pension debt and fully stabilized the systems, and this plan meets that standard.

“We have more work to do. I look forward to working with the leaders and members of the General Assembly over the coming days to get this job done for the people of Illinois.”

* From the We Are One Coalition…

“Unions representing hundreds of thousands of public employees and retirees were not included in the leaders’ talks. If their new plan is in line with what’s been reported from earlier discussions, then it’s an unfair, unconstitutional scheme that undermines retirement security.

“It’s no compromise at all with those who earned and paid for their retirement benefits. In fact, reports suggest the leaders have repackaged Senate Bill 1 and barely bothered to disguise it. On top of this, by expanding 401(k) plans, the leaders will further jeopardize retirement security for the vast majority of public employees and retirees who are not eligible for Social Security.

“If their bill resembles SB 1, we will urge lawmakers to reject it and continue to fight to protect the hard-earned life-savings of Illinois public servants as well as the sanctity of the state’s constitution.”

* Tribune

Increasing the retirement age, now set at various levels based on the type of work, would impact the youngest workers the most. Younger workers could see up to five years added to their retirement ages, Radogno said.

The cost-of-living adjustments would be altered “to be sure that the lower-paid, longest-serving employees have the biggest protection,” said Radogno. It would be largely patterned after a provision she pushed and was included in a bill that Speaker Michael Madigan passed in the House.

- Posted by Rich Miller   101 Comments      

Plummer settles suit filed by stiffed friend

Wednesday, Nov 27, 2013

* A story from last summer to refresh your memory

A fundraising consultant and longtime acquaintance has filed suit against Jason Plummer over outstanding debts from his failed Congressional campaign.

Franny Decker of Decker Consulting Services in Washington, D.C., has sued Plummer personally and his election committee, Plummer for Congress, for more than $50,000. Decker alleges that she is owed payments for her fundraising work on Plummer’s 2012 campaign for the 12th Congressional District. […]

The suit was filed in Madison County Circuit Court on June 17, and states that Decker “greatly exceeded” the goals set for her to raise money from political action campaigns to support Plummer’s run. […]

Decker is a longtime associate of Plummer’s, having met when they were both members of College Republicans at the University of Illinois, according to the lawsuit’s filings.

* Ms. Decker’s attorney is Kent Gray. Kent sent me an e-mail this morning…

Franny Decker reached a settlement with Jason Plummer on the outstanding balance due. He has made payment.

That was the last of the vendor cases I had against Jason. Franny’s was the only one that required a lawsuit be filed to settle.

Consider this an early Thanksgiving present for Oswego Willy.

…Adding… I asked Kent Gray how much the case was settled for. His reply…

Dear Rich,

In response to your request, Franny asked that I provide the following description of the amount paid in settlement by Mr. Plummer:

“The amount paid by Mr. Plummer was approximately the original invoice amount. Ms. Decker agreed to waive the late fees under the original contract in order to reach a mutually agreeable settlement.”

Have a great weekend,


- Posted by Rich Miller   51 Comments      

Thankful for Clean Energy

Wednesday, Nov 27, 2013

[The following is a paid advertisement.]

It’s the time of year to reflect on our blessings, and one thing we’re thankful for is the great start Illinois has made on the road to a clean energy future.

We’re thankful for the 19,047 jobs created bringing Illinois wind power online, and for the contractors and electricians installing solar on the rooftops of homes and businesses.

We’re thankful that adding clean power to the grid has cut wholesale power prices by $177 million per year.

We’re thankful that clean energy is making a dent in the pollution that is causing climate change. Already we’ve avoided 5 million tons per year of the air pollution linked to more violent storms, drought, disease, and heat waves.

We’re thankful for all the local governments who are choosing renewable energy for their local power supply, and for the voices in Illinois communities working for a just transition from pollution to prosperity.

We are thankful for this progress, and hopeful for the future if we stay on the road to a clean energy future. We have work to do to stay the course, but today we count our blessings.

Happy Thanksgiving.

- Posted by Advertising Department   Comments Off      

Second poll confirms Rauner primary lead

Wednesday, Nov 27, 2013

* As you’ll recall, Public Policy Polling’s recent statewide poll showed Bruce Rauner leading the Republican gubernatorial primary race with 24 percent.

A Capitol Fax/We Ask America poll taken before Rauner went back on the air with hundreds of thousands of dollars in TV ads had Rauner in fourth place with 11 percent. The object was to do a benchmark poll to test the effectiveness of Rauner’s advertising campaign.

Well, the Rauner ads appear to be working. After PPP published its results, We Ask America went back into the field. Here are their new results for the GOP primary from last night with PPP’s results in parentheses…

Bill Brady 18% (17%)
Kirk Dillard 10% (10%)
Bruce Rauner 26% (24%)
Dan Rutherford 17% (14%)
Undecided 29% (36%)

The We Ask America poll surveyed 1,233 likely GOP primary voters. It had a margin of error of +/-2.79 percent. Click here for results.

- Posted by Rich Miller   47 Comments      

*** UPDATED x1 - $10K raised *** Many, many thanks to everyone

Wednesday, Nov 27, 2013

*** UPDATE *** Our tornado relief effort has surpassed the $10,000 mark. Way to go, everybody! Thanks! If you haven’t yet, please click here to give.

[ *** End Of Update *** ]

* Thanks to generous donations from Sen. John Sullivan, Rep. Emily McAsey, Elizabeth Austin and others, our total raised so far for Washington, IL-area tornado victims is now $9,300. Thanks to all. Your donations will be put to good use. If you’d like to contribute, just click here. It’s easy to do and you’ll feel good afterwards.

* The Washington area wasn’t the only hard-hit location. Rep. Chad Hays asked me to remind you that Gifford residents were hard hit by the massive tornados. The Gifford State Bank has set up a PayPal account to accept donations. Click here to help. [Fixed link.]

* I’ve also been asked to post this Tweet

* Secretary of State Jesse White is a contributor to our fundraising drive. White sent a mobile unit to Washington for the past several days. From a press release…

“Last week my office’s mobile unit provided direct service to nearly 200 people,” said White. “These are important services that help residents get a duplicate state ID card or driver’s license, or expediting a duplicate title. I am pleased to extend the mobile unit’s stay for another day in Washington.”

The mobile unit is designed to bring a variety of office services directly to the community, including: duplicate certificate of title, duplicate vehicle registration, duplicate driver’s license and duplicate state ID card. There will be no charge for these services.

In addition, White said the mobile unit will participate in the priority title service on titles, duplicate titles, and corrected titles for residents of Washington. The fees for these services will also be waived. White noted that the priority service allows his office to process these title requests within just two days.

White initiated a law effective in July 2012 that gives his office authority to waive certain fees for residents impacted by natural disasters and living in counties that have been declared disaster areas by the governor.

As is his custom, Secretary White himself will distribute 13,500 turkeys to the needy on December 20th in Chicago.

* From Greg Goldner at Resolute Consulting…

We want to wish you a safe and happy Thanksgiving weekend!

We are thankful for our family, friends, employees and the many relationships we have formed over the years.

As you give thanks this year, consider volunteering or donating to local food depositories to help those in need throughout the holiday season.

For those in the Chicago area, check out the following:

You can also use Feeding America’s food bank locator to find the food bank nearest to your community.

* Do you have a charitable cause you’d like to publicize before Thanksgiving? Tell us about it in comments. And don’t forget to give to our tornado fund. Thanks!

…Adding… I had this in the queue and forgot to post it

State Rep. Sara Feigenholtz (D-Chicago) is helping collect food to benefit the Lakeview Pantry East this holiday season.

“The last few years have been tough for many local families,” Feigenholtz said. “The economy has put a strain on food pantries at a time when they are needed the most.”

Items needed include peanut butter, jelly, whole grain products (e.g., cereal and pasta), canned tuna, canned meat, canned beans or vegetables, canned fruit in juice, low sodium soup, vegetable juice or V8, toothbrushes, toothpaste and other non-perishable, non-expired food items.

Donations will be collected at Feigenholtz’s office at 3223 N. Sheffield Ave., Suite A, between 9 a.m. and 12 p.m. through Wednesday, Nov. 27. The items will then be delivered to the Lakeview Pantry East, located at 3831 N. Broadway next Wednesday.

- Posted by Rich Miller   5 Comments      

An unusual request for bipartisanship

Wednesday, Nov 27, 2013

* Senate President John Cullerton was in Quincy earlier this week and was asked by the local media about a new capital bill. Money from the last capital bill is just about all spent, and infrastructure needs persist. Cullerton said he’d be in favor of a new proposal next spring, but only with certain conditions

“As long as Republicans are willing to sit down and talk about those things I am as well,” Cullerton said.

He said one hurdle would be coming up with revenue to pay off bonds to cover the construction projects. The 2009 capital program relied on liquor taxes, gambling revenues and other fees or taxes. It gained Republican votes, but tax increases have generally been opposed by the GOP.

“We have to pass it out of both chambers. There’ll be a governor’s race going on. We’d have to have bipartisan support, perhaps even from the two people running for governor,” Cullerton said.

“If that can happen and the politics can be put aside, even though it’s an election year, it’s something that I’d be very much in favor of.”

Getting both legislative parties involved in a capital bill negotiation isn’t extremely difficult because just about everybody wants infrastructure upgrades for their districts. But convincing both gubernatorial candidates to sign off on a capital bill and its funding mechanisms would be quite something to see.

- Posted by Rich Miller   20 Comments      

Franks bill would allow 18-20 year olds to have FOID card without parental consent

Wednesday, Nov 27, 2013

* Rep. Jack Franks has introduced a new bill

Amends the Firearm Owners Identification Card Act. Lowers the age in which a person may apply for a Firearm Owner’s Identification Card without parental or legal guardian consent from 21 years of age to 18 years of age.

* From local news coverage

Under current law, residents under age 21 must produce a notarized affidavit from a parent or guardian, who cannot themselves be ineligible to have the FOID card required by law to possess firearms and ammunition.

Franks said he was surprised when he learned from upset constituents that college-aged adults had the extra requirement. He called the extra burden unnecessary and an impediment to law-abiding citizens exercising their Second Amendment rights that does nothing to keep criminals from obtaining guns.

“If you’re 18 and able to join the military and defend our country, I don’t think it makes sense that you have to get your parents’ permission to get a FOID card in Illinois,” Franks said.

The bill does not eliminate the parental permission requirement for people younger than 18 to obtain a FOID card. Children under state law can handle firearms without a FOID card in the presence of a parent, guardian or someone acting in a supervisory capacity who has a valid card.

Franks’ bill is likely to face opposition from Chicago lawmakers, who advocate strict gun control, as well as from gun control groups. The state’s oldest, the Illinois Council to Prevent Handgun Violence, is reviewing Franks’ bill, Executive Director Colleen Daley said Friday.


- Posted by Rich Miller   32 Comments      

Protected: SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Supplement to today’s edition

Wednesday, Nov 27, 2013

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Protected: SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Today’s edition of Capitol Fax (use all CAPS in password)

Wednesday, Nov 27, 2013

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* Reader comments closed for the weekend
* "I’m in it to win it. Not for a show"
* AG Raoul task force raid finds more than $1 million in stolen goods
* The trend is definitely not our friend
* Downstate vs. Chicagoland
* Question of the day
* Itasca probed by feds over NIMBY vote
* Local pension fiefdoms still fighting for survival
* Meanwhile, in Crazytown
* Open thread
* Yesterday's stories

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