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Question of the day

Thursday, Dec 19, 2013

* Tribune

Two decades after proposing that state elected officials be limited to eight years in office, Gov. Pat Quinn says he still supports term limits but won’t pledge to make his next term his last should he win re-election next year. […]

A hot topic during the 1990s, the term limits issue has been resurrected for the 2014 campaign for governor by wealthy Winnetka businessman Bruce Rauner, who is making it a major platform in his bid for the Republican nomination.

A new Rauner TV ad labels Quinn “a career politician who failed to deliver term limits.” Rauner also is chairing a political action committee that is working to put on the ballot a limit on state lawmakers’ time in office. In addition, Rauner has pledged not to serve more than eight years as governor if he wins.

“Quinn is acting like a typical politician, wanting one set of rules for himself and another for everyone else,” Rauner spokesman Mike Schrimpf said in a statement Wednesday.

Quinn has definitely flip-flopped on term limits, at least as far as he, himself is concerned.

But Rauner says in his new TV ad that term limits should apply to all state politicians: “Every politician in Springfield, eight years and you’re out. You’re done, you’re out.”

What Rauner doesn’t say in the ad is that his specific proposal only applies to legislators, not to the executive branch. Rauner says he’d term limit himself, but can a voluntary pledge like that be believed?

* The Question: Assuming he’s elected, do you trust Bruce Rauner’s word that he’ll limit himself to two terms? Take the poll and then explain your answer in comments, please.


web surveys

- Posted by Rich Miller   60 Comments      


Just a tad brighter

Thursday, Dec 19, 2013

* Illinois’ economy sucks just a little less right now. From a press release…

Illinois added +10,300 private sector jobs in November and the unemployment rate fell to 8.7 percent, according to preliminary data released today by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES). The September to November three-month gain of +36,900 in total jobs is the largest since October 2010.

Illinois has added +281,400 private sector jobs since January 2010 when job growth returned following nearly two years of consecutive monthly declines. Leading growth sectors are Professional and Business Services (+116,400); Education and Health Services (+61,000); and Trade, Transportation and Utilities (+58,700). Government has lost the most jobs since January 2010, down -28,600.

November growth leaders were Trade, Transportation and Utilities, (+6,700), Construction (+6,100) and Education and Health Care (+3,400). Although manufacturing jobs have grown since 2010, a temporary global slowdown in mining continues to impact manufacturing jobs in Illinois.

- Posted by Rich Miller   9 Comments      


Target warning

Thursday, Dec 19, 2013

* From a press release…

Attorney General Lisa Madigan today warned consumers to be on the lookout for unauthorized charges in the wake of a massive data breach at Target stores nationwide.

Madigan said her office is looking into the breach of customers’ personal financial information and has contacted Target representatives to learn how many Illinois consumers are affected and what the company is doing to assist those customers.

“With today’s announcement by Target that as many as 40 million Americans credit and debit card information has been compromised, it is critical that consumers be vigilant in checking their credit card and bank account statements for any unauthorized charges,” Madigan said. “If you discover an unauthorized charge, contact your bank immediately to dispute it. Consumers in need of assistance can visit my website or contact my Identity Theft hotline.”

Madigan offered tips for consumers who believe they were impacted by the data breach:

    Monitor your credit card and bank statements for unauthorized charges, especially consumers who used a credit or debit card at Target between November 27 and December 15.

    If you see an unauthorized charge on your account, contact your card issuer right away using the toll-free number on the card to dispute the charges. Some card issuers might require that you follow up with a written dispute in order to receive a refund.

    Even if you do not detect an unauthorized charge, you can contact your card issuer using the toll-free number on the card and discuss whether it is appropriate to cancel your card and obtain a new account number and card.

    Beware of callers who claim to be with your card issuing bank. These calls may be a scam. Consumers should contact their bank first at the toll-free number on the back of your card before you disclose any personal information.

Madigan is also urging consumers to contact her Identity Theft Hotline at 1 (866) 999-5630 for more information or to learn how to respond to the data breach.

- Posted by Rich Miller   14 Comments      


Casey Stengel redux

Thursday, Dec 19, 2013

* Can’t anybody here play this game?

Just days after saying Illinois would accept only online applications for concealed carry permits, Gov. Pat Quinn’s administration has announced it will accept paper applications, but not until six months after the process begins. […]

It was clear that the Illinois State Police, the agency that will be taking the applications and anticipates 400,000 in the first year alone, was not close to being ready for the change; one official balked when Leach said he would like to see the paper applications ready to go in March.

“I cannot commit to March,” said Suzanne Bond, chief legal counsel for the state police, which is responsible for accepting applications, conducting background checks and offering firearm training for the flood of residents expected to apply to carry concealed weapons.

Bond’s comments underscore a concern that things might not go smoothly next month when the law goes into effect.

“I think they are going to be pushed to do something sooner,” said Todd Vandermyde, a lobbyist for the National Rifle Association, said of the delay until July 1. “But it shows how incompetent they are.”

* Again, can’t anybody here play this game?

Illinois officials are emailing and calling thousands of people, advising them to start over on their health insurance applications if they believe the federal government mistakenly referred them to Medicaid.

The latest wrinkle in the troubled enrollment process for the nation’s new health insurance system was announced Wednesday, just days ahead of a key enrollment deadline.

The federal HealthCare.gov website received more than 30,000 applications from Illinoisans who may be eligible for Medicaid, the government health program for the poor. That federal site has been plagued by glitches that now are mostly fixed.

Those 30,000 applications are the ones in question. Some Illinois residents who were referred to Medicaid believe they were incorrectly denied private health coverage, said Illinois Department of Insurance spokesman Mike Claffey.

It’s called governing. Do it, already.

- Posted by Rich Miller   33 Comments      


The next bidding war?

Thursday, Dec 19, 2013

* Now that ADM has decided to open its new global headquarters in Chicago, the company is putting a new tech center up for bids. Mayor Rahm Emanuel wants that tech center and is trying to claim credit for the HQ decision as well

“The mayor’s message this morning was, ‘OK, great, fantastic (about the ADM headquarters). Don’t celebrate too long. Let’s get really focused on winning the tech center,’” said Deputy Mayor Steve Koch, the mayor’s point man on attracting businesses to the city.

In fact, at one point while ADM was considering where to locate its global headquarters, Mayor Rahm Emanuel made a presentation to the company’s board of directors and responded to questions, a source familiar with the meeting said. The meeting took place Oct. 30 at the Modern Wing at the Art Institute.

I’m told by people close to the situation, however, that Gov. Pat Quinn made a strong, sustained personal effort to persuade ADM CEO Patricia Woertz to move the headquarters to Chicago without tax incentives.

* Quinn also wants the tech center, but within some limits

Gov. Pat Quinn said the state will continue to pursue the technology center, saying ADM officials indicated that matter was “still open for competition.” The governor would not rule out some form of taxpayer-funded help to lure the center to Illinois but cautioned the state would not be handing out tax breaks “willy-nilly.”

“I don’t think that’s a good way to go,” Quinn said. “I think it’s better to be very precise with each and every company that comes to us.'’

“Our best way of helping the most companies is to invest in public works like roads, highways, railroads and water systems and to help them with their job training, with their educated, skilled workforce that we’ve got in abundance,” Quinn said.

* Sen. Andy Manar thinks the old way may be dead

“The things that have been done in the past, long before I arrived in the state Senate, I would say have come to an end.”

Manar tried to shepherd legislation through the statehouse that would have given ADM nearly $30 million in tax breaks. The company, however, would have to hire 500 people in Decatur.

“I think the EDGE tax credit program needs some hefty reforms. I think we need to have that robust conversation, and I think (my legislation) is a good place to start,” Manar told Illinois Watchdog. […]

“If these things are going to come before the Legislature again, we should look at what the Senate passed for ADM,” Manar said. “That’s a good framework, in my mind, on how to achieve balance with (tax credits).”

* Not surprisingly, the Decatur newspaper isn’t happy

Central Illinois should not, however, be upset with ADM. Moving the world headquarters is an understandable business decision and no one should forget that 4,400 jobs will remain in Decatur and that Decatur will remain as the North American headquarters.

But Central Illinois has every reason to feel slighted by its state government. After handing out tax incentives for years, Madigan and others suddenly decided it was time to change course. That decision came as the center of the state was finally going to benefit from a tax incentive package. It’s hard to believe that was a coincidence.

It’s good that ADM is keeping its world headquarters in Chicago. But it seems the state missed a chance for a bigger world headquarters, a technology center, and most importantly to add jobs in Central Illinois.

That doesn’t seem like a win.

* Meanwhile, in other corporate news

Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s office says Chicago and state officials have reached a deal with an Indiana company that will require it to remove huge black piles of petroleum coke from the city’s Southeast Side.

Known as “petcoke,” the material is a powdery byproduct of oil refining that’s been accumulating along Midwest shipping channels and sparking health and environmental concerns.

Emanuel and Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan plan to announce the deal Thursday.

- Posted by Rich Miller   13 Comments      


Rauner says he would’ve vetoed gay marriage bill

Thursday, Dec 19, 2013

* If Bruce Rauner wins the Republican nomination for governor, he’s gonna have a little trouble running to the center because he’s on tape saying things like he would’ve vetoed the gay marriage bill.

Rauner was asked about his position at a Quincy tea party event not long ago. He explained that he wanted a statewide referendum on gay marriage before a legislative vote, so he would’ve vetoed the bill. Of course, an ad could simply use his “If I were governor I would veto” line to make him look like a winger. Listen to the exchange…

Discuss.

- Posted by Rich Miller   45 Comments      


Today’s Golden Horseshoe Awards

Thursday, Dec 19, 2013

* Believe it or not, the 2013 Golden Horseshoe Award for Best Statewide Officeholder goes to Gov. Pat Quinn

Dragging Illinois out of the mess left by previous administrations and legislatures hasn’t been pretty, and it hasn’t made him the most popular leader, but he shrugs off the arrows and keeps dragging.

Say what you want about the man, but he’s not willing to sell out the state’s best interests, and he doesn’t get hustled by big city mayors or big time CEOs. He’s been instrumental on major issues like the tax increase, pension reform, SSM, etc., but he also doesn’t overlook the small stuff like the free museum days.

That’s the kind of leader I respect.

* A very close runner-up was Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka…

Judy, Judy, Judy: We can count on her to tell the simple truth, without the political messaging, massaging, and cheap shots. She has common sense. She works hard. She treats other people with respect. When we get confused on just where the state fiscal house stands, Judy sets us straight.

I noticed that Lisa Madigan received no nominations yesterday. Neither did Jesse White. I think that’s a first.

* Nominations for the 2013 Golden Horseshoe Award for Best Congresscritter were kinda all over the place. But this nomination of Congressman Mike Quigley was the strongest…

For best congresscritter, I will second Mike Quigley, who so far looks like the rising star to beat in the next generation of IL’s Democratic House delegation. He started off 2013 with a bang by winning IL’s seat on Appropriations. Currently in the minority, he can work with both parties, particularly right now on ethics and fiscal restraint, while still being a strong voice for social progressivism and not shying away from calling out the Tea Party for its antics. He seems to have mastered the sweet spot of being a strong partisan and being politically effective, while not seeming overly partisan or political. There aren’t enough Reps in DC who can marry political smarts with just being really smart in general, but Quigley can walk and chew gum.

* Runner-up goes to freshman Rodney Davis…

This is a tough choice, and there really isn’t one in the Delegation where you find yourself sayting “They are Illinois!” Potomac Fever, Leadership positions, the wonky style of Washington has taken some of the charisma out, and added a great deal of partisan in, and that is not good at all.

That being said, my vote is for the member of the Delegation who has had the most to deal with since being sworn in, and has tried to handle the job, his district, national politics and local feuds the best of them all.

Congressman Rodney Davis has tried to do what he has felt was right, while dealing with the national scene that may not agree with those back home, making decisions and votes that have nothing to do with the local dust-up many in Congress do not have to face.

Rodney Davis continues to work hard to be the representative to Congress his district, this state and this country can be proud of, while walking a very fine line of partisanship and independence. Rodney Davis has served his district and this state well, while being a freshman and doing all this plate balancing.

Rodney Davis is a credit to his district and state, and will continue to be scrutinized in the short term. Illinois in the long term is being served well with Rodney Davis.

* OK, campers, we’re running outta time here, so let’s move on to our next categories…

* Best “Do-Gooder” Lobbyist

* Best Legislative Liaison

As always, make sure to explain your votes. Simple drive-by comments won’t be counted. Thanks!

- Posted by Rich Miller   44 Comments      


Caption contest!

Thursday, Dec 19, 2013

* Attendees of my City Club speech yesterday filled two very big boxes with toys for the kids in Lutheran Social Services of Illinois’ child-care program. It was so cool seeing all those folks walk into Maggiano’s carrying their toys.

I thought we’d also try to raise a little cash money yesterday, so I stationed two LSSI staffers at the back of the room and told the crowd that we were going to pass the hat.

A presentation had been given a few minutes before I spoke encouraging folks to participate in the Special Olympics’ Chicago Polar Plunge

Think you’re fun? Take the test! Join 2,000 other “spirited” people at the 14th Annual Chicago Polar Plunge on Sunday, March 2 at North Avenue Beach. Whether you go knee high, waist high or take the full Plunge all are welcome to participate! This unique and memorable event benefits the programs enjoyed throughout the year by the nearly 5,000 athletes of Special Olympics Chicago. Grab your friends – the more the merrier!

The spirit of charity got the better of my brain, because I pledged to take that polar plunge if attendees contributed at least $1,000. We raised over $2,000 in cash. Anne Dias-Griffin (yes, that Anne Dias-Griffin) wrote a $1,000 check, saying she wanted to make sure I took that plunge. Mrs. Griffin’s generous donation brought our total to over $3,000.

I hope I survive.

* The LSSI folks asked me to pose for a photo holding the bowl of cash and standing between the toy boxes…

Have fun, and thanks so much to everyone who attended and contributed. Many thanks to Paul Green and the City Club for inviting me and helping with the toy and cash drive.

If you couldn’t be there, well, you can still donate to LSSI today by clicking here. Thanks!

- Posted by Rich Miller   51 Comments      


*** UPDATED x1 - Dillard responds *** For it before he was against it

Thursday, Dec 19, 2013

* From a press release…

Republican candidate for Governor Kirk Dillard issued the following statement regarding Gov. Quinn’s comments on raising the minimum wage in Illinois.

“I know families are struggling out there, and times are tough. But Governor Quinn is just trying to cover up the fact that since he’s been governor, our state’s business climate has sunk to historic lows. We need to bring good paying, real jobs back to Illinois — jobs that have a future — jobs that families can build a life on. Raising the minimum wage as an election-year stunt won’t do that.”

* Erickson

But Dillard, who is running for governor in 2014, voted in favor of raising the minimum wage in 2006 when it was being pushed by now-imprisoned former Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

Dillard, a Hinsdale Republican, was among eight GOP senators who said “yes” in November 2006 to a plan to bump the minimum wage to $7.50 an hour in 2007. It topped out at $8.25 an hour in 2010.

Two of Dillard’s opponents in the GOP race for governor — state Sen. Bill Brady of Bloomington and state Treasurer Dan Rutherford of Chenoa, who then was a state senator — voted “no” on the 2006 minimum wage hike. […]

Dillard did not immediately respond to questions about his switch in positions Wednesday evening.

Sigh.

*** UPDATE *** The story has been updated with a react

Dillard spokesman Wes Bleed said Dillard has been a consistent opponent of minimum wage increases, but was persuaded to support the 2006 boost because the economy was in better shape.

“For the most part, he has opposed increasing the minimum wage,” Bleed said.

Dillard also voted “Present” on a minimum wage bill in 2006

State Sen. Kirk Dillard, R-Hinsdale, said he did not have a problem with increasing the minimum wage, but felt it should be handled at the federal level.

That’s quite a few positions over the years.

- Posted by Rich Miller   51 Comments      


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