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Dillard’s “I” problem

Thursday, Dec 12, 2013

* A couple of weeks ago, a few people I know were at a Republican gubernatorial forum. They decided as a joke to make a bet on what word or phrase Sen. Kirk Dillard would use the most that evening.

One bet “Jim Edgar.” Another bet on “Destination economy.” A third bet that Dillard’s most-used word would be “I.”

The third guy won. Big.

* With that in mind, check out this new video posted by WHBF TV of the “education” segment during a GOP forum in the Quad Cities.

Dillard’s remarks…

I have a 12 year old and a 10 year old and I focus every day and live and breathe issues of education. My father was a high school teacher, and I live the common core. My wife and I were very involved in a voluntary preschool in our community called Hinsdale. And so from early childhood education, which I’ve always supported, through, and I’m on my community college board’s foundation board where we work hand in glove with local manufacturers at the College of DuPage training our workers. I still stay incredibly active with Western Illinois Univeristy, Depaul University. Education is a lifelong thing, early childhood on through the community colleges on through our great universities like the University of Illinois. I have a written, best in class education program. Best in class education goes hand in glove with an ability to train our workforce. When I was a student at Western Illinois University I worried about competing for a job with somebody from Iowa. My kids, your kids, your grandkids and today’s workers are going to have to compete with kids from India and from other places in the world. So, I urge you again, not to bore you this morning, but go on, see my vision…”

Dillard does this all. the. time. Almost his entire campaign schtick appears to be about his qualifications, his experience, his whatever.

Voters do want to hear about a candidate’s life story, but they mostly want to hear what the candidates believe about them; their future, their state, their communities, their problems, their wants and needs.

Sen. Dillard, on the other hand, frames just about everything as being about Kirk Dillard. And that just aint’ gonna work.

Not to mention that none of what he said made any freaking sense. Sheesh.

…Adding… There’s been some furious push-back in comments, so I commented myself in reply…

(I)n reading some of these comments (was at a long lunch and didn’t monitor like I usually do) I’ve come to the conclusion that either I wasn’t clear enough or some of y’all are just obtuse.

Politicians can and do effectively use the word “I.” They can use it to identify with people, to state what they’ll do, to show that they mean business.

But look at how Dillard uses it. It’s just a bunch of half anecdotes that don’t add up to anything or even mean anything taken individually.

I don’t care that he works with the community college if he doesn’t use it to illustrate how that experience would help him lead Illinois, or informs him about Illinois’ many, many problems.

It’s a useless “I.” And if you can’t see that, well, “I” can’t help you.

* By the way, this was the question he was supposed to answer…

If the return on the investment of early childhood education is well-documented, what policies will your administration pursue to ensure that Illinois children are prepared to succeed in school and equipped to enter the workplace?

Instead, he rambled about himself.

- Posted by Rich Miller   143 Comments      

Question of the day

Thursday, Dec 12, 2013

* From House Speaker Michael Madigan’s statement yesterday about his opposition to the corporate tax break bill

The companies requesting these taxpayer-funded breaks currently pay little to no corporate income tax to the state, contributing little or nothing to help fund the very services from which they benefit significantly. Meanwhile, middle-class families continue struggling through a recession and job loss. So I find it very difficult to support tax giveaways for corporate CEOs and millionaire shareholders whose companies pay little in state taxes. I question our priorities when corporate handouts are demanded by companies that don’t pay their fair share while middle-class families and taxpayers face an increasing number of burdens.

* Senate President John Cullerton had this to say after the tax break bill passed his chamber

“We’re not giving any money to corporations, we’re bringing jobs to Illinois,” said Senate President John Cullerton. “These specific bills that we passed, they are new jobs that are being added. So we’re not taking any money away from anybody or giving money to corporations, we’re adding jobs that aren’t here now.”

* The Question: Do you lean more in favor of Madigan’s argument or Cullerton’s? Take the poll and then explain your answer in comments, please.

survey service

- Posted by Rich Miller   47 Comments      

More Golden Horseshoe Awards

Thursday, Dec 12, 2013

* The 2013 Golden Horseshoe Award for Best campaign staffer - Illinois House Democrats goes to Kristen Bauer

I’ve worked multiple campaigns for House Dems, and my vote would be Kristen Bauer. She’s 8 am to midnite and beyond, seven days a week. She is 200 percent dedicated and loyal. It’s a chore just to get her to eat some food every once in a while. Very organized, very efficient, and very kind to her fellow staff and volunteers. She’s Boom Shaka Laka

* Runner-up is Julia Larkin, who was pushed hard by HDem staff…

When it comes to cool, calm and coordinated that is Julia Larkin all the way. I surely do not know how she keeps all the plates spinning in perfect sync without dropping one. In the thick of a competitive campaign, she is able to keep a smooth running campaign team without the normal drama of campaign egos. She does her homework and her recruitment is always top notch. Level headed and very rational she can get things done.

* The Golden Horseshoe Award for Best campaign staffer - Illinois House Republicans goes to Nick Bellini

Without a doubt, this should go to Nick Bellini. He goes above and beyond for his members and candidates. He’s who is called in when things go south and expected to turn them around. They can always count on him to be one step ahead of everyone else on a campaign and no one can beat “Bitter Bellini” or the “Angel of Death” when it comes to writing clever mail pieces. If everyone on their staff cared as much about campaigns as him, they might not be a super minority.

Bellini was the overwhelming favorite. He’s won this award so many times that I may just name it after him so we can move on.

* Runners-up…

My vote in that race is a toss up for Ray Soch, who ran Skip’s last campaign. Ray was everywhere and while he was everywhere, knew where everyone else was. He is organized, calm, cool and collected, and put up with so much poop. He has such a bright future ahead of his young life. My other vote would be for Garrett Hill. He’s the definition of cool, calm and charisma. He’s a computer geek with an uncanny ability to relate to people. He has a great personality, and a great personal story. I’m proud to call them both my friend.

* An important point…

Staffers from both sides of the aisle are unique human beings, that are underpaid, overly abused, but so desperately needed on every campaign. Without the word loyalty attached to these people, no candidate for office could possibly succeed short of a million prayers

Exactly right.

* OK, let’s move on to today’s category, shall we?…

* The Steve Brown Golden Horseshoe Award for Best Government Spokesperson

The winner can flak for legislative, judicial, executive or even local branches. Take your pick, but make extra sure to explain your nomination. This isn’t a contest of numbers, it’s about intensity of the nominations.

- Posted by Rich Miller   23 Comments      

Today’s number

Thursday, Dec 12, 2013

* I don’t know if this statistic is even close to accurate, but it’s fascinating. From a Reuters story about Michigan’s new “right to work” law

Tracy Bosman, a Chicago-based site selection consultant with Biggins Lacy Shapiro & Co, says Michigan’s law has generated interest in the state.

Up to 50 percent of manufacturers automatically screen out any non-right-to-work state, Bosman said, so Michigan was out of the picture for many companies looking to add production capacity.

“While it does not guarantee success for Michigan, it does at least mean the state will get a second look from firms that automatically excluded it in the past,” she said. [Emphasis added.]


- Posted by Rich Miller   30 Comments      


Thursday, Dec 12, 2013

* The dirty little secret of Chicago’s high parking meter rates is that many businesses love them. Why? Because the meters create turnover. Potential customers don’t park a long time in front of their businesses, so the cars of more potential customers then replace them.

And while some hailed Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s renegotiated parking meter deal that included free Sunday parking, not everybody was happy

Six months after the City Council passed a renegotiated parking meter lease, business leaders and aldermen in some wards say free Sunday parking has led to low meter turnover — which means fewer customers are able to park and shop in the neighborhoods.

Kevin Vaughn, owner of a handful of restaurants and bars, including Lakeview’s Mystic Celt and Vaughn’s Pub, said he was trying to find parking outside one of his businesses early Sunday morning and most of the metered spots were filled — a problem that began after free Sunday parking began.

“Eighty percent of the spots were filled at 8 a.m.,” Vaughn said. “In Lakeview, Sunday is the second busiest commercial business day of the week. Ultimately [free metered parking] is bad for business.” […]

Back in June, the 32nd, 43rd and 44th Wards — which include Lincoln Park and Lakeview — filed requests to bring back paid Sunday parking. Smith, Ald. Scott Waguespack (32nd) and Ald. Tom Tunney (44th) all voted against approving the renegotiated parking meter lease.

Waguespack said city attorney Stephen Patton has assured him that the city would draft an ordinance to bring back paid Sundays meters to his ward, but he’s still skeptical.

“Even though the city’s attorney has said he’d do it, I think they’re going to ignore it because they think the deal will just go away,” Waguespack said. “But it’s never going away. You’ve created a problem that will never go away.”

* Meanwhile, from the Tribune

Across Illinois, sixth- through 12th-graders were asked some simple but revealing questions on a statewide survey: Does your teacher ask difficult questions in class? What about on tests?

Their answers were an eye-opener, with nearly 50 percent — almost 360,000 students — disclosing that they never or seldom are asked hard questions in their main academic classes, according to a Tribune analysis of state data.

As for exams, 42 percent said they never or only occasionally are given challenging test questions, raising concerns about the rigor of instruction at a time when students are supposed to be preparing for tougher state exams.

* But read down into the story

At New Trier Township High School’s ninth-grade campus, nearly 76 percent of students said they felt challenged most or all the time in their main classes

So, a quarter of kids at New Trier, widely touted as the top public school in all of Illinois, say they aren’t feeling challenged by their core classwork?

* This, however, is totally expected, despite the fact that a 2011 Tribune poll found that 77 percent of Chicagoans believed that their school board should be elected

Mayor Rahm Emanuel will be spared the potential political embarrassment of finding out whether Chicagoans would prefer an elected school board rather than an appointed one after aldermanic allies moved Monday to fill the March primary ballot with questions on taxi fares and gun control.

There’s room for three referendum questions per a state law meant to prevent overloading the ballot. But the provision also has become a tool that allows council members friendly to the mayor to block efforts viewed as anti-administration.

The council’s Finance Committee loaded up the March 18 ballot with advisory questions that won’t have the force of law. Voters would be asked if they want to pay higher taxi fares, ban high-capacity ammunition magazines and ban the carrying of firearms in all businesses that serve alcohol under the state’s new concealed carry law.

* Also totally expected. From a press release…

Nearly 65 percent of participating school district superintendents believe state funding for education is poor or in need of improvement, according to an online survey that will be released Thursday by Lt. Governor Sheila Simon’s office and Illinois State University. […]

Among the numerous findings of the survey were that 65 percent of respondents would support an increase in the income tax with or without a corresponding decrease in property tax, 75 percent of participants would support a local sales tax for the Education Fund voted upon by a district referendum and over 90 percent of contributors supporting a two year state budget cycle to improve fiscal planning. Respondents rated most services as being important to critically important, and gave ISBE and ROEs high marks in several areas, including leadership, communication, and responsiveness to requests for assistance. Participants indicated that they will need more support in the future for Common Core implementation, professional development, testing technology, and educator evaluations.

- Posted by Rich Miller   22 Comments      

Does ballot position matter?

Thursday, Dec 12, 2013

* SJ-R

State Sen. Bill Brady will have the top ballot spot in the March 18 primary for governor, due to a lottery conducted Wednesday at the State Board of Elections.

Following Brady — a member of the state Senate from Bloomington and the 2010 Republican gubernatorial nominee — will be state Treasurer Dan Rutherford of Chenoa, state Sen. Kirk Dillard of Hinsdale and venture capitalist Bruce Rauner of Winnetka. […]

The statewide lottery — which featured numbered balls being picked out of a wooden box by Becky Glazier, assistant to the executive director of the state board — determined ballot order for candidates who were in line to file when the filing period started at 8 a.m. Nov. 25. People who filed later will generally be on the ballot in the order they filed.

One other GOP candidate for governor, Peter Edward Jones of Franklin Park, will be fifth on the ballot unless a pending objection to his petitions yields the removal of his name.

* But will this really matter much? Larry Sabato has probably the best take on ballot position I’ve yet seen. He examined eight research papers, some conflicting with each other, and came to some important conclusions, including

1. There is an advantage to being listed first on the ballot. Voters who do not have well defined choices prior to voting appear to latch onto the first name on the ballot for each office, a phenomenon we might call “first-listing bias.” In the split-second process of decision-making, they do more thinking about this candidate. For those voters truly on the fence, this mental consideration of the first candidate can produce an affirmative vote. (An aside: One wonders whether the first-listing bias is as great for absentee and mail ballot voters, compared to those who turn up at the polls on Election Day. Voters can take their time at home–they can even do some internet research on the candidates before completing their ballots. At the polls, many voters feel anxious and tense. Everyone is in a hurry and being watched. No one wants to hold up the line. Alas, there is no research of which we are aware on this subject, perhaps because absentee ballots pose further obstacles to researchers. As one study stated, “We were unable to analyze absentee votes because name order is rotated from ballot to ballot, and records are not kept of vote totals separately for the different name orders.”)

2. The advantage for first-listed candidates varies widely. In some elections a first-listing produces just a handful of votes, though they can make the difference in an extremely close election. In other elections a first-listing can generate extra votes up to about 5% of the overall tally, according to some studies.

3. Offices at the top of the ballot, for president, governor, and senator, produce the fewest additional votes for a first-listed candidate. That is because the candidates for these high-visibility offices tend to be well known, and most voters have made a firm decision about which to support prior to voting.

4. Offices in the middle and bottom of the ballot are especially susceptible to the first-listing bias. Many candidates for lower statewide elected office (such as lieutenant governor, attorney general, labor commissioner, etc.) and other localized offices (state legislators, city councilors, and so on) are surprisingly little known by many voters. A voter may have gone to the polls specifically to vote for president or governor, and once in the voting booth be surprised to discover lots of other offices up for election. Some voters just skip these contests (which may be the responsible thing to do if one has not studied them in advance), and this produces a phenomenon called “voter fatigue” or “ballot drop-off.” The number of votes cast for president is almost always much greater than the number of votes cast for any other office, for example. Often, the number of votes cast per office drops consistently as one moves down the ballot. However, other voters feel an obligation to be “good citizens” and cast a ballot even in races where the candidates are unknown to them. First-listing bias can be a major factor for these voters. […]

6. Elections without well-known incumbents are more susceptible to first listing bias than those with such incumbents. Incumbency can substitute for a party label, in that less attentive voters may use name identification as a vote prompt where party identification is not available.

7. Primary elections are more susceptible to first-listing bias than general elections. By definition, party primaries do not contain a party identification prompt. All the candidates are either Democrats or Republicans, and so party voters lack a key voting cue. On the other hand, incumbency (if it exists and especially if it is noted on the primary ballot) can substitute for the party prompt, and thereby minimize first-listing bias. […]

9. There is some evidence that, in a long listing of candidates for a particular office, being listed last is almost as good as being listed first. This is somewhat biblical–”the first shall be last and the last shall be first”–but essentially, the suggestion is that the voter’s eyes assess a large, multi-candidate field by focusing on the first listed candidate and then the last-listed candidate, with those positioned in the middle getting short-shrift. The first-listed candidate still gets more “extra” votes, but the last-listed candidate does second best in this category.

10. Of all these principles that govern the first-listing bias, the most important are the degree of information held by individual voters and the position of the office on the ballot. Elections that draw a disproportionate number of well-informed voters have lower first-listing bias effects. And long ballots that ask voters to cast votes on an extended list of offices and candidates almost certainly exaggerate the first-listing bias for the offices toward the end of the ballot.

I think we can conclude from this that if Bruce Rauner gets his name recognition way up by March, then his fourth place listing won’t matter all that much. But if it ends up being a super-close race, then Brady might benefit a bit.

* There are obviously some races where ballot position will be important. Take, for instance, the 40th House District race. Rep. Jaime Andrade (D-Chicago) was appointed to replace Deb Mell. Andrade has six (yes, six) Democratic primary opponents. From Russ Stewart’s latest column…

(W)e shall see in the primary whether the Mell Machine is toothless and decrepit. Upon Deb Mell’s resignation, Dick Mell engineered the appointment of top staffer Jaime Andrade to her House seat.

In the primary, Andrade has six opponents—a clear signal of his political precariousness. He has multiple problems. First, Dick Mell’s clout has withered since his retirement. Second, Andrade is totally unknown, and must rely on Madigan money and Mell workers to persevere. Andrade backed the Quinn-Madigan pension “fix” so the speaker owes him. By doing so, he alienated Organized Labor; SEIU and AFSCME will spend heavily against him in the primary. Third, the Hispanic voter base in the district is only 30 percent of registered voters. And fourth, he exudes no charisma.

But he could still win, primarily because the non-Andrade vote will be split among six others. Andrade’s most formidable foes, each of whom have a base in the district, and fundraising ability, are Nancy Schiavone, a Logan Square attorney who is the 35th Ward Democratic Committeeman; Aaron Goldstein, a criminal defense attorney who was second chair on Rod Blagoiavich’s first corruption trial, and lead counsel on the second; and Bart Goldberg, an attorney who ran for 38thWard Alderman in 2011, getting 7.8 percent of the vote. Also, on the ballot are CPS librarian Melanie Ferrand, Mark Pasieka, and Wendy Jo Harmston.

The 40th District extends from Argyle Street on the north to Altgeld Street, between California and Kostner, and is bisected by the Kennedy expressway. According to the 2010 census, it is 45 percent white, with most concentrated in the area north of Irving Park Road, which is decidedly upscale, and in Logan square, in the southeast corner. It is 45 percent Hispanic, who are concentrated in the southwest of the Kennedy expressway between Irving Park and Logan Boulevard. According to Goldstein, about half the Hispanics are non-citizens, and non voters. The remaining 10 percent are Asian.

In the 2010 primary, Deb Mell initially had a serious challenger, Joe Liacona. Mell had moved, but failed to change her voter registration. Liacona challenged her residency, but Dick Mell’s high-priced lawyers prevailed. She beat Liacona 4,335-2,242 (65.9 percent), in a 6,577 turnout. In 2012, Deb Mell was unopposed, and turnout plunged to 4,011. The district contains 68 precincts, of which 21 are in Mell’s 33rd Ward, 16 in in the 35th Ward, and five in the 38th Ward.

Goldstein’s “Blagojevich connection” is no asset, especially since he was 0-for-2. Invariably, convicted defendants blame their lawyers, not themselves, so he can expect no help from the Mell Clan. Goldstein is energetic and creative, and will use adjectives like independent, reformer and progressive to describe himself; plus, he likely will be Labor’s choice. Andrade’s strategy will be to run as the incumbent, focus heavily on the Hispanic vote, and let mailers and door-knockers do the rest.

* Rep. Andrade is second on the ballot. Nancy Schiavone, the 35th Ward Democratic Committeeman, is at the top of the ballot. Mark Pasieka is at the bottom.

- Posted by Rich Miller   19 Comments      

Decent money, if you can get it

Thursday, Dec 12, 2013

* I forgot to post this because I was on break at the time, but a longtime reader was waiting in line at Springfield’s Best Buy on Thanksgiving night and sent me a couple of pics. From his e-mails…

Paid circulators last night at Best Buy in Springfield working the line for term limit petitions. Looked like the amendment Rauner is backing.

The lady told me that she was getting 75 cents a signature, plus a bonus for complete pages. She said her stack was worth $500 when completed.

There were two of them working their way through the line until they let us into the store. They got to me right as we were getting into the store so pics had to be taken quick.

* The pics…

- Posted by Rich Miller   58 Comments      

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Thursday, Dec 12, 2013

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- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      

Madigan denounces “corporate pay-to-play”

Wednesday, Dec 11, 2013

* House Speaker Michael Madigan has issued a statement about corporate tax break legislation which stalled in his chamber last week…

We must resist the temptation to cave to corporate officials’ demands every time they impose a deadline for payment in exchange for remaining in Illinois, and end the case-by-case system of introducing and debating legislation whenever a corporation is looking for free money from Illinois taxpayers. This practice creates an unsettling and worrisome appearance of some new kind of corporate pay-to-play, which should be troubling to other business leaders and their shareholders, public officials and Illinois taxpayers. We should instead take a more long-term approach to helping all job-creating businesses in Illinois thrive and succeed, including thoroughly reviewing how we currently provide incentives to big corporations.

Presently, four Illinois corporations are seeking the General Assembly’s approval for tax breaks or incentives. If their requests are approved by the Legislature, these corporations would, collectively, see their tax burdens decrease by approximately $67 million.

The companies requesting these taxpayer-funded breaks currently pay little to no corporate income tax to the state, contributing little or nothing to help fund the very services from which they benefit significantly. Meanwhile, middle-class families continue struggling through a recession and job loss. So I find it very difficult to support tax giveaways for corporate CEOs and millionaire shareholders whose companies pay little in state taxes. I question our priorities when corporate handouts are demanded by companies that don’t pay their fair share while middle-class families and taxpayers face an increasing number of burdens.

According to the 2011 census data, the per capita income for an Illinois resident is $29,376. Assuming a 5% state tax rate, more than 45,000 new individuals would need to begin paying income taxes to make up for the lost revenue that would result from the most recent incentives that corporations now want the General Assembly to bestow upon them. Lost in the discussion of this topic is that without new revenue, these giveaways are only possible by making additional cuts to crucial programs that impact working men and women across Illinois.

As more companies have begun seeking incentives from the state, the Illinois House has held hearings on developing criteria for how future incentives should be awarded – a new process that values the jobs preserved or created instead of the tax breaks granted, and acknowledges that for each incentive given, individual taxpayers will have to pay the difference. We will continue holding these hearings in January when the Legislature reconvenes during its normally scheduled session.

Emphasis was in the original.


- Posted by Rich Miller   52 Comments      

Question of the day

Wednesday, Dec 11, 2013

* What do you think is the likelihood of Gov. Pat Quinn’s reelection?

Take the poll and then explain your answer in comments, please.


- Posted by Rich Miller   75 Comments      

Yep, they’re just exactly like Mandela

Wednesday, Dec 11, 2013

* I saw this Illinois Review post a few minutes ago and cannot stop laughing

What could downstate GOP conservative House members Bill Mitchell, Michael Unes, David Reis and DuPage County’s Jeanne Ives possibly have in common with the late South African President Nelson Mandella?

All five agree those that register to vote should provide ID. South Africa demands its voters show an ID before entering the polling booth. […]

How do we know Nelson Mandela agreed with showing IDs? Here’s a photo taken at a 1998 rally at the start of the African National Congress 1999 election campaign wearing a T-shirt with the instructions: “Get an ID. Register. Vote.”

Actually, the bill introduced by the above legislators required already registered voters to show a state ID before they could vote. You already have to show some proof of residence to register in Illinois. If you register by mail, you’re supposed to show ID the first time you vote.

But, yeah, other than that, Mitchell, Unes, Reis and Ives are just like Nelson Mandela.

- Posted by Rich Miller   46 Comments      

A message from your buddy Bruce

Wednesday, Dec 11, 2013

[The following is a paid advertisement.]

I’ve noticed a few of you may have a few opinions about my campaign.

So is there a better forum for you to actually vote on what ad I put on TV next? I think not! Click here to vote!

And by the way you folks don’t know how either: A) painful; B) hilarious; or C) both it is for me to read Miller’s comment section! Nothing keeps me humble and grounded quite like this crew!

- Your buddy (or not),


- Posted by Advertising Department   160 Comments      

Quinn dawdles while Rauner burns it up

Wednesday, Dec 11, 2013

* Lynne Sweet interviewed Gov. Pat Quinn

Quinn’s political operation is skeletal, which has some of his backers worried. Quinn sees no need at this stage to put together a data-digital-social media-driven operation that is the hallmark of many campaigns because, he told me, he has an army of foot soldiers.

“There is no substitute for folks who go door to door. We did our petition drive in 10 days, got 55,000 names to activate that,” Quinn said.

OK, he can delay the social media stuff if he wants, but he needs to start ramping up his campaign apparatus soon. Believe it or not, Quinn doesn’t yet have a campaign manager, and that field operation of his is basically just a loose conglomeration of existing county, township and ward organizations.

Meanwhile, Bruce Rauner reported another $100,000 contribution today and $95,000 in contributions yesterday afternoon. He’s now at $6.2 million and rising.

But, yeah, no hurry or anything.

- Posted by Rich Miller   42 Comments      

More Golden Horseshoe Awards

Wednesday, Dec 11, 2013

* The nominations for our Golden Horseshoe Award for Best campaign staffer - Senate Democrats were focused on two people. But since this is a non-election year and since Giovanni Randazzo deservedly won it last year, we should definitely go with SDem fundraiser Dovile Soblinskas

Vibrant, motivated, and one of the key components in the political organization of the Senate. She runs a well organized operation, able to coordinate events for the President and caucus as a whole as well as individual members. Finally, she’s a master of motivation, forcing members to set reasonable goals and providing them with the tools and support to get there. People wondered about how much the SDems raised so much in 2012? Obviously Nicholson is the architect, but Dovile was the blueprint.

Dovile started as an intern and her hard work has made her a key member of Senate President Cullerton’s campaign staff.

* The Golden Horseshoe Award for Best campaign staffer - Senate Republicans goes to overwhelming favorite Pat Barry

He gets the process and understands how to build coalitions. He helped Sam McCann unseat Deanna Demuzio which was considered a long shot until Pat showed up and got them pointed in the right direction. As somebody who worked with the Chamber I saw plenty of campaign workers up close and Barry’s work was exceptional. .

Congrats to both. They earned it.

* And now, let’s move to today’s nominations

* Best campaign staffer - Illinois House Democrats

* Best campaign staffer - Illinois House Republicans

As always, it’s about intensity far more than the number of votes. So, please, fully explain your nominations or I won’t give them much weight. Also, do your best to nominate in both categories if you can. Thanks!

- Posted by Rich Miller   34 Comments      

The mystery deepens with resignation

Wednesday, Dec 11, 2013

* One down

The Regional Transportation Authority’s top administrator, one of two agency executives facing a state harassment probe, announced his retirement Tuesday.

The transit agency said Joseph Costello, the RTA’s executive director since December 2010, intends to step down at the end of February “to pursue the next chapter in his life.” […]

The announcement did not include any mention of an investigation by state Executive Inspector General Ricardo Meza’s office into allegations of sexual and racial harassment directed at Costello and his chief of staff, Jordan Matyas, who is House Speaker Michael Madigan’s son-in-law.

The Chicago Sun-Times reported in September that the Meza probe is focused on anonymous sexual and racial harassment complaints against Costello and Matyas that allegedly were made at meetings and were lodged more than a year ago. […]

“These accusations are part of a smear campaign orchestrated by those who would rather that the RTA not be empowered by law to provide the real, effective oversight that is so desperately needed to ensure that northeastern Illinois has an efficient and world-class mass transit system,” Matyas said in a prepared statement earlier this fall.

* More

The announcement came just two hours after the RTA canceled a special meeting Wednesday of its Compensation and Human Resources committee. The purpose of the meeting, which had been called Monday, was unclear but members were scheduled to have a closed session to discuss “personnel.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   13 Comments      

Boeing next in line

Wednesday, Dec 11, 2013

* The widely expected decision to consolidate the newly merged Office Depot and OfficeMax headquarters in Florida means the loss of up to 1,600 well-paying jobs for Illinois. The company had sought a state tax break, but none were approved last week

Office Depot spokeswoman Karen Denning said Illinois’ lack of an incentives package was partly behind the company’s decision. Other factors included taxes and the ability of the existing 625,000 square-foot facility in Florida to accommodate all of the new company’s employees. That facility is almost twice as big as the OfficeMax facility in Naperville.

Office Depot doesn’t yet have a timeline for moving its operations in Naperville and other headquarters staff in the Chicago suburb of Itasca to Boca Raton, Denning said.

The company has an existing incentives package from the state of Florida but officials there have not commented on any potential new tax breaks or other perks.

Dave Roeder, a spokesman for Illinois’ Department of Economic Opportunity, said the agency offered to work with the company on incentives that didn’t require lawmakers’ approval, but “the company did not pursue those options with us.”

* ADM is expected to announce soon whether it will locate its new “world headquarters” in Chicago without a state tax break

ADM reiterated its statement from last week, saying it is reviewing its options in the wake of inaction in the House.

“We expect to make an announcement soon,” a company statement noted. […]

However, a spokesman for House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, said the speaker would like to implement a more intensive process to help guide the state through the economic development process.

“We’re hopeful of putting together some kind of evaluation plan,” Brown said.

* And now Boeing is putting a new factory out for bids

Boeing had conditions from the beginning on the 777X [production factory]: big incentives from the State of Washington and big givebacks by its largest union here, the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers. The state came through, delivering in a special session of the Legislature a package worth $8.7 billion through 2040. But union members balked, voting down a contract extension last month that would have frozen their pensions. So Boeing began sending out requests for proposals to more than a dozen states and cities around the nation.

State legislators in Missouri last week delivered a $1.7 billion Christmas gift should Boeing come their way. Economic development officials in Alabama, Kansas, North Carolina and Utah — Boeing has declined to provide a full list of suitors — were putting together bids, too, and bragging about their respective environments of can-do optimism. […]

But [Washington{ state officials said they believed the region had aces in the hole that would ultimately prevail: experience in producing airplanes under deadline conditions and closer proximity than most of the competition to Asian suppliers and customers, an important consideration for ocean-borne freight shipment.

* St. Louis already has some big aircraft facilities, so Illinois could tap into that local expertise and was also invited to submit a bid

Illinois is assembling its own package, according to Illinois Department of Commerce spokesman Dave Roeder. “Illinois is responding to Boeing’s call for proposals regarding its 777X manufacturing center, which has the potential to create thousands of jobs,” he said. He added that the proposal will be submitted electronically today and a hard copy will be delivered to Boeing tomorrow.

“We believe our proposal is compelling for a company that already has its headquarters in Illinois. However, a confidentiality agreement prevents us from discussing details at this time,” Mr. Roeder said.

Boeing does have a plant in the Metro East area. But I’m really skeptical that Illinois could win this war.

A main reason Boeing moved its headquarters to Chicago was so that it could be the big cheese in its new home state rather than fight against its unions for political influence.

- Posted by Rich Miller   30 Comments      

Hardiman challenges Quinn sigs

Wednesday, Dec 11, 2013

* He’s got spunk

A little-known candidate for governor is hoping to take down Gov. Pat Quinn even before voters head to the polls next March.

Democrat Tio Hardiman and his running mate, lieutenant governor candidate Brunell Donald, filed a challenge to Quinn’s nominating petitions Monday, claiming the incumbent chief executive doesn’t have enough valid signatures to get on the ballot.

To qualify for a spot on the ballot, state law requires a candidate for governor to collect signatures from 5,000 registered voters.

Quinn says he’s just fine.

“We are confident in the number and quality of the governor’s nomination petitions,” campaign spokeswoman Leslie Wertheimer said Tuesday.

I highly doubt that Hardiman will succeed. But some Quinn allies have also challenged Hardiman’s signatures. That might be worth watching.

- Posted by Rich Miller   16 Comments      

Having their cake and eating it, too

Wednesday, Dec 11, 2013

* The Tribune published an editorial today that took a shot at Republicans who voted against the pension reform bill. They specifically called out Tom Cross and Kirk Dillard in an editorial entitled “Why did Republicans reject pension reform?” This was the paper’s chief explanation of its headline

Many of the Republicans depend on union support, even a few who describe themselves as backers of the tea party, shrink-government movement. They’ll tell you they’re all for curbing government spending — but given the chance, they voted “no.” They rail against the state’s fiscal woes, but they rejected the most significant cost reform legislation that had a chance of passing.

The nuances of the Dec. 3 roll call abound. Those nuances also explain long-standing weakness and division in this state’s Republican Party. If you can’t wrest your members from the thrall of public employee unions, if you can’t get them to support spending reform and limited government, how exactly do you distinguish yourselves from the other side?

Republicans by and large run for office in this state and nationally on a platform of fiscal conservatism. They pledge to improve Illinois’ business climate, to make this state more attractive for investment, to keep taxes low.

But when it was time to push the green button for pension reform, they turned into impostors.

The unions had nothing to do with Cross’ “No” vote. And while Bruce Rauner led the public charge against the bill, there was not a single mention of Rauner’s name in the entire Tribune editorial.

Instead, the Trib adopted Rauner’s rhetoric against the unions to rail against Republicans who took Rauner’s side.


* The Tribune editorial board tipped its hand about Rauner in a December 2nd editorial that also pushed for pension reform

Because they’ve owned state government through the Rod Blagojevich and Pat Quinn governorships, Democrats do own these problems. But Republicans in the past have been complicit in ruining Illinois’ finances — and in this campaign cycle, they should project the bold willingness to overhaul Springfield that might attract swing voters next year.

Will one of the Republicans running for governor emerge as Illinois’ answer to New Jersey’s Chris Christie, Wisconsin’s Scott Walker or Indiana’s Mitch Daniels and now Mike Pence, Republicans who persuaded their respective electorates to vote for revolutionary agendas?

We don’t know. Several of the Republicans come across as go-along-to-get-along candidates, proud that they know everyone in Springfield. In a state as blue as Illinois, that small-bore approach is all but guaranteed to be a dead-bang loser.

To my eyes, anyway, that looks like a preview of a Rauner endorsement.

Just sayin…

- Posted by Rich Miller   29 Comments      

Caption contest!

Wednesday, Dec 11, 2013

* House Speaker Michael Madigan shakes Rep. Carol Sente’s hand after last week’s pension reform vote…

- Posted by Rich Miller   70 Comments      

* Konkol out at Chicago Reader after "tumultuous ten days"
* Madigan asks Bustos, Mendoza and Ammons to "develop a plan for elevating the status of women in the party"
* Saturday quick hits: Mendoza wants Quincy veterans moved; Biss and Raoul report big bucks; Reader cover fallout intensifies
* Reader comments closed for the holiday weekend and some late news updates
* Question of the day
* Kennedy wows Daily Herald
* The perils of sticking too closely to talking points
* Fitch warns another Illinois stalemate could trigger rating downgrade
* More ads than you can shake a stick at: Rauner, Ruiz, Rotering, Quigley, Proft and Clark
* *** UPDATED x1 *** Latest Quincy Legionnaires’ case was Rauner's State of the State guest
* Ives release new ad, endorsed by Susan B. Anthony List, slams Trib endorsement of Rauner
* *** UPDATED x1 - Drury responds *** Appellate court rules unanimously that Drury should appear on AG ballot
* Rep. Feigenholtz files bills "to give strength to more victims"
* *** UPDATED x1 *** Kennedy again dismisses workers' comp as an issue
* Pritzker goes after Biss' "middle-class governor" claim, also airs ad featuring Stratton
* Will Gov. Rauner's cost-shift help wealthier schools and hurt poor districts?
* Biss airs new "middle-class governor" ad
* "Men and women who once were quasi-normal human beings become alien life forms"
* Lipinski wants IRS probe of Illinois Policy Institute leaders
* Surprise! Tribune endorses Bruce Rauner
* SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Today's edition of Capitol Fax (use all CAPS in password)
* *** UPDATED x2 - Brown: "We are not involved" *** Alaina Hampton sends cease and desist letter; Kevin Quinn arrested for violating protection order
* Yesterday's stories

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* Madigan says he's taking steps to end harassment, abuse
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* Opponents: Rauner insurance changes would hurt state workers, retired teachers
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* Officials: Man found in burning car in Mount Prospect was fatally shot
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» Mourners: Slain Chicago Officer Was 'One Of The Good Guys'
» Madigan Says He's Taking Steps To End Harassment, Abuse
» 2016 Report Put Quincy Plumbing Fix At $8M
» State Week: Governor Rauner Presents His Budget
» Rauner Budget Doesn’t Use 'Pixie Dust,' But It’s Fanciful Nonetheless
» Dem Candidates Dissatisfied With Madigan's Response To Sexual Harrassment Claims
» 10 Years After NIU, Shooting Survivor Reflects On Florida Tragedy
» Prosecutor: Slain Police Commander Was Shot 6 Times
» Cubs First Baseman Rizzo Travels To Florida To Offer Support
» Women Rising: The Push For Gender Parity In State Government

* Statehouse Insider: Don't spend that tax cut all at once
* Andy Shaw: Basic responsibilities in a democracy
* Lincoln Land Community College: Come see us at Campus Visit Day tomorrow
* Opponents: Rauner insurance changes would hurt state workers, retired teachers
* Can middle-class candidate Daniel Biss defeat millionaires in Illinois?
* Speaker Madigan: 'I take responsibility' for not doing enough on sexual harassment issue
* Bernard Schoenburg: 3 years later, Rauner tells similar incomplete story
* Former Lanphier player among the latest Legionnaires' cases in Quincy
* Heidi Stevens: I knew slain Chicago cop, and he was as wonderful as people are saying
* Ed Rogers: The so-called GOP-FBI split is a Democratic fantasy

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* Mercer County child dead after being in frozen pond
* Stolen property recovered during search in Herrin
* Cube champions: Rubik's Cube gains popularity with local kids
* Polar Plungers brave cold temperatures for a good cause
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* (No heading)
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* February 22 reception for Ketki "Kay" Steffen
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* Illinois Awarded Funds to Offer Advanced Training on Detecting Impaired Driving
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* IEMA Highlights Emergency Preparedness for People with Access and Functional Needs in May - Ready Illinois website offers preparedness tips for people, caregivers
* First Lady Launches Illinois Family Connects
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