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Rauner talks Levine

Tuesday, Jan 28, 2014

* After months of waiting, Bruce Rauner finally talked with Greg Hinz about his employment of convicted influence peddler Stu Levine

When asked this by his opponents at a candidate debate earlier this month, Mr. Rauner said he “didn’t know” Mr. Levine at the time — Mr. Levine wasn’t indicted on federal corruption charges until a year later — and that GTCR got the work strictly because it produced good returns.

“I didn’t have ‘a relationship’ with Levine. I didn’t know him,” Mr. Rauner told me. “I didn’t interact with him. What I’ve been told is that he was an employee of a company in which we had a minority interest.”

In further comments over our tea, Mr. Rauner said GTCR’s ownership in the medical-services company that employed Mr. Levine varied from 5 percent to 40 percent, depending on the time. Two other GTCR officials — not him — served on the board of the firm, he said. And the medical services firm was one of scores owned by GTCR at the time, all of which had a number of highly paid officials, he said, though I doubt too many people at just one firm made $300,000 a year.

Mr. Rauner added one other thing: Mr. Levine’s original hiring by the medical firm predates GTCR’s acquisition of the company by at least a year, he said. If that’s true, it strengthens his case that Mr. Levine wasn’t fixing things for GTCR. But Mr. Rauner said he does not have access to the actual Levine hiring contract, which was extended by a company that no longer exists. Nor could he provide a copy of Mr. Levine’s departure agreement in 2004 or 2005 — after Mr. Levine was indicted on federal corruption charges — or say whether Mr. Levine received any financial settlement.

Asked whether he played the Illinois political game with Mr. Levine and others in getting pension work, Mr. Rauner replied that GTCR would make its pitch “to the staffs of the pension funds. . . .We did not interact with the board members.”

* But former TRS executive director Jon Bauman had this to say

“Clearly, no one disclosed the (Rauner/Levine) relationship at the appropriate time,” Mr. Bauman emailed me. “On one hand, GTCR was one of four owners in a company that was one of maybe 80 to 100 in (its) portfolio. On the other, limited partners pay general partners (like GTCR) a good fee to know what’s going on in their portfolio companies and to be accountable for them. I’m missing the accountability here.”

After being against the Rauner company’s investment offer, Levine voted for it at the next meeting.

- Posted by Rich Miller   27 Comments      


Gay marriage law “work of the devil”

Tuesday, Jan 28, 2014

* Springfield Bishop Thomas Paprocki was interviewed recently about his exorcism in response to the new gay marriage law

Paprocki told LifeSiteNews that people in today’s permissive society seem to think that hate is associated with not letting people get “what they want.”

“Any good parent will tell you that sometimes you have to discipline your children. Sometimes you have to say ‘no’. Sometimes you even have to punish.”

“When a parent does those things, they’re not being hateful towards their children, they’re actually being very loving by correcting them and showing them the right way to do things,” he said. […]

“We just have to understand that we are going to be facing a lot of opposition and as I said, my whole point for doing the prayer service is realizing it’s the work of the devil that’s behind this.”

* Video

- Posted by Rich Miller   45 Comments      


Question of the day

Tuesday, Jan 28, 2014

* Bruce Rauner is to ____ what Gov. Pat Quinn is to ____?

- Posted by Rich Miller   63 Comments      


Illinois Republicans issue “reality check” ahead of SOTS

Tuesday, Jan 28, 2014

* The unions aren’t the only groups trying to spoil Gov. Pat Quinn’s State of the State address tomorrow. The Illinois Republican Party has tossed in its two cents…

State of the State: 2014

Rhetoric vs. Reality: Gov. Quinn’s failed record on jobs

2010 SOTS:

Quinn Rhetoric: “I think the number one issue in Illinois today is getting our economy back on track.”

“Our mission this year is to revive our economy and put people back to work”

REALITY: To date, compared to when Gov. Quinn took office in 1/2009, Illinois has lost 93,137 jobs, the number of unemployed is up 36,892, the labor force is down 56,245, and the jobless rate is up from 8.0% to 8.6%, the third-highest of any state.[1]

2011 Budget Address:

Quinn Rhetoric: “We must be a state that has a dynamic, growing economy.”

“We are creating jobs.”

REALITY: At that time, from 1/2009 to 1/2011, Illinois had lost 111,050 jobs, the jobless rate had risen from 8.0 to 9.4, and the Illinois labor force shrunk.[2]

2012 SOTS:

Quinn Rhetoric: “In the past three years, we’ve worked together to strengthen our economy and make Illinois a better place to do business”

REALITY: At that time, from 1/2009 to 1/2012, Illinois had lost 78,762 jobs under Gov. Quinn, the jobless rate had risen from 8.0 to 9.1, and the Illinois labor force shrunk.[3]

2013 SOTS:

Quinn Rhetoric: “In the last four years, we have created jobs, invested in our public works, and enacted major reforms.”

REALITY: At that time, from 1/2009 to 1/2013, Illinois had lost 29,068 jobs under Gov. Quinn, and the jobless rate had risen from 8.0 to 9.0.[4]

Quinn Rhetoric: “Fortunately, thanks to President Barack Obama, we now have the Affordable Care Act, which will improve the health of the people of Illinois and create thousands of jobs.”

REALITY: ObamaCare enrollment in Illinois[5] is only 1/5 of the way to its goal[6], and Illinoisans are signing up slower than the national rate.

Illinois has enrolled only 1 out of every 210 people, or 0.47 percent of the population,[7] compared to the national rate of 1 out of every 146 people, or 0.69 percent of the overall population.[8]

The 61,111 Illinoisans who have signed up for ObamaCare is less than 1/3 of the 185,000 Illinoisans who have received cancellation notices because of ObamaCare… so far.[9]

- Posted by Rich Miller   21 Comments      


Pure, unadulterated comment bait

Tuesday, Jan 28, 2014

* Jason Plummer discusses his Metro East strip mall

“Since we purchased Monticello Plaza we’ve probably added about 12,000 square feet of new space with tenants who are opening and operating; we’ve signed another 30,000 square feet that we have signed leases on, but they’re not open yet,” said Midwest Asset Group owner Jason Plummer. “It’s good, but we’ve been fortunate to work with the village of Godfrey; it’s a great community.”

Pizza World and Russell Cellular, a Verizon store, occupy a new building added to the Monticello complex. Pizza World, owned by franchisee Dave Stafford of Godfrey, opened last week; Russell Cellular will open Monday. Each will have a ribbon cutting and grand opening in February.

Also opening next month at Monticello’s main and existing building is LAG Gaming, owned by Scott Hampton, and next door to the video game store will be a second location for Complete Supplements, owned by Matt Hamman, which has a Maryville store. A few months ago Apex, a physical therapy business, opened next door to the antique mall in Monticello.

Republican Illinois gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner officially opened his campaign office Saturday at Monticello Plaza with a grand opening in the afternoon when he spoke to the public. Rauner is a businessman from Chicago.

I’m told that Plummer donated the office space to Rauner’s campaign.

Have at it, kids.

- Posted by Rich Miller   68 Comments      


Topinka, Cross and both their Democratic opponents endorsed by Equality Illinois

Tuesday, Jan 28, 2014

* From a press release…

The Equality Illinois Political Action Committee (PAC) today issued its endorsements for candidates running for statewide office in Democratic and Republican primaries in the March 18, 2014, primary election. All the endorsed statewide candidates have strong records supporting lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) issues, particularly regarding the freedom to marry. […]

Endorsements were based on answers to Equality Illinois PAC’s endorsement questionnaire, personal interviews, community input, and, where applicable, incumbent candidates’ voting records on important LGBT issues.

* The list…

For Governor:
Pat Quinn (Democrat)

For Attorney General:
Lisa Madigan (Democrat)

For Secretary of State:
Jesse White (Democrat)

For Treasurer:
Michael Frerichs (Democrat); Tom Cross (Republican)

For Comptroller:
Sheila Simon (Democrat); Judy Baar Topinka (Republican)

Discuss.

- Posted by Rich Miller   6 Comments      


Open for business

Tuesday, Jan 28, 2014

* The last two Saturday evenings, we were stunned to see that the parking lot was empty at the popular Ross Issac restaurant. After the second time, I turned the truck around and pulled up to the building. A posted sign said they were working on some equipment problems, but didn’t indicate a target reopening date.

Ross Isaac is an incredibly popular restaurant for Statehouse types, even if it is outside “the sandbox.” I like the place a lot and it has won at least one Golden Horseshoe.

* This morning, I received an e-mail from Sean Keeley, the chef/owner of the restaurant…

We had it rough last week getting things ready to reopen last night. There were rumors that we were closing for good, and I was hoping you could let your readers know we are excited to be back. I would greatly appreciate that so much, and I’d be happy to have you in to try some of the new items. We have a new menu and are planning our first Sunday brunch as well!

Thanks so much and take care, Sean Keeley

That’s a relief. And, finally, a decent brunch in Springfield. Great news all around.

And there’s no need to “have me in,” Sean. I’ll go on my own accord, and very soon. Maybe tonight. I’m pretty curious about the new menu.

* By the way, now that we’re on the topic of Springfield restaurants, I forgot to post the winner of our Golden Horseshoe Award for Best Political Restaurant in Springfield after voting ended. The winner was Sebastian’s, with Maldaner’s taking runner-up.

- Posted by Rich Miller   7 Comments      


This just in… We Are One Illinois Coalition files pension lawsuit

Tuesday, Jan 28, 2014

* From a press release…

We Are One Illinois Coalition files suit to overturn “pension theft” law

The union coalition We Are One Illinois and a group of active and retired public employees filed suit today in Sangamon County Circuit Court to overturn pension-slashing Senate Bill 1 (Public Act 98-599). Defendants in the suit are Governor Pat Quinn, other constitutional officers, the state retirement systems and their boards.

“Our suit makes clear that pension theft is not only unfair, it’s clearly unconstitutional,” said Illinois AFL-CIO President Michael T. Carrigan. “Teachers, nurses, emergency responders, and other workers and retirees will not stand by while politicians try to take away their life savings illegally. The legislature and governor shirked their responsibility to uphold the constitution, so we are seeking justice in court to right their wrongs. Promises must be kept, and the rule of law must prevail over politics.”

We Are One Illinois Coalition members include the Illinois AFL-CIO; Illinois Federation of Teachers; Illinois Education Association; American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Council 31; Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 73; Illinois Fraternal Order of Police State Lodge; Illinois Police Benevolent and Protective Association; Associated Fire Fighters of Illinois; Illinois Nurses Association; Laborers’ International Union of North America Local 2002; Teamsters Local 700; and Teamsters Joint Council 25.

SUMMARY

The We Are One Illinois lawsuit argues that the “pension theft” law violates the pension clause of the Illinois Constitution, which unequivocally states that a public employee’s pension is a contract that the state cannot diminish or impair.

Public employees and retirees “have upheld their end of that constitutionally-protected bargain,” the suit argues. It continues:

    “Those Plaintiffs who are current employees teach our children, care for the sick and disabled, protect us from harm and perform myriad other essential services for Illinois and its citizens. Those Plaintiffs who already have retired similarly dedicated their careers to the men, women and children of Illinois. And, each faithfully has contributed to his or her respective pension system the substantial portion of their paychecks the Illinois pension code requires.

    “Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of the State. The State chose to forgo funding its pension systems in amounts the State now claims were needed to fully meet the State’s annuity obligations. Now, the State expects the members of those systems to carry on their backs the burden of curing the State’s longstanding misconduct. Specifically, Public Act 98-0599 unlawfully strips from public servants pension amounts to which they otherwise are entitled as a matter of law, let alone fundamental fairness.

    “That is the very threat against which the Pension Clause protects.

    “The Governor and the members of the General Assembly took an oath to uphold the Constitution. They acknowledge that other options exist to remedy the State’s knowing failure to adequately fund the State’s pension systems. But rather than work to remedy the impact of the State’s conduct in a manner that comports with their oath, complies with the Illinois Constitution and upholds the State’s constitutional promise to pension system members, the Governor and General Assembly unlawfully look the other way.

    “Plaintiffs thus turn to this Court for protection and commence this action to defend their constitutionally-protected rights and protect the pensions they have earned. Plaintiffs request that the Court declare Public Act 98-0599, in its entirety, unconstitutional, void and unenforceable.”

CLASS ACTION

The coalition’s filing seeks to certify a class action representing all individuals, active or retired, who first contributed to the State Employees Retirement System, the State Universities Retirement System, or the Teachers Retirement System before January 1, 2011.

The suit’s 25 named plaintiffs representing the class are:

    Lee Ayers of Chicago, a clinical lab technician at a university medical center for approximately 25 years;
    David Behymer of Rushville, a retired teacher who taught art to children ranging from pre-school to high school for 30 years;
    Christine Bondi of Ontarioville, who has worked for the Illinois Secretary of State for approximately 28 years as a public service representative and administering driving tests;
    Monica Butts of Westville, a cashier with the Secretary of State for more than 12 years;
    Gary Ciaccio of Kankakee, who for 33 years has worked for the Illinois Department of Human Services, caring for people with mental health issues or developmental disabilities;
    Edward Corrigan of Pontiac, who retired after approximately 20 years as a correctional officer at an Illinois prison;
    Michael Day of O’Fallon, a high school history teacher for 20 years;
    Kenneth Dugan of Pesotum, an Air Force veteran and former state trooper who retired after serving nearly 30 years as a firefighter for the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fire department;
    Jennifer Edwards of Chicago, who retired after approximately 30 years in various positions at the University of Illinois at Chicago, including assistants to the History Department chairperson and the head of the Department of Pediatrics;
    Elaine Ferguson of Nauvoo, a retired teacher who taught kindergarten and first grade for more than 30 years;
    Denise Funfsinn of Mendota, a special education teacher for 29 years;
    Terri Gifford of Springfield, a health and physical education teacher for approximately 30 years;
    Gwendolyn Harrison of Springfield, who has helped citizens find information for 14 years as a librarian for the Illinois Secretary of State;
    James Herrington of Fairview Heights, a high school and college math teacher for 35 years;
    Marlene Koerner of Herrin, a retiree who taught for more than 30 years;
    Gary Kroeschel of Chatham, who has served as an information systems analyst for approximately 14 years;
    Ellen Larrimore of Chicago, a library specialist for the past seven years at Northern Illinois University;
    J. Todd Louden of Good Hope, who for nearly 30 years served in the Western Illinois University police force;
    Stephen Mittons of Sun River Terrace, who is a child protection investigator and has worked for the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services for approximately 19 years;
    Jose Prado of Willowbrook, who has worked as a correctional officer and sergeant in an Illinois state prison for 15 years;
    James Sheridan of DeKalb, who has served as a maintenance worker at Northern Illinois University for 13 years;
    Thomas Tate of Salem, a nurse who for 34 years has served in the Illinois Department of Human Services caring for individuals with developmental disabilities;
    D’Ann Urish of Springfield, a special education teacher who has spent 31 years educating middle school students with behavioral and learning disorders;
    Caryl Wadley-Foy of Bradley, who retired after 32 years as a secretary in a state residential facility for individuals with developmental disabilities; and
    Julie Young of Owaneco, an 11-year employee of the Secretary of State.

VENUE

The suit was filed today (Tuesday, Jan. 28) in the Circuit Court for the Seventh Judicial Circuit, Sangamon County, Springfield, Illinois. Sangamon is home to thousands of class members, as well as the state capitol and offices of the statewide officeholders and retirement systems named as defendants. Two of the three previously filed suits on this subject matter have been filed in Sangamon County as well.

STAY OF IMPLEMENTATION

In order to prevent irreparable harm to public employees and retirees who face immediate and irrevocable life decisions, and to avert unduly burdensome administrative complications for the state retirement systems, We Are One Illinois strongly believes that the pension-cutting law must not be implemented before its constitutionality is decided in court.

Consequently, the union coalition has sought for the past several weeks to reach agreement with the state Attorney General and the named defendants on a joint request to the court to enjoin the law’s implementation. Regrettably, the Attorney General refused. In its filing, We Are One Illinois reserves the right to seek an injunction.

The full lawsuit is here.

- Posted by Rich Miller   57 Comments      


Here we go again

Tuesday, Jan 28, 2014

* From a Bruce Rauner press release…

More Pension Problems

- Crisis Caused by Springfield Career Politicians Continues -

After touting a pension plan that allegedly saved the state $160 billion over thirty years, newly released bond documents expose major shortcomings in the overall scope of the new pension law.

Not only does the pension plan save $15 billion less than was promised, but the documents also reveal the shaky foundation upon which the entire plan is built. According to the filing, a fraction of the projected savings occur in the first 10 years of the 30 year plan.* The other projected savings are heavily back-loaded.

“This pension plan continues to look more and more like other plans crafted by Springfield insiders that appear good on the surface, but fail over the long term and make real reform harder,” said Mike Schrimpf, spokesman for Bruce Rauner’s campaign. “Like the 1994 pension plan that kick-started the pension crisis, the new law is shortsighted, unrealistic, fails to fundamentally reform the system and could make things even worse.”

According to the Chicago Sun-Times, the SEC cited the 1994 pension bill as the “primary driver” of the pension crisis.

“The politicians running for governor have all been in Springfield for the last two decades and played a major role in causing the pension crisis,” Schrimpf added. “It’s clear that career politicians are unwilling to shake up Springfield and won’t ever truly fix the pension system.”

“No wonder they also refuse to condemn the attempts by Pat Quinn and his allies to hijack the GOP primary,” Schrimpf said. “They all take money from the government union bosses and are part of the broken system of politics in Springfield.”

Pat Quinn Government Union Contributions
- More than $4.5 Million

Kirk Dillard Government Union Contributions
- More than $450,000
- Seeking endorsement from Illinois Education Association
- Seeking SEIU endorsement

Dan Rutherford Government Union Contributions
- More than $50,000
- Seeking endorsement from Illinois Education Association
- Seeking SEIU endorsement

Bill Brady Government Union Contributions
- More than $15,000

- Posted by Rich Miller   40 Comments      


No traction

Tuesday, Jan 28, 2014

* Maybe it’s because this Tribune story appeared a few days before Christmas, or maybe because the Tribune is no longer an AP member its stories aren’t being picked up by other papers like they used to, but it’s fascinating to me that this piece has gained absolutely zero traction

State Sen. Bill Brady’s homebuilding business has been sued twice for defaulting on loans worth millions of dollars since his last run for governor, including one case playing out in court as he seeks the 2014 Republican nomination.

Brady has built his political career in part on the success of his family’s Bloomington-based real estate development business, and he blames the recession that battered the housing market for the financial troubles that emerged as he launched his bid to unseat Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn in 2010.

The family business has continued to struggle. Just weeks before the March primary election, Brady is due in court in Bloomington for a status hearing on a $2.38 million loan default lawsuit filed against him, his brothers and several of their development companies after they failed to make good on a series of loans.

Last year, Brady resolved a $1.7 million default case in Champaign County Circuit Court by selling some of the mortgaged properties to a campaign contributor.

* Bill Brady and his family build houses. The national economic collapse wiped out a whole lot of home builders.

In May of 2011, just 726 single family housing building permits were issued in the entire state of Illinois. Things have improved a little, but not much. Just 1,011 permits were issued last May. Take a look, for instance, at this new report on “zombie properties” in Cook County to see how bad things still are.

So, I don’t really fault him for his family company’s troubles. Frankly, it’s even a little amazing to me that his company remains a going concern.

* And maybe that’s what’s really behind the lack of publicity here. Things sometimes happen to businesses that cannot ever be controlled by the businesses themselves. And if that’s the case, is this really an issue?

- Posted by Rich Miller   25 Comments      


A look back

Tuesday, Jan 28, 2014

* This week marks the fifth anniversary of the Illinois Senate’s vote to remove Rod Blagojevich from office. Kurt Erickson looks at what has changed

Construction: During his six years in office, Blagojevich and the legislature were unable to agree on a way to pay for a job-creating road, bridge and school construction program. Within a year of his departure, Quinn and the legislative leaders had devised a plan to legalize video gambling and raise taxes and fees on booze and motorists. The money has paid for not only better roads, but new copper doors on the Capitol.

Taxes: Blagojevich was true to his word when he said he would never support raising taxes. But that meant he had to use sleight-of-hand budgeting techniques — like tapping into pension funds — to finance his pet programs. His actions, as well as those by chief executives who came before him, left the state in a precarious fiscal position. Within two years of his ouster, a temporary increase in the income tax was approved.

Pensions: After balking for years, lawmakers last month finally approved an overhaul of the state employee and teacher pension systems. Although it likely won’t save any money while it winds its way through the court system, passage of the changes showed the General Assembly and Gov. Quinn were finally starting to figure out how to make tough decisions.

New laws: While Blagojevich was in office, his signature achievements included the expansion of a health insurance program for kids and an increase in the minimum wage. Since Quinn came on board, the state has legalized medical marijuana and gay marriage, approved new worker compensation rules and offered up some guidelines for a controversial oil and gas drilling process that will: a) create thousands of jobs; b) ruin the environment; c) or, do some of both.

Prisons: After years of listening to Blagojevich threaten to close prisons, Quinn actually did it. The governor moved inmates out of the Tamms super-max facility and the all-female Dwight Correctional Center, as well as closed juvenile prisons and a handful of halfway houses. The closures confounded many observers because they came at a time when the prison system is grossly overcrowded.

* I put together a retrospective video a year after his arrest. It’s probably worth another look

Man, I do not ever want to relive anything even close to that madness.

- Posted by Rich Miller   41 Comments      


Some stuff to ponder

Tuesday, Jan 28, 2014

* For a moment, let’s backtrack to yesterday, when Bruce Rauner and his three opponents were slamming each other over the upcoming anti-Rauner TV ad blitz financed at least in part by organized labor. This was Sen. Bill Brady’s retort to Rauner

Brady noted that union groups opposing Rauner in the primary are made up of members of both parties.

“Mr. Rauner fails to recognize that there are many union members — in both the public and private sectors — who are Republicans, who are disgusted with the failures of Pat Quinn, and who want to make sure their party nominates the best candidate to turn Illinois around,” he said in a statement.

* That’s not a bad point, although it is a little weird seeing the 2010 “right to work” proponent sounding so “moderate” on union members these days.

Here are some numbers to consider as well…

* Total Republican ballots cast in the 2010 gubernatorial primary: 767,485

* Illinois union membership, 2013: 851,000

In other words, there are far more union members in this state than Republican primary voters.

* Meanwhile, the Jacksonville Journal Courier doesn’t like the idea of unions meddling in the GOP primary

But does an attempt to drum up support against a particular person — one who has the potential to present an election-time threat to a candidate with union support — cross the line?

At some point it becomes less a matter of trying to steer an election and more a case of trying to hijack it.

Rauner’s campaign says it has already crossed that line and has blasted the initiative.

“Local Republican leaders and grassroots activists aren’t about to let Pat Quinn’s allies subvert the Republican primary, and neither should any of the other candidates running for governor,” said Rauner’s campaign manager, Chip Englander.

It’s understandable unions are uneasy. They have been bruised by a few of the decisions made over pensions and other matters last year and are closely examining some candidates’ anti-union stances. It makes sense they would be selective about where to cast their support and the flurry of dollars that will follow such a pronouncement.

Resorting to schemes that undermine the opportunity of all voters to have an equal voice in the election process is over the line, though, and has potential to harm public sentiment toward unions more than any political candidate could.

- Posted by Rich Miller   60 Comments      


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