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Today’s numbers

Tuesday, Jan 14, 2014

* The AP looks at concealed carry applications and the Cook County sheriff’s determination to weed out as many as he can

In examining 2,000 of the first 5,000 applications, the department has flagged more than 120 that it will recommend Dart object to. The law allows objections for what it calls a “reasonable suspicion” that the applicants are dangerous even if their backgrounds would not automatically result in denials of their applications. Among those flagged by the Sheriff’s Department are a gang leader who has been arrested — though never convicted — a dozen times on aggravated battery with a dangerous weapon and other charges, and a man who was arrested but not convicted of domestic battery and endangering the life of a child. […]

In Cook County, Smith said “the numbers are so high” that to keep up, the 20-person unit assigned to investigate the applications would have to be tripled in size.

But state Rep. Brandon Phelps, a sponsor of the legislation, said 30 days is long enough for local law enforcement to submit objections to the state panel made up of former prosecutors, judges and others. He also says it isn’t necessary to provide additional funds since local law enforcement isn’t involved with issuing the permits.

Further, he and others said that because applicants have already passed background checks to obtain the state’s Firearm Owners Identification cards, the state could find itself in court if the panel upholds scores of local objections.

- Posted by Rich Miller   28 Comments      


Question of the day

Tuesday, Jan 14, 2014

* These are not new arguments, but this is a new story

A coalition of business groups says that Illinois employers cannot afford another increase in the minimum wage.

Against the backdrop of minimum wage-related mudslinging in the Republican race for governor and the possibility that Democrats could push a boost in the minimum wage through the General Assembly this spring, the 18 organizations said an increase to $10 an hour is “far too drastic.”

“Illinois already has a minimum wage higher than all of our neighboring states, and we are tied for the sixth highest minimum wage in the country. If Illinois were to pass a $10 minimum wage, that amount would almost double the rate since only 2003,” the coalition said in a statement issued Tuesday.

* The Question: Should Illinois increase its minimum wage to $10 an hour, keep it as is or lower it a dollar an hour to the national rate? Take the poll and then explain your answer in comments, please.


web surveys

- Posted by Rich Miller   78 Comments      


Ignoring science

Tuesday, Jan 14, 2014

* Chicago may ban the indoor use of e-cigs

Several aldermen continued to express concerns about the indoor ban Monday, arguing there is no clear scientific consensus that the vapor emitted from electronic cigarettes is dangerous like smoke from tobacco products.

“It is a ban, because you’re making people go outside, you’re treating it just as you would an analogue cigarette or tobacco cigarette,” said Ald. Rey Colon, 35th. “You’re lumping it together in the same category even though you don’t really have any proof that it has any harm. You’re saying ‘We’re going to regulate first and ask questions later.’ ” […]

Ald. Brendan Reilly, 42nd, suggested the City Council adopt the part of the city e-cigarettes ordinance that regulates sales while putting off a vote on the portion dealing with indoor smoking in public places until more scientific consensus has been reached on the health impact.

“I’m certainly not here to defend Big Tobacco. They’re done enough harm in this country,” said Reilly, who smokes. “But I do have friends and family members who are using (e-cigarettes) to quit, to get away from combustible tobacco that kills people.”

Tobacco has all sorts of carcinogens in its smoke. E-cigs are just nicotine and water vapor. Also, I totally agree with Reilly.

* Meanwhile, the New York Times ran an article recently on an attempt to ban GMOs in a Hawaiian county

Scientists, who have come to rely on liberals in political battles over stem-cell research, climate change and the teaching of evolution, have been dismayed to find themselves at odds with their traditional allies on this issue. Some compare the hostility to G.M.O.s to the rejection of climate-change science, except with liberal opponents instead of conservative ones.

“These are my people, they’re lefties, I’m with them on almost everything,” said Michael Shintaku, a plant pathologist at the University of Hawaii at Hilo, who testified several times against the bill. “It hurts.” But, supporters of the ban warned, scientists had not always correctly assessed the health and environmental risks of new technology. “Remember DDT?” one proponent demanded.

* The Illinois angle

In November, Washington became the latest state to reject a ballot proposal that would have required labeling of foods with genetically modified ingredients.

At the same time, Maine and Connecticut have passed laws requiring labels on genetically engineered foods. However, their laws won’t go into effect until other states in the Northeast also adopt GMO labeling laws.

Against that backdrop, an Illinois lawmaker said he will pursue legislation this year requiring labels on foods with genetically modified ingredients.

“I’m dealing with this strictly as a consumer right-to-know bill,” said Sen. Dave Koehler, D-Peoria. “I’m not saying yea or nay to the health risks. I’m saying consumers have a right to know and they can make up their own mind.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   28 Comments      


Dillard vs. Dillard

Tuesday, Jan 14, 2014

* As I’ve already told you, Sen. Kirk Dillard responded to these claims by Bruce Rauner’s campaign…

“Kirk Dillard is the worst type of career politician. He’s double-talking and has more clout baggage than O’Hare during a snowstorm. The fact is Kirk Dillard and the other career politicians repeatedly clouted people into the University of Illinois and never thought twice about it. Voters know he is a hypocrite and will reject him.”

* Dillard’s retort when asked about it by Mary Ann Ahern yesterday…

“The one or two people that I have ever written letters of recommendation to for the University of Illinois are there. I think the ones that I wrot actually were rejected and you can check that out Mary Ann.”

Video

* OK, let’s check it out. From the July 16, 2009 Tribune

University logs obtained by the Tribune show that Dillard’s name was tied to seven students on the clout list since 2005. Three were admitted, but the state senator said his involvement rarely went beyond a formal letter of recommendation and that he never pushed to overturn an admissions decision.

Oops.

* Back to yesterday, when Dillard was asked if he saw a pattern with Rauner…

“There’s a pattern that began when Mr. Rauner hired Rahm Emanuel when he came out of the wrought iron gates of the White House even though the mayor did not have investment banking experience. He hired Rahm Emanuel and obviously it was to help him garner business in the private sector.”

Video

* Tribune today

But in trying to accuse Rauner of a “pattern” of clout, Dillard erroneously said Rauner “hired Rahm Emanuel when he came out of the wrought iron gates of the White House (as a top adviser to President Bill Clinton) even though the mayor did not have investment banking experience.”

Emanuel sought advice from Rauner, but Chicago’s future mayor went to work for an investment management firm, not a Rauner company. Rauner’s firm did end up doing a major deal which helped Emanuel become wealthy.

Obviously, the much bigger error was the way Dillard downplayed his involvement in the so-called admissions scandal at the U of I.

But if he wants to play in the big time, he’s got to play by big time rules.

So far, the media has been giving him a pass, mainly because it’s Rauner’s turn in the barrel. Dillard’s turn could be coming, however.

- Posted by Rich Miller   21 Comments      


Running mate disqualified

Tuesday, Jan 14, 2014

* Sun-Times

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Tio Hardiman should be allowed to remain on the March 18 primary ballot but his running mate should be barred from having her name appear alongside his, a state hearing officer has determined.

That good news/bad news recommendation disclosed Tuesday by the State Board of Elections now awaits a ruling by the eight-member state election board perhaps as early as Thursday in a decision that could ultimately wind up in the courts.

The board’s chief legal counsel, Steve Sandvoss, also has to weigh in on the case. His recommendation along with that of hearing officer Barbara Goodman will be presented Thursday to the state board. […]

Donald did not meet the requirement of a state law that dictates lieutenant governor candidates be legally registered to vote, Goodman ruled.

Nobody really knows what will happen if Donald remains off the ballot. State law requires that a gubernatorial candidate file with a running mate, but the statute is silent on what happens if that running mate is kicked off the ballot, withdraws or dies. I see lots of court time in the future, which won’t be good news for Hardiman.

- Posted by Rich Miller   17 Comments      


Old slam resurfaces, lawsuit results

Tuesday, Jan 14, 2014

* It ain’t beanbag..

A candidate for the Illinois General Assembly is accusing a former Chicago alderman of slandering him while stumping for another candidate at a West Side church last week.

Eddie Winters, a candidate for the Illinois House of Representatives 10th District seat, filed the suit against former Alderman Ed Smith (28th), claiming Smith referred to him as a “wife-beater” who “failed to pay child support and leaves his kids starving.”

The lawsuit, filed Monday in Cook County Circuit Court, alleges that Smith made the remarks while speaking in support of another 10th District candidate, Pamela Reaves-Harris, at Mt. Vernon Baptist Church on Jan. 5, 2014.

“I stand by my statement, because the record shows it to be true,” Smith said in a emailed statement. “Mr. Winters does not want the people to know his true character. The voters have the right to know who he is and his past.”

Winters is backed by Secretary of State Jesse White and Ald. Bob Fioretti. Similar allegations were made against Winters by a previous opponent, former Rep. Annazette Collins, who was also backed by Ed Smith. Winters denied the allegations at the time. Smith ought to either put up or shut up on these charges once and for all.

The incumbent in the five-way primary is indicted for bribery state Rep. Derrick Smith (D-Chicago).

- Posted by Rich Miller   4 Comments      


Rauner tries defense

Tuesday, Jan 14, 2014

* CBS2 interviewed Bruce Rauner about the renewed controversy over the alleged strings he pulled to get his Winnetka daughter into a top-flight Chicago public school ahead of other applicants

Rauner admits making a call to former Chicago Public Schools CEO Arne Duncan to see how he could get his daughter into Payton, despite what he calls a middle school attendance record marred by illness. He says principals have some discretion in admitting a small percentage of students, and parents have a right to make an appeal like he did.

“There’s nothing to apologize for that, there’s nothing wrong with it, and I would do it again and again,” he tells CBS 2 Chief Correspondent Jay Levine in a one-on-one interview.

Rauner said he gave money to Walter Payton Prep more than a year after his daughter was admitted there. He said he and he wife have donated millions to schools.

* OK, most people would only be able to call the local principal to file an appeal. Rauner went straight to the tippety top

So how difficult was it for an average Chicago student to be admitted into Payton College Prep the year that Bruce Rauner made a call to get his daughter in?

More than 9,000 students applied for 353 open seats in the 2008-09 academic year, according to data obtained by the Sun-Times through the Freedom of Information Act. This happened before the Chicago Public Schools system changed its policy on attendance records. That means for the thousands of students competing for 353 open seats, consideration was supposed to be based on test scores, grades, and students’ attendance when they were in seventh grade.

Mike Schrimpf, spokesman for Rauner’s gubernatorial campaign, told the Sun-Times that Rauner’s daughter “was admitted off the principal’s list, the same way many students have been admitted.”

Data shows that even by that measure, it’s an elite crowd.

Fewer than .0014 percent of Payton students were allowed in through principal discretion that year. […]

A source with specific knowledge of the admission told the Sun-Times that Rauner’s daughter was not a so-called “principal pick” but was let in following a phone call.

And he didn’t just write one check to the school. He also wrote a half million dollar check to the Chicago Public Schools Foundation.

* Also from the Sun-Times

Here are the largest donations the Rauner Family Foundation has made between Jan. 1, 2009, and Dec. 31, 2011. The foundation had assets of $50.7 million as of the end of 2011.

1. $500,000 to Donors Trust, Alexandria, Va., 2011

* From the Donors Trust “Building a legacy for liberty” website

The founders of DonorsTrust recognized the need for philanthropic resources and services to help donors effectively manage their charitable giving. Moreover, it was clear to them that there was no infrastructure dedicated to a nationwide community of liberty-minded donors and organizations.

DonorsTrust was established as the sole donor-advised plan dedicated to promoting a free society and serving donors who share that purpose. To date, DonorsTrust has received over $400 million from these donors who are both dedicated to liberty and to the cause of perpetuating a free and prosperous society through philanthropic means. Since inception, DonorsTrust has granted out over $300 million to over 1000 liberty-minded charities.

From the Donors Trust FAQ page

I need to reduce the capital gains tax liability associated with my appreciated stock, closely held stock, or unexpected windfall. Can DonorsTrust help?

Appreciated Stock

You own appreciated stock and want to distribute it to a number of charities and avoid the capital gains tax. Make one transfer of stock to DonorsTrust and receive the market value for your gift. Then at your leisure, request DonorsTrust to distribute multiple gifts from the transfer.

* From The Independent

A secretive funding organisation in the United States that guarantees anonymity for its billionaire donors has emerged as a major operator in the climate “counter movement” to undermine the science of global warming, The Independent has learnt.

The Donors Trust, along with its sister group Donors Capital Fund, based in Alexandria, Virginia, is funnelling millions of dollars into the effort to cast doubt on climate change without revealing the identities of its wealthy backers or that they have links to the fossil fuel industry.

However, an audit trail reveals that Donors is being indirectly supported by the American billionaire Charles Koch who, with his brother David, jointly owns a majority stake in Koch Industries, a large oil, gas and chemicals conglomerate based in Kansas.

Millions of dollars has been paid to Donors through a third-party organisation, called the Knowledge and Progress Fund, with is operated by the Koch family but does not advertise its Koch connections.

- Posted by Rich Miller   67 Comments      


The curious case of Keith Matune

Tuesday, Jan 14, 2014

* Chicago Tribune, May 07, 1991

A Woodridge man was arrested and charged with being a fugitive from justice after police discovered he is wanted on a larceny charge in Montgomery County, Va.

Police said they stopped a car driven by Keith R.W. Matune, 21, of 5921 Jackson Drive early Friday on the 6200 block of Belmont Road for driving with bright headlights.

Matune, who was taken to Du Page County Jail, will be extradited to Virginia, police said.

* Matune is now running for the Illinois House as a Republican against Rep. Ron Sandack (R-Downers Grove). He’s expected to have lots of support from groups on the right because of Rep. Sandack’s vote for gay marriage and his years-long battle with Dan Proft (whose PAC just received a $1.5 million check from a far right businessman). The House Republican Organization found the above story with a simple Google search, I’m told. HRO has vowed to defend all challenged incumbents in the primary.

The 1991 arrest in and of itself is probably no big deal. Things happen in life. But Sandack wanted to make sure Matune knew about this, so, apparently as a courtesy, he asked for a sitdown with Matune, and the two met with one person from each camp present to talk it over.

* Matune then issued a blistering press release

Keith Matune, who is challenging State Rep. Ron Sandack, claimed today that the incumbent Republican legislator threatened him at a meeting the two had at Omega restaurant in Downers Grove yesterday, January 12.

According to Matune, Sandack told him the meeting was a “courtesy” to inform him that members of the House Republican Organization (HRO) will be releasing unflattering, personal information about his past. Information that could damage Matune’s reputation in the community.

The information Sandack may have been referring to is a newspaper article from 1991 that noted Matune had been arrested for larceny, was an out of state fugitive from justice, and was being extradited.

Matune said the incident was an “innocent misunderstanding” and explained that he “unintentionally wrote a $150 check that was returned for insufficient funds while attending college out of state.” While home for the summer, he was stopped by local police for a broken headlight and was notified during the stop that there was an out of state warrant issued for an insufficient check.

Matune said he was “completely surprised and unaware of the situation,” and that he was not arrested and all charges were dropped within 24 hours after he made full restitution.

Sandack totally denies that any threats of any kind were made.

And he wasn’t arrested? Well, not according to the Tribune, but maybe the paper made a mistake. Still, there’s also this little matter of what looks to be mugshots

* And check out this DuPage County record by clicking here

the said defendant after having been charged in Montgomery County, Commonwealth of Virginia with the offense of Fraud - Insufficient Funds Check, in violation of Virginia statute 18.2-181, fled the Commonwealth of Virginia with the intent to avoid prosecution of that offense. [Emphasis added.]

* Back to Matune’s press release

According to the Illinois State Police database, Matune has no record of arrest, which is reflected in his employment applications. [Emphasis added]

Uh-oh. If he really was arrested, that might turn out to be a huge problem for Matune because he’s a teacher.

* And then he revealed something that HRO didn’t know about. Back to the Matune press release

Matune apologized for the incident in a press release, including an indecency charge during a fraternity prank. [Emphasis added]

Um, OK.

* Ormsby

Meanwhile, a GOP source told The Illinois Observer that Matune had contacted the Daily Herald and asked if he “could amend his questionnaire and they confirmed he answered NO to the question: Have you ever been arrested for or convicted of a crime?”

Oof.

If Matune is now attempting to cover up his 1991 arrest, he may have compromised the value of “it was a long time ago” argument by allegedly committing a fresh transgression, a transgression that would strike at the heart of his current character. Not good.

While the original charge would haunt Matune’s campaign, if he mishandles the response – that could doom it.

Uh-oh.

I’m assuming more will be on the way. Stay tuned.

- Posted by Rich Miller   44 Comments      


Another view on the pension lawsuits

Tuesday, Jan 14, 2014

* Jacob Huebert at Illinois Review looks at the three lawsuits filed to overturn the new pension reform law

All three suits allege that the law violates the Pension Clause because it makes modest reductions to annual increases in retiree benefits, commonly referred to as COLAs. The Cook County suit also alleges that the law’s increases in retirement age for some workers and its (generous) cap on pensionable salaries violate the Pension Clause.

The lawsuits’ claims don’t have merit. The COLA reduction doesn’t touch the benefits workers have already earned, but only limits increases going forward. COLAs are a way for the Illinois General Assembly to help retirees keep up with changes in the cost of living, which may fluctuate over time; by their nature, they’re not written in stone.

As for the higher retirement age, the Illinois Supreme Court has already held that the Pension Clause allows a change in workers’ retirement age even if it indirectly affects the benefits they will receive. And the pensionable salary cap – which, at more than $110,000 for participants in the Teachers’ Retirement System in 2014, is unlikely to leave anyone destitute – doesn’t violate the Pension Clause because it only affects benefits workers will earn for work done in the future, not benefits they’ve already earned.

Discuss.

- Posted by Rich Miller   95 Comments      


It’s your friends who hurt you most in this business

Tuesday, Jan 14, 2014

* From last week

“Anyone who wants to see more people going back to work should support lowering the minimum wage,” John Tilman, Illinois Policy Institute, said.

* From this week’s Crain’s we have Illinois Policy Institute writer Scott Reeder

I’ve been covering politics for more than 25 years. I’ve seen politicians prevaricate, flip-flop, quibble and just about everything in between. I’m never surprised when they do it. But it’s still disappointing.

The Illinois minimum wage is $8.25 per hour; the federal rate, $7.25.

Last month GOP gubernatorial hopeful Bruce Rauner told a Moline audience that he favored rolling back the Illinois minimum wage. Now he’s saying he doesn’t want that. He says he was just being “flippant” when he made the statement.

I’m sorry. I’m not buying it.

A lower minimum wage helps low-skilled workers enter the job market because it lowers employers’ costs to hire and train them. This enables more people to be hired and start their way up the ladder toward higher wages.

That’s pretty standard free-market economics, something Mr. Rauner has expressed strong support for. But those principles seem to be butting heads with politics.

* When your allies advise you to jump off a cliff, it’s probably best to find new allies.

Throughout pretty much all of last year, Rauner favored the standard Republican Party line about opposing any increase in the minimum wage. Then, one time in December (that we know of), Rauner switched to the Illinois Policy Institute position and demanded that the minimum wage be lowered. Rauner’s move has seriously damaged his campaign and has opened the floodgates of public criticism.

Let that be today’s lesson. Those guys are politically toxic. Rauner gave the group half a million dollars, but that doesn’t mean he has to listen to them all the time.

- Posted by Rich Miller   29 Comments      


Today’s best tweets

Tuesday, Jan 14, 2014

* From this morning…


And then…


Oops.

- Posted by Rich Miller   26 Comments      


Dillard asks the right question

Monday, Jan 13, 2014

* Oswego Willy has been making this case forcefully in comments for months

Gubernatorial candidate Kirk Dillard, R-Hinsdale lashed out at opponent Bruce Rauner on Monday following a Sun-Times investigation that Rauner used his clout to get his daughter into an elite Chicago public school then followed up with a $250,000 donation.

“I worry…what Chicago child was not let in to Walter Payton High School that had that advantage that Bruce Rauner’s daughter or anybody else’s daughter might have after going to such a great high school,” Dillard said at a news conference on Michigan Avenue. “I’d like to know who didn’t get in because his suburban daughter got in.”

This marks a new headache for Rauner one week after the Winnetka businessman reversed course on a previous suggestion to lower the minimum wage by $1 an hour in Illinois.

“There are two sets of rules. There are the Rauner rules and then there are rules for regular people,” Dillard said. “If Mr. Rauner is the nominee, there will be a drip, drip drip of stories continuing now through the election that will become a river and flood the Republican parties’ possibilities of beating Pat Quinn in the Fall and Illinoisans will then be subjected to a continued economic and social downswirl in the state of Illinois.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   63 Comments      


“Clark the Cub” debuts

Monday, Jan 13, 2014

* Via the RedEye, we have the new mascot for the Chicago Cubs…

* From the RedEye

“The Cubs are thrilled to welcome Clark as the team’s official mascot,” said Alison Miller, senior director of marketing. “Clark is a young, friendly Cub who can’t wait to interact with our other young Cubs fans. He’ll be a welcoming presence for families at Wrigley Field and an excellent ambassador for the team in the community.”

You can follow Clark on Twitter @ClarktheCub. He pulled a little bit of a Phil Jackson with his first tweet Monday.

“Still figryuing out how 2 tyype with these big pawz. Will gett lessons from @Cubs. Come back soon!!”

Your, um, thoughts?

- Posted by Rich Miller   66 Comments      


Today’s numbers

Monday, Jan 13, 2014

* Crain’s

In a post on its website the Civic Federation of Chicago says that, while sponsors of the bill estimated state taxpayers would have to contribute $1.2 billion less than previously required when the new [pension reform] law is fully implemented in 2016, the latest figures from Gov. Pat Quinn’s office come in more than a half-billion dollars short of that.

Specifically, the latest statements from pension fund actuaries indicate that “approximately $673 million” less in taxpayer funds will be needed in fiscal 2016, the report says. That’s more than $500 million short of the earlier estimated reduction of $1.2 billion.

In the report and in a statement, federation President Laurance Msall said some of that $500 million difference is due to improved investment returns by pension funds in the past year. With the stock market soaring, returns are up and therefore the amount of new money needed from taxpayers can be reduced.

But, even excluding that, the latest actuarial estimates in the Quinn report are $200 million different than the estimates offered by sponsors of the reform legislation, Mr. Msall said.

* Meanwhile, this argument sounds familiar to me…


Oh, yeah, now I remember.

It’s the same basic argument used by those who said legislators screwed up by not funding the pension systems, so pensioners should not be forced to solve the problem on their own.

Reboot and others argued forcefully against that logic. Regardless of past mistakes by the GA, pensioners should shoulder the burden.

- Posted by Rich Miller   19 Comments      


No current interest in pursuing back interest

Monday, Jan 13, 2014

* When Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka was ordered by a Cook County judge to immediately issue lawmaker paychecks, she didn’t take the time to calculate the owed interest. The judge ordered interest paid in the wake of Gov. Pat Quinn’s veto of lawmaker salaries due to their inaction on pension reform, but that interest hasn’t yet been calculated or paid and it doesn’t look like it ever will

Illinois Senate President John Cullerton said Saturday he will not seek interest payments lawmakers are due for going without pay for two months last summer, a shift from earlier comments by a spokeswoman who had indicated the Democratic leader would work to get the few extra bucks.

“We have no intention of pursuing the interest on withheld salaries,” Cullerton said in a statement. […]

If they sought just 1 percent interest each month — the monthly rate Illinois must pay vendors for falling 90 days behind on bills — taxpayers would be responsible for another $21,720. Divided evenly, that amounts to about $122 per lawmaker. […]

A spokesman for Madigan said he was “not aware of any discussions” about the possibility of seeking interest payments. Meanwhile, Quinn believes lawmakers should not accept the money, according to spokeswoman Brooke Anderson.

Thoughts?

- Posted by Rich Miller   12 Comments      


*** UPDATED x2 *** Rauner bites back

Monday, Jan 13, 2014

* From a Bruce Rauner press release…

BRADY, DILLARD AND RUTHERFORD EXPOSED IN CLOUT SCANDAL

“Kirk Dillard is the worst type of career politician. He’s double-talking and has more clout baggage than O’Hare during a snowstorm. The fact is Kirk Dillard and the other career politicians repeatedly clouted people into the University of Illinois and never thought twice about it. Voters know he is a hypocrite and will reject him.” – Mike Schrimpf, Rauner Campaign Spokesperson

BRADY, DILLARD AND RUTHERFORD USED THEIR CLOUT AS STATE LAWMAKERS TO GAIN EDGE FOR POTENTIAL U. OF I. ENTRANTS

“The politicians have been named as part of an investigation by the Chicago Tribune into the use of clout in the admission process at the state’s flagship university. … Others on the list include: state Sen. Bill Brady, R-Bloomington; state Sen. Dan Rutherford, R-Chenoa…” [The Pantagraph, Local lawmakers on alleged U of I ‘clout list’, 06/12/2009]

“In Order Of Most To Least %% Lawmaker # Requests # Known # Known Admissions Denials … Sen. Kirk Dillard (R-Hinsdale) 7 3 1 …” [Chicago Tribune, Who made admissions requests, 06/11/2009]

“…University logs obtained by the Tribune show that Dillard’s name was tied to seven students on the clout list since 2005.” [Chicago Tribune, Bill would fire beleaguered U.ofI. trustees, 7/16/09]

Considering his alleged involvement in the Walter Payton College Prep clout scandal, that’s pretty rich.

Discuss.

*** UPDATE *** From Sen. Brady’s campaign…

Senator Bill Brady, Republican candidate for Governor, released the following statement today regarding reports of Bruce Rauner’s clouting of his daughter into Walter Payton College Prep School in 2008:

“Again we see more evidence of Bruce Rauner’s attempts to wield his clout through his checkbook. It’s more political insider pay-to-play we don’t need or want in Illinois.

Clouting his daughter’s admission to a prestigious public magnet school and following up with $750,000 in donations to the schools smack of insider politics that stain the integrity of our party and strain the trust of Illinois citizens.

Political clout, favoritism and preferential treatment, as the Chicago schools’ inspector general found, have no place whatsoever in government today, and they will not in my administration.

I asked for answers from him yesterday, and I’m asking again today.

We don’t know all the answers, but we now know that Mr. Rauner followed up clouting his daughter’s admittance to Payton with contributions many times larger than the household incomes of most Illinoisans.

We know that GTCR, Mr. Rauner’s firm, got a $50 million investment in state pension funds when corrupt insider Stuart Levine sat on the Teachers Retirement System board and when Levine was also a $25,000-a-month contract with another company owned in part by GTCR.

That may be his way of doing business, but it’s not the way of business of Illinois and Illinois voters.”

*** UPDATE 2 *** Video pointed to by the Rauner campaign of today’s press conference by Sen. Kirk Dillard

As the Rauner camp points out, Dillard wrote 7 letters and three were admitted. That’s not the explanation Dillard gave today.

- Posted by Rich Miller   79 Comments      


Legislators want former gang members barred from some state employment

Monday, Jan 13, 2014

* Sun-Times

Two Republican state lawmakers are drafting legislation to ban former gang members from working for the Illinois prison system and three other state agencies in the wake of a Chicago Sun-Times investigation.

Under the proposal by Reps. Dennis Reboletti, R-Elmhurst, and John Anthony, R-Morris, a person who is “documented to have been a member of a criminal gang” would be prohibited from employment by the state Department of Corrections, State Police, the Department of Juvenile Justice and the Department of Children and Family Services.

The legislation comes after the Sun-Times disclosed that Xadrian R. McCraven, a former gang member, was hired to a six-figure job within the state prison system last year despite being found unfit to work for IDOC in 2007 and 2011 because of problems identified in background checks.

McCraven had been working for DCFS until 2012 but was fired from the child-welfare system for allegedly sending lewd emails and falsifying a job application. He was transferred to a $111,432-a-year job as senior adviser to the IDOC chief of parole after settling a lawsuit and a union grievance he’d filed over his DCFS firing.

Federal court records show McCraven’s criminal history includes two dozen arrests that had been expunged and three misdemeanor convictions. He admitted being a gang member for two years in the late 1980s in a corrections job application he filled out in 2011.

* Illinois Observer

Under their proposal, a person who is documented to have been a member of a criminal gang would be prohibited from employment by the Illinois Department of Corrections, the Illinois State Police, the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice and the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services.

For the prohibition to apply, there would have to be documentary evidence that he or she was a member of a criminal street gang, including a gang related conviction of gang-related offense or finding of fact by a court and would apply to all hiring by agencies including unionized and political hires.

* Tribune

Similarly, Rep. Ives is looking to address the situation in a broader sense with a proposal prohibiting a person with two or more criminal convictions from holding employment with the State of Illinois.

“I think the taxpayers of Illinois are fed up with these types of stories,” stated Ives. “To have a politically connected employee bounce between agencies collecting a high level salary with this type of record, all the while apparently falsifying qualifications is just not acceptable. And to have been repeatedly ‘placed’ into positions just leaves you asking more questions.”

Under her proposal, a person who has been convicted two or more times of criminal offenses including a felony, class A Misdemeanor or a DUI would be ineligible to be employed in any position by the State of Illinois. While it would exempt certain traffic violations and smaller class misdemeanors, the prohibition would apply prospectively to all state hiring including unionized, political, legislative and judicial employees.

* And the Sun-Times, which recently editorialized against allowing anyone to run for any political office who has a felony record, doesn’t like either of these proposals

Yes, McCraven’s hiring record raises troubling questions. We’ve made it clear in earlier editorials that we don’t think a guy like him belongs in a job like that. But two solutions offered Friday from three Illinois legislators are the wrong answer.

State Rep. Dennis Reboletti, R-Elmhurst, and state Rep. John Anthony, R-Morris want to ban anyone who ever has been a member of a gang from working for the Illinois Department of Corrections, the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice, the Illinois State Police or the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services. State Rep. Jeanne Ives, R-Wheaton, wants to prohibit anyone with two or more criminal convictions, exempting traffic tickets and some other minor violations, from holding any state job — ever.

Sorry, that just won’t work. Too many young people grow up in neighborhoods where it’s as easy — or perhaps easier — to pick up a gang affiliation or criminal conviction as it is for a North Shore teenager to be caught shoplifting. Denying these young people a chance at a good state job might close off the best opportunity they have for a solid career. As John Hagedorn, associate professor of criminal justice at the University of Illinois at Chicago, has pointed out, many young people leave gangs and go on to lead productive lives. Rather than ban young people, we’d be better off trying to help them get a stable foothold in society.

We know the primary election is coming up in March, meaning this isn’t exactly the best time of year for thoughtful legislative ideas.

But these two proposals should be quietly taken out in the back and dropped into the dumpster.

Thoughts?

- Posted by Rich Miller   29 Comments      


Just a coincidence?

Monday, Jan 13, 2014

* A few weeks before former Gov. Otto Kerner was indicted by a federal grand jury, Richard Nixon and his attorney general had a conversation about going after the sitting federal appellate judge. “I’d like to see you get him,” Nixon says. “Yeah, I would too, for a number of reasons,” Attorney Gen. John Mitchell replied.

There’s some profanity here, so keep that in mind if you’re at work. From the White House tapes

* Jim Thompson, who was US Attorney at the time, flatly denies that the White House was involved

Kerner “was a terrible witness,” and was “arrogant” and “hostile,” Thompson said in a recording. Thompson also said that while Kerner testified that he never interfered or gave orders on racing dates, “we had other evidence to the contrary” including “testimony of two of the racing commissioners that he had … ordered them to change racing dates.” Thompson also said Kerner said he never met with a certain official to discuss dates, “when the truth was found in his diary that he had.”

Also in DePue’s interview, Thompson denies any knowledge of influence from Nixon.

“I never saw or heard of any evidence that suggested that this was a personal priority of the president,” said Thompson. “The investigation that led to the indictment of Kerner was begun and carried out by career prosecutors … who had no ax to grind.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   14 Comments      


Question of the day

Monday, Jan 13, 2014

* Gov. Pat Quinn and Illinois Radio Network news director Jim Anderson…

* The Question: Caption?

- Posted by Rich Miller   38 Comments      


Reforming the EDGE

Monday, Jan 13, 2014

* The Tribune has an interesting story about efforts to reform the state’s EDGE tax credit for businesses

A case in point is Motorola Mobility, which laid off more than 1,000 workers in 2012 and fell below its requirement to retain at least 2,500 jobs but was still eligible for a tax credit worth about $11 million, according the state’s corporate accountability website and data the newspaper obtained for 2012, the latest year available, under the state’s Freedom of Information Act.

William Moss, a spokesman for Motorola Mobility, said the EDGE credit is assessed and disbursed quarterly, allowing the company to draw a credit for the quarters it meets its job retention commitments; the company is the only one allowed to draw credits quarterly, according to a spokesman with the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, which administers the program. And it doesn’t have to create a single job, according to its contract with the state.

“In August of 2012, we underwent a staff reduction that took us below 2,500 employees in the state, and, as a result, in (the third and fourth quarters), we did not request nor did we receive EDGE credits,” Moss wrote in an email.

Go read the whole thing.

- Posted by Rich Miller   3 Comments      


“Baron von Carhartt”

Monday, Jan 13, 2014

* Zorn

(W)ags at the Capitol Fax blog have taken to referring to [Bruce Rauner] as “Baron von Carhartt” after the brand of the rugged work jacket he wears in an attempt to look like a regular guy

* Kirk Dillard’s campaign appears to be behind a related Twitter account. From a now deleted tweet posted last night

* From the Baron’s Twitter page




* I’m not big on political nicknames. The Tribune has been notorious over the decades for tagging politicos with various monikers. For instance, the diminutive Mike “Hinky Dink” Kenna supposedly got his nickname from Tribune publisher Joseph Medill back in the day. John Kass has enthusiastically appropriated the historical practice, perhaps too enthusiastically for my taste.

But this one sure seems to, uh, fit.

- Posted by Rich Miller   34 Comments      


Mayer Brown loses state bond contract

Monday, Jan 13, 2014

* Ormsby

Governor Pat Quinn’s Office of Management today announced that it has selected a new law firm to serve as the state bond counsel, dumping its current counsel, Mayer Brown.

The Quinn Administration has selected the law firm Chapman & Cutler.

In a story broken by Capitol Fax’s Rich Miller, Mayer Brown’s former chairman and current partner, Ty Fahner, got embroiled in a controversy last summer over seeming to claim in a speech, which was recorded, that he had encouraged Wall Street ratings agencies to downgrade Illinois’ credit score over the state’s financial problems. […]

Now it seems that Mayer Brown, which won the contract in 2011, has paid the price for Fahner’s claims, which he later attempted to walk back – losing at $1 million in bond fees that come with being the state’s bond counsel.

In addition to Mayer Brown, Chapman & Cutler beat out 12 other firms to snag the contract.

- Posted by Rich Miller   15 Comments      


*** UPDATED x1 *** Monday puppy pics

Monday, Jan 13, 2014

* Gov. Pat Quinn’s Yorkshire Terrier passed away last year. He was heartbroken, but he started looking around for a new puppy a couple months ago and finally found one. Her name is “Rosie.” Let’s welcome her to the fold…

I’ve joked that Oscar is the most “famous” puppy dog in all of Illinois. He appears now to have some serious competition.

Also, considering what I’ve written about the guv over the years, I really doubt the two will have a “play date” any time soon.

* Meanwhile, I was on my way to a funeral Saturday and Jim Riemer sent me a pic of his tiny dog to cheer me up…

Riemer’s house is like something you’d see in Better Homes & Gardens. His back yard is straight out of Architectural Digest. He has a beautiful wife and two great looking kids. But his mouse-sized dogs (they both look like the one above)… well… um… wow. They both have very sweet dispositions, though, and Jim loves them with all his heart, so whattayagonnado?

* And just because I want to, here’s a photo of Oscar on his favorite couch yesterday…

*** UPDATE *** From Grant Klinzman…

Does Oscar do this too? Was trying to work yesterday and my dog fell asleep on the keyboard. Really benefitted the folks whose work I was editing and couldn’t hit delete.

The pic…

Heh.

- Posted by Rich Miller   17 Comments      


Pay to play?

Monday, Jan 13, 2014

* Last week, Bruce Rauner claimed that union leaders were “bribing politicians to give them unaffordable pensions, free healthcare, outrageous pay and benefits.” Sun-Times

After pulling strings to get his daughter into Walter Payton College Prep, Bruce Rauner, a Republican candidate for governor, became one of the elite Chicago public high school’s biggest benefactors.

The Rauner Family Foundation gave $250,000 to the Payton Prep Initiative for Education on Dec. 14, 2009 — about a year and a half after Rauner called then-Chicago Public Schools CEO Arne Duncan to overturn his daughter’s rejection for admission, records examined by the Chicago Sun-Times reveal.

Rauner’s gift was the largest the not-for-profit foundation had received up to that point. It amounts to nearly 30 percent of all the money the group has gotten during its first five years, according to records the Rauner and Payton charities have filed with the state.

Rauner’s gift to the Payton Prep Initiative came two months after his foundation gave $500,000 to the Chicago Public Schools Foundation, run by the school system’s top administrators. His foundation previously had given money to that organization.

Rauner, a venture capitalist, called Chicago school officials in early 2008. Within days, his daughter was admitted to Payton for the 2008-09 academic year by the school’s principal, according to a source familiar with the matter.

…Adding… Sun-Times

With Bruce Rauner already sweating a rough week in his campaign for the Republican gubernatorial nomination, state Sen. Bill Brady turned up the heat Sunday and demanded answers about Rauner’s relationship with convicted serial con man Stuart Levine.

The answer from Rauner’s camp: The men have never met.

“Bruce doesn’t know him,” Rauner spokesman Mike Schrimpf said of Levine.

But Brady, one of Rauner’s rivals in the race, stood in front of microphones outside the James R. Thompson Center on Sunday and questioned what might have been going on behind the scenes when Levine, a trustee of the Teachers Retirement System, joined in a May 2003 vote, with Rauner present, for a $50 million deal between the system and Rauner’s firm, GTCR. He left the firm in 2012.

GTCR had a stake at the time in Chicago Public Schools’ dental insurer, CompBenefits. And Schrimpf acknowledged that Levine had a contractual relationship with CompBenefits from 1996 until around the time of his indictment in 2005. But he said Rauner didn’t know that in 2003.

Schrimpf said CompBenefits was in control of its own contracts.

- Posted by Rich Miller   96 Comments      


Dillard attempts to move back to the center a little

Monday, Jan 13, 2014

* Here’s the rest of my syndicated newspaper column

Barely mentioned in the media’s coverage of the issue last week is that Sen. Kirk Dillard told the very same audience as Rauner that he favored allowing the “marketplace” to set the minimum wage and not the government.

That position is as unpopular as Rauner’s original push for lowering the wage by a buck. A very high 76 percent said they’d be less likely to vote for a gubernatorial candidate “who supported having no minimum wage whatsoever.” 75 percent of women and 79 percent of men would be less likely to vote for the candidate, as would 82 percent of Democrats, 78 percent of independents and even 63 percent of Republicans.

“Anyone suggesting eliminating it altogether may end up in the Guinness Book of World Records for the dumbest political idea ever,” said pollster Gregg Durham about the issue.

Maybe not, but close enough.

And again, subscribers have full crosstabs and results for more questions on this issue.

* Dillard has since been furiously backtracking. Eric Zorn

“You are being unfair,” Dillard spokesman Glenn Hodas replied when I shared with him my conclusion that his candidate’s position on the issue is the most extreme of all. “Dillard believes there has to be a minimum wage, and he voted to increase it when times were good.”

I will interrupt here to point out that it’s when times are bad — when working-class people are falling further and further behind — that demand for minimum wage increases is greatest.

Back to Hodas: “Referring to the marketplace, (Dillard) was talking about future increases based on the cost of living and that the cost of living is higher in places like Chicago than, say rural Tennessee.”

Oh, please. That’s not what he said. The full quote

“I am a, what I guess is known as a Jeffersonian free market principle guy. And I believe that the marketplace ought to set everything, including the minimum wage.”

* Illinois Radio Network

Dillard now claims what he meant was the minimum wage may need to be set according to different standards. “I am for leaving the minimum wage in Illinois where it is,” Dillard said during a phone interview today. “I am clearly open to whether we have an inflation factor for inflation over time in the minimum wage. But in the perfect world, the free market would set the minimum wage, but I’m not for rolling back the minimum wage like Mr. Rauner is.”

* But Bishop Trotter apparently didn’t see Dillard’s initial comments, or he now believes Dillard’s contradictory explanations. From a press release…

OVER 1500 TO HEAR BISHOP TROTTER EXPRESS HIS DISAPPOINTMENT CONCERNING BRUCE RAUNER’S FLIP FLOP STATEMENTS ON MINIMUM WAGE

“REGARDLESS OF RACE, ANY THREAT AGAINST THE MINIMUM WAGE HAS AN IMPACT ON ALL WALKS OF LIFE IN ILLINOIS”

SENATOR KIRK DILLARD TO ADDRESS THE OVER 1500 RESIDENTS IN ATTENDENCE

Sunday, January, 12th, 2013@ 11:30 AM
Sweet Holy Spirit Church of Chicago, 8621 S. South Chicago Avenue, Chicago, IL

Bishop Larry D. Trotter – Senior Pastor of the 8,000 member Sweet Holy Spirit Church of Chicago- will publicly express his disappointment and concern over recent statements by Republican Candidate for Governor Bruce Rauner. According to various Chicagoland Media outlets, Mr. Rauner has been recorded on at least two occasions indicating that if elected he would be in favor of reducing the minimum wage by one dollar. While Mr. Rauner has attempted to retract his statement, an additional recording has surfaced once again with Mr. Rauner saying that he is in favor of reducing the minimum wage by one dollar.

Bishop Trotter is making clear that he has yet to decide on a candidate to support. But he wants to begin hearing the platforms of all candidates, both republicans and democrats. Recent polls suggest that the November General Election for Governor will be a close contest.

Republican Candidate and Illinois State Senator Kirk Dillard will address the congregation and give his position on the minimum wage issue.

Hmm. Maybe Dillard’s appearance at that extremist rally against gay marriage last year is now paying off. Bishop Trotter was a backer of that event. And Dillard didn’t disappoint yesterday

“You never can get rid of the minimum wage, I voted to increase it in the past, which shows I don’t believe you ought to get rid of it, you’ve got to have it,” Dillard said.

Dillard was invited to Sweet Holy Spirit Church for Sunday service by Bishop Larry Trotter who blasted the wealthy Rauner.

* And then there was this remark to Bernie

“The senator has said that all budget items must be on the table when it comes to cutting state spending and wrestling with the state’s enormous debt burden,” said Dillard campaign spokesman Wes Bleed. “Funding for Planned Parenthood would not be exempted from consideration. However, he does not support cutting funding altogether for a program that does provide needed medical services for many poor and disadvantaged residents of Illinois.”

Discuss.

- Posted by Rich Miller   11 Comments      


Did he now create a problem with GOP voters?

Monday, Jan 13, 2014

* Here’s the first part of my syndicated newspaper column. We’ll get to the rest of it a bit later, for reasons you’ll understand when we do it

If Bruce Rauner manages to successfully back away from his recently unearthed statement from December that he favored reducing the state’s minimum wage by a dollar an hour he will have dodged a very serious political bullet.

According to a new Capitol Fax/We Ask America poll, the idea is absolutely hated in Illinois. Asked if they would be “more likely or less likely to vote for a gubernatorial candidate who supports lowering the state’s minimum wage to the national rate of $7.25 an hour,” a whopping 79 percent said they’d be less likely. That’s definitely a result that could move actual votes on election day, particularly in the context of the messenger: a hugely wealthy political unknown whose advertising campaign is trying hard to turn him into a “regular guy.”

Women were 84 percent less likely and men were 73 percent less likely to vote for a candidate who wanted to lower the minimum wage by a buck an hour, according to the poll taken January 8th of 1,135 likely voters with a margin of error of +/- 3.1 percent. Democrats were 90 percent less likely, while independents were 77 percent less likely and even Republicans were 63 percent less likely to vote for such a candidate.

As the controversy was building last week, Rauner told a Carbondale audience that if the minimum wage was increased here he would only support it if the state also made “our labor regulations and our tax burden much more attractive to small business.” He added that he could still support lowering the minimum wage “in the context of dramatically improving our schools and creating a business environment where everybody’s got jobs.”

But by Wednesday, Rauner had completely backed away, claiming he was “flippant” when he unequivocally said in a December forum in the Quad Cities that he wanted to roll back the minimum wage to the national level because Illinois’ dollar an hour difference was “hurting our economy.” After a huge firestorm of controversy erupted, Rauner claimed that he could actually support raising the minimum wage, as long as it was coupled with some key legal changes like unspecified workers’ comp and tort reforms.

The Democratic Governors Association, which has formed an Illinois political action committee that will likely be used as a conduit to attack Rauner in the GOP primary, attempted to counter Rauner’s spin.

“They say a gaffe is when a politician tells the truth,” said DGA Communications Director Danny Kanner. “In the case of Bruce Rauner, he showed his true colors when he said that Illinois’ minimum wage needs to be cut… and voters won’t soon forget.”

If voters do forget, then Rauner’s new position in favor of increasing the minimum wage finds favor with a majority of voters when asked: “Would you be more likely or less likely to vote for a gubernatorial candidate who supports raising the state’s minimum wage rate to $10 an hour?”

According to the poll, 55 percent of likely Illinois voters would be more likely to support such a candidate, while 38 percent would be less likely. Women would be far more supportive (62 percent) than men (46 percent) of such a candidate. And it’s a make or break issue for 81 percent of Democrats.

But a strong 65 percent of Republicans would be less likely to support a candidate who backed a hike to $10 an hour, so Rauner may have now created a problem with his GOP primary voter base.

Subscribers have crosstabs and more polling results on this issue.

* Related…

* GOP minimum wage debate could be muted by Democratic action: Steve Brown, spokesman for House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, said the House will be working “closely” with the Senate and Quinn on the issue. “It’s always a topic that is of great interest to Democrats because they understand that this isn’t anymore an entry level wage,” Brown said Friday. “I’m sure there will be plenty of House Democrats willing to take a look at it.”

* Rauner brushes off minimum-wage flap, attacks Quinn: “No, I don’t think it’s going to be a big impact at all,” Rauner said when asked about the issue that’s dogged him over the past week. Then, he blasted the governor. “Quinn is failing working families and low-income families in this state,” Rauner said. “He’s been a massive failure. We have brutal unemployment. We have jobs leaving the state. We are de-funding our schools, cutting school funding, and we’re shredding the social-services safety net. All the stuff that Quinn supposedly says he cares about, he is failing.”

* Rauner greeted by protesters in Elmhurst: He responded to the presence of the protesters by linking them to the unions to which many of them belong. “They are making their money from government and they are not really, really here about the wages,” said Rauner. “They’re here because we’re going to shake up those special deals they’ve got with the corrupt politicians.”

* Rauner Does Damage Control at Decatur Campaign Stop: “I’m not a politician,” he said. “I’ll have bumps in the road. Sometimes I’ll speak out of turn in a certain way, or be incomplete in my explanations. I’m sorry. I’ll correct it and I’ll move on.”

* Republican rivals try to capitalize on Rauner’s minimum wage stumble: Asked what damage Rauner caused Republicans, Brady said: “Well, here you’ve got a very wealthy guy running to cut pay for people trying to raise a family by $2,000 a year per person employed on minimum wage. That’s not what Republicans stand for. We stand for greater opportunity, not cutting pay to working families.” Brady has had his own problems with the minimum wage issue. Running against Quinn in 2010, weeks before Illinois’ $8.25 rate took effect, he said he backed lowering it to the federal rate for the sake of competitiveness. Brady altered his position to say the state rate should stay at the current level to allow the federal rate to catch up.

* Durbin adds to attack on Rauner: “I can tell you that people have forgotten his $18 watch,” Durbin said, “because a man who proposes cutting the minimum wage is out of touch with working families.”

* Editorial: Bruce Rauner’s epic about-face: The problem with Rauner seems to be that he wants to answer questions on his own terms when he is good and ready. That’s not the way politics works, as he is learning.

* Finke: Rauner trips over changing stances

- Posted by Rich Miller   8 Comments      


*** UPDATED x1 *** Rauner, right to work and a graduated income tax

Monday, Jan 13, 2014

* My Sun-Times column

Americans usually prefer it when rich politicians at least try to show that they’re just like everybody else, even if everybody knows it’s just an act.

So Bruce Rauner tried his level best, bragging about his hard-scrabble upbringing (on the tony North Shore) and flashing his $18 watch in countless TV ads (paid for by his own gigantic investment accounts).

And by December, two polls showed that the previously political unknown Rauner was leading all three of his fellow Republican gubernatorial candidates.

But then he really screwed up.

For months, he parroted the usual conservative Republican Party line of saying he was “adamantly, adamantly” opposed to raising the minimum wage because the government shouldn’t interfere with business “pay scales” and because doing so would “devastate” the state’s economy.

Nobody really paid much attention because that’s what most Republican candidates say these days.

But while all those “cheap watch” TV ads were running last month, Rauner said something at a candidates forum that should’ve made big news, but nobody really caught it.

“I will advocate moving the Illinois minimum wage back to the national minimum wage,” Rauner said. “We’re hurting our economy by having the minimum wage above the national. We’ve got to move back to the national.”

Politically speaking, demanding that Illinois’ minimum wage be slashed by a dollar an hour is about as dangerous for a candidate as having a heroin arrest record. No joke.

After the comment surfaced last Tuesday, Rauner tried to backtrack, telling southern Illinois reporters he would reduce the minimum wage once schools were better funded and the economy was humming along.

But that statement was beyond laughable, so then he said he could support raising the federal minimum wage to $10 an hour, and tossed in that he could even back raising Illinois’ current minimum wage if some unspecified business reforms were put into place.

But just as most TV viewers probably already suspected that Rauner has some expensive Rolex watches tucked away at each of his nine houses, it’s quite tough to swallow this recent minimum wage “evolution.” Only that’s far more dangerous for Rauner. Falsely posing as a regular guy is one thing, but don’t attack them.

If Rauner gets pegged as a filthy-rich clown who sneers at the rest of us, it’ll cost him the election. Heck, it could even cost him the Republican primary. So his campaign is trying extra hard now to humanize him.

A few months before he formally created his campaign committee, Rauner penned an op-ed for this newspaper praising “right-to-work” laws for offering union members the “freedom” to choose whether or not to join a union. He proposed letting Illinois counties enact their own local laws.

Ask just about any informed union member and you’ll find out pretty quickly that “right to work” isn’t about freedom, it’s about hobbling unions and forcing down wages.

But lately he’s been more careful about what he says. Rauner appeared on Roe Conn’s WLS radio talk show last fall and all but dismissed his earlier position, saying that the idea wasn’t even among his top three priorities.

On Thursday, he flatly denied that he was anti-union during a Downstate radio talk show, complaining that his opponents had been spreading a “false statement” about him.

So is Rauner one of those rich guys who believes working people make too much and have too much power?

If he backs away from his complete and total opposition to an Illinois graduated income tax where the working class pays less and the wealthy pay more, then we’ll know he has truly evolved.

But I wouldn’t even bet one of Rauner’s houses on that one.

* Rauner’s op-ed for several Illinois newspapers a little over a year ago that focused almost solely on implementing a so-called “right to work” law here in the wake of its approval in Michigan, Indiana and Wisconsin

This Midwestern trend for labor reform has arisen because more states are deciding that closed shop rules are unfair and hurtful to both employers and employees. Instead, they are giving every worker the freedom to decide for themselves whether they would like to join a union, rather than being forced to do so as a condition of their employment. A worker shouldn’t be under a union boss’ thumb any more than under a business boss’ thumb. Increasingly, employers are relocating to these pro-employment freedom states, and are looking only at those states when considering job expansion decisions.

These labor issues, along with high taxes, restrictive regulations and high litigation costs have pushed more and more employers out of Illinois for years. We used to lead the nation in manufacturing employment; now, we’ve declined to merely the national average. As employers and jobs leave, our tax burden is spread over fewer taxpayers, increasing the costs for all of us who choose to remain in Illinois. The result is a long-term death spiral that can be reversed only by becoming much more attractive to businesses and their investors and much more pro-job creation for workers.

Illinois need not adopt the exact reforms found in Wisconsin, Indiana or Michigan. But we sure need to move in that direction if we are going to compete for jobs.

One creative solution is available to us that has not been tried elsewhere. Under federal labor law, states may authorize their local communities to decide for themselves whether to embrace right-to-work. Why not empower Sangamon County, or Effingham County, or any of our other local governments to decide for themselves if they would like to compete for the jobs that come with new manufacturing plants or transportation facilities built by the many hundreds of companies that will consider expanding only in flexible work areas?

This approach would lead to greater capital investment, would increase incentive to hire Illinois workers and would grow the number of companies expanding in our state.

* Rauner backtracking on right to work with Roe Conn last fall…

* Rauner on Robert Rees’ Bloomington Cities 92.9FM Friday morning how: “I am not anti-union, that’s a false statement by my opponents”…

* Even so, here’s Rauner’s campaign website

We need to lower the cost of doing business in Illinois and make job creation our top priority. To do that, we can:

* Get rid of the Quinn-Madigan tax hikes and replace them with a comprehensive overhaul of the tax code that is fair to all taxpayers.
* Create Right-to-Work zones and allow local communities to decide whether workers must join a union in order to get a job.
* Enact tort reform and limit lawsuit abuse.
* Reform the workers’ compensation system to make Illinois competitive with neighboring states.

Notice that the “right to work zones” issue is second on Rauner’s list.

* Meanwhile, Mark Brown calls out Rauner on his anti-Chicago rhetoric

Rauner has already mastered the politician’s art of telling an audience what they want to hear, although he may be learning that has its limitations.

On Friday, I followed Rauner on his “Shake-Up Express” bus tour through central Illinois as he railed about Chicago receiving “special treatment” from state government and about “major vote fraud” in Cook County, always popular topics with Downstaters. […]

He also couldn’t explain exactly what he meant when he told factory workers in Arthur that “Chicago is getting differential [I think he meant preferential], special treatment, and that’s wrong. We should be one state where every voter, where every taxpayer, where every school child is treated the same.”

Pressed for specifics, he said, “The state is run by Chicago politicians,” as if that explained it.

Rauner says he expects to receive 25 percent of the city vote in a general election because of alliances formed through his considerable philanthropy in the Chicago area.

I wonder if he’ll use that line about special treatment in his Chicago speeches.

*** UPDATE *** From a press release…

Last week Bruce Rauner was caught “shaking up” not Springfield but his own positions on the minimum wage,” said Steven Shearer, chairman of the Republican Fund for Progress and Jobs. “Rauner used that big sledgehammer from his TV ads to smash his previous positions on the minimum wage when polls showed how badly Rauner–who had $54 million in income last year–was taking for proposing cutting the minimum wage by a dollar an hour.”

“Rauner bashes ‘career politicians’ but acts like the worst of them,” said Shearer. “As always, actions speak louder than words.”

“Demonstrating an inherent dishonest pattern of pandering to a particular crowd, flip flopping when the polls show he is taking heat, and most of all–outright lying, Bruce Rauner is proving himself as lacking the character necessary to be a good governor of Illinois,” Shearer continued.

New evidence of Rauner’s dishonest pattern exposes him publicly disagreeing with himself on the “right to work” issue. Downstate, in front of conservative crowds and on his own campaign web site Rauner promotes right to work in Illinois. However, on Chicago radio he dismisses the idea.

FACT: At the outset of Rauner’s campaign for Governor, on December 22, 2012, the Springfield Journal Register newspaper published an op ed written by Rauner calling for a law enacting right to work in Illinois by county. The editorial Rauner authored was published in full complete with his name and photo next to the op ed.

FACT: As of January 12, 2014, Rauner’s own campaign web site “jobs” plan under his “issues” tab has four bullet points of Rauner’s priorities to create jobs in Illinois. Right to work is listed SECOND out of the four bullet points he offers for his jobs agenda. (Maybe his own web site is “misspeaking” or being “flippant” again).

FACT: On the Roe & Roeper show on WLS radio last fall, when the hosts asked Rauner if he wanted to make Illinois a right to work state, Rauner responded with a list of things Illinois needs to do to for a better business climate. Rauner deceitfully downplayed his support of enacting right to work by saying–”I don’t think that is in the top few” items on his agenda. So enacting Right to Work in Illinois is SECOND in priority of his jobs agenda on his own campaign web site but “not even in the top few” of his jobs agenda on WLS radio.

FACT: On a later Roe & Roeper show a woman named “Susan” called into the program praising Bruce Rauner. The hosts asked her to give a specific reason for supporting Rauner so strongly. She immediately said she heard Rauner say he was going to make Illinois a right to work state. Co-host Roe Conn then immediately told the caller: “We asked Rauner that directly–he denied it here…he denied it here, now we’re talking about both sides of the street.” Priceless

QUESTION: Is this another example of Rauner “shaking up” his position on right to work, or is it taking a sledgehammer to his previous position on right to work?

“The issue about lying so boldly and so often is one of character,” said Steven Shearer, chairman of the Republican Fund for Jobs and Progress.” “With George Ryan and Rod Blagojevich, we’ve had enough Governors with bad character–we don’t need another.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   23 Comments      


Reader comments closed for the weekend

Friday, Jan 10, 2014

* I heard this song on the radio last night and needed to share

They turned around and I was gone

- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      


Ed Duffy

Friday, Jan 10, 2014

* Before we close out for the week, I need to post this…

Edward Duffy, best known to those he loved most as Dad or Papa, left this earth on Saturday surrounded by his girls.

Born in 1945 to Edward & Dorothy Duffy, it was obvious from the start that the world would be changed by this young boy. He made wonderful childhood memories with best friends and siblings, Bill and Patty. He married our mom in 1968 and together they created a family that loves like no other.

In the decades since he joined the work force he left his indelible mark on a variety of fields. From his early years on the Chicago Police Force to his years with the State of Illinois heading the Dangerous Drugs Commission, The Department of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse, The Department of Public Aid, and as Deputy Chief of Staff for Governor Thompson. Realizing as his girls grew that he wanted to spend more time at home, he moved to the private sector where he oversaw the rebuilding of Arlington Park Racetrack as President and then later the transformation of Sportsman’s Park into a dual-purpose facility that brought world class auto racing to Illinois with Chicago Motor Speedway. Undoubtedly his most loved job was his last - being Grandpa to 8 kids who were absolutely the loves of his life.

His legacy will live on in those he left behind; the love of his life Nancy, his daughters Colleen, Meghan, Kelli, Erin, and Cara, the sons he welcomed with open arms; Tim, Eric, Brent, and Scott, and most importantly his grandkids whom he loved with no limits: Katelyn, Madison, Braden, Bryce, Ansley, Everleigh, Finnegan, Brooklyn, and his newest due late this summer.

Instead of sending flowers, please consider a donation to either The Ronan Thompson Foundation or The Truth 365 as they are personal favorites of his, we know it would mean the world to him.

Memorial visitation Friday, January 10th, 3:00 until the time of service 8:00 pm at the Countryside Funeral Home & Crematory, 950 South Bartlett Rd.(at Stearns Rd.) Bartlett. 630-289-7575 or www.countrysidefuneralhomes.com.

Ed had a lot of friends and my heart goes out to his family.

- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      


The dogs of Munich

Friday, Jan 10, 2014

* I spent some time in Munich over the break. I went to college there for a year, so it was cool to see how the place had changed.

We also went to the spectacular Neuschwanstein Castle. I’d never been there, and despite the very long walk up the hill, the view was most definitely worth it…

* One of the things that really stood out for me was the number of German dogs who accompanied their owners to places that American dog owners are never allowed to bring their pets.

We walked into the Hofbräuhaus and there was a dog kicking back at his beer-drinking owner’s feet. It’s a naturally accepted thing over there. People bring their dogs everywhere and it’s just no big deal. Heck, there were even two dogs at the Louis Vuitton store (and, no, I didn’t buy anything there).

I think the Deutches Museum was the only place where I saw a “No Pets” sign. Every other spot was cool with animals, and they all behaved quite well.

Maybe that’s the difference. American dog owners are kinda notorious for letting their dogs get a little too rambunctious in public. Same goes for their kids.

* Oscar the Puppy is often a bit too enthusiastic in public, and his breed is infamous for joyously jumping on people by way of a greeting. So we have to keep a close eye on the little guy when he goes anywhere outside the grounds of the International Headquarters.

But he sure wasn’t raucous when we picked him up Monday evening. The poor thing was exhausted from playing with his puppy pals almost non-stop for two weeks. He slept all the way home, then went right to bed.

* Oscar is pretty much fully recovered today, but he was still tuckered out yesterday when I took this video

One day, I’m gonna take that puppy to the Hofbräuhaus.

- Posted by Rich Miller   19 Comments      


Everybody wants to get into the act

Friday, Jan 10, 2014

* From the DCCC…

Republican Bob Dold wanted struggling Illinois families to have the minimum wage cut, too. Before Republican candidate for governor Bruce Rauner set off a firestorm with his suggestion that he wanted to lower the minimum wage, Dold advocated for lowering the minimum wage during a live interview. In 2010, Dold was asked if he’d support a reduction in the minimum wage and argued he would support such a move. “Certainly lowering the minimum wage I know in my business I can’t hire anybody at the minimum wage but certainly if we lower the minimum wage more people will go back to work.”

“There’s no better example of Bob Dold’s refusal to stand up to the Tea Party’s reckless agenda than Dold’s proposal to lower the minimum wage,” said Brandon Lorenz of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. “Instead of strengthening middle class families and growing the economy, Bob Dold’s standing with the reckless Tea Party agenda that leaves them out in the cold.”

BACKGROUND:

Congressman Dold Supported Lowering the Minimum Wage. In 2010, Dold was asked if he’d support a reduction in the minimum wage. “I think the federal government in general needs to get out of the way, take regulation off […] Certainly lowering the minimum wage I know in my business I can’t hire anybody at the minimum wage but certainly if we lower the minimum wage more people will go back to work.” [Political Shoot-Out Interview WLS 890 AM Radio, 1/03/10]

* Audio

- Posted by Rich Miller   24 Comments      


*** UPDATED x1 *** Big buckaroos

Friday, Jan 10, 2014

* Conservative gazillionaire Richard Uihlein just contributed $1.5 million to Dan Proft’s Liberty Principles PAC, which is now an independent expenditures PAC.

*** UPDATE *** Illinois Review

When asked about this, Dan Proft, Chairman and Treasurer of Liberty Principles PAC told IR the organization’s resources will continue to be focused on state legislative races only. About Uihlein’s specific donation, Proft said:

    “The investment represents Mr. Uihlein’s ongoing commitment to the economic liberty policy agenda and to Illinois state legislative candidates who share that commitment. Mr. Uihlein’s financial commitment is shared by a growing number of Liberty Principles PAC donors who understand the need for new political leadership in Springfield in order for Illinois to attract and retain businesses and grow jobs.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   29 Comments      


Question of the day

Friday, Jan 10, 2014

* From last month

Chicago Bulls forward Taj Gibson became the 15th player to draw a warning for violating the anti-flopping rule, the NBA announced Monday.

Gibson drew his warning for a play that occurred in the first quarter of Saturday’s victory over the Cavaliers. A video replay showed Gibson exaggerating contact he drew from Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving.

No fine is involved. If Gibson draws a second warning, he will be fined $5,000.

* The Question: Your proposed “new rules” for Illinois politics?

It’s Friday, so try to have some fun.

- Posted by Rich Miller   71 Comments      


For him when it suits their purposes

Friday, Jan 10, 2014

* On May 29th, the Chicago Tribune editorial board implored, even begged House Speaker Michael Madigan to use all of his vast powers to pass a pension reform bill by the end of the spring session

Working your bill in the Senate is what a leader committed to pension reform — even you, the House leader — should do. It wouldn’t be the first time you’ve broken protocol to get the results you wanted. You do it all the time:

•You stopped your wristwatch on the final day of session in 1988, right before the clock struck midnight, to get a new stadium approved for the White Sox. For that deal, then-Gov. Jim Thompson was on the floor of both chambers muscling votes too.

•You lobbied hard for a controversial 1999 gambling expansion bill that would have moved a riverboat license to Rosemont. Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley lobbied for it. Senate President Pate Philip handed out cigars when the bill passed both chambers.

•In 2007 you called a rare committee of the whole meeting in your chamber to address Rod Blagojevich’s gross receipts tax. The hearing lasted eight hours.

•And two years ago you stepped onto the Senate floor to help pass a 67 percent hike in the personal income tax rate. After you worked the room, it passed.

Remember, Mike, you’re also chairman of the Democratic Party of Illinois. You and your majority-party-in-both-chambers can’t leave Springfield, yet again, without passing major pension reform. Which means you can’t allow ego and sandbox foolishness to derail progress. Not when your bill has come this far. Not when 62 House members, some of whom you finessed, already put “yes” votes on the board.

Work your bill to completion. Persuade Cullerton to call it for a vote. Get it on Gov. Pat Quinn’s desk. When it’s all over, we’ll buy you all ice cream cones to help smooth things over. We’re guessing you’re a sherbet kind of guy.

Deal? Hope so.

Sincerely,

Chicago Tribune editorial board

* On November 6th, the Tribune editorial board praised Madigan for working his magic on the gay marriage bill

Many people deserve credit for building support in the House and Senate, including the leaders, Senate President John Cullerton and House Speaker Michael Madigan.

* But yesterday, the Tribune reverted to form and blasted Madigan for being too powerful and argued for term limits

Madigan has been speaker for all but two of the last 31 years. Yet you didn’t elect him. The other lawmakers did.

They know he’s guilty of overreaching, and they know how to stop it. They could pass a law, or even a House rule, that limits how long any member can serve as speaker. Or they could, you know, elect someone else. But they don’t and they won’t.

Why? Because Madigan owns them. He draws their districts, too. He directs the patronage army that gets them elected. He bankrolls their campaigns, and here, too, he has granted himself an advantage: When the General Assembly passed the state’s first-ever campaign finance limits, Madigan made sure legislative leaders were exempt from those caps.

The blue ribbon ethics commission that championed those caps also recommended term limits for leaders. A bill was drafted and forgotten.

- Posted by Rich Miller   19 Comments      


Today’s numbers are bad, too

Friday, Jan 10, 2014

* Moody’s Analytics ranks Illinois dead last among the 50 states for projected 2014 job growth. The firm is predicting a growth rate next year of just 0.98 percent. Click on the pic for the full interactive map…

Indiana is ranked 25th at 1.60 percent. Wisconsin is ranked 32nd at a projected 1.49 percent growth for the year. And Michigan is 27th at 1.55 percent 2014 projected growth.

- Posted by Rich Miller   25 Comments      


Caption contest!

Friday, Jan 10, 2014

* Scott Stantis

- Posted by Rich Miller   47 Comments      


*** UPDATED x1 *** Fix it now

Friday, Jan 10, 2014

* One of the main reasons that I felt comfortable with the new fracking regulatory law was that the Illinois Sierra Club was at the negotiating table and agreed to the final cut.

But if the Sierra Club is this unhappy with the proposed Illinois Department of Natural Resources regulations, well, now I’m very uncomfortable indeed

Six months ago, Gov. Pat Quinn signed into law legislation that had passed by wide margins in both houses to regulate fracking, or hydrauling fracturing. The bill was the result of an agreement hammered out between drilling interests and environmentalists, and Quinn boasted it gave Illinois the best environmental protections in the nation.

But the devil is always in the details. It’s the Department of Natural Resources’ job to translate more than 100 pages of legislation into rules governing fracking. It’s complicated because no one is allowed to talk to each other ex parte, i.e., in private.

When the DNR put out a first draft of the regulations, no one was very happy, as often happens with complicated legislation. Environmentalists thought the rules were weaker than the compromise legislation envisioned, and the drilling industry had its own objections. And some grass-roots environmentalists have been complaining all along that the mainline environmental groups that participated in the legislative negotiations caved.

“We do think the DNR needs to go back to the drawing board on these rules because they are not as strong as the law,” said Jack Darin, director of the Sierra Club’s Illinois chapter. “We viewed the law as a floor, not a ceiling, in terms of protections. … Given the consequences of a mistake or an accident and the great difficulty of remediating contaminated groundwater, we need to make sure these rules are as strong as possible from the get-go. … We don’t think these rules are good enough to protect the public.”

The Sierra Club has been barraged with criticism by fringe groups on this issue, so it’s possible that things have just gotten too hot for the organization.

But Jack Darin stuck his neck way, way out on this thing, so DNR needs to accommodate his concerns as much as humanly possible.

Now.

*** UPDATE *** The Illinois Manufacturers’ Association claims that some groups are attempting to use the rules process to renegotiate the bill. From an IMA letter to DNR

- Posted by Rich Miller   56 Comments      


Another new Rauner clip surfaces

Friday, Jan 10, 2014

* So, does Bruce Rauner really believe in raising the minimum wage? Or is this just a position of convenience to allow him to escape the perils of his previous demands to cut the wage by a dollar an hour?

We may gain some further insight into Rauner’s thinking from this audio clip. Rauner appeared on Springfield-area tea party leader Fritz Pfister’s WMAY radio program in September. Have a listen…

* In case you can’t listen, here’s the exchange…

PFISTER: “Will raising the minimum wage actually help the people it’s intended to help, or will it harm them?”

RAUNER: “No, it’s a very bad idea, it’s a terrible idea.

“We’ve already got one of the highest unemployment rates in America, in fact the second highest of any state and far and away the worst unemployment rate in the Midwest.

“And raising the minimum wage will only devastate job opportunities for young people and lower income folks that need jobs first and foremost, rather than try to force businesses and interfere in pay scales that are competitive that allow businesses to thrive and hire people.”

He really needs to explain why he can now support raising the minimum wage to $10 an hour when he claimed it would “devastate” job opportunities and how he was previously so against “interfering” in pay scales. Yes, he says he wants to couple that hike with business-friendly law changes, but what, exactly does he want to do? And how realistic are his ideas?

* Meanwhile, a Tribune story cuts down Rauner’s attempt to explain away his position on lowering the minimum wage by saying it was just a “flippant” remark

Though Rauner sought to indicate he was rushed in giving an inarticulate answer at the Quad Cities forum, Rauner and his three foes for the March 18 GOP nomination had been provided the questions in advance, according to an email sent to the campaigns by the event’s organizers.

Oops.

* Also, here is how the Quad City Times reported on that December candidates’ forum where Rauner said he wanted a cut in the minimum wage

The four candidates got mostly business-centered questions. All opposed an increase in the minimum wage

Oy.

* The Dispatch did pick up on it, but buried it near the end of its story

The candidates agreed that taxes and regulations need to be cut, and oppose efforts to raise the minimum wage. Mr. Rauner went further than his rivals on the minimum wage by saying it should be cut.

The minimum wage in Illinois is $8.25 but Mr. Rauner said it should be cut to the federal rate of $7.25 to make the state more competitive in attracting jobs.

Gov. Quinn wants to raise the minimum wage to $10 an hour and argues that the $8.25 rate is insufficient to keep workers out of poverty.

What a difference a month makes, eh?

And it should be noted that while Rauner’s Republican opponents whacked him but good this week for proposing to cut the minimum wage, they were standing right there on the same podium with him in December when he initially made the remarks and didn’t utter a peep.

* In other news, Mayor Emanuel jumped on the bandwagon

“And I think the idea that anybody would even cross the mind of thinking about reducing it when the idea should be about how to expand it, strengthen it and make sure all of the other types of investments from health care to college costs are affordable and accessible to middle class families,” Emanuel said. “And the idea that you would reduce it is actually an idea that looks backwards and actually takes us down.”

* And in other news

[Steve Shearer], the treasurer and chair of a new committee aimed raise money to combat Rauner, said he could have launched a C-4 SuperPAC where donors would have been shielded. Instead, he has an independent expenditure committee where he will promote transparency.

“My effort is designed to be 1000 percent transparent,” Shearer told the Sun-Times. “It’s an independent expenditure committee. I have nothing to hide about this. This is all about informing Republican voters about the whole Bruce Rauner. Obviously, we’re in a Democracy and we want to provide voters with information to vote. It’s up to them to do what they want with it to the degree they find it credible.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   40 Comments      


Rate Rutherford’s new video

Friday, Jan 10, 2014

* Sun-Times writes about Dan Rutherford’s new campaign video

The video, a prelude to what future ads might look like, stays upbeat and away from mud slinging in the four-way primary. It’s thin on issues but gives you a snapshot of the candidate’s homegrown background, including that his family ran a pizza place when he was younger.

Puff video? Of course. But outside of Bruce Rauner’s “Shake Up Springfield” ad campaign, this is the first peek we’ve had into what other candidates may have to offer up in the run-up to the March 18 primary.

Some of the conversations between Rutherford and business owners or factory workers are a bit awkward. But cut down to 30-second videos for ads with a voiceover, there’s potential.

He’s gonna need a lot more than intro spots. Just sayin…

* Watch and rate

Dan Rutherford for Governor of Illinois - Bio from Dan Rutherford on Vimeo.

- Posted by Rich Miller   41 Comments      


Ballot troubles for Hardiman, Sanchez

Friday, Jan 10, 2014

* There’s an interesting turn of events in the Democratic gubernatorial primary. Tio Hardiman’s running mate may have some problems staying on the ballot. And that could raise some fresh, tough questions about Hardiman’s ballot access.

The State Board of Elections delayed a ruling yesterday and may decide next week. Kurt Erickson reports

At issue is whether the political newcomer’s running mate, lieutenant governor candidate Brunell Donald of Chicago, submitted petitions containing her correct address. […]

Donald acknowledged Thursday she recently moved but failed to change her voter registration.

“I was registered to vote at my old address, not my new one,” Donald told the Lee Enterprises Springfield Bureau Thursday.

For state election regulators, the case is potentially precedent setting because of a change in state law that now requires governors to pick their lieutenant governor candidates before the primary election.

If Donald is ruled ineligible for the ballot, there is no case law providing a roadmap for determining whether Hardiman would remain eligible to stay on the ballot against Quinn.

If they kick Donald off the ballot and not Hardiman, this thing will definitely wind up in the courts for quite a while.

* Meanwhile, Cook County Board candidate Al Sanchez is also having troubles. Tribune

A county election board hearing officer heard arguments Wednesday from an attorney representing Robert McKay, one of three Democrats running against Sanchez in the March 18 primary, as well as a lawyer for a resident of the South Side and south suburban district. The lawyers contended that Sanchez should not be allowed to run because he remains on supervised release following a prison term for rigging city hiring to benefit political foot soldiers under former Mayor Richard M. Daley.

State law allows a convicted felon to serve on the County Board, but election lawyer Adam Lasker said Sanchez can’t legally put his name on the ballot until he’s finished serving his parole. Lasker noted that Sanchez had to sign a statement of candidacy swearing that he is eligible to vote. Since Sanchez can’t vote until he’s finished his federal sentence, he’s not eligible to run, Lasker contended.

“He’s not eligible to be a qualified elector, he’s not eligible to hold the office. And he had to be when he swore on his statement of candidacy form, on that date, when he swore ‘I am a qualified elector, I am qualified to hold the office,’” Lasker said. “Those are false swearings. Because at that time he was not qualified.”

Sanchez lawyer Dan Johnson countered that what matters is that Sanchez was free from prison when he officially became a candidate last month. And Johnson said Sanchez will petition to have his supervised release terminated in July, well before he would take office if he won.

He’s still listed as “challenged” on the county’s website.

* The Sun-Times editorializes

By law, municipal offices are off-limits to convicted felons. So are school boards ­— last year a Cook County judge booted the Thornton High School District 205 board president because he had a felony record. But under the state Election Code, a felony on the resume doesn’t appear to bar a felon from running for the County Board, so the board is the first place felons look when they decide to run for political office. The Legislature should put a stop to this by amending the Election Code to extend the municipal ban to other elected offices.

We’re sympathetic to people who want to rebuild their lives and careers after serving time. They’ve paid their debt to society and deserve a second chance. But not in elected office. There are plenty of other careers they can pursue. Putting felons in charge at any governmental level sends a miserable message. […]

Let’s update the state’s Election Code to close the County Board loophole. Let’s make it clear we’re all for ex-offenders rebuilding their lives, but they have no place holding public office.

Thoughts?

- Posted by Rich Miller   22 Comments      


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Friday, Jan 10, 2014

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* *** UPDATED x1 - Checked wrong box *** Oberweis files FEC paperwork to run for US Senate in 2020
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* Question of the day
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* Amazon leads $700 million investment round for Rivian
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* Minimum wage roundup
* Poll: Five points separate five mayoral candidates as union money whacks Daley
* Should the state sell the Tollway to boost the pension funds?
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