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Won’t move the needle

Thursday, Feb 27, 2014

* Sun-Times

With less than three weeks before the March 18th GOP gubernatorial primary, Kirk Dillard’s running mate has a new move.

Don Tracy, the brother-in-law to state Rep. Jil Tracy, R-Quincy, who is running as Dillard’s lieutenant governor, filed papers this week announcing “Illinoisans for Jil Tracy,” an independent expenditure PAC.

The papers made public today announce that the committee’s purpose is to “support the candidacy of Jil Tracy and Kirk Dillard.”

Rep. Tracy’s family is quite well off, so I called Don this afternoon and he told me his total investment would be “five figures.”

That ain’t enough to do much of anything.

- Posted by Rich Miller   33 Comments      


Watch and comment on tonight’s debate

Thursday, Feb 27, 2014

* You can watch tonight’s ABC 7 Chicago gubernatorial debate by clicking here. The festivities begin at 7 o’clock.

- Posted by Rich Miller   85 Comments      


Many, many thanks!!!

Thursday, Feb 27, 2014

* Thanks to everyone who donated to Special Olympics Chicago on behalf of my really stupid idea to jump in Lake Michigan during this weekend’s Polar Plunge. Here’s the list as of 3:00 this afternoon. I see that my new column editor is at the top

Tom Corfman, Crain’s Chicago Business $50.00
Elgie Sims $100.00
Pete Dombrowski $50.00
Mike Pollak $50.00
Soccermom $40.00
Chicago Cynic $50.00
Marty Moylan $100.00
David Manning $100.00
Terry Steczo $25.00
Sen. Mike Frerichs $50.00
anonymous $100.00
Heather Steans $200.00
Dan Proft $100.00
Laurie $50.00
Jeff Glass $100.00
Mokenavince $50.00
Frank Calabrese $25.00
Dalai Lama $10.00
Don Moss & Associates $50.00
Nearly Normal $25.00
Cheswick $20.00
Grant Vaught $50.00
Uptown Progressive $50.00
RonOglesby $25.00
Jake From Elwood $30.00
ppanda $25.00
Nadine O’Leary and Josh Potts $100.00
32nd Ward Roscoe Village $50.00
Rep. Lou Lang $100.00
Samurai $50.00
a drop in $50.00
G’kar $25.00
Corvax Louis is trying to kill you $25.00
Glass half full $25.00
Chris Nybo $50.00
David Ormsby $100.00
Chavez-respecting Obamist $25.00
Dean $50.00
Mark Denzler $50.00
Peter A. Quilici $50.00
David McSweeney $100.00
Matt Butterfield $25.00
quicknote $20.00
Nathan Ross $50.00
Louis G. Atsaves $25.00
Anonymous $50.00
Susiejones $20.00
dupage dan $30.00
Kevin Fanning $25.00
lake county democrat $30.00

Y’all pledged a total of $2650. So, I’ll be adding that matching grand later today. We did good. I promised I wouldn’t bug you for more if we reached $2,000, but you can check out the donation page by clicking here - just for your own edification, of course. No donating required.

- Posted by Rich Miller   14 Comments      


Today’s numbers are grim

Thursday, Feb 27, 2014

* From a press conference announcement…

[Chicago Coalition for the Homeless] ran a statewide survey in December 2013 that asked public school districts and Regional Offices of Education to respond about the level of services reaching children and teens identified as homeless students. Sixty-seven percent responded - 36 of 54 sub-grantees under the federal McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act. Key findings include:

    · 52% responded that more than half of their homeless students do not receive needed tutoring or access to preschool.
    · 56% said that less than half of homeless students received counseling
    · 44% said their staffing capacity to identify and enroll homeless students is limited or very limited
    · 21% responded that less than half of homeless students get transportation assistance to get to and from school

The Illinois State Board of Education has proposed to restore $3 million in FY15 state funding for grants to school districts for services to homeless students, but the proposal must still be approved by the Governor and the state legislature. Funding was awarded for only one year, during FY09, though homeless enrollment in schools across Illinois has risen 109% over the past five years.

- Posted by Rich Miller   25 Comments      


Question of the day

Thursday, Feb 27, 2014

* Bill Brady is to Kirk Dillard as ____ is to ____?

- Posted by Rich Miller   80 Comments      


Questionable tactics, for sure, but little to no causation

Thursday, Feb 27, 2014

* A recent Scott Reeder column was discussed in a Senate Revenue Committee hearing yesterday. The column was about the owner of a small business that was allegedly run out of existence by the Illinois Department of Revenue. The column was headlined “Another small business closed by the Illinois Department of Revenue”

For 10 days last month, a state auditor camped out at their store – sitting at one of those tiny little children’s tables – reviewing three months of receipts.

And that’s where the problem began.

You see, Ergadoo is the sort of business that has many nonprofits as customers – schools, churches, nurseries.

Those types of organizations don’t have to pay sales taxes.

So, teachers, church secretaries and principals often come in bearing letters from the Illinois Department of Revenue declaring their organizations’ sales tax exemptions.

Susan and her husband dutifully record the transaction – along with their tax exemption number.

Sounds good, right?

Well, no. The Revenue Department says that’s not good enough.

Clause said the Revenue Department told her it’s her store’s responsibility to determine where the customer’s money comes from.

“How am I supposed to prove if someone comes in with a $20 bill and a tax-exempt letter whether that money is from a school’s petty cash fund or someplace else? I can’t. No one can,” Susan said. […]

After examining three months of transactions such as these the auditor declared that the store owed $800 in back sales taxes.

“I told the auditor the state spent more to have you here for 10 days than it will end up collecting,” Susan said.

Then the other shoe dropped.

“We were told the state would plug the findings of the audit into some sort of formula and come up with a tax bill for the last three years. We’re guessing that will be about $8,000.”

After the salaries they drew from their business that is more than the store’s profits for the last two years.

* OK, first of all, small businesses like that one don’t really report “profits.” The money made is converted into salaries and other income, and then taxes are paid on personal income.

Also, check out a statement posted on the company’s Facebook page, which wasn’t so clear

As many of you already know, in September of 2013, we opened Ergadoozy on the south end of our building. It has taken off with great success and for that we thank everyone who has come by and visited even once! We seem to be booked with parties ahead for 6 weeks and are starting to turn people away. So we are going to expand our play offerings at Ergadoozy come Spring of 2014.

Do to this, we need more room and the only place to get it is from the north end of the building, now housing Ergadoo;the educational supply and toy store. In order to make room for the Ergadoozy additions, we are now discounting the entire store of Ergadoo at 50% off. First come, first served. Anyone is welcome to shop and help clear out the space. […]

We were probably headed to this point eventually, but a recent sales tax audit by the Illinois Department of Revenue will severely change how we would have gone forward with doing business with tax exempt organizations. We would rather leave the marketplace with our good name than get caught up in the burdensome details of the state taxing system.

* It’s not good at all that IDoR was camped out at her store. And the decisions about whom to give the non-profit exemptions are, indeed, not so self-evident. A good CPA would’ve probably cleared all that up.

But, while IDoR’s allegedly excessive actions do make me quite uncomfortable, this store was going out of business anyway to make way for a new, more profitable concern. I don’t think we can directly blame the government for the closure.

- Posted by Rich Miller   29 Comments      


Bishop out at DCFS

Thursday, Feb 27, 2014

* I’m still puzzled why Quinn even appointed this guy in the first place. AP

The director of the state’s child welfare agency who pleaded guilty to stealing money from clients of a Chicago social-service agency 20 years ago has resigned from his post.

Department of Children and Family Services Director Arthur Bishop submitted a letter of resignation to Gov. Pat Quinn’s office Wednesday. The letter notes that his background could be a distraction for Quinn in the upcoming election.

The Chicago Sun Times and WBEZ Radio reported last week that Bishop pleaded guilty to theft in the mid-1990s for taking money from patients at Chicago mental health center.

Quinn’s spokeswoman says the governor immediately appointed a new acting director of the agency. Attorney and social worker Bobbie Gregg was appointed for a 60-day term while a search for a full-time replacement begins.

* Bishop’s resignation letter was quite bitter

While your political rivals may be willing to attack me in an effort to obtain some modicum of political advantage, I cannot agree to be used as a distraction to the real issues that face the state and the children that remain in state custody.”

* Oof

The announcement of Bishop’s resignation came shortly after the news organizations had posted a story in which a daughter, Erica Bishop, questioned how Arthur Bishop could care for the state’s most troubled children given that he had shunned her for her entire life — even after DNA testing proved she was his daughter nearly 11 years ago.

“He’s supposed to be protecting the kids of the state — and you’ve got a kid out here you never done anything for,” Erica Bishop said. “He left me as a father, which I think that’s unfair to me and it’s unfair to my kids. . . . As far as them wanting to keep giving him higher positions to look over people’s kids, I don’t agree.”

Sun-Times and WBEZ reporters interviewed Erica Bishop on Tuesday morning and requested an interview with Arthur Bishop that afternoon.

- Posted by Rich Miller   59 Comments      


*** UPDATED x1 - Frerichs does the same *** Quinn donates tainted contribution to charity

Thursday, Feb 27, 2014

* After reports surfaced that a high-level employee with the Department of Natural Resources had accepted a large campaign contribution from a coal mining company and then transferred half of that to Gov. Pat Quinn’s campaign fund, the governor’s campaign press office released this statement…

Statement from Quinn Campaign Regarding Campaign Contributions

To be clear, as a matter of campaign policy, we do not accept political contributions from state employees.

Immediately upon learning today of previous donations from this entity and their connection to a state employee, the Governor directed that these funds be donated to worthy charities across Illinois.

The Trooper Douglas Balder Benefit Fund, the Illinois Military Family Relief Fund, the Chicago Urban League and the Illinois Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund will each receive $2,000 in donations. This exceeds the total contributed by the Douglas County Democrats.

Again, it is our policy to not accept donations from state employees.

Discuss.

*** UPDATE *** Sen. Frerichs has also donated the cash to charity

The News-Gazette reported earlier this week that Quinn had received $5,000 and Frerichs $250 from the Douglas County Democratic Party last August. That money apparently originated with Foresight Energy Services Co. of St. Louis, which operates coal mines in Illinois. […]

Frerichs, D-Champaign, said Thursday that he had donated $250 to the Eastern Illinois Foodbank in Urbana.

- Posted by Rich Miller   33 Comments      


Credit Union (noun) – not-for-profit, consumer-focused cooperative

Thursday, Feb 27, 2014

[The following is a paid advertisement.]

Credit unions are not-for-profit financial cooperatives. They were first exempted from federal income taxes in 1917 to fulfill a special mission as valuable and affordable cooperative alternatives to for-profit banks. Even though credit unions are exempt from income tax, they still are subject to, and pay, property, payroll, and sales taxes, and a host of governmental regulatory supervision fees. Since their inception, credit unions have more than fulfilled their mission, as evidenced by Congressional codification of the credit union tax exemption in 1951 and 1998. Though the range of services has evolved to effectively serve their members in an increasingly competitive financial marketplace, the cooperative structure, which is the reason for their tax exempt status, has remained constant. Nationally, consumers benefit to the tune of $10 billion annually because credit unions are tax-exempt. In Illinois, by most recent estimates credit unions annually provide nearly $195 million in direct financial benefits to almost three million members. In an era that continuously poses economic and financial challenges, credit unions remain true to one principle - people before profits - and represent a highly valued resource by consumers during these uncertain economic times.

- Posted by Advertising Department   Comments Off      


S&P states the obvious

Thursday, Feb 27, 2014

* Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services is releasing a report today which will hopefully stifle the goofballs who continue to compare Chicago to Detroit

“We believe Chicago can largely control its own fate, whereas Detroit cannot, nor will it be able to for some time. In our view, this may be the key difference between the two cities and may be what will allow Chicago to work through its problems rather than follow Detroit’s path on the road to bankruptcy,” concluded the report, titled “Will Chicago Suffer Detroit’s Fate?” […]

“We saw … a comparison people were making (but) our criteria made it look starkly different,” Ridley said. “People wanted to draw comparisons, where we didn’t necessarily think there were comparisons that made sense from a credit standpoint.”

The report notes that Chicago has a much higher median per-capita income, higher housing values, a lower unemployment rate and a much slower rate of population decrease over the past six decades. It also points to the 22-year tenure of former Mayor Richard M. Daley and the city’s long-range financial plans, which it lists as signs of stronger management than the Motor City, where the entrance to the mayor’s office has been something of a revolving door in recent years.

Chicago also set more money aside for financial rainy days, has more cash on hand and has a far greater ability to meet its debt obligations despite a reluctance to increase taxes.

* More

S&P added that it believes “the magnitude of Chicago’s budgetary issues does not put it in the same league as Detroit.”

* Maybe Eden Martin, who favors allowing Chicago to declare bankruptcy, will read the report today. Then again, maybe he’ll just echo this guy

Civic Federation President Laurence Msall said the report is another reminder that state lawmakers need to pass pension changes for Chicago. “We should take little solace that we are not the largest bankrupt city in America,” Msall said.

- Posted by Rich Miller   34 Comments      


Unions want to block Rauner from spending own money on his campaign

Thursday, Feb 27, 2014

* Sun-Times

The AFL-CIO, which has nearly 900,000 members in Illinois, filed a complaint with the Office of the Executive Inspector General, alleging that Rauner is violating the state’s procurement code because of Rauner’s former chairmanship of GTCR. GTCR has won millions of dollars in Illinois pension business, through the Teachers Retirement System.

According to the complaint, Rauner must wait two years before donating money to any candidate — even himself — under the procurement code.

Rauner resigned from GTCR on Oct. 19, 2012. Under the AFL-CIO’s way of thinking, Rauner would have to wait until Oct. 19 2014 (right before the general election) before he could donate to his own campaign.

“We filed a complaint and we feel very strongly it is a significant conflict of interest,” Illinois AFL-CIO President Mike Carrigan told the Sun-Times. “We strongly feel is a violation of the Illinois procurement code.”

* Tribune

Rauner spokesman Mike Schrimpf contended the unions were “allies” of Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn and were acting “beyond the point of desperation.”

“The complaint fails on its face and is conceptually ridiculous. Bruce first contributed to his exploratory committee nearly a year ago, and the government union bosses finally filing this now only confirms that they know Bruce will defeat Quinn and shake up the status quo in Springfield,” Schrimpf said in a statement.

Officials from the Office of Executive Inspector General said they could not comment on the complaint, which the AFL-CIO filed late last week. An official in the inspector general’s office was not familiar with any previous complaints over alleged violations of prohibited donations by state contractors dealing with political candidates.

* The complaint can be found by clicking here.

* And here’s the actual statute referenced in the complaint

Any business entity whose contracts with State agencies, in the aggregate, annually total more than $50,000, and any affiliated entities or affiliated persons of such business entity, are prohibited from making any contributions to any political committees established to promote the candidacy of (i) the officeholder responsible for awarding the contracts or (ii) any other declared candidate for that office.

This prohibition shall be effective for the duration of the term of office of the incumbent officeholder awarding the contracts or for a period of 2 years following the expiration or termination of the contracts, whichever is longer.

This is a fascinating case because I think the statute could be seen at least a couple of different ways. Still, I gotta wonder whether prohibiting somebody from spending cash on his own campaign would be constitutional.

My question, which hasn’t yet been answered, is: “Why the heck did the unions wait until Rauner had spent $5 million to file this thing?”

- Posted by Rich Miller   134 Comments      


Illinois’ Report Card Grade Shows Emergency Care Environment in Critical Need of Improvement

Thursday, Feb 27, 2014

[The following is a paid advertisement.]

A new state-by-state report card evaluating America’s support for emergency care has been released, and the results for Illinois are dire: Illinois is ranked 45th in the nation with a grade of D.

This ranking is a striking decline from the 27th place and grade C Illinois received in 2009. The message is clear: Without action, the emergency care environment in Illinois continues to worsen — threatening access to life-saving care for the citizens of Illinois.

Review the complete results of “America’s Emergency Care Environment, A State-by-State Report Card – 2014” produced by the American College of Emergency Physicians online at emreportcard.org.

Emergency care is the safety net of the health care system, and state support is key to maintaining this safety net. The 2014 Report Card shows the lack of support and limited resources in Illinois have stretched it to breaking point. Without significant changes, access to care for Illinois citizens is threatened. Don’t let the safety net break: Support medical liability reform and disaster relief funding to keep emergency departments open and resources available when you need them most.

- Posted by Advertising Department   Comments Off      


*** LIVE SESSION COVERAGE ***

Thursday, Feb 27, 2014

* Watch the good, the bad and the ugly right here

- Posted by Rich Miller   1 Comment      


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Thursday, Feb 27, 2014

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