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Former Democratic House member charged with possession of child porn

Monday, Apr 28, 2014

* From the US Attorney’s office…

Former Illinois State Rep. KEITH FARNHAM was charged today with possession of child pornography in a criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Chicago. Farnham allegedly possessed two videos depicting child pornography on a computer that was seized from his state office in Elgin in March.

Farnham, 66, of Elgin, was not arrested and no date has been set yet for him to appear voluntarily for an initial appearance in Federal Court.

On March 13, agents with U.S. Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) executed a federal search warrant at Farnham’s office and residence in Elgin. Several computers and electronic storage devices were recovered that contained child pornography images, including the two charged videos, according to the complaint affidavit. The office computer that contained the videos was labeled “PROPERTY OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES.”

Farnham resigned his seat in the Illinois General Assembly on March 19.

According to the complaint, HSI agents were investigating information received from the HSI Cyber Crimes Center that an email address, later linked to Farnham, was being used to trade child pornography on the Internet. After agents linked the email account to Farnham they obtained and reviewed instant message chats that occurred between last June and January this year. Excerpts of those chats are detailed in the affidavit.

Possession of child pornography carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. If convicted, the Court must impose a reasonable sentence under federal sentencing statutes and the advisory United States Sentencing Guidelines.

The complaint was announced by Zachary T. Fardon, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, and Gary Hartwig, Special Agent-in-Charge of HSI in Chicago

A complaint contains only charges and is not evidence of guilt. The defendant is presumed innocent and is entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

I’ll have the complaint in a bit.

…Adding… The complaint is here.

- Posted by Rich Miller   76 Comments      


Fun with money

Monday, Apr 28, 2014

* So, the question becomes, where the heck does the governor expect to find hundreds of millions or even billions a year to fund this idea?

Gov. Pat Quinn is offering a possible new solution to Chicago’s pension crisis suggesting the state could do more to share revenue with local municipalities.

Following a City Club of Chicago luncheon today, Quinn told reporters that a discussion needs to happen over giving local municipalities a larger percentage share of the state’s revenue. That means that the percentage of state money Chicago or other muncipalities receive from the state would increase. Quinn said the plan would work through his budget proposal, which called for an extension of a income tax hike as well as a $500 property tax rebate.

“I believe in that. I think that’s a good way to help local units of government and the school districts to some extent reduce their reliance on property taxes,” Quinn said. “That has to be one of our foremost missions in Illinois. The property tax collects more money every year than the income tax and sales tax combined. I want to reduce our property taxes.”

Killing off the $700 million “property tax relief” plan would be a start, but even that may not be enough.

- Posted by Rich Miller   35 Comments      


Jackie Gallagher

Monday, Apr 28, 2014

* From the Sun-Times

A politically savvy straight-shooter, Lucille “Jackie” Gallagher was probably the most powerful spokeswoman for the Chicago Teachers Union in decades.

Mrs. Gallagher was a seasoned aide to House Speaker Michael Madigan when she was persuaded to leave the halls of the Illinois Capitol in 1991 to join the CTU as assistant to then-President Jacqueline Vaughn and as head of CTU communications.

Having worked for Madigan and before that, as a lobbyist, Mrs. Gallagher was able to “provide entry to some of the most important politicians in Springfield for the CTU,’’ said former CTU recording secretary Pam Massarsky. “Most especially, she had this remarkable relationship with Mike Madigan. It was both professional and personal. She had entry whenever she needed it.’’

Mrs. Gallagher died April 22 at age 85. […]

“She did not pull any punches,’’ said Gail Purkey, who served on Madigan’s staff with Mrs. Gallagher and later was her communications counterpart at the Illinois Federation of Teachers.

“She tried to be straightforward with reporters, and I think she was high-profile because of that,’’ Purkey said.

I had a few go-arounds with her myself over the years. Gail is right that Jackie didn’t pull any punches.

Whew, man.

Even so, I loved her. Who couldn’t? Jackie was one heckuva woman, with a raucous sense of humor. She truly stomped on the terra.

* As an aside, I’m told her daughters read CapitolFax.com posts to her almost right up to the very end.

Go read the entire obit. It’s a great story about a life well lived.

- Posted by Rich Miller   9 Comments      


Question of the day

Monday, Apr 28, 2014

* House Speaker Michael Madigan and his spouse, Illinois Arts Council Chair Shirley Madigan, appear together during a House committee hearing…

* The Question: Caption?

- Posted by Rich Miller   68 Comments      


Dueling press releases

Monday, Apr 28, 2014

* From an April 22nd press release…

Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno (R-Lemont) introduced a Constitutional Amendment on April 21 with the support of House Republican Leader Jim Durkin (R-Western Springs) that, if approved by Illinois voters, would impose a two-term limit on the state’s Executive Branch officers.

“I’ve been slow to embrace term limits because voters do have the power to reject candidates and oust incumbents. However, given the condition of Illinois, I think the time has come to give voters a choice on limiting terms of office for its constitutional officers,” said Radogno. “Coupled with an effort to have voters decide on legislators’ term limits, this could lead to a meaningful change in Illinois government.”

“The power of incumbency is particularly strong for those holding top executive positions like the Governor. Term limits will bring fresh perspectives to these offices and will make elections for these offices more competitive,” said Durkin.

Senate Joint Resolution Constitutional Amendment 69 (SJRCA 69) would not only limit Executive Branch officers to two terms in office, it also addresses circumstances where an individual is appointed to replace a Governor or Constitutional Officer, whether due to a death or another reason. In that situation, if the acting Governor or appointee serves for more than two years of their predecessor’s term, then they will be limited to one additional term in office; in this way, no Constitutional Officer will ever serve more than ten years in that capacity.

Though a May 5 deadline to pass a Constitutional Amendment is looming, Radogno said it is still possible to move the measure through the General Assembly before the cutoff date. Having been read into the record on April 22, SJRCA 69 has completed the first step in that process.

* From an April 23rd press release…

Bruce Rauner issued the following statement regarding the introduction of SJRCA69 which would place a Constitutional Amendment putting term limits on Executive Branch officers on the November ballot:

“I strongly support this term limits proposal. It is the perfect complement to our initiative for legislative term limits, and as governor, I’ll limit myself to two terms no matter what.

Despite his current opposition to both term limits efforts, I urge Pat Quinn to take on his Party’s legislative leaders and side with the people of Illinois who support term limits across the board.”

* From an April 24th Tribune article

Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn said today he supports a Republican-backed proposal to limit how long statewide elected officials can serve and defended his term-limit credentials against criticism from GOP governor candidate Bruce Rauner.

“I support this proposed constitutional amendment and have supported term limits since 1994,” Quinn said in a statement issued through his governor’s office. “Constitutional amendments have long allowed the power of the people to translate into positive reform for Illinois government.” […]

In December, Quinn contended he had not abandoned his long-standing support for term limits, but wouldn’t say if a general election victory this year would mark his last four-year term. At the time, he said it was up to lawmakers first to approve a constitutional amendment to place it on the ballot and for voters to approve it.

* And his campaign took it a step further with Michael Sneed on April 25th

Sneed exclusive . . .

Gov. Pat Quinn has decided his second elected term in office will be his last.

◆ Translation: Although the state has no term limits, Sneed is told Quinn will not run again in 2018 if he wins re-election this year.

* Kurt Erickson put this all into perspective

The late date of the introduction of the proposal [by Radogno] should not be discounted.

The deadline to get a constitutional amendment on the ballot is May 5. Lawmakers are only in session a few days before that date.

If Radogno was actually serious about getting the question before voters, she wouldn’t have waited until last week to put the idea on paper.

Gov. Pat Quinn, who would have been barred from being governor if the law was in place, signed on as a supporter, even though he doesn’t really have any say in whether the legislature places constitutional amendment proposals on the ballot.

* And in other news, this release went out Saturday…

Gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner today met with the families of Warren G. Murray Developmental Center residents and assured them that he believes they should have a choice in the care of their developmentally disabled loved ones.

“Pat Quinn decided to close Murray Center without ever visiting the facility,” Rauner said. “I made the trip to Murray Center today to see for myself what is happening here and to see the impact Quinn’s decision has had on the families of the residents and on the people of this community.”

“It is irresponsible to close Murray Center unless we can make absolutely certain that the most vulnerable residents are being cared for in an environment that is as good as – or better than – Murray Center,” Rauner said. “Right now, Murray Center is the best option for these families.”

* Quinn’s response…

Out-of-touch billionaire Bruce Rauner today was in Centralia to visit the Murray Developmental Center and privately meet with parents and Republican state legislators Kyle McCarter and Charlie Meier. Quinn for Illinois’ statement regarding his visit follows:

“Billionaire Bruce Rauner is shameless. This guy will say anything depending on his audience, and now is playing politics with the quality of people’s lives.

Today, Rauner showed a complete lack of care or understanding that people with disabilities deserve the choice to live more independently.

Not to mention, he showed a total disregard of how his campaign promises conflict with his promise to cut spending.

He will say and do anything to get elected.

* But Monica Seals, who works for WRXX Radio in Centralia, posted this piece on Facebook

Love him or hate him the fact is Bruce Rauner did what Gov. Pat Quinn has to this day never done – he took the time and made the effort to visit the Murray Center and witness first-hand what parents and guardians of its residents are fighting for.

While Quinn’s campaign is calling Rauner’s visit and pledge to keep the center open if elected “shameless,” Quinn’s own pandering to ARC and its business chapters earned him an award from the organization after he made the decision – sight unseen – to close the Centralia facility.

Claiming that Rauner, who has actually met with Murray residents, is playing politics with the quality of people’s lives and is showing a lack of care or understanding about what people with disabilities deserve is quite a mouthful for a man who has repeatedly turned down invitations to meet those very people of whom he speaks. […]

Now DHS has banned local lawmakers from visiting Murray residents with whom those lawmakers have developed personal relationships.

According to Sen. Kyle McCarter and Murray Parents Association President Rita Winkeler, DHS contacted republican Rep. Charlie Meier and republican Sen. McCarter and told them they would not be allowed to visit Winkeler’s son on Saturday, despite having done so many times before.

Now I’m a democrat, but even I have to admit that this was strictly a political move. A democratic administration makes a one-day prohibition of republican local lawmakers visiting constituents they have previously visited without restriction. That one day, of course, coincided with the visit of the republican candidate running against that democratic incumbent.

Was Rauner’s visit and pledge political? Absolutely. Was Quinn’s move to close Murray political. Definitely. Was the banning of republican lawmakers for one day from the facility a political move? Without a doubt.

- Posted by Rich Miller   45 Comments      


Spring break pics and movies

Monday, Apr 28, 2014

* We spent the better part of spring break at a campground in the Florida panhandle. Oscar the Puppy and I drove down there together. It was a long ride, and his first extended trip, so I wasn’t sure how he’d behave.

Turned out, he was a perfect angel the whole way down and back. Here he is chilling during an overnight stop on the way south…

* The campground was right on a beach. A local ordinance only allows residents to apply for licenses to take their dogs onto the beach. I thought that was kind of unfair, and a cursory look at the ordinance revealed that there were no enforcement provisions. So, with some trepidation, off to the beach we went…

* Oscar loved playing in the tidal pools

* But he wasn’t really into the waves

Heh.

* Oscar makes lots of new friends wherever he goes, and this trip was no exception

Cricket was actually much sweeter than her playful growl might make her seem. Oscar loved her.

* Alas, we eventually had to drive home. We were both so tired yesterday that we just sat in the back yard and zoned out for a long time…

Man, I love that little guy.

- Posted by Rich Miller   16 Comments      


Illinois Policy Institute loses first court round

Monday, Apr 28, 2014

* Gatehouse

A federal court has dismissed a lawsuit from a writer who was seeking access to areas in the Illinois House and Senate reserved for the news media.

The lawsuit was filed by Scott Reeder and the Illinois Policy Institute. Reeder is employed by the IPI and is listed as a journalist for the Illinois News Network, a project of the IPI.

Reeder said he was unfairly denied access to press boxes in the House and Senate after lawyers for the two chambers said he worked for a lobbying organization, not an independent news operation. House and Senate rules prohibit lobbyists from the media areas in the chambers. Reeder’s lawsuit, though, said media organizations with lobbyists have been granted access in the past.

The court said it was within the purview of the House and Senate to determine who qualified for access to the press boxes. Reeder said he will appeal the decision.

* However, the judge said he’d be open to reconsideration

[U.S. District Judge Colin Bruce] wrote he “remains very interested in the motivation behind (the) defendants’ actions regarding Reeder’s access to the press facilities of the Illinois House and Senate,” adding he’ll closely watch the Chicago-based 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals’ interpretation.

“Should (that court) disagree with this court’s determination that absolute legislative immunity applies to this situation and remand the case, this court would welcome the opportunity to explore the motives behind (the) defendants’ decisions and the opportunity to seek answers to the questions discussed in the introduction to this opinion,” Bruce wrote. […]

Reeder insisted the prohibition against lobbying hasn’t been uniformly applied, and that the institute is a “nonpartisan public-policy research and education organization.”

The defendants countered in court filings that federal case law made clear their internal procedural rules involving press credentials “are fully protected against judicial interference by the doctrine of legislative immunity.”

Bruce concurred with the defendants while acknowledging he has lingering questions about the motives for denying Reeder press credentials, wondering chiefly whether such denials are routine or rare and what the legislative review process in such matters involves. Bruce also said he would like to know whether exceptions or waivers are granted to applicants.

* From Reeder’s employer

“Mike Madigan and John Cullerton claim they have the authority to violate individuals’ rights with impunity when they make decisions on whether to grant press credentials,” said INN attorney Jacob Huebert of the Liberty Justice Center. “They do not. The First Amendment requires that the government provide journalists like Scott Reeder equal access to press facilities, and we will continue the fight for his right to freedom of the press.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   22 Comments      


MJM in his own words

Monday, Apr 28, 2014

* On making the tax hike permanent

“We have previous governors who weren’t so courageous,” said House Speaker Mike Madigan (D-Chicago), calling the governor “forthright,” adding, “it’s not going to be an easy vote” for lawmakers.

Those who are worried about their re-election chances, Madigan said, should consider, “What kind of a budget do they wish to support? If they want a budget that is lower than the current one, why, they should vote no. If they want to maintain the current level of service for things such as education, mental health, and human services, they should vote yes for the extension of the income tax increase.”

* On the gubernatorial campaign

“The people of Illinois will have a clear choice. Quinn is a Democrat, and as a Democrat he is a public official that wants to show progress. Progress for the state, progress for the people of the state, progress in improving the opportunities for the people of the state. Rauner’s a Republican. He represents reaction. He wants to go back, and he wants to go back to a day that’s long gone.”

* On Sen. Michael Noland’s vote against him for state party chairman

“Wherever I’ve had opposition in the legislature or in the state Democratic Party, we’ve usually made converts of those people, because we want to work with people and we want to move in the right direction,” Madigan said.

“So I would expect that in due time you’ll find that Mr. Noland will want to be one of those seconding my nomination.”

* On redistricting reform

“Over the last 50 years, five maps. Republicans have done one out of five. They’re angry, and this is part of their Republican politics. That’s all there is.”

* On that ridiculous vote by the Executive Committee to send a bill to the floor which would spend $100 million on an Obama presidential library

A lesson in politics: Whichever party is in charge can often use the rules to its advantage. Like last week, when the Obama library proposal passed out of a Democratic-controlled House committee with nine votes … even though only five representatives were there. Republicans had skipped the hearing, and many say they’re opposed to spending the money given Illinois’ financial situation.

House Speaker Michael Madigan, a Democrat, calls it a “misunderstanding,” and says the committee will vote again, once the legislative session resumes next week.

“I would hope with the support of the Republican members of the committee, who I would think would want to support a son of Illinois, who rose to the Presidency,” Madigan says.

Madigan says he doesn’t understand the reluctance to spend taxpayer money on the project, pointing out that the state funded the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield. He says an Obama library in Chicago would likewise be an international tourist attraction.

* On his miserable poll ratings

“Day in and day out, I’m always taking positions on controversial issues,” Madigan said. “I’m not surprised the poll ratings would be low.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   73 Comments      


Grassroots and gerrymandering

Monday, Apr 28, 2014

* My weekly syndicated newspaper column

Out of power for a dozen years and hobbled even before that by anti-patronage court rulings, the state’s Republican Party infrastructure has all but collapsed.

So, part of GOP gubernatorial nominee Bruce Rauner’s task he’s set for himself from here on out is to try and somehow rebuild a grassroots infrastructure.

It won’t be an easy job. Republicans have never, in the modern age, been able to match the Democrats’ ability to dispatch patronage armies to the state’s distant corners because of the Democrats’ Chicago and Cook County patronage basesThe Republicans’ local organizations are essentially hollow these days, and they have no troops to speak of.

Before the primary, Rauner’s campaign had ambitious hopes of opening as many as fifty field offices throughout Illinois. Those plans were scaled back as reality sank in. Finding enough experienced people to staff those offices would be next to impossible.

It’s unknown at this time, even, apparently, by the Rauner campaign, just how many offices they plan to open and where. The candidate has enough cash to do pretty much whatever he wants. The problem, as noted above, is finding people to do the job.

But if his campaign can get this project off the ground, it could be a game-changer. Gov. Pat Quinn barely won his last election against a Republican candidate who had almost no field operation. Every vote that Rauner can turn out at the precinct level is a vote that gets him closer to victory.

And that Rauner push could have a significant trickle down effect on state legislative races, particularly in the Illinois House, where there are more competitive contests.

Even so, Republicans shouldn’t expect any miracles this November.

A study published earlier this year by Washington University in St. Louis took a look at gerrymandering - deliberately partisan drawing of congressional districts - and found that examining the data in two different ways produced the same result.

Every one percentage point increase in vote share by the ruling party produced about a two percentage point increase in the number of seats the party won.

So, winning 55 percent of the vote will generally yield about 60 percent of the seats.

Now, compare that to the Illinois results. I asked the Yes For Independent Maps coalition last month to count up the number of votes that all Democratic legislative candidates received so I could compare that to the number of legislative seats the Democrats won. The coalition is attempting to place a constitutional amendment on the ballot this November which would try to take some of the partisan politics out of the state’s redistricting process. So, while they do have motives, the numbers are the numbers.

The results were astonishing, as first revealed in my Crain’s Chicago Business column. They far exceed that historic national trend.

According to the remap coalition’s count, Democrats received 53 percent of all the votes cast in all Illinois House races statewide. Using the WashU study, the House Democrats should historically hope to receive 56 percent of the seats, but they won 60 percent in 2012.

Of course, the Democrats completely control the map process here. Nationally, the Republicans don’t control every state’s remap process. So there would be an expected bump here.

But the numbers in the Senate were even more dramatic. Senate Democratic candidates won a total of 52 percent of the vote. That would translate historically into 54 percent of the seats, but the party won 68 percent of all Senate seats.

Having President Obama at the top of the ticket surely helped the Democrats last time around. For example, Obama spent a king’s ransom in Iowa, which drove Democratic turnout way up in Sen. Mike Jacobs’ (D-East Moline) district, just across the Mississippi River.

Obama’s success here even helped Democrats win a district that was drawn to benefit a Republican. The House Dems pulled their staff out of the Kankakee-area’s 79th District after Republican spending neared a million dollars, but the drastically outspent Democrat Kate Cloonen ended up pulling off a stunning upset, winning by 91 votes.

So, not all those 2012 wins can be attributed to the map. The Republicans were fighting straight uphill with Obama at the top shooting down.

However, Obama won’t be on the ballot this year. Voter unrest is obviously quite high yet again in the President’s second off-year election, so we’ll soon see just how solidly Democratic those district maps really are. My guess is they’ll hold up pretty well.

Discuss.

- Posted by Rich Miller   86 Comments      


Yet another ballot question?

Monday, Apr 28, 2014

* I told subscribers about this possibility weeks ago. From the AP

With Illinois Democrats struggling to find enough votes to increase the state’s minimum wage, some lawmakers are quietly proposing a less-contentious plan that would ask voters what they think of the idea before the legislature tries to pass a politically risky bill.

But state Sen. Kimberly Lightford, who is sponsoring the proposal to hike the minimum wage from $8.25 to $10.65 per hour, says putting a nonbinding resolution on the November ballot would only be a “last resort.” Some Democrats in swing suburban and downstate districts have joined Republicans in resisting the effort amid fears that companies would lay off workers or hire fewer new ones. […]

“Unemployment hasn’t come down the way I think it should in Illinois, and I don’t think (higher minimum wage) is going to help move that agenda forward,” [Democratic state Sen. John Sullivan] said. “I’m conflicted on it. It’s a tough issue. But given the current situation, that’s why I wouldn’t support it.”

John Jackson, a political science professor at Southern Illinois University, said although increasing the minimum wage makes sense as a talking point for Democrats on the state and national levels, “I haven’t heard a heard a single (southern Illinois) area legislator salute the idea. […]

After being pulled from consideration during committee three times this spring, the Senate Executive Committee approved a minimum wage increase late last month and is awaiting a floor vote.

As you already know, House Speaker Michael Madigan said last week that he didn’t yet have enough votes rounded up on the issue.

* A recent poll found that 63 percent of Illinoisans favor increasing the minimum wage to $10 an hour. So, if the Democrats can’t pass the bill on their own, they could still use a non-binding referendum to drive some base voters to the polls this November. If such a proposal passes, it would be a political “win-win.” The Democrats would get another favorable issue onto the ballot and business would get a reprieve from a minimum wage hike this year.

- Posted by Rich Miller   31 Comments      


*** IMPORTANT MESSAGE TO SUBSCRIBERS ***

Monday, Apr 28, 2014

* From a post last week on AOL’s blog about how they have addressed their massive e-mail hack problem

Today we moved to change our DMARC policy to p=reject. This helps to protect AOL Mail users’ addresses from unauthorized use.

It also stops delivery on what previously would have been considered authorized mail sent on behalf of AOL Mail users via non-AOL servers. If you’re a bulk sender on behalf of AOL addresses, that probably includes mail sent from you.

This can include but is not limited to:

    Email service providers (ESP) sending mail on behalf of businesses using AOL addresses
    Websites with “Share with a friend” functionality, sending mail using AOL addresses
    Small businesses using other 3rd party services to send mail and communication between their employees and / or customers
    Services used to forward mail
    Mailing lists (listservs)
    Mail sent on behalf of AOL Mail users to DMARC-compliant domains will be rejected by those domains unless the mail passes SPF and/or DKIM authentication checks AND the domain(s) used in those checks match aol.com.

We recognize that some legitimate senders will be challenged by this change and forced to update how they send mail and we sincerely regret the inconvenience to you.

That policy change meant I had to change the e-maill address from which the subscriber version of Capitol Fax is sent. I dumped CapitolFax@aol.com and changed it to RichMiller@CapitolFax.com.

This won’t impact most subscribers, but I anticipate some won’t receive it today.

* So, if you’re a subscriber and didn’t receive today’s edition, check your spam e-mail folder. If it’s not there, then you’ll have to instruct your IT folks to “white list” the new RichMiller@CapitolFax.com address.

If neither of those two fixes work, send me an e-mail and we’ll figure it out.

- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      


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Monday, Apr 28, 2014

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Reader comments closed for the weekend

Friday, Apr 25, 2014

Posted by Barton Lorimor (@bartonlorimor)

* Before we close for the week, Mark Denzler asked that we mention this to those of you in the 217 this weekend…

Friends,

Our annual Kentucky Derby Party benefiting St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital is coming up on Saturday, April 26 at Panther Creek Country Club in Springfield. This is my final year as co-chair of the event and we’re hoping to make this the best yet!

It’s a fun night for an outstanding cause ­ great food, awesome Derby fashion, and fantastic auction items. Our silent auction includes a case of Duckhorn wine, four tickets to the Jimmy Buffett concert in Chicago, Cards, Cubs & White Sox tickets, and even a very cool private tour of the vault at the Lincoln Presidential Library and more. Buy a raffle ticket for the chance to win 4 box tickets to the 2014 Kentucky Derby!

I’m hoping that you may consider joining us for the night.

Thanks for your consideration.

* It seems like everytime I close comments for the weekend there is a late, fairly significant press releasse distributed that doesn’t get the attention it deserves. Between the Twitter feed below and the “Afternoon updates” post, that’s not going to happen this time.


Enjoy the weekend! It’s May in Illinois, which means long debates and even longer nights are ahead of us all. Rich will be back on Monday, so I will see you on the rail, or at the bar, or both. Here’s some Mouse…



Well fads they come and fads they go
And God I love that rock and roll
Well the point was fast but it was too blunt to miss.
Life handed us a paycheck, we said, “We worked harder than this!”

- Posted by Barton Lorimor   Comments Off      


Afternoon updates

Friday, Apr 25, 2014

Posted by Barton Lorimor (@bartonlorimor)

- Posted by Barton Lorimor   2 Comments      


State’s Attorney won’t pursue @peoriamayor case further

Friday, Apr 25, 2014

Posted by Barton Lorimor (@bartonlorimor)

* The news out of Peoria today…


* This story just keeps boggling my mind..

Both State’s Attorney Jerry Brady and Peoria Police Chief Steve Settingsgaard said nothing was done out of the ordinary last week when a handful of police officers searched a Peoria home in response to a complaint by the mayor over a fake Twitter account parodying him.

Many online and at a city council meeting earlier this week have blasted the search, saying it was heavy-handed and showed preferential treatment to Mayor Jim Ardis. But Brady and the chief said that wasn’t the case. Rather, they both said, due process was followed and everything was done to preserve the rights of those people who were behind the fake account, @peoriamayor.

But…


We didn’t treat this any differently, but we, the law enforcement arm of Peoria, would not have done anything without getting the OK from the boss. Do they have to get an OK from the Mayor everytime they are going to execute a warrant or arrest?

More…

While upset that his investigation, which lasted about a month, resulted in no charges, he said he was also glad because it showed the process worked.

A MONTH?!

But, you see, it’s not their fault Peoria has become a national laughing stock…


Yup. It was the media’s fault the would-be accused told that reporter, “Tell them it was me.”

Sheesh.

- Posted by Barton Lorimor   23 Comments      


County Teasurer ruling darkens pension bill future

Friday, Apr 25, 2014

Posted by Barton Lorimor (@bartonlorimor)

* If you’re counting on the state pension bill to survive the Constitutionality test, thi certainly doesn’t help…

In a case with implications for the upcoming legal battle over pension reform, an Illinois appellate court in Springfield ruled that constitutional protections prevent the state from reducing mandated payments to county treasurers.

The pension protection clause of the Illinois Constitution, which says that workers’ retirement benefits can’t be diminished, is at the heart of lawsuits challenging statewide pension changes enacted late last year.

While the county treasurers’ case relies on other language in the constitution, the appellate court’s decision yesterday is analogous, using the same legal arguments and precedents that teachers and other state workers are pressing in court against pension reform.

“It supports the arguments we have been making and will continue to make,” said John Fitzgerald, partner in Chicago law firm Tabet DiVito & Rothstein LLC, which represents retired teachers and school administrators, both active and retired, in a suit challenging the pension law.

Under Illinois law, county treasurers are supposed to get an annual $6,500 stipend from the state. The treasurers sued when their annual stipends were reduced to $4,196 in the year ended June 30, 2010.

The state even pointed to a shortage in the General Assembly’s appropriation, but that argument didn’t get them anywhere.

* A pension round-up…

* Sun-Times: Reject firefighter staffing bill: Why then, we can only wonder, is the Illinois Legislature seemingly so eager to get behind a bill that would give labor unions more say in how many firefighters and paramedics a town must hire? The bill would take hiring decisions, in part, out of the hands of those best positioned to decide right — elected officials, village managers and other professional staff. And the bill would drive up costs for dozens of already cash-strapped suburbs and towns. (Want to guess how often the firefighters union in a typical town thinks there are enough firefighters?) The bill in Springfield — already passed by 63-44 in the House and headed for Senate — would make firefighter staffing levels part of labor contract negotiations. The Senate should pour water all over this one. Drown it.
http://chicago.cbslocal.com/2014/04/24/study-firefighters-more-susceptible-to-cancer/

* Mayor Emanuel criticized for proposed property tax hike

* Argus: For mayors, governors, opposites attract

- Posted by Barton Lorimor   33 Comments      


Kirk against term limits

Friday, Apr 25, 2014

Posted by Barton Lorimor (@bartonlorimor)

* WBBM…

“In general, I don’t support term limits, and do support Rauner,” Kirk said. “I think he’s the right guy for the state.”

Illinois House Minority Leader Jim Durkin (R-Western Springs) and Illinois Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno (R-Lemont) have introduced a separate proposal to amend the state constitution to limit the governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, secretary of state, comptroller, and treasurer to two terms in office.

But Kirk said if people want to fire their elected officials, they can vote them out of office.

“If you want to fire your legislator, just vote against them,” Kirk said.

- Posted by Barton Lorimor   55 Comments      


Sad story of a sad state

Friday, Apr 25, 2014

Posted by Barton Lorimor (@bartonlorimor)

* Illinoisans are apparently drinking the self-hatorade…

Illinois residents think they live in the worst state in the country, according to a recent poll from Gallup.

Even though Midwesterners are generally more positive about their states, Illinois residents are the exception, with 25 percent declaring that it is “the worst possible state to live.”

The particularly grim outlook of Illinois residents could be attributed to factors like high-profile scandals and high taxes.

Other Gallup polls found that Illinois residents have the least trust in their state government and are one of the most resentful about how much they pay in state taxes.

- Posted by Barton Lorimor   86 Comments      


Harmon: Graduated income tax vote next week

Friday, Apr 25, 2014

Posted by Barton Lorimor (@bartonlorimor)

* Tribune…

While prospects for achieving a three-fifths vote of senators in the Democratic-controlled chamber are considered good, getting the same super-majority in the Democratic-led House is believed questionable at best. Earlier this week, Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan said the proposed constitutional amendment was “significantly short” of the 71 votes needed to put it on the Nov. 4 ballot.

The House sponsor of the plan, Rep. Christian Mitchell, D-Chicago, said he couldn’t say whether he had the required support needed for passage “at the moment.” Vote counts, he said, “are dynamic and ever changing.” Harmon, however, said he was “confident I have the votes in the Senate.”

In an effort to make the proposal more politically palatable, Harmon and Mitchell have proposed separate state legislation that would replace the state’s current 5 percent personal income tax rate, which is set to revert to 3.75 percent in January, with a three-bracket income tax. The first $12,500 in income would be taxed at 2.9 percent, income on top of that to $180,000 would be taxed at 4.9 percent, and all income above $180,000 would be taxed at 6.9 percent.

* Speaking of taxes, take a look at these opposing guest editorials concerning the motor fuel tax. The first is from Doug Whitley…

User fees are a fair and practical funding source for transportation infrastructure. It ensures that those who drive more — and therefore place more wear on our infrastructure — would pay more. Thanks to greater fuel efficiency and no motor fuel tax increases, today’s motorists contribute much less to support highway construction than in prior decades.

We cannot let our transportation networks deteriorate and become our next crushing problem like pensions and education. We need a better way forward that assures a reliable, predictable and stable funding stream to support our mobility and prosperity. We must accept the responsibility to be good stewards of our present and future transportation needs, and that time is now.

A counter from Bill Fleischli of the Illinois Petroleum Marketers Association…

Clearly, the state needs to maintain its infrastructure, but we need to get behind the wheel and stop this push for higher fuel taxes. Illinois Auditor General Bill Holland released a report in 2013 that found Illinois spent less than half of its dedicated road fund dollars directly on road construction costs in eight of the prior 10 fiscal years.

Taxpayers should be outraged. Gas station owners and convenience store retailers are opposed to any plan that would have Illinois drivers paying more to fill-up their gas tanks.

There have been no votes in the Illinois General Assembly on specific proposals to raise the motor fuel tax in 2014, but there is a concerning amount of conversation about the possibility.

That possibility has at least been raised over in the House where the Revenue & Finance and State Government Administration Committees have been working towards a package of tax code changes.

* And here is a budget and state government round-up. Notice the re-appearance of a few doom and gloom stories…

* Minimum wage workers, state lawmakers clash on fair pay, taxes: If the state were to adopt this structure lawmakers would set the new rates. That brings up concerns for opponents. “There’s no limit on that which means they can raise it to whatever level they want and it’s going to be middle class families that get hurt the most.” -says 35th District State Senator Dave Syverson.

* Illinois lawmakers suggest abandoning resort: In a hearing to discuss the Illinois Department of Natural Resources budget Thursday, state Rep. Kelly Burke, D-Evergreen Park, asked whether agency officials had considered giving up on the 25-year-old state-owned Eagle Creek Resort south of Findlay. “Why don’t we get rid of it?” Burke asked. Natural Resources Director Marc Miller did not dismiss the idea, telling a panel of lawmakers that the state faces challenges when it comes to making Eagle Creek financially viable. The 138-room lodge has been closed since 2009 because of an outbreak of mold. A Decatur company brought in to repair the damage in 2010 walked away from the job earlier this year because of a dispute with the agency.

* Do cuts loom for disaster agency?

* Jail is costly place for mental health care

* Quinn: $60 million for Center for Performing Arts an investment in WIU’s future

* I-Team: More school security concerns in Illinois than funding

* Cristal Thomas: Protecting Illinois’ pregnant workers shouldn’t be a heavy lift

- Posted by Barton Lorimor   32 Comments      


Quinn now wants private funds for Obama library, too

Friday, Apr 25, 2014

Posted by Barton Lorimor (@bartonlorimor)

* Gov. Quinn yesterday in Collinsville…

Gov. Pat Quinn says he’d like to see private donations factor into funding a possible Barack Obama presidential library in Illinois.

The Chicago Democrat told reporters in Collinsville on Thursday that the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum and Library in Springfield has provided a major economic boost, particularly with tourism.

* Gov. Quinn a few days ago in Chicago…

Gov. Pat Quinn is throwing his support behind a proposal to spend $100 million in state funds to sweeten Chicago’s bid for the Obama presidential library and museum.

The state is grappling with budget woes, but Quinn said Saturday the spending would be “an important investment.”

He pointed to the state’s financial support for the Lincoln library in Springfield, saying “it’s paid tremendous dividends in terms of tourism.”

* The Governor was in Collinsville to talk up a loan program for first-time home buyers. The Rauner campaign has called the program a rehashing of a previously administered program…

Rauner’s campaign said Quinn’s visit was a campaign maneuver that featured a recycled idea. Rauner’s camp noted that Quinn launched a similar program, called Illinois Home Start, in 2009, and Quinn’s predecessor, Rod Blagojevich, launched a similar program called the I-Loan Mortgage in 2005.

Shortly after the Governor was wheels up in Marion after hosting a similar event there, Rauner hit him again for the Shakman suit…

“After claiming he would bring transparency to state government, Pat Quinn is blocking the public from learning the truth about his administration’s Blagojevich-style state job patronage scheme,” he said in an emailed statement.

More…

Republican gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner is calling on Gov. Pat Quinn to release documents related to a federal complaint alleging improper hiring in the Illinois Department of Transportation.

Rauner told The Associated Press Thursday that Quinn should keep promises of transparency by making public documents supposedly detailing hiring issues. He says Quinn is continuing Illinois’ history of corruption and cronyism.

Rauner tells AP he hasn’t hired friends, family or allies.

The Governor’s camp has yet to give a strong response to the hits he has taken from the Republican challenger over the last couple of days. In the absence of a response, the media is feeding on Rauner’s attacks and the Shakman case…

IDOT says it stopped hiring “staff assistants” after questions were raised last year, and 50 positions were reclassified as nonexempt after an audit of job responsibilities. “Moving forward, these re-classified positions will be hired through the Rutan process.”

That’s not good enough. Not even close.

Why should workers get to keep jobs that they obtained by clout, without regard for qualifications, and at the expense of those who applied through legal channels?

The bigger question: How many of them are there — not just at IDOT, but throughout state government?

The governor ought to be demanding some answers. Instead, it’s Shakman.

A political round-up…

* 10th District heats up for a close congressional rematch

* Pekin woman on GOP National Committee predicts bounceback led by Rauner

* Remap spat: Aldermen differ on Sandburg Village development

- Posted by Barton Lorimor   22 Comments      


Question of the Day

Friday, Apr 25, 2014

Posted by Barton Lorimor (@bartonlorimor)

* Behind the Tribune firewalls are stories that say emails suggest at least a part of CNN’s Chicagoland scenes are staged.

From a related Kass column…

“Chicagoland” depicts the city we know, beautiful but with warts and broken places. And throughout, there is drama and conflict, from the painful closing of public schools to the senseless gang wars. There are heroes in it and there are failures.

There is even a death. The monitors beep at the county hospital, the doctors say “charge” and then “clear” and then nothing. You see bloody dressings on the floor at the surgeons’ feet. The camera bores in. You see a close-up of a man as he grows still.

But make no mistake: This is Rahm Emanuel’s story, his re-election campaign vehicle. This is the boss of Chicago selling his heroic narrative to American voters.

I’m in no position to judge the series. Whenever I have seen it listed in my cable guide, I click it only to find more MH370 coverage. That said, it wouldn’t totally surprise me if this were about politics. Coincidentally, or not depending on your cynicism levels, Supt. McCarthy played a central role in the Brick City miniseries that chronicled then-Newark Mayor Cory Booker’s struggle with that city’s murder rate.

Question:What is your take of the Chicagoland series? Did it accomplish anything for the good? What would you have done differently?

- Posted by Barton Lorimor   15 Comments      


Caption Contest

Friday, Apr 25, 2014

Posted by Barton Lorimor (@bartonlorimor)

Have at it.

- Posted by Barton Lorimor   44 Comments      


Morning Shorts

Friday, Apr 25, 2014

Posted by Barton Lorimor (@bartonlorimor)

* This happened at the Lorimor household more than once over the past two weeks…

Sad…but true.

Welcome to the second Friday of this spring break, CapFaxers…

* Why Bill Daley’s New Hedge Fund Gig Surprises No One: In his new role, Daley will work to expand Argentiere’s U.S. business from his Chicago home base. The nascent fund, which boasts $500 million in assets, was launched in Switzerland last year by JPMorgan trading alums. (Daley has professional ties to the bank: He was JPMorgan’s Midwestern chairman from 2004 up through his Chief of Staff appointment.)

* NLRB grants Northwestern’s request for review of union decision: The union vote still takes place Friday but ballots will be impounded until the board issues a decision affirming, modifying or reversing the regional director’s decision, according to a NLRB statement. There are 76 players eligible to vote. A majority of the actual votes cast is required to authorize a union, said university spokesman Bob Rowley.

* Speculation Abounds in Rome For Cardinal George’s Successor

* Sun-Times: How to improve graduation rates: Systemwide, ninth-grade pass rates, or “on-track” to graduate rates, have skyrocketed, from 57 percent in 2007 to 82 percent 2013, suggesting that the surge in graduation rates won’t be limited to the 20 studied schools.

* CPS graduation rate on-track to reach 82 percent in 2014, Emanuel says

* Emanuel touts U. of C. study to show CPS gains

* Study Shows Freshman On-Track Program Boosting CPS Grad Rates

* New Chicago high school to be named for Obama

* Lawyers for men charged in NIU hazing death challenge law: “It contains no definition, no limits, no parameters, and doesn’t even cite examples of what (such acts) might be,” Donahue argued at a hearing Thursday before DeKalb County Associate Judge John McAdams. “We should all know what a crime is.”

* You Paid For It: Illinois State University President Residence Remodel: WMBD dug into records of how the university prepared to welcome Flanagan to Central Illinois, because you paid for it. Eleven thousand dollars for a fence, more than $1,000 for a microwave shelf, a master bedroom and bathroom remodel cost nearly $109,000, and $2,000 for four “private property” signs. This is how Illinois State University got ready for a new president to move into the university residence. “The Bowmans were there 10 years,” says ISU Chief of Staff Jay Groves. “He didn’t leave a lot, didn’t want a lot done when we were there. So, we saw this as an opportunity from May 15th to August 9th when Flanagan moved in to do a major remodeling project because it really needed it.” Groves says there are reasons why some of the costs we found are high. Our investigation shows workers were paid nearly $90 an hour to install and paint dry-wall.

* Fired grounds worker back on job at ISU

* Supervisor fired by Flanagan gets new job at ISU

* Bill would protect rights of patients in nursing homes

* IDES: Long-term benefits phaseout isn’t putting people to work

* IDPH warns of rising STDs in Illinois: DPH officials say 20 million new sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), including 50,000 HIV infections, occur in the United States each year. Nearly half of those cases are found in people between the ages of 15 and 24.

* Illinois attorney general investigating use of charity funds by ex-treasurer

* Tollway’s $75 million bridge project will yield to fish

* Ride-sharing ordinance passes key hurdle: Under the ordinance, companies whose driver workforce averages more than 20 hours per person each week would face stronger oversight, including a requirement that all their drivers obtain chauffeur’s licenses. But the proposed ordinance targeting companies such as Uber X, Lyft and SideCar leaves it to the ride-share companies to police drivers in terms of how many work hours are logged.

* Ride Service May Pose Risk to Passengers: NBC5 Investigates went undercover, hiring UberX drivers to take us to some of Chicago’s most popular landmarks — and found not a single driver knew his way around the city. NBC5 then ran background checks on each of the drivers and discovered ticket after ticket — for speeding, illegal stops and running lights. One driver had 26 traffic tickets, yet still passed Uber’s background check.

* Ride-Sharing Regulations Passed By City Council Committee: Mayoral Policy Chief Michael Negron says the new administration proposal would create a transportation network provider license with tougher requirements for drivers working more than 20 hours a week. “Our goal is not to protect any one company or any one industry from competition. Our focus is on protecting consumers,” said Negron.

* Chicago plastic bag ban advances

* (Chicago) City council considering garbage collection fee

* Kadner: Every senior to college at Southland Prep

* Barrington area agencies coordinate emergency response plan

* Naperville ranked 7th best mid-sized city for home-buyers in America

* Elgin council interest in stark contrast with voter turnout

* Rolling Meadows backs tax break for Dominick’s site

* Kane County to participate in DEA’s prescription drug disposal

* (Rockford) receives grant for demolition of abandoned properties

* Former RPS 205 superintendent to head Rockton schools

* Out Here: Gulf between politicians, public?

* Woman who saved Veterans Home resident receives letter from governor recognizing heroism

* Quincy city officials admit error on firefighter contract vote

* Homeowners near East Peoria landslide say they’re stuck with devalued property

* Downtown (Peoria) Caterpillar project being studied: “We’re continuing to study it. It’s not a small project. When we have more decided, there’ll be more communicated,” said Brad Halverson, the company’s chief financial officer and a group president.

* Facing financial uncertainty, Washington District 308 adds special education staff in close vote

* (Bloomington) Airport board member picked

* (Macon) County considers moving offices to unused library spaces

* (Champaign County) Board OKs 2% raises for officials next 4 years

* Danville OKs school uniforms by 4-3 vote

* Monticello contemplating school fee hikes

* Rantoul selects trustees for administrator search

* EIU trustees to elect officers, vote on new degree program

* Springfield city clerk’s office shares Lincoln funeral-related records with coalition

* SJ-R: Renovated Lincoln Heritage Museum exciting addition to local sites

* Caseyville police chief charged with misdemeanor disorderly conduct, battery

* Carbondale and DEA to collect unwanted drugs

- Posted by Barton Lorimor   4 Comments      


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* SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Budget and BIMP stuff (Updated with this week's password)
* Pritzker unveils business guidance; takes questions on budget, legislature, EO
* Reader comments closed for the holiday weekend
* Senate President Don Harmon talks to reporters
* Madigan's closing statement
* Sunday programming note
* *** UPDATED x1 - Gaming bill passes Senate 42-14 *** Sen. Martwick is in town to vote for the Chicago casino bill
* *** UPDATED x5 *** Amendment introduced to allow remote legislating
* 2,352 new cases, 75 additional deaths
* House approves gaming bill 77-32
* *** UPDATED x1 *** Sen. Dale Righter cleans up Eastern Bloc member's mess
* *** UPDATED x1 *** IDPH stops reporting historical nursing home COVID-19 outbreak data
* End of session cheat sheet
* Social media isn't real life
* New approp, BIMP amendments surface, casino push continues, cannabis bill hits a snag with Pritzker thumbs down
* Open thread
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