Capitol Fax.com - Your Illinois News Radar » 2014 » April
Madigan pledges to cooperate with independent probe effort...
SUBSCRIBE to Capitol Fax      Advertise Here      Mobile Version     Exclusive Subscriber Content     Updated Posts    Contact
CapitolFax.com
To subscribe to Capitol Fax, click here.
Afternoon news

Tuesday, Apr 15, 2014

Posted by Barton Lorimor (@bartonlorimor)

* We will let this ScribbleLive feed, as well as those in the right column, carry us through the rest of the afternoon unless something major breaks…

- Posted by Barton Lorimor   19 Comments      


New TIF money to be declared a surplus?

Tuesday, Apr 15, 2014

Posted by Barton Lorimor (@bartonlorimor)

* From the WTTW-TV page carrying a recent Chicago Tonight interview…

“One of the consequences of the property tax increase is more property tax revenue in TIF [Tax Increment Financing] districts,” Burns said.

There are 153 TIF districts in the city, and typically, any additional increment generated would go into the TIF districts, according to Emanuel spokeswoman Kelley Quinn.

“Aldermen Burns and Pawar came to the administration with the idea that any additional funds generated in TIFs would immediately be declared a surplus. It was a good, creative idea that the mayor fully supported,” Quinn said in a statement. “This means that CPS will get 50 percent of the surplus, while the City will receive 20 percent, of which will go towards pension payments.”

I haven’t seen any react from the CTU just yet, but Karen Lewis has been full of new revenue ideas as of late, including Ald. Fioretti’s commuter income tax…

“Revenue is the issue,” says Stacy Davis Gates, Political Director with the Chicago Teachers Union. “Pensions are not the issue. He proposed a commuter tax. He also proposed other innovative ideas.”

* By the way, while we’re on the topic of Fioretti…

ld. Bob Fioretti (2nd) slammed Mayor Rahm Emanuel Monday, calling some of his decisions “inescusable” and saying his administration had “fumbled” many projects.

He also said he’s been mulling a mayoral run in next year’s election while “meeting with people all across the city in every ward.”

“I’m honored and I’m encouraged by the responses that I hear,” he said at a City Club of Chicago luncheon Monday. The alderman promised he “will make the announcement at an appropriate time, in the appropriate place.”

* To get back to the pension issue, though…

The dialogue regarding why the Senate Republicans voted against this proposal but put green lights on others, and how the state might handle other communities that come to Springfield to adjust their pension systems is especially interesting in the long run. Now that the Mayor has broken through, others are saying they will follow…

“Personally, I was patient until Mayor Rahm Emanuel went to Springfield and showed the rest of the mayors of the state how to get it done,” Hanover Park Village President Rodney Craig said. “Then my patience kind of runs out.”

Because the General Assembly made pension reform happen for Chicago, Craig said, “I want the same level of commitment to the municipalities of the rest of the state.”

On Monday, Craig and other members of the DuPage Mayors and Managers Conference met with the Daily Herald Editorial Board to insist a state law that reduces pension benefits for police and firefighters is needed to stabilize municipal budgets and prevent pension systems from collapsing.

* Related…

* Rauner urges Quinn to veto Emanuel’s pension bill

* Ald. Pawar Kicks off Re-election Bid, Says ‘Maybe’ to Future Mayoral Run

- Posted by Barton Lorimor   20 Comments      


*** UPDATED 1x *** SERS seeks to delay state pension reform implementation

Tuesday, Apr 15, 2014

Posted by Barton Lorimor (@bartonlorimor)

* Check out this resolution that was recently approved by the SERS Board of Trustees…

(1) express our concerns about the serious implementation issues SERS faces as we struggle to prepare for the effective date of the new pension law and for the burden SERS will face if the law is implemented and then found unconstitutional,
(2) request that the Attorney General seek or agree to a stay of the new law’s implementation until the lawsuits that challenge the new law’s constitutionality are finally completed, and
(3) if the Attorney General will not comply with point (2), request that the Board of Trustees be allowed to select its own counsel to defend SERS and the Board in the lawsuits that name them as defendants so that SERS and the Board are able to express their position in the lawsuits and seek or agree to a stay of implementation of the new law until the lawsuits that challenge the new law’s constitutionality are finally completed.

The resolution passed unanimously.

H/T to a regular reader who brought this matter to our attention yesterday afternoon.

*** 12:43 p.m. - *** From comments below, an update from resident pension expert RNUG…

This is old news. I did hear that the lawyers for Kanerva / Maag filed additional information / arguments immediately after the favorable AZ ruling but that was a while back. Truthfully, I had expected we would have known something by now. Right now it’s anybody’s guess; maybe the AZ decision has the ISC rethinking their unpublished opinion.

- Posted by Barton Lorimor   49 Comments      


Popped for pop

Tuesday, Apr 15, 2014

Posted by Barton Lorimor (@bartonlorimor)

* Umm…

Nahshon Shelton didn’t want to pay the 22-cent tax on his $1.79 two-liter of Pepsi on Saturday afternoon, Chicago Police said.

So he allegedly pulled a blue-steel Intratec .22-caliber submachine gun out of his Gucci satchel inside the convenience store in the 4000 block of West Madison Street where they tried to make him pay it — and he threatened to kill everyone there, a prosecutor said.

This “is my neighborhood, I’m tax exempt!” he would later allegedly tell the cops, the Sun-Times is reporting. “Man, you know what, I’ll keep it real. I had to put them in their place.”

o.0

Well, this is awkward because…

Lawmakers in both the House and Senate have proposed a hike in the Illinois soft drink tax.

Soft drinks in the state are subject to a 6.25 percent tax compared to ‘qualifying food and drugs,’ which are taxed at one percent. The legislation would raise the cost of soda, juice drinks, sports drinks and teas.

The tax would be a penny-per-ounce surcharge on sugar-sweetened drinks.

Add soft drinks to the ever-growing list of items legislators are looking to tax. Over in the House, legislators have heard proposals to increase the cigarette tax, overhaul or eliminate the corporate franchise tax, extend the research and development tax credit, and making tax credits transferable.

* Increasing the motor fuel tax has also been a part of those discussions…

A recent proposal to raise the Illinois fuel tax to pay for state transportation costs is meeting opposition.

Retail gas station owners announced their opposition to such a plan on Monday in Springfield. They say raising the tax hurts drivers and businesses during a tough economy.

Bill Fleischli is the vice president of the Illinois Petroleum Marketers Association. He says the state should stop diverting money intended for roads to other areas of the budget.

BlueroomStream subscribers should have access to video of yesterday’s media availability with the petroleum marketers.

- Posted by Barton Lorimor   25 Comments      


Morning Shorts

Tuesday, Apr 15, 2014

Posted by Barton Lorimor (@bartonlorimor)

* Here is what is in the news on this Tax Day…

* Suit filed in wake of concealed carry permit rejection: “The training class was worthless because it did not qualify consumers for the concealed-carry permit,” the lawsuit alleges. “(Ambrose) wasted a significant amount of time taking the worthless class, and had his application for a concealed-carry permit rejected.” … Illinois State Police officials said earlier this month that the agency had denied concealed carry licenses to 327 applicants who received inadequate training from an instructor in Bolingbrook.

* FBI director in Chicago: ‘Painfully aware’ of city’s gun violence: “There is not an easy answer on violent crime, especially gang-related crime that is so embedded in the culture,” he said. “Chicago has a larger and more ingrained and sophisticated street gang structure than many American cities…You can’t arrest your way to a healthy neighborhood.”

* Illinois House orders new audit of anti-violence spending under Quinn: The House resolution pushed by state Rep. David Reis, R-Willow Hill, directs Auditor General William Holland to study that spending. Further, Reis’ resolution asks Holland to audit state funds disbursed by the Criminal Justice Information Authority to a social-service provider that helped implement the Neighborhood Recovery Initiative, the Chicago Area Project.

* Daley nephew released from McHenry County jail

* In Illinois, a Challenge Recruiting Rural Students for State’s Flagship University: While the size of the freshman class at the Univ. of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has decreased slightly, from about 8,200 in 2004 to about 7,200 in 2013, the number of students who matriculate from rural counties has sharply declined. In 2003, there were 1,017 freshmen from rural counties who enrolled, compared to only 600 rural students in the freshmen class during the 2013-14 school year.

* Illinois Debates Continuing Free ACT Test: State board officials estimate it will cost $14 million for all high school juniors to take the ACT test next year, which they want to keep even though it is scheduled to be phased out with the implementation of other exams … By keeping the ACT and adding new exams at the elementary and high school levels, the cost of state testing would total $54 million next year, double this year’s $27 million.

* I-Team: Watchdog group questions one gas company: The CUB e-letter warns residents “don’t be fooled” by the pitches and promises of Nicor Advanced Energy.

* Quinn Touts Help for First Time Home Buyers

* Cross, Frerichs Treasurer Contest Cues Up Fierce Clash

* Lt. Gov. Simon, husband report $208,000 in Illinois income

* IDOT Increases Safety Precautions for Highway Workers

* Prospect Hts. names new city administrator

* [Quincy] department heads attempt to justify budgets to aldermen

* District 150 OKs 200 pink-slips, Peoria Police costing district unbudgeted $180,000

* Pekin City Council approves $12 garbage fee

* Massac County Picks Banterra Bank as Temporary Courtroom

- Posted by Barton Lorimor   6 Comments      


Rich went on vacation, and all we got was this lousy intern

Tuesday, Apr 15, 2014

Posted by Barton Lorimor (@bartonlorimor)

* Yup. It’s me, again.

You guessed it: I am coming out of retirement briefly to take you through the next week or so because Rich is off enjoying spring break. Once he comes back, I go right back in the box.

* If you were here the last time I filled in, then you know the jokes get a lot worse as the week goes on.

You would also know most of the day’s posts will be up first thing in the morning since I am on state time during the day. I appreciate all of your comments and emails, which is why my Twitter account and email address are available at the top of every post I do.

So here we go, gang. How is everybody this morning?

- Posted by Barton Lorimor   27 Comments      


Proft explains himself

Tuesday, Apr 15, 2014

* I had an e-mail exchange with Dan Proft last month that I meant to post at the time, but didn’t get around to it because session had kicked into high gear and I was buried with government stuff. I asked him for permission yesterday to reprint our exchange and he agreed.

Proft sent me a characteristically ascerbic note last month about a post I did disagreeing with his big-bucks support for Keith Matune, a Republican who finished just a smidgeon behind GOP Rep. Ron Sandack in the March primary

The worst thing Proft did though, was that when the truth came out [about Matune’s multiple arrests], he didn’t back away. Instead, he doubled down, forcing the House Republicans to spend a fortune to keep the seat. If Proft’s guy had won, the House Democrats would have assuredly jumped in and made the House Republicans spend even more money to defend the seat.

Look, this is a free country. Proft can do whatever he wants. But the Matune race shows his only real priority was defeating a Republican he didn’t like, not winning a Republican seat. It was totally irresponsible to push a supremely flawed candidate so hard.

* Proft’s response…

Your analysis of Sandack-Matune conveniently ignores the substance of Sandack’s legislative record–the focus of the campaign material I put out. Additionally, it ignores the details of the Matune allegations Sandack misrepresented or outright manufactured and any context to his 20-year old arrests for such crimes against humanity as public urination.

But I’m “reckless and irresponsible.” Okay. Someday–and I know today is not that day–I hope you’ll give consideration to your routine defenses of all things GOP establishment, particularly when those defenses offer no contextual consideration of their performance–you know, those guys in the superminority–much less mine.

I am forever fascinated by the differing standards of analysis.

Regards.

* Lemme let you in on a little secret. We disagree about a lot of stuff, but Proft and I have a history that’s been mostly friendly, albeit peppered with occasional acrimony, which I actually have enjoyed. So I chuckled at his e-mail and, since I’m not generally in the habit of sending long e-mails, my reply was brief…

You do have a way with words. But your response completely ignores my points.

* Proft fired back…

Which is what, the shibboleth from Team Durkin you’re re-purposing that Matune would’ve put the district in play in the general? Nonsense. 60%+ GOP district.

They were making the same argument against [Peter] Breen and he is unlikely to even draw an appointed opponent (certainly not one of any consequence) according to what I understand.

* My reply…

More nice words. You may refer to it as a shibboleth, but it’s real. More importantly, though, you forced leadership to spend money it didn’t have on a primary to fight off a very flawed candidate.

Shibboleth: An old idea, opinion, or saying that is commonly believed and repeated but that may be seen as old-fashioned or untrue.

* Proft…

They spent money to defend a very flawed candidate. As they did with Pihos. No one forced Durkin to spend money. His choice. Just as it was my choice.

Two years ago against a woefully underfunded candidate Sandack won 54-46. This time by 150 votes. Maybe there is an actual uneasiness with Sandack in his district with darn nearly half of the GOP primary electorate that should be considered? Is that possible? Should that be part of the assessment? Why is Sandack such an unpopular incumbent (and was before his marriage vote)? Compare his fav/unfav numbers to Pihos, for example, before I ever spent a dime in either race (except on polling).

We don’t exist to do leadership’s bidding because they have titles. That philosophy begets the superminority–as they have proven. I don’t see offices as someone’s birthright where someone else gets to decide who runs and who doesn’t and when. That approach pushes talented people away–a long-running problem with the GOP.

So when does a decade-plus of under-performance demand questioning of “leadership’s” decision-making? I am baffled by the deference they are supposed to be afforded.

Oh, and considering our interests are now aligned for the general election and Durkin has expressly asked for me help, “leadership” has a strange-way of party-building or asking for help. But that too will be left on the cutting room floor, I suppose, as it doesn’t fit the narrative or a plucky group of legislative leaders financed by the politically promiscuous trying to stave off assaults from the radicals who believe in free minds and free markets.

* At that point, I said he’d made some good arguments, then shifted the discussion to our mutually beloved White Sox. I’m just not into these long back and forth e-mail arguments and figured we were finished arguing and now it was time to talk about other stuff.

Look, I don’t agree with everything Proft wrote or everything he has done, but that’s not required. Some of y’all hate the man and you have your reasons. But while I’ve winced more than once when he’s said or done something I didn’t agree with, I have never, ever disliked him.

My best friend in the world once told me that you should never hate more than three people at once. If you hated more than three, it probably said more about you than them. A disagreement is just that. It ain’t personal and you shouldn’t make it personal unless everybody’s going to the mattresses.

* Anyway, try to address his points in your comments instead of his personality. And keep my best friend’s warning about hatred in your thoughts. Thanks.

- Posted by Rich Miller   51 Comments      


Protected: SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - MJM crosstabs

Tuesday, Apr 15, 2014

This post is password protected. To view it please enter your password below:

- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      


Protected: SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Today’s edition of Capitol Fax (use all CAPS in password)

Tuesday, Apr 15, 2014

This post is password protected. To view it please enter your password below:

- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      


Poll: Rauner up by 3, Durbin up by 14

Monday, Apr 14, 2014

* From Illinois Review

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey of Likely Illinois Voters shows Republican businessman Bruce Rauner picking up 43% of the vote to Quinn’s 40%. Six percent (6%) prefer some other candidate in the race, while 10% are undecided.

The latest Rasmussen statewide poll finds Durbin picking up 51% of the vote to State Senator Jim Oberweis’ 37%. Three percent (3%) prefer some other candidate in the race, while 10% are undecided.

More here and here.

- Posted by Rich Miller   54 Comments      


Rauner, Quinn trade jabs on property taxes and homeownership program

Monday, Apr 14, 2014

* The Rauner campaign threw down the gauntlet today

Republican candidate Bruce Rauner said today that if he were governor, he would veto legislation lawmakers sent to Gov. Pat Quinn last week that would cut pension benefits for some city workers and allow aldermen to raise property taxes to shore up the retirement program.

A spokesman for Rauner said the Winnetka businessman believes the measure should include shifting workers to a 401(k)-style defined contribution plan and contends that “raising property taxes is not the way to go.”

“Unless Pat Quinn wants to raise property taxes, he should veto the legislation,” said Rauner spokesman Mike Schrimpf.

* Greg Hinz

But it looks to me like Mr. Rauner may have put himself on the griddle, too, because so far, other than a few bromides about cutting “waste,” he’s given absolutely no clue how he’d make up for tens of billions of dollars in unfunded liability in city and state pension funds. And it certainly belies any notion that Mr. Emanuel secretly backs Mr. Rauner for governor.

Today’s developments came when Mr. Quinn scheduled a news conference to talk about a plan to help lower-middle-class families buy their first homes, and the Rauner campaign sent out an advance statement accusing the Democratic incumbent of hypocrisy for not promising to veto the Emanuel bill.

“As Pat Quinn tours the state relaunching a ‘new’ home loan program, will he break his promises again and allow Chicago property taxes to rise?” the statement asked. “Will he or won’t he? Quinn won’t say if he will sign the property-tax bill.” […]

[Rauner’s] pressure on Mr. Quinn to veto the bill ought to erase any lingering notion in some political circles that Mr. Emanuel quietly backs Mr. Rauner for governor. Ain’t so. Moves like today’s by Mr. Rauner have the potential to rev up City Hall and Chicago Democrats to put aside any disagreements with Mr. Quinn and rally city voters for the Democratic incumbent.

But, keep in mind, Rauner is trying to up the GOP’s vote total in Chicago, and this ain’t a bad way to do it.

* Quinn said he was “studying” the pension bill, but also attacked Rauner

Quinn also used the opportunity to bash his Republican opponent for governor, Bruce Rauner, who earlier Monday released a statement criticizing Quinn’s home-owner relief program as recycled and not new.

“That’s certainly a bizarre opinion,” Quinn said.

The program, available through the Illinois Housing Development Authority, offers certain first-time home buyers and those who haven’t owned a home in three years a low fixed-rate mortgage and up to $7,500 in down payment assistance.

“We are here to help families who don’t have political action committees, who don’t have lobbyists, who don’t have millions of dollars to buy more than one home …,” Quinn said in a thinly veiled reference to his opponent.

* From the Quinn campaign…

Billionaire Bruce Rauner – who owns nine homes - today went out of his way to criticize a successful state program helping everyday people across Illinois afford their very first home. Welcome Home Illinois will give many people the opportunity to buy their first and only home - but it’s clear this billionaire with nine homes of his own can’t relate. Is achieving the American Dream only for the self-proclaimed .01 percent?

This attack on everyday people again shows that billionaire Bruce Rauner is out-of-touch and doesn’t care about the people of Illinois.

More than 24,000 people have shown interest in Welcome Home Illinois, which provides a 3.75 percent interest rate for a secure, 30-year fixed mortgage.

…Adding…. From the Rauner campaign…

From Spokesman Mike Schrimpf:

Once again Quinnocchio is not being truthful with the people of Illinois - Bruce supported the program in 2005 when it was called I-loan, in 2009 when it was called “Illinois Home Start,” and even in 2011 when it was called “Smart Move. The truth is that Pat Quinn’s job-killing income tax hike continues to make life harder for potential homeowners.

Thoughts?

- Posted by Rich Miller   13 Comments      


Sun-Times temporarily turns off comments

Monday, Apr 14, 2014

* From the managing editor of the Sun-Times

Starting this weekend, the Chicago Sun-Times and the other titles in the Sun-Times Media group will temporarily cease to run comments with our articles.

The world of Internet commenting offers a marvelous opportunity for discussion and the exchange of ideas. But as anyone who has ever ventured into a comment thread can attest, these forums too often turn into a morass of negativity, racism, hate speech and general trollish behaviors that detract from the content.

In fact, the general tone and demeanor is one of the chief criticisms we hear in regard to the usability and quality of our websites and articles. Not only have we heard your criticisms, but we often find ourselves as frustrated as our readers are with the tone and quality of commentary on our pages.

To that end, we are working on development of a new commenting system we hope will not only allow for free discussion, but encourage increased quality of the commentary and help us better police the worst elements of these threads. We’ll have more in the weeks to come on this development.

* Robert Feder weighs in

It’s true that unmoderated comment boards — or those that don’t require verification (a Facebook account in the case of my blog) — leave themselves open to abuse. But a big-city daily’s digital news site that summarily shuts off dialogue with its readers strikes me as wrongheaded and backward-thinking to the extreme.

The key word is “unmoderated.” Newspapers and other “old media” have got to get a handle on their sites. Most of them don’t have the cash to hire a full-time comment moderator, so they’ve relied on apps and programs that don’t work very well.

I shut down comments for a while when I used the Blogger platform because I couldn’t effectively moderate comments. I moved over to WordPress and that helped me deal with most of my problems. But monitoring comments, and engaging with commenters to nudge or even shove them back onto the topic at hand ain’t easy. It’s a lot of work. Every time I leave to run an errand (as I’m about to do), I worry about what’s being posted and try to constantly check the blog to make sure all is OK.

So, I have little confidence that a magic program will solve all their problems. If they really want to get at the heart of the issue, they’ll hire somebody to watch over their comments. It’s the only truly effective way to solve this very real problem.

- Posted by Rich Miller   74 Comments      


Question of the day

Monday, Apr 14, 2014

* Mark Brown notes that if Gov. Pat Quinn were running against anyone else, his reception at last week’s IEA forum might not have been so warm, what with pension benefit cuts and cuts to education funding

But Quinn reminded delegates to the Illinois Education Association that the choice in the upcoming election isn’t between what they want and what he did.

“Please don’t compare me to the Almighty. Compare me to the alternative over here,” Quinn said, gesturing to Rauner, who makes no secret of his antagonism toward teacher unions. […]

Meeting briefly with reporters after the session, Rauner started off by quipping: “I’ve never been called Bruce Almighty before. I kinda like that.” […]

We’ve been needing a nickname for Rauner to go with the Quinnocchio depiction he’s hung on Quinn, and I’d say Bruce Almighty is a perfect fit.

Bruce Almighty: the candidate with the miraculous plan to cut the state income tax back to pre-Quinn levels and still provide more money for education and pay off the state’s backlog of bills.

* The Question: What would your nicknames be for both candidates? Make sure to explain.

- Posted by Rich Miller   73 Comments      


Fun with money

Monday, Apr 14, 2014

* Crain’s

Andrew Boron, director of the Illinois Department of Insurance, is pushing legislation that would provide $5 million to a new state corporation chaired by Mr. Boron to recruit out-of-state insurers. The money would be siphoned from the fees insurers and insurance brokers pay to fund the state’s regulation of them.

He wants to replicate the success the department had in wooing EquiTrust Life Insurance Co. from suburban Des Moines, Iowa, which is a national hub for life insurers. […]

The $5 million to lure insurers from other states accounts for about 10 percent of the $52 million the Insurance Department receives annually from insurers and brokers.

So, the plan is to take insurance company fee money and use that cash to lure competing insurance companies to Illinois?

I suppose I can see the logic in this, but has anyone thought of just lowering the insurance fees by 10 percent?

- Posted by Rich Miller   21 Comments      


Reform and renewal

Monday, Apr 14, 2014

* Eric Zorn came up with a great analogy about Bruce Rauner’s proposed constitutional amendment for term limits, etc.

In one of the more memorable scenes in the 1971 comedy “Bananas,” Woody Allen’s character Fielding Mellish is perusing the magazine rack at a small store. He’s trying to sneak peeks at the erotic fare in a way that avoids the notice of a matronly woman at the nearby checkout counter (see YouTube clip below)

He settles on a plan. “I’ll get a copy of Time magazine,” he says, loud enough for the woman to hear, as he takes a copy off the rack. “I’ll take Commentary. And the Saturday Review. And, uh, let’s see, Newsweek, and just I’ll grab one of these…”

He slips one of the skin magazines into the small collection of periodicals he doesn’t really care about, then turns to the cashier. “I’ll take `em all,” he mumbles as the woman looks on from several feet away.

It’s a nice try at misdirection.

Zorn’s premise is that Rauner is attempting to get around the state Constitution’s limit of popular amendments to only “structural and procedural” changes in the the General Assembly’s Article by proposing a change in the number of House and Senate members and an increase in the number of votes to override a gubernatorial veto

So think of the term limits proposal as the equivalent of the pornographic publication in “Bananas” — the illicit yet true object of desire.

And think of the other two elements on the Committee for Legislative Reform and Term Limits petition as the equivalent of Saturday Review and Newsweek — conventional, but, really, beside the point.

Both are clearly constititutional.

* Meanwhile, the Tribune editorialized again in favor of a different constitutional amendment for redistricting reform

Next comes the inevitable lawsuit, challenging the constitutionality or the language of the amendment, or both. It would fall to the Illinois Supreme Court, whose members were elected with party support, to decide whether the measure stays on the ballot.

Then there’s the big disinformation campaign, on which millions will be spent to convince voters that the amendment is bad for them. Already, the state’s top Democrats are voicing disingenuous concerns that the measure could reduce minority representation.

Um, I wonder who’s gonna spend “millions” to fight this? The unions will be spending all they can to defeat Rauner. The House and Senate Democrats will be spending cash on their own races, along with the state party.

Is there a pro-status quo millionaire out there who will step in and throw big money away attempting to defeat a proposal which has overwhelming popular support? I kinda doubt it.

* And Paul Green, writing in the Daily Herald, gets the last word again

Reform is a many splendored thing. You want to be a reformer? It’s easy; simply call yourself one, e.g., every Chicago mayor since 1837 has labeled himself or herself — a reformer. As we meander into the Illinois General Assembly’s closing weeks of session and ponder the upcoming November general elections, once again its “Reform Time — Illinois Style”.

Some “reformers” want to change how Illinois legislative maps are drawn. Other “reformers” want to initiate term limits for state legislators, while almost everyone claiming reform DNA — constantly use the terms “transparency” and accountability” like those words have some biblical meaning to frame their intentions.

Statewide reform goals and philosophy aside, the main target for all this activity is Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan. Reformers lament and criticize “The Speaker’s” power, influence and durability, especially in his control of the Illinois House.

Alas, what is seldom if ever mentioned, is that Speaker Madigan was created — you guessed it — by reformers. Yes, my friends, over 30 years ago, a youngish reformer (who now happens to be Illinois governor) led a constitutional crusade to end cumulative voting for electing Illinois House members.

It was called the “Cut-back” Amendment” — it created single member districts, reduced House membership from 177 to 118 members and obliterated independent Republicans from Chicago and independent Democrats from suburban Cook and the Collars. And it gave a shrewd and workaholic Mike Madigan the opportunity to create a power base that would have been impossible pre-Cut-back.

Ergo, beware of reform promises. Or, said another way, if folks are promising a New Deal, make sure you cut the cards.

* Related…

* ADDED: House votes to make secret government severance deals public

* AARP backs changes to redistricting process

* Baar-Topinka tells broadcasters term limits are stupid

- Posted by Rich Miller   25 Comments      


Simple solutions are usually neither

Monday, Apr 14, 2014

* Greg Hinz writes about the costs of Chicago pension reform

Some critics want to tap the city’s tax- increment financing system rather than raise property taxes $50 million each of the next five years, as Mr. Emanuel’s plan requires.

TIFs are a big, juicy target for those who want to protect homeowners. The city’s 153 TIF districts have a total of $1.7 billion in the bank and generate another $400 million-plus each year.

But roughly $1.5 billion of the $1.7 billion is already committed for projects such as an $800 million school construction plan announced a few years ago, a $15 million Chinatown library, an $18 million Albany Park library and a $12 million streetscape project for Devon Avenue, says Budget Director Alexandra Holt. She didn’t detail all $1.5 billion, but I have no reason to doubt her. With a couple of exceptions, the money is going to neighborhood projects, not downtown handouts.

Similarly, much of future years’ receipts are committed for things such as a $50 million el station at Cermak Road, a $9 million industrial project in Pilsen and debt payments. And total receipts are beginning to drop quickly, as TIF districts with a legal 23-year life begin to expire, like the huge $120 million-a-year Near South TIF.

Ironically, because of the tax hike for pensions, the TIF districts are expected to produce about $20 million in additional revenue, Ms. Holt says. The city will declare that money a surplus and apply its $4.6 million share to pensions, potentially softening the blow of the property tax increase.

* A recent Sun-Times editorial also looked at various options

What about a Chicago casino, which also requires state approval? That’s worth pursuing but can’t be counted on for now. If lawmakers ever approve, casino revenue is years away and inherently unpredictable. At its peak, perhaps five to seven years into its life, revenue could reach $80 million to $120 million, city officials tell us. […]

The Chicago Teachers Union and others have pushed a financial transaction tax and eliminating tax-increment-financing districts, both of which sound good on paper but have more downsides than pluses.

State actions: Emanuel has advocated for expanding the narrow list of items subject to the sales tax to cover services (think dry cleaning and hair salons). If done right, this could generate more revenue overall while also lowering the tax rate. Quinn is opposed, but an expanded sales tax that matches the modern economy could benefit the entire state. It’s also what most states do. Lawmakers also could increase the share of state income tax revenue shared with municipalities, including Chicago. That was cut in 2011, costing Chicago more than $400 million. The downside, of course, is that the state needs the money.

* Meanwhile, the Chicago Tribune has editorialized strongly in favor of the city’s pension reform bill

The Illinois General Assembly delivered a special package Tuesday to the Chicago City Council: a pension fix that probably requires aldermen to raise property taxes — less than a year before they stand for re-election.

Given the terrible finances of the city’s pension funds, Gov. Pat Quinn has no responsible choice other than to sign the bill, and the aldermen have little choice but to raise taxes.

So, to sum up, the Trib is in favor of higher property taxes to help solve the city’s historic pension underfunding problems, but totally against an income tax hike to help solve the state’s historic pension underfunding problems.

Go figure.

* And that leads us to this Eric Zorn post listing four reasons why a Chicago income tax should be considered

But if the alternative is a significant decrease in city services leading to a deteriorating quality of civic life, a city income tax is among the least objectionable options for balancing the books.

* The city’s media ran stories last week about how Mayor Emanuel had completely ruled out the idea

Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Wednesday ruled out creating a city income tax as a way to shore up the city’s municipal and laborers’ retirement funds while describing the $250 million property tax increase he wants to pay for the pension changes as “a measured way, a responsible way to address the question.”

* Glossed over in all of this is an important point noted in that above-linked Sun-Times editorial

Emanuel is opposed to a city income tax, which must be approved by Springfield. [Emphasis added.]

* From the Illinois Constitution

SECTION 6. POWERS OF HOME RULE UNITS

… A home rule unit shall have only the power that the General Assembly may provide by law (1) to punish by imprisonment for more than six months or (2) to license for revenue or impose taxes upon or measured by income or earnings or upon occupations.

* Paul Green has the last word

Illinois governments at all levels are facing financial disasters and yet various “stakeholders” (I love that word) are bickering as if time were on their side. These stakeholders hope that somehow pension debt and overdue bill payment will be “hoped” away.

The specifics of these crises in Springfield and Chicago are economically complicated, politically toxic and do not lend themselves to a 30 second political commercial. However, the general parameters of the problem are not so complicated. Governments have promised more than they could deliver.

Incoming revenue does not meet expenditure needs, and to resolve these issues everyone in Illinois (Chicago included) has to lose something.

In short, this is a math exam, not an essay test.

- Posted by Rich Miller   25 Comments      


From “James Bond” to media hound in less than a year

Monday, Apr 14, 2014

* My weekly syndicated newspaper column

A long time ago I asked Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan why he never golfed at his golf outing fundraisers.

Madigan explained that he was a terrible golfer (he’s since improved, I’m told) If people saw him embarrassing himself badly on the golf course, they might take a dimmer view of him as a leader.

He has applied this lesson to just about everything he does. He examines every angle before he acts. He hates mistakes and almost never acts precipitously or impetuously.

For example, Madigan and his staff gather a few times a week to read through every bill and every amendment to those bills to look for flaws, hidden agendas or to discuss strategies. He always wants to be as prepared as possible.

As a result, he rarely fails.

But something else has been happening over the past year or so.

Madigan has become a media hound.

The Speaker has never really sought media attention. He does what he does, and then he goes home, or, more likely, back to his office. A Republican friend of mine calls him “James Bond.”

But after getting royally hammered by the Chicago media over how he asked Metra to give one of his loyal patronage workers a raise, he’s seemed to change. Nowadays, he seeks publicity, and credit.

It started after the House passed the gay marriage bill. It wasn’t an easy task by any means and Madigan publicly took the credit for its passage. A few months later, he took the lion’s share of the credit for passing the long-sought pension reform bill.

Then, earlier this year, out of the blue, he proposed a 50 percent cut in the corporate income tax rate. He got a ton of media coverage, but he hasn’t yet followed up on it. It looked like a “press release bill.” Legislation unveiled merely to generate media interest. It might yet resurface, but as of now it has been disappeared into the ether.

Madigan was also working behind the scenes this spring with the Senate Democrats on a constitutional amendment to impose a three percent surcharge on income over a million dollars. But then Madigan went ahead with his own announcement of the proposal. It was referred to in pretty much all media reports as “Madigan’s millionaire tax.”

At the time of the unveiling, Madigan said he’d done his homework and had talked to his members before announcing his proposal. The constitutional amendment required a three-fifths super majority, so Madigan would need every single one of his Democrats if he couldn’t lock down any House Republican votes.

Rep. Jack Franks, a Democrat who prides himself on never voting for tax hikes, offered tentative early support, but his support was tied to allowing the 2011 income tax hike to expire. Just days later, Madigan publicly supported keeping the tax hike permanent.

Rep. Franks says he told the Speaker that he couldn’t back the proposed constitutional amendment a couple weeks ago. Madigan asked for time to try and find GOP votes. In the meantime other Democrats went off the reservation, including Rep. Scott Drury, who issued a press release last week announcing his opposition. The momentum was going too fast the other way, so the plug was pulled.

Madigan, through a spokesman, blamed the Republicans for the proposal’s defeat. But Madigan had surprised the Republicans with his plan’s unveiling, instead of finding some GOP support in advance.

As it turns out, Madigan simply bit off more than he could chew. His proposal failed, but he sure got a lot of publicity about it, much of it favorable.

And, hey, lemons into lemonade. Pro-business groups like Americans for Prosperity Illinois offered up praise for Rep. Drury, who faces a Republican opponent in November. Drury and Franks, “should be commended for siding with taxpayers and small businesses by taking a courageous stand against this proposal,” said AFP Illinois State Director David From via press release. That’ll surely make Drury more palatable to tax sensitive business owners in his district.

And the proposal put Republican gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner in a difficult spot. Rauner flatly opposed the tax, while leaving open the possibility that he could favor taxing retirement income and services. It didn’t make him look good.

Maybe this is all part of some grand scheme. But right now it sure looks like James Bond has gone tabloid.

- Posted by Rich Miller   26 Comments      


Protected: SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Supplement to today’s edition

Monday, Apr 14, 2014

This post is password protected. To view it please enter your password below:

- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      


Protected: SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Today’s edition of Capitol Fax (use all CAPS in password)

Monday, Apr 14, 2014

This post is password protected. To view it please enter your password below:

- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      


Reader comments closed for the weekend

Friday, Apr 11, 2014

* Mamie Minch and Tamar Korn will play us out

- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      


Your post-debate moment of Zen

Friday, Apr 11, 2014

* I just did a quick read-through of the comments on the Rauner vs. Quinn at the IEA event post. You guys did a tremendous job. I’ll bet you’re all still kinda keyed up, so here’s something to chill everybody out before the weekend.

Oscar the Puppy and I have been playing a fun new game recently

- Posted by Rich Miller   5 Comments      


*** LIVE VIDEO *** Quinn vs. Rauner at IEA

Friday, Apr 11, 2014

* I have to run some errands this afternoon, so I’m not sure I’ll be able to watch all of today’s IEA forum featuring Bruce Rauner and Gov. Pat Quinn. So, click here to watch the live video feed at 2 o’clock and tell us all what happened. Thanks!

- Posted by Rich Miller   167 Comments      


Question of the day

Friday, Apr 11, 2014

* NBC 5

A bill preventing the use of police ticket quotas passed in the Illinois Senate Thursday in a 57-1 vote.

The legislation would prevent ticket quotas at any state, county and municipal police departments. It also states that departments would not be allowed to evaluate an officer’s performance based on the number of citations they issue.

The bill had the support of 19 sponsors in the Senate, including Sen. Kirk Dillard. The Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police, however, fought the measures.

* SJ-R

Republican Sen. Tim Bivins, the lone “no” vote, said the bill would give the small percentage of officers who don’t want to do their jobs incentive to slack off.

Bivins, a former sheriff in Lee County, said that if the bill passes, it would take discretion out of the hands of management and could be the first step toward “circumventing the collective bargaining practice that exists.”

But Manar argued that officers need more discretion, calling the bill “necessary because a quota takes away from a police officer’s ability to use good judgment.”

He also said local governments are often tempted to use law enforcement quota policies as a way to raise revenue.

* The Question: Have you ever experienced a traffic ticket situation where you believed the police officer didn’t have the discretion to issue a simple warning? Take the poll and then explain your answer in comments, please.


panel management

- Posted by Rich Miller   34 Comments      


Not taking the bait

Friday, Apr 11, 2014

* The best way for the Democrats to use this “voter suppression” amendment to gin up turnout is to hope that somebody, somewhere trashes it and they hype that negative comment in hopes of angering their base. The Republicans have mostly refused to take the bait so far. Sun-Times

Without opposition, House Speaker Michael Madigan’s plan to amend the Illinois Constitution to ban voter-suppression tactics passed the Senate Thursday.

The measure, which needed 36 votes to pass in the Senate, cleared the chamber 52-0 and will appear on the November 4th ballot after having passed the House earlier this week. […]

Sen. Matt Murphy, R-Palatine, said this would allow voters “unfettered access” to exercise their voting rights.

“We take seriously that fundamental, quintessential concept of the right to vote,” he said. “We can send a message and make clear with this bill right here that it doesn’t matter what your surname is, if you have earned that right to vote, you will not be impeded in any way in exercising it.”

* Even tea party Sen. Kyle McCarter held his tongue

“We’ve heard the stories from around the nation of states implementing laws specifically to limit the right to vote,” said Sen. Kwame Raoul, D-Chicago. “This is definitely intended to discourage voter ID laws because of their disparate impact.”

Statistics have shown the poor, elderly and minority voters are less likely to have the photo IDs needed in some states in order to vote.

“In the county where I reside, we’ve had issues,” said Sen. Kyle McCarter, R-Lebanon. “If a (photo ID) is not available, we should make it available. I firmly believe we should have a voter ID law that does not discriminate.”

McCarter did not vote on the amendment.

* Meanwhile, a handful of liberal Democrats were crushed in the House yesterday

Spurred by a gun-rights activist’s scrape with the law, the Illinois House voted Thursday to block state conservation police from going into someone’s home or onto their yards to enforce state hunting laws without search warrants.

The measure sponsored by House Minority Leader Jim Durkin, R-Western Springs, arose after National Rifle Association lobbyist Todd Vandermyde was cited last December by Department of Natural Resources police on private hunting ground. […]

(S)tate Rep. Ann Williams, D-Chicago, another gun-control advocate, rose up to raise questions about the precedent the House was setting with the issue and voiced concern about any similar, potential efforts to water down safety components of the newly enacted concealed-carry law, which Vandermyde helped draft.

“I don’t think the best genesis for changing those laws is something that stems out of a violation,” Williams said.

House Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie, D-Chicago, Rep. Sara Feigenholtz, D-Chicago, and Rep. Robyn Gabel, D-Evanston, were the other “no” votes on the legislation, which Durkin said was supported by state conservation police.

The bill passed 102-5.

- Posted by Rich Miller   21 Comments      


Tone it down, please

Friday, Apr 11, 2014

* You may have read this advertorial yesterday

Uber’s lies and deception over the last month are an affront to Representative Zalewski and the entire General Assembly. Uber’s representatives, including their Worldwide Director of Policy, participated in lengthy negotiations. Uber, in writing, requested 13 changes to HB 4075.

All 13 changes have been addressed.

Eight changes were fully accepted.

Four changes were addressed through a part-time / full-time compromise for drivers.

The final change was negotiated by Uber, the Illinois Insurance Association and Illinois Trial Lawyers Association.

We were under the impression from the negotiations that the deal would be acceptable to Uber.

* Uber did, indeed, get just about everything it wanted in those negotiations. But it’s now hyperventilating to the media after the House passed the negotiated bill. Sun-Times

The Illinois House voted 80-26 on a proposal that would require all ridesharing companies to conduct driver background checks, safety training and have commercial liability insurance. Ridesharing drivers would be restricted from using taxi loading zones. Those drivers logging more than 18 hours would need registration plates, a chauffer’s license, and vehicle safety inspections.

Ridesharing companies would still be allowed to use price surging, or raising prices in times of high demand. […]

“The passage of HB4075 in its current form destroys thousands of jobs in Chicago, slashes income opportunities for Chicago’s rideshare drivers, and effectively shuts down uberX in Chicago,” said Andrew Macdonald, Uber Chicago general manager, in a prepared statement.

“Today is a win for the corporate taxi special interests and a loss for the thousands of Uber users in Chicago who banded together in short order to save ridesharing in Illinois and were effectively ignored,” he said.

…Adding… Rep. Mike Zalewski and the cab companies are right about this point

Zalewski told WBEZ that Uber’s lobbyist in Springfield, attorney Michael Kasper, supported the idea of bifurcating drivers into different regulatory categories depending on how much time they work. “I can only negotiate with who Uber tells me to negotiate with,” he said, “and their representatives were willing to negotiate on this point.”

But almost immediately after the bill passed, Uber denied that it was consulted in the crafting of the bill. “Uber has not signed off on a proposal that bifurcates drivers,” said Andrew MacDonald, Regional General Manager of Uber Midwest. Lyft issued a similar statement: “Bifurcating drivers into two groups was not a compromise and we did not support this model in conversations with the bill sponsors.”

“That’s an outright lie,” said Pat Corrigan, a Principal at Yellow Group and representative of the Illinois Transportation Trade Association, which includes nearly all of Chicago’s taxi companies. “We talked to Uber representatives, including Michael Kasper, their lobbyist, over the weekend in an attempt to understand how we could satisfy their wishes.” Kasper did not respond to an e-mail by posting time.

* Look, bills are never perfect. And the ride sharing companies could still ask for changes in the Illinois Senate. But it’s not a bad deal at all and that hyperbole from Uber just looks like crazy talk.

But it’s to be expected, I suppose.

* From an Inc. profile of Uber CEO Travis Kalanick

[Uber] also has an aggressive culture and growth strategy set by a CEO who is so headstrong, so enthusiastic, and so combative in defense of his big idea that he is at risk of seeming like a parody of today’s tech entrepreneur–up to and including having a thing for Ayn Rand. You hear a lot about tech companies shaking up staid industries, pushing past slow, complacent competitors. This is the next phase. This is Silicon Valley’s cult of disruption taking on city hall. […]

When quiet negotiations with city officials don’t seem to be getting him anywhere, he has a tendency to lash out, often by implying that the people standing in his way are corrupt. […]

Kalanick does his part to bait his critics. He can be at times comically grandiose and un-self-aware. When I ask him why he left angel investing (which he was doing after selling Red Swoosh) to run Uber, his rambling, five-minute answer includes two hyperbolic claims, a mixed metaphor (”It’s so complex all you can do is swim in uncertainty”), childish whimsy (”that is my happy place”), and, believe it or not, an unironic Braveheart reference.

“That’s part of me, that freedom fighter in me,” he says. “It’s like Brave­heart. Like, ‘freeeeeduuuuuuuuum.’ ”

I strongly defended Uber last month when the taxi companies came after it. Their original bill was grotesque. This bill is far from that.

- Posted by Rich Miller   8 Comments      


Rauner offers preview of today’s IEA forum

Friday, Apr 11, 2014

* We’ll have live video coverage today at 2 o’clock of the Illinois Education Association’s forum featuring both Gov. Pat Quinn and Bruce Rauner, so make sure to check back.

Rauner’s campaign put out a preview release today and Illinois Review provided a good summation of the candidate’s expected talking points

“Bruce has pledged to increase education funding as governor. He believes education is the most important thing we do as a community and should be the top priority in Illinois,” a campaign statement says.

Secondly, Rauner is “personally devoted to the cause.” Rauner has invested time and resources to improving education in Illinois by leading the Chicago Public Education Fund, which helped more teachers achieve National Board Certification, and he has personally funded a Chicago program aimed at financially rewarding the best performing principals,” the statement says.

Rauner also claims his investment firm has helped the Teacher Retirement System by producing “tremendous results.” The Rauner campaign points to comments made by Governor Quinn’s own spokesperson concerning GTCR, an investment firm Rauner founded. […]

Rauner will remind the teachers that their IEA President Cinda Klickna Led Motion to Invest in GTCR back in 2003. […]

Rauner will pitch that he wants teachers to control their retirement savings - rather than leave it in the hands of “union bosses,” something he’s likely to leave unsaid in his sales pitch.

No kidding he won’t. The phrase “union bosses” appears nowhere in the press release. Here’s what it said on that topic…

Bruce believes teachers should be able to keep the pensions that they’ve honestly accrued, but moving forward they should be shifted into a defined-contribution style system that puts teachers in charge instead of the politicians.

“Politicians” are now the targets.

- Posted by Rich Miller   26 Comments      


About that crime victims’ amendment

Friday, Apr 11, 2014

* Back in 1992, Illinois voters approved a new constitutional amendment

SECTION 8.1. CRIME VICTIM’S RIGHTS.
(a) Crime victims, as defined by law, shall have the following rights as provided by law:

    (1) The right to be treated with fairness and respect for their dignity and privacy throughout the criminal justice process.
    (2) The right to notification of court proceedings.
    (3) The right to communicate with the prosecution.
    (4) The right to make a statement to the court at sentencing.
    (5) The right to information about the conviction, sentence, imprisonment, and release of the accused.
    (6) The right to timely disposition of the case following the arrest of the accused.
    (7) The right to be reasonably protected from the accused throughout the criminal justice process.
    (8) The right to be present at the trial and all other court proceedings on the same basis as the accused, unless the victim is to testify and the court determines that the victim’s testimony would be materially affected if the victim hears other testimony at the trial.
    (9) The right to have present at all court proceedings, subject to the rules of evidence, an advocate or other support person of the victim’s choice.
    (10) The right to restitution.

(b) The General Assembly may provide by law for the enforcement of this Section.
(c) The General Assembly may provide for an assessment against convicted defendants to pay for crime victims’ rights.
(d) Nothing in this Section or in any law enacted under this Section shall be construed as creating a basis for vacating a conviction or a ground for appellate relief in any criminal case.

There was a lot of false or misleading info in comments yesterday about the new constitutional amendment, which will go before voters this November. So, let’s clear up a few things.

* The big compromise back in 1992 was that no “enforcement” provision would be put into the Constitution. The enforcement provision in state statute doesn’t give victims any standing.

From the Marsy’s Law website

Why is a constitutional amendment necessary?

The Illinois Constitution currently guarantees crime victims certain rights, but these rights are technically unenforceable, making them ineffective and weak… Illinois is the only state that actually bars the enforcement of victims’ rights.

* When the attorney general’s office held discussions on this topic a few years ago, it was decided that the best way to proceed was through another constitutional amendment. This is from AG Madigan’s office…

Illinois has both a constitutional and statutory Victims’ Bill of Rights. Article I, Section 8.1 of the Illinois Constitution states that “nothing in the section addressing the rights of crime victims or any law enacted under the section shall be construed as creating a basis for vacating a conviction or a ground for appellate relief in any criminal case.”

Consequently, victims who are denied their rights have no redress because the denial is literally not subject to any kind of review. Because the problem lies with the Constitution, the only way to correct it is via constitutional amendment.

* The Illinois State Bar Association was opposed to a similar effort two years ago and testified against it. The group opposed it this year, but didn’t testify. They weren’t even in the room during the two public hearings. That’s usually Statehouse code for “we got the best, least offensive deal possible.”

* The new amendment gives victims some more rights, including

The right to be heard at any post-arraignment court proceeding in which a right of the victim is at issue and any court proceeding involving a post-arraignment release decision, plea, or sentencing

They also would now have the right to be notified of the conviction, sentence, etc., instead of just the right to the information.

* There’s also this

The right to have the safety of the victim and the victim’s family considered in denying or fixing the amount of bail, determining whether to release the defendant, and setting conditions of release after arrest and conviction.

* But while the victims are given standing, there are clear restrictions

The victim has standing to assert the rights enumerated in subsection (a) in any court exercising jurisdiction over the case. The court shall promptly rule on a victim’s request.

The victim does not have party status. The accused does not have standing to assert the rights of a victim. The court shall not appoint an attorney for the victim under this Section.

Nothing in this Section shall be construed to alter the powers, duties, and responsibilities of the prosecuting attorney. […]

Nothing in this Section or any law enacted under this Section creates a cause of action in equity or at law for compensation, attorney’s fees, or damages against the State, a political subdivision of the State, an officer, employee, or agent of the State or of any political subdivision of the State, or an officer or employee of the court.

These are all quite reasonable changes and that’s why it was overwhelmingly approved by both chambers.

* And, believe it or not, big kudos go to Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez. Alvarez led the charge against this effort two years ago, but when changes were made and AG Madigan convinced her to switch positions she forcefully argued for the new draft. She even reportedly convinced DuPage County State’s Attorney Robert Berlin to back off his opposition. Berlin also hotly opposed the effort to amend the Constitution two years ago.

- Posted by Rich Miller   18 Comments      


Culture wars alive and well in GA

Friday, Apr 11, 2014

* I have no idea why she called this bill yesterday when 20 members were absent from the chambers

A bid to block therapists from engaging in “conversion therapy” with gay, bisexual and transgender youth in order to make them heterosexual failed Thursday in the Illinois House.

The measure, proposed by Rep. Kelly Cassidy, D-Chicago, lost on a 44-51 roll call despite her plea to colleagues to stop gay, bisexual and transgender teens 17 and under from being “horribly and humiliatingly abused.”

“This treatment plan causes depression, causes suicidal actions and is incredibly harmful to children,” said Cassidy, who is openly lesbian and one of the lead architects of Illinois’ same-sex marriage law.

“The practice of conversion therapy is dismissed by every major scientific organization and should not be utilized. There’s not a single scientific basis for one’s sex orientation being a disorder,” she said. “We need to protect our children.”

* The Illinois Family Institute was overjoyed

In an article last month on this issue, IFI’s Laurie Higgins pointed out that the “ultimate motivation behind this legislation is to promote the Leftist assumptions of adult homosexuals who seek to wipe disapproval of homosexual acts from the face of the planet even if doing requires deception, harms children, undermines parental rights, and corrodes fundamental First Amendment speech and religious liberty.”

In a remarkable display of rhetorical excess, Cassidy argued that minors who desire to change their unwanted same-sex attraction through counseling are “horribly and humiliatingly abused.” It boggles the mind that Cassidy would expect her colleagues to believe that every counselor who helps minors with unwanted same-sex attraction “horribly and humiliatingly” abuses their young clients. Further, Cassidy expected her colleagues to believe her without any conclusive studies to support such an outlandish claim.

It defies logic that “progressives” believe that gender-confused minors should be able to receive treatment to change their unwanted “gender identity” but not their unwanted sexual preferences.

* Meanwhile, Rep. Cassidy did pass a bill yesterday recommended by Illinois’ Bullying Prevention Task Force. Illinois Review’s take

Rep. Cassidy said that the ban on bullying was needed because of students with disabilities being “tortured” and biracial students being “attacked.” Cassidy said, as she called for the House floor vote, that she was bullied as a student, not because of being a gay student, but because she held strong religious convictions.

“The fact that the bill’s sponsors and the ACLU have refused to ensure the rights of students and school employees to opt-out of ‘programming’ and ‘training’ that promote ideas that conflict with their personal and/or religious beliefs reveals the real goal,” Illinois Family Institute said in a statement issued after the bill passed.

That goal, IFI says, is to use public education to promote unproven, non-factual beliefs about the nature and morality of homosexuality and “transgenderism.”

* And quite a large number of pro-life legislators opposed a bill that would increase protections for pregnant mothers in the workplace

The bill, which moves now to the Senate, requires employers to make reasonable accommodations for pregnant employees, if so requested, unless the employer can demonstrate that the accommodation would impose an undue hardship on the business’ ordinary operation.

Also, it would be considered a civil rights violation if an employer denies employment opportunities or benefits to a pregnant woman, or takes adverse action against an otherwise qualified job applicant or employee. The employers may not require an employee or job applicant to accept an accommodation offered or force that employee to take leave.

State Rep. Jeanne Ives (R-Wheaton) said that she was pregnant twice while serving in the military, was provided numerous considerations while expecting and understood the need to make accommodations for pregnancy. However, the mother of five was concerned about a possible rise in litigation the bill would fuel.

* More

Flowers’ bill would make employers permit frequent bathroom breaks, water breaks, seating, assistance with manual labor, less physically demanding duties, adjustment of the work schedule, time off to recover from childbirth, leave and break space for breast feeding. […]

Rep. Ron Sandack, R-Downers Grove, who voted against the legislation, said “no one’s against pregnant women” but said the bill goes too far.

“It’s problematic because it expands rights beyond what’s already provided in federal law,” he said. “It has many undefined terms that could be abused.” […]

But Flowers said litigation didn’t erupt in California after it enacted a similar law.

- Posted by Rich Miller   25 Comments      


Turning a corner?

Friday, Apr 11, 2014

* We still have a long way to go, and if the pension reform law is struck down all heck is gonna break loose. But good news shouldn’t be ignored. Paul Merrion at Crain’s

On its latest sale of $250 million in long-term debt, the state got much better interest rates than just a few months ago on a similar package sized at $1 billion.

Bank of America/Merrill Lynch had the winning bid [yesterday] with an overall interest rate of 4.08 percent on the general obligation bonds, compared with 4.46 percent interest a small group of investment firms agreed to pay on a $1 billion bond deal in February.

Since then, the state’s worst-in-the nation credit rating hasn’t changed, but Gov. Pat Quinn issued a five-year budget plan and called for a continuation of temporary income tax hikes that were supposed to start phasing out next year, which the credit rating agencies embraced. […]

The difference between the current rate for AAA-rated borrowers and the state’s interest rate this week was about one quarter of a percentage point less than it was in February for bonds maturing in 2029. That works out to an 18 percent reduction in the yield penalty to Illinois.

* Meanwhile, Standard & Poor’s took a look at both the governor’s “recommended” budget and his “not-recommended” budget. The ratings agency obviously doesn’t care for the not-recommended budget, which doesn’t include a full year’s worth of revenue from the tax hike

The state achieves budget balance in the not-recommended budget with $2 billion of proposed spending reductions. Total expenditures under that scenario are $29.4 billion, or 6.5% below fiscal 2014 spending levels; total and expenditures and transfers would be $34.6 billion, or 5.6% below 2014 levels. Spending reductions would be across the board in broad program areas excluding debt service, pensions, and most of the Medicaid program. Pension costs in the budget do not include the impact of recently enacted pension reform; the costs are budgeted at $6.2 billion, or 4.3% above fiscal 2014. Education funding under this scenario would decline about $1 billion and other general program areas also decline significantly.

We believe that the not-recommended budget could weaken structural alignment for Illinois.

That last line could be bigtime political ammo for Gov. Pat Quinn against those, like Bruce Rauner, who want to allow the tax hike to expire.

* S&P isn’t overly thrilled with the recommended budget, but they do appear to prefer it

The recommended budget could contribute to enhanced structural alignment due to less severe spending reductions needed to achieve balance, but it still relies on nonrecurring resources, such as the interfund loan, as well as continued progress on Medicaid reform and other cost containment measures.

* And while expressing some constitutional and other reservations about the recent pension reform law, S&P wrote “we believe it would provide significant budget relief and substantially improve funded ratios over time.”

* There was also this historical perspective

On many levels, Illinois’ credit quality is a study in contrasts. In our opinion, despite a long history of structural budget imbalance and weak pension funding levels, the protections for general obligation (GO) bonds are strong. Even during the Great Recession’s depths, when liquidity was extremely strained, the state’s commitment to bondholders was steadfast, in our view, and remained a policy focus. The recent pension reform further highlights this, with specific statutory provisions that subordinate pension payments to debt service. We believe the provisions relating to GO debt are longstanding and strong in supporting the priority of payment for debt service.

Illinois does not have to deal with constitutional or statutory revenue limitations, has what we consider to be a broad and diverse economy with above-average wealth levels, and has flexibility to adjust spending levels. However, despite these strengths, structural imbalance has been a regular feature of its budget position for many years.

* But

Although the state has implemented improvements in budget and financial management practices, they have not been robust enough to offset the sluggish economy and the accumulated structural budget deficit. Illinois’ budgetary performance, rising unfunded pension liability, and legislative inaction on many fronts contributed to a pattern of credit deterioration since 2008; as a result, we have lowered our rating four times. This is at odds with the state sector’s credit performance as a whole. Only time will tell which path credit quality moves. As such, our developing outlook best reflects the state of Illinois’ credit quality, in that it might improve — or get worse — in the next two years.

* Related…

* Cullerton: ‘I confess: I like Illinois’

- Posted by Rich Miller   25 Comments      


Rate the new Rauner ad

Friday, Apr 11, 2014

* From Diana Rauner…

Hi.

The response to the TV ad we released last week has been great. The ad was a lot of fun for Bruce and me to make.

But I wanted to share a little more about why I think Bruce will make an excellent governor for every Illinoisan.

Watch here: bit.ly/1eot4vD

I hope you enjoy our new ad.

And if you’re interested in volunteering for the campaign please click here.

Thank you for all that you’re doing to bring back Illinois.

Diana

* Rate it

…Adding… I forgot to include the cable buy stats. I don’t have the network buy info as of yet…

Citizens for Rauner
Republican candidate for Governor of Illinois
Agency: Access Media, Los Angeles
Total schedule: $82,256
Flight Dates: 4/11/14 - 4/17/14
Networks: BRVO, FOOD, HGTV, TVL, USA
Dayparts: 9A-4P, 4-7P, 7P-Midnight
Syscodes / zones / $ by zone
5170 / Chicago Interconnect / $68, 880
9804 / DirecTV / $7,917
9810 / DISH / $5,459

- Posted by Rich Miller   90 Comments      


“Whatever it is, you look good”

Friday, Apr 11, 2014

* Here’s something you won’t see every day, particularly from me.

I came up with what I thought was a pretty good column idea for Crain’s Chicago Business. My editor, Tom Corfman, liked it and gave it a green light.

But then I wrote myself into a hopeless corner. That happens sometimes. It’s never pleasant. I worked on it and worked on it and thought I fixed it, but Corfman didn’t think I had. I read it again and realized he was right.

Uh-oh.

I labored over some revisions, but unbeknownst to me, Corfman also put some effort into it. His revision was far better than mine so we went with his changes.

* I usually hate it when somebody else touches what I write, unless it’s a typo or something like that. But I gotta give props to Corfman here. He made this column work

For the past few years, whenever I’d get a haircut I could always count on people asking, “Have you lost weight?”

In reality, I’d probably gained weight and I would sometimes say that. “Well, whatever it is, you look good,” I’d hear.

For the past couple of months, though, folks have been telling me they loved my new haircut.

But I’ve been telling them, I’ve only had one haircut in three months. “Well, whatever it is, you look good,” they’ve been replying.

I couldn’t figure out why so many people loved my nonexistent haircut until it finally dawned on me that I’d…

Go read the whole thing.

- Posted by Rich Miller   17 Comments      


Protected: SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Today’s edition of Capitol Fax (use all CAPS in password)

Friday, Apr 11, 2014

This post is password protected. To view it please enter your password below:

- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      


« NEWER POSTS PREVIOUS POSTS »
* Fourth Legionnaires’ case confirmed at Quincy veterans' home
* Biss endorsed by Sierra Club
* Question of the day
* Two Metro East GOP primaries take sharp turns toward weirdness
* Rotheimer becomes issue in Rep. Hammond's primary
* Agencies a no-show for Senate hearing on Quincy veterans' home
* SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Supplement to today's edition and other campaign news
* Rauner on pension cost-shift's impact on property taxes: "It'll help bring them down"
* *** UPDATED x4 - Cassidy explains - Madigan responds - Mendoza, Bustos and Ammons issue statement - Sen. Bush echoes demand *** Rep. Cassidy wants independent probe into "culture that appears to pervade the organizations led by Speaker Madigan"
* Ives, Kennedy up with two new ads
* Raoul donates Decremer contribution to TIME’S UP Legal Defense Fund
* Candidates lash out at Pritzker after WCIA cancels debate
* More on Gov. Rauner's budget proposal
* *** LIVE *** Session coverage
* SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Today's edition of Capitol Fax (use all CAPS in password)
* *** UPDATED x1 - Madigan responds *** Madigan operative removed from campaigns after complaints, Biss demands resignation of party chairmanship
* *** UPDATED x1 *** Rauner slammed from the right over Janus case
* *** UPDATED x3 - IDCCA clarifies - Biss buy - Quinn responds *** Holiday Monday quick takes: Rotering's new ad slams Quinn; Biss is up on Downstate TV; Pritzker reloads; Daily Journal endorses Ives; IDCCA unveils zero-tolerance policy and pledge
* Konkol out at Chicago Reader after "tumultuous ten days"
* Madigan asks Bustos, Mendoza and Ammons to "develop a plan for elevating the status of women in the party"
* Saturday quick hits: Mendoza wants Quincy veterans moved; Biss and Raoul report big bucks; Reader cover fallout intensifies
* Yesterday's stories

Support CapitolFax.com
Visit our advertisers...

...............

...............

...............

...............

...............
<


Loading


* Lawmaker rips Rauner on Legionnaires' response .....
* Lawmaker rips Rauner on Legionnaires' response .....
* Democratic Lawmakers Call For Independent Inves.....
* Lawmaker rips Rauner on Legionnaires' response .....
* Lawmaker rips Rauner on Legionnaires' response .....
* Lawmaker rips Rauner on Legionnaires' response .....
* Lawmaker rips Rauner on Legionnaires' response .....
* Lawmaker rips Rauner on Legionnaires' response .....
* Lawmaker rips Rauner on Legionnaires' response .....
* Lawmaker rips Rauner on Legionnaires' response .....


* Senate plan would require rear-facing car seats until age 2
* Storm system brings flooding, freezing rain, snow to Midwest
* Guardian to make decisions about Amanda Ware's children
* Lawmaker rips Rauner on Legionnaires' response at vets' home
* Man who died in Yellowstone was looking for hidden treasure
* The Latest: Officials pledge cooperation on Legionnaires'
* Brothers from St. Louis accused in Glen Carbon death
* Widow of slain police commander thanks Chicago
* Excerpts from recent editorials in newspapers in Illinois
* NTSB asks FAA to look at carry-on bags during emergencies

* Illinois Senate plan would require rear-facing car seats until age 2
* Gov. Rauner accused of politicizing Janus union dues case
* Another Legionnaires' case found in Quincy as lawmakers meet
* Democratic candidates for governor debate Wednesday at UIS
* Madigan parts ways with second operative after female lawmaker alleges 'abuse of power'
* Opponents: Rauner insurance changes would hurt state workers, retired teachers
* Can middle-class candidate Daniel Biss defeat millionaires in Illinois?
* Speaker Madigan: 'I take responsibility' for not doing enough on sexual harassment issue
* Former Lanphier player among the latest Legionnaires' cases in Quincy
* Former Lanphier player among the latest Legionnaire's cases in Quincy

* Loyola health system CEO takes job out west
* Hospital accounting error adds up to $92 million
* Rite Aid was Albertson's last best hope
* $6.50 a share? Try 18 cents.
* Rite Aid was Albertsons' last best hope


* Local character study’s wonderful cast in a ‘Rogers Park’ state of mind
* Don’t overestimate Russian attempts to sway election
* Washington Street bridge over Chicago River to close Wednesday morning
* Florida survivors, lawmakers on collision course over guns
* Bears start 2018 construction by letting Josh Sitton, Jerrell Freeman walk
* The changing seasons: Chicago fishing, the Midwest Fishing Report
* Bulls point guard Cameron Payne set to make season debut Thursday
* Man, 62, reported missing from East Chatham
* Flood warning in effect until Wednesday morning for Chicago Area
* Freed from prison, Nevest Coleman ready to get back in the game with White Sox


* West Point posthumously admits Parkland shooting victim Peter Wang
* Man charged with breaking judge's window with snowball ordered held without bond
* Already serving life in prison for boyfriend's slaying, Hobart woman to stand trial for husband's murder
* Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville on playing spoiler: ‘Nothing to get excited about’
* District: Round Lake High student turned in by fellow students for threatening video
* Bulls' youth movement begins in earnest with starting roles for Cristiano Felicio and David Nwaba
* Second patient asks to join lawsuit over Delnor hostage standoff
* Hitters Group No. 4 — Eloy Jimenez, Luis Robert and Micker Adolfo — hopes to become a Big 3 for White Sox
* DuPage judge's actions weren't criminal when he fired gun in his home, lawyer argues at trial
* Seven things about NBC's Olympics coverage, including an idea for Scott Hamilton


» Lawmaker Rips Rauner On Legionnaires' Response At Vets' Home
» Illinois Lawmaker Looks To Ban AR-15, 'Ghost Guns'
» After Husband's DUI, Supreme Court OKs Seizure Of Wife's Harley
» Setting the Record Not-So-Straight: Rights Group Pushes Inclusive History in IL Classrooms
» Mourners: Slain Chicago Officer Was 'One Of The Good Guys'
» Madigan Says He's Taking Steps To End Harassment, Abuse
» 2016 Report Put Quincy Plumbing Fix At $8M
» State Week: Governor Rauner Presents His Budget
» Rauner Budget Doesn’t Use 'Pixie Dust,' But It’s Fanciful Nonetheless
» Dem Candidates Dissatisfied With Madigan's Response To Sexual Harrassment Claims


* Illinois Senate plan would require rear-facing car seats until age 2
* Gov. Rauner accused of politicizing Janus union dues case
* Another Legionnaires' case found in Quincy as lawmakers meet
* Democratic candidates for governor debate Wednesday at UIS
* Madigan parts ways with second operative after female lawmaker alleges 'abuse of power'
* E.J. Dionne: On gun violence, we are a failed state
* George Will: LA's mayor deserves a presidential hearing
* Bernard Schoenburg: 3 years later, Rauner tells similar incomplete story
* Statehouse Insider: Don't spend that tax cut all at once
* Andy Shaw: Basic responsibilities in a democracy


* LIVE! Michigan State
* UPDATE: flood, winter weather advisories in play
* New Baden man charged with soliciting sex from undercover agent posing as child
* Illinois man who died in Yellowstone was looking for hidden treasure
* Man sentenced for role in attempted armed robbery that resulted in friend's death
* Frontier to build hotel at Bettendorf sports complex
* Lawmaker rips Rauner on Legionnaires' response at vets' home
* Reliving the stories from black Civil War veterans who lived in Southern Illinois
* Stop the Bleed: Law enfocement officers receive training, kits for control of bleeding
* In Murphysboro, Illinois treasurer announces $500 million investment for new loan program


* Kansas lawmakers split on response to teen governor hopefuls
* The Latest: Rep fires aide who claimed survivors were actors
* Schaumburg High students plan to take part in national walkout Wednesday
* New MLB rules: Pitching change a must for 7th mound visit
* Toy makers turn to the toilet for poop-inspired toys

* Reps Question DHS's Decision to Deny Asylu...
* Duckworth taps downstate principal as Stat...
* ELECTIONS 14TH CONGRESSIONAL DIST. Victor ...
* Before the State of the Union, a chance to...
* Gun-rights groups giving to Illinois Repub...
* Endorsement: Underwood for the Democrats i...
* House Passes Bill Boosting Funding To Illi...
* What to Expect When Congress Talks Blockch...
* ELECTIONS, 14th CONG DIST Jim Walz on why ...
* Morning Spin: AG candidate Raoul gets Trum...

* This RSS feed URL is deprecated...
* Durbin: No one needs semi-automatic rifles......

* This RSS feed URL is deprecated...
* Duckworth promises help getting federal do......

* Hole up in a mountainside bunker on the gig poster of the week
* Watch chef Christopher Thompson create the most expensive pizza ever made with Chef Boyardee ravioli
* Grand Purim Party At Chabad of Uptown
* Sketchbook.
* The Satellite Cafe Now Serving Liquor
* Where is Tim Cunningham? #ATL #Morehouse #Blackandmissing
* High-ranking Chicago Police commander Paul Bauer shot and killed near the Thompson Center, and other Chicago news
* For Chelsea Rectanus, 30, owning a used bookstore is ‘as great as the romance would lead you to believe’
* Driftwood Bar To Host Luau & Disco Party Events
* Have you seen the lastest Chicago Reader cover?


* Illinois Awarded Funds to Offer Advanced Training on Detecting Impaired Driving
* Illinois EPA Announces Upcoming Household Hazardous Waste Collection Events
* IEMA Highlights Emergency Preparedness for People with Access and Functional Needs in May - Ready Illinois website offers preparedness tips for people, caregivers
* First Lady Launches Illinois Family Connects
* Governor and Lt. Governor Unveil 2016 Journal of Local Government Shared Service Best Practices

  
* Android P can ban background apps from recording audio
* AT&T Sponsored Data program now available for prepaid plans
* Mozilla and NSF awards $380K to small projects connecting the unconnected
* Judge denies AT&T’s request to see White House thoughts on Time Warner acquisition
* Moto G5 Plus, Moto G5S Plus now up to $50 off
* FCC may publish net neutrality reversal terms on Thursday
* Apple Shares Three New iPhone Photography Tutorials

* All clubs to don Stoneman caps for ST openers
* Jimenez adjusting to MLB life in spring camp
* Photo of the Week: Little Looie crashes into 3rd
* White Sox alight with possibilities on Day 1
* Great moments in the heretofore innocuous base-stealing career of J...
* Man of Steel turns Man of Steal
* Avi ready to build on breakout 2017 season


Main Menu
Home
Illinois
YouTube
Pundit rankings
Obama
Subscriber Content
Durbin
Burris
Blagojevich Trial
Advertising
Updated Posts
Polls

Archives
February 2018
January 2018
December 2017
November 2017
October 2017
September 2017
August 2017
July 2017
June 2017
May 2017
April 2017
March 2017
February 2017
January 2017
December 2016
November 2016
October 2016
September 2016
August 2016
July 2016
June 2016
May 2016
April 2016
March 2016
February 2016
January 2016
December 2015
November 2015
October 2015
September 2015
August 2015
July 2015
June 2015
May 2015
April 2015
March 2015
February 2015
January 2015
December 2014
November 2014
October 2014
September 2014
August 2014
July 2014
June 2014
May 2014
April 2014
March 2014
February 2014
January 2014
December 2013
November 2013
October 2013
September 2013
August 2013
July 2013
June 2013
May 2013
April 2013
March 2013
February 2013
January 2013
December 2012
November 2012
October 2012
September 2012
August 2012
July 2012
June 2012
May 2012
April 2012
March 2012
February 2012
January 2012
December 2011
November 2011
October 2011
September 2011
August 2011
July 2011
June 2011
May 2011
April 2011
March 2011
February 2011
January 2011
December 2010
November 2010
October 2010
September 2010
August 2010
July 2010
June 2010
May 2010
April 2010
March 2010
February 2010
January 2010
December 2009
November 2009
October 2009
September 2009
August 2009
July 2009
June 2009
May 2009
April 2009
March 2009
February 2009
January 2009
December 2008
November 2008
October 2008
September 2008
August 2008
July 2008
June 2008
May 2008
April 2008
March 2008
February 2008
January 2008
December 2007
November 2007
October 2007
September 2007
August 2007
July 2007
June 2007
May 2007
April 2007
March 2007
February 2007
January 2007
December 2006
November 2006
October 2006
September 2006
August 2006
July 2006
June 2006
May 2006
April 2006
March 2006
February 2006
January 2006
December 2005
April 2005
March 2005
February 2005
January 2005
December 2004
November 2004
October 2004

Blog*Spot Archives
November 2005
October 2005
September 2005
August 2005
July 2005
June 2005
May 2005

Syndication

RSS Feed 2.0
Comments RSS 2.0
WordPress




Hosted by MCS SUBSCRIBE to Capitol Fax Advertise Here Mobile Version Contact Rich Miller