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Michelle Obama says she’s “definitely” not interested in running for office

Tuesday, Jun 24, 2014

* Well, at least this rumor appears to have been quashed once and for all. Michelle Obama isn’t running for US Senate, or anything else..

[ABC’s Robin Roberts] asked Mrs. Obama, “There are many people that are wondering what’s your next act? Will it be political?”

To that Mrs. Obama replied, “Me?”

Roberts said, “Yes, you.”

Laughing Mrs. Obama said, “No, it will not be political.”

“No?” said Roberts.

Offering some rare information about what’s next, Mrs. Obama added, “Yes, no, it definitely will not be. It will be mission-based, it will be service-focused.”

* Other stuff…

* Oberweis wants special prosecutor for IRS

* Durbin dangles tax credit to keep HQs in America

- Posted by Rich Miller   31 Comments      


Question of the day

Tuesday, Jun 24, 2014

* Greg Hinz

Barring a last-minute development overnight, RTA sources say that retiring state Sen. Kirk Dillard, R-Wheaton, will have the votes he needs to be elected chair at the RTA board meeting tomorrow.

The action is likely to occur despite repeated chatter that Illinois’ GOP gubernatorial nominee Bruce Rauner — or at least members of Mr. Rauner’s staff — prefer someone else; Mr. Rauner and Mr. Dillard clashed repeatedly during last winter’s GOP gubernatorial primary campaign. But the only other major competitor for the RTA post, former DuPage County Chairman Bob Schillerstrom, has folded his campaign, and sources who know how to count tell me that Mr. Dillard has backing from a combination of Chicago and collar-county members of the RTA board.

After reading the entire story, I think Dillard would probably do a decent job, so good luck to him.

* But, for our question’s purposes, I wanted to highlight a particular Dillard quote from Greg’s piece

Mr. Dillard said the two GOP leaders have not yet held a post-primary peace meeting, but he expects to see Mr. Rauner at an event later in the week.

“I don’t need to eat up Bruce’s time,” Mr. Dillard said. “We text back and forth all the time.”

* The Question: What do you think they’re chatting about via text?

Keep it clean, people.

- Posted by Rich Miller   58 Comments      


Proft refuses to appear with Walsh

Tuesday, Jun 24, 2014

* If Joe Walsh was hoping to gin up a right-wing backlash at WIND radio for kicking him off the air, it ain’t working

Tomorrow’s Plainfield Township GOP Fundraiser that was to feature radio talk show hosts Dan Proft and Joe Walsh will now be featuring Proft only.

Sources tell Illinois Review the change came after Proft informed the organizers that he would not share the stage with Walsh.

When asked, Proft told IR:

    “It is very simple. I am not going to participate in events with individuals who think it is okay to purposely and repeatedly use the N-word and other racial epithets as part of what they believe is appropriate public (or, for that matter, private) discourse.

    People can and should think freely, speak freely and freely associate as they like. I choose to reject the thinking and the language Joe Walsh unapologetically evinced and freely not associate with it.”

In response, Walsh told IR that he would continue to “combat political correctness.”

Walsh’s 15 minutes are just about up, methinks.

- Posted by Rich Miller   36 Comments      


The “old” Pat Quinn

Tuesday, Jun 24, 2014

* Gov. Pat Quinn ordered a cut in the number of state paid parking spots in Chicago. From a press release…

Governor Quinn has directed department heads to cut back on spots for employees in positions that do not require frequent fieldwork or involve public safety. While taxpayer-financed parking spots are appropriate for state employees whose posts require them to travel frequently to state prisons, juvenile detention centers or social service offices, they are not necessary for employees who spend the majority of their time in the office.

Unless their job involves frequent fieldwork or public safety, most agency directors, chiefs of staff and other high-level officials will now lose their free parking spots.

Today’s announcement also includes a reduction in the number of shared “pool” cars that are stationed in downtown Chicago garages and available to state employees.

That’s a taste of the old populist, highlight-the-little-things Pat Quinn. As subscribers already know, we can expect more of this stuff.

* Back to the press release…

Yesterday Governor Quinn announced that the state of Illinois had again cut property leases. The state will save an additional $55 million by continuing to downsize the space it leases in the upcoming fiscal year. Since taking office the Governor has saved taxpayers more than $220 million by consolidating or eliminating more than 2.5 million square feet – roughly equivalent to emptying out Chicago’s Trump Tower.

Since taking office and inheriting decades of mismanagement, Governor Quinn has enacted major reforms that are saving taxpayers billions of dollars. The Governor has saved taxpayers more than $3 billion by overhauling Illinois’ Medicaid system, cutting Medicaid spending and rooting out waste, fraud and abuse. He also passed comprehensive pension reform that will save taxpayers more than $140 billion over the next 30 years.

Additionally, the Governor negotiated a historic contract with Illinois’ employee unions that includes $900 million in savings for Illinois taxpayers. The Governor also enacted comprehensive worker’s compensation reform that has saved state taxpayers more than $40 million to date. The state workforce is the smallest it has been in decades, with 4,000 fewer state employees than we had five years ago. All things included, over the last five years, Governor Quinn has cut state spending by more than $5.7 billion.

“Roughly equivalent to emptying out Chicago’s Trump Tower.” Heh.

- Posted by Rich Miller   19 Comments      


*** UPDATED x1 *** Mautino refuses to sign two subpoenas

Tuesday, Jun 24, 2014

* Tribune

A day after approving subpoenas for seven former aides to Gov. Pat Quinn in a probe of a troubled $55 million anti-violence program, Democrats today opted to drop two from the list.

Rep. Frank Mautino, the Democratic co-chair of the panel looking Quinn’s Neighborhood Recovery, said he chose not to sign off on subpoenas seeking testimony of Warren Ribley, the former head of the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, and Andrew Ross, Quinn’s former chief operating officer. Mautino said their involvement in the program is outside the scope of a blistering audit lawmakers are examining, one that found the anti-violence program was hastily implemented and had inadequate oversight.

Ribley and Ross were involved with a portion of the anti-violence program that distributed loans to small businesses. The audit primarily focused on grants given to neighborhood groups.

Mautino did approve subpoenas for Barbara Shaw, the former head of the NRI program, as well as Jack Lavin, Quinn’s former chief of staff; Toni Irving, former deputy chief of staff; Malcolm Weems, former head of the Department of Central Management Services; and Billy Ocasio, a former senior advisor.

* The Sun-Times has Rep. Mautino’s explanation

Mautino said neither Ribley nor Ross factored heavily in the rollout of the $54.5 million program that is now under separate federal and Cook County investigations.

“In talking with the auditor general, he and his auditors unanimously determined they are outside the scope of the Violence Prevention Authority and Criminal Justice Information Authority,” Mautino told the Chicago Sun-Times, alluding to the two agencies that were involved in the implementation of the anti-violence program.

Ribley and Ross “are on two documents of the 55,000” gathered by Auditor General William Holland in connection with the NRI audit, Mautino said in justifying their elimination from the list of those to be subpoenaed.

The Cook County State’s Attorney had earlier subpoenaed DCEO’s files, but that subpoena was eventually withdrawn.

*** UPDATE *** Co-chairman Barickman’s response

Sen. Jason Barickman: “It’s unfortunate that Democrats would obstruct our efforts to find out what happened,” Barickman said. “We worked diligently with the Democrats yesterday to find cooperation and it’s unfortunate that not even 24 hours later some are changing their tune.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   17 Comments      


On cars, Adlai and Bruce

Tuesday, Jun 24, 2014

* Bloomberg has a somewhat strange story about politicians and their cars

The key to Paul Revere’s fame was his horse. Country singer Hank Williams’ death would have been less memorable had it happened somewhere besides the back of a 1952 Cadillac. When politicians need to communicate, cars speak a uniquely American language.

The recent craze for modest wheels began after Republican Senate candidate Scott Brown piloted a GMC Canyon truck to victory in a Massachusetts special election in 2010. After losing his 2012 re-election bid, he’s driven it to neighboring New Hampshire, where he’s seeking the nomination to challenge Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen. He features the vehicle in television ads.

In Illinois, Republican venture capitalist Bruce Rauner, who owns nine homes and earned $53 million in 2012, “still drives a 20-year-old camper van, wears an $18 watch and stays in the cheapest hotel rooms he can find,” according to the website of his gubernatorial campaign. He also drives a 2012 Ford Edge and a 2008 Harley-Davidson Ultra Classic motorcycle, said Mike Schrimpf, a spokesman. […]

“The first rule is ‘Buy American,’” said Olga Vicari, general sales manager at Bob Rohrman Schaumburg Ford, in a western Chicago suburb.

The next rule:

“Nothing fancy-schmancy.”

OK, first of all, Paul Revere? And Hank Williams is a country music god. To say his death would’ve been “less memorable” because he died in a Caddy is just weird, man.

* Also, I checked with the secretary of state’s office. Here are all the vehicles registered at Rauner’s Winnetka home address…

2008 Harley Davidson

2012 Ford Edge

1995 BMW motorcycle

1993 VW van

2003 Jeep Liberty

2009 trailer

His rich neighbors must be endlessly amused at that motley collection.

I haven’t seen pictures of him riding his Beemer, so maybe that qualifies as a “scandal” somehow (”The first rule is ‘Buy American’”) but I doubt it.

* Illinois is a major auto manufacturing state, so that “Buy American” advice is spot on. Heck, some labor guys used to constantly rib me for owning a BMW Z-3, even though it was assembled in America. My two current autos (a car and a truck, and, admittedly, both way nicer than Rauner’s) are American-made.

But this story reminded me of something from the distant past, so I fired up the Google and found a June 25, 1986 Tribune article

Gubernatorial candidate Adlai Stevenson was jeered Tuesday at a United Auto Workers convention in Springfield when he acknowledged that he owns a Toyota pick-up truck that he uses on his farm near Hanover, Ill. […]

“I bought a Toyota truck because General Motors couldn’t compete,” Stevenson said […]

“If I had known I was running then I wouldn’t have done it. I regret it now.”

The UAW and the AFL-CIO ended up endorsing Jim Thompson.

Sheesh. Adlai was such a disaster that year. Click here for a full rundown. It was worse than I remembered.

Adlai wasn’t alone, either. The Democrats ran one hapless joke of a gubernatorial campaign after another from 1976 to 1998.

* So, let that be a lesson to all Illinois Republicans. Never lose hope.

1982 was a huge Democratic year due to the recession and the unpopularity of Ronald Reagan’s policies here, but Stevenson narrowly lost to Thompson. Adlai didn’t spend any of his own money that year (and probably would’ve won if he had), but he had no choice but to spend a bundle of personal cash four years later when the LaRouchies forced him off his own ticket and he became radioactive to contributors. 1998 was also a big Democratic year here, but Glenn Poshard tied his own hands behind his back by limiting his campaign contributions and then bowing to pressure from the Tribune to drop a very effective TV ad that tied George Ryan to the deaths of the Willis children.

Rod Blagojevich ran a very good campaign in 2002, no question about it.

* And that’s the other lesson: Careful what you wish for, kids.

/ramble

- Posted by Rich Miller   39 Comments      


Manufactured controversy

Tuesday, Jun 24, 2014

* Via the twitters…


Hey, what’s this about? Replacing parents? Huh?

* Read on

Deborah Teixeira is in danger of literally being fired by the state of Illinois from her job as Juliet’s mother. The Peoria resident has been warned that if there are more infractions, the state will send a replacement into her home to take care of her daughter instead.

Teixeira is not alone. Across the state, mothers like her and other people taking care of their family members have been told via threatening official phone calls and letters that they could be replaced if they don’t shape up.

Her predicament comes from the fact that she takes care of an adult daughter with brain damage. She provides Juliet with round-the-clock care at her home thanks to subsidies from Illinois’ Home Services Program.

That’s common: Most of HSP’s estimated 20,000 “caregivers” are just people like Teixeira watching over severely disabled family members.

The program also comes with strings attached, including a new billing system that requires caregivers to call a phone number twice daily to literally clock in and clock out.

Forget to clock out and you are technically overbilling the state. Repeat offenders can be replaced as caregiver — even if they are taking care of their own children in their home.

In other words, she’s getting money from the government so she can take care of her child, and she’s complaining that she has to clock in and out every day. Previously, caregivers just filled out timesheets. But that can be done retroactively, so this is more “real time,” and there was apparently some training involved.

* And what about those “threatening” letters? One was posted online

Dear Customer:

As a Customer of the Home Services Program (HSP), it is your responsibility to manage your individual Provider(s) so you do not go over the number of hours that are authorized on your HSP Service Plan.

Your current Service Plan authorizes [redacted] hours of services per month. However, our records indicate that you have approved [redacted] hours in May 2014.

If, within the next six months. you continue to approve hours that are over the number authorized on your Service Plan without prior approval from your HSP Counselor, the Division of Rehabilitation Services will have to amend your Service Plan to remove your Individual Provider(s) and replace them with a Homemaker Agency. If this occurs, your Counselor will contact you to provide you with the amended Service Plan and notify you of your right to request an appeal.

If you are having difficulty managing your Individual Provider(s), please feel free to contact your Counselor or your local Center for Independent Living (CIL) for assistance.

If you would like to change to a Homemaker Agency. please contact your Counselor to make that change is in your Service Plan. Thank you for your cooperation in this matter. If you have any questions, please contact your HSP Counselor or Coordinator.

Sincerely,
Home Services Program

I don’t see a “threatening” tone there. At all.

* So, what’s this really about?

It is the latest example of how the state bureaucracy has created headaches for the caregivers. The [Home Services Program] is also the center of a major Supreme Court case, Harris v. Quinn, set to be decided this month. It involves whether the state can force the caregivers to join a union.

OK, now I get it.

- Posted by Rich Miller   23 Comments      


It sure looks like a cover-up

Tuesday, Jun 24, 2014

* Illinois Public Radio

A just-released investigation by Illinois’ Inspector General’s office found that the former head of the Illinois Board of Higher Education (IBHE) abused public resources and wasted state funds, among other findings.

The IBHE announced in 2012 that Dr. George Reid was stepping down for “personal reasons” as its director after only 18 months, according to a news release. Reid supposedly wanted to spend more time with his family.

The Office of Executive Inspector General found that he had, in fact, been forced to resign or face getting fired after consistent reports that he was “combative,” the IBHE forced him to resign, or he’d be fired. But then it paid Reid $48,000 – three months’ salary — that investigators say wasn’t required by his contract.

* Sun-Times

The board had hired Reid for $193,000 a year, knowing he’d had his contract voided from Kentucky State University after he used university money there to pay for personal items, including a trailer hitch for his boat and a cat scratching post. He later reimbursed the university $1,600.

In Illinois, Reid had used his state-owned car for personal use, making IBHE pay more than $6,500 in extra car rental fees, according to the inspector general.

In his settlement agreement, the IBHE Board added a clause at the last minute on their lawyer’s advice requiring Reid to consult during the transition to find a new executive director “to make sure there are no press issues that he is being paid for services not performed.”

Emphasis added for obvious reasons.

The full report can be seen by clicking here.

According to the report, Reid also submitted his initial job application after the due date. This was apparently board’s chairperson Carrie Hightman’s decision. Hightman told investigators that other board members pointed to problems in Reid’s past, particularly in Kentucky.

* Eventually, Hightman ordered a staff review of Reid’s tenure. The results weren’t pretty

* Drove talented staff away “[r]unning”

* Was “combative” and “rude” to IBHE staff

* Did not maintain positive relationships with leadership of other State agencies

* Did not demonstrate an understanding of important IBHE programs and initiatives

Oof.

* So, what did the IBHE do next? According to the report, the board voted to destroy the audio recording of a private. 2010 meeting when they discussed Reid’s hiring.

Unreal.

- Posted by Rich Miller   52 Comments      


Yet another minimum wage attack

Tuesday, Jun 24, 2014

* The Quinn campaign has a new YouTube video that whacks Bruce Rauner on the minimum wage. Rate it

* This is part of a new online effort to attack an “out of touch” wealthy Rauner. From a press release…

Billionaire Bruce Rauner “adamantly” opposes raising the minimum wage, even though he takes in a yearly salary for someone who lives in wage poverty in less than an hour. Really.

See for yourself at a new web page - RaunersWage.com - introduced by Quinn for Illinois today to allow everyday people to experience what it means to take in $25,672 IN A SINGLE HOUR.

Yesterday Gov. Pat Quinn signed a ballot measure that will guarantee that the people of Illinois have a say in whether the Illinois minimum wage is raised. The Governor is fighting to raise the minimum wage to at least $10 per hour.

By contrast, Rauner has said he is “adamantly, adamantly against raising the minimum wage,” and at one point advocated cutting the state minimum wage from $8.25 per hour to $7.25. He also funds a right-wing organization that is working to eliminate Illinois’ minimum wage.

In 2012, Rauner took in $53.4 million.

Assuming a 40-hour work week for all 52 weeks in a year, this would mean Rauner’s hourly income is $25,673. A full-time minimum wage worker makes $17,160 a year.

The Web page provides a variety of examples putting Rauner’s extreme wealth into the context of your everyday to-do list, including:

    In the time it takes you to shower, Rauner pockets $5,135.
    On your drive to work, he takes in $12,836.
    When you walk the dog, he takes in $6,418.
    When you mow the lawn, he rakes in $25,673.

* Meanwhile, Bernie wrote Sunday about a recent appearance by Bruce Rauner on tea party activist Fritz Pfister’s radio talk show. Pfister has a history of rather odd statements, as Schoenburg notes

One example was when Pfister posted condolences on Facebook to families of the Newtown massacre victims — including 20 children — but added the day of the shootings: “For the liberals, and left wing anti-gun politicians calling for gun control at this time you are the scum of the earth politicizing your socialist anti-American views while families and America grieves. You are scumbags.” […]

Just Tuesday, three days after the Rauner appearance on Pfister’s real estate show, Pfister had a Facebook conversation about a White House ceremony for young people who came to this country illegally but got temporary legal status under a program of President Barack Obama’s administration. Responding to a commenter who said it could be time for “a citizens arrest of the lawless” president, Pfister responded: “Impeachment would have been completed had Obama not been the first black president. The lesson here is, if you’re a black president you can break the law, rewrite the law, enforce the ones you like, ignore the ones you don’t. Let’s pray for a wave election and the defeat of these radical Democrats, and Establishment Republican enablers.”

* Rauner won’t be making a return appearance

Mike Schrimpf, spokesman for Rauner, said Friday that “Bruce was not aware of these past statements and certainly doesn’t agree with them. If we were aware of them, Bruce would not have done the show.”

“In contrast,” Schrimpf added, “Gov. Quinn stood by and said nothing as one of his endorsers compared Republicans to the KKK.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   42 Comments      


Audit Commission subcommittee votes to subpoena seven Quinn people

Tuesday, Jun 24, 2014

* Tribune

A panel of lawmakers reviewing Gov. Pat Quinn’s botched $55 million anti-violence program delivered yet another political blow to the re-election seeking Democrat, voting Monday to subpoena seven former state officials who helped create and run the now-defunct Neighborhood Recovery Initiative.

The move initially was aimed at forcing Barbara Shaw, the former director of the program, to testify before the Legislative Audit Commission next month. But Democrats seeking to prevent a summer-long embarrassment for Quinn pushed to expand the scope of the subpoenas, arguing lawmakers should hear from those involved at once instead of over the course of several months.

Republicans eventually agreed to go along, though Sen. Jason Barickman of Bloomington argued Democrats were trying to orchestrate a “rush job.”

Lawmakers are peeling apart a stinging February report by Auditor General William Holland that said Quinn’s anti-violence program was hastily implemented and had inadequate oversight. The program also has attracted the attention of Cook County and federal authorities.

* The iist besides Shaw

Also on the subpoena list: former Chief of Staff Jack Lavin, who is now a lobbyist; Toni Irving, former deputy chief of staff; Malcolm Weems, head of the Central Management Systems under Quinn; Warren Ribley, former director of the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity; Andy Ross, top aide to Ribley; and senior adviser Bill Ocasio.

* But as the Sun-Times reports, there may be precious little said at the hearings

Shaw’s attorney, John Theis, said late Monday he had not yet seen the subpoena.
“We’re certainly going to review the subpoena,” he said, adding that her testimony is “the likely result, that’s still true.”

Theis, however, was cautious.

“We’ve got these other investigations going on out there. I have to make sure that whatever happens is the right thing not only for the audit commission but for my client,” he said. “We know that there is an investigation going on because of actions they have taken.” Theis would not comment on whether Shaw had been subpoenaed or had spoken to authorities.

* The political angle, from WLS Radio

Democrats on the commission are pushing to get it all over sooner than later, what with the election coming.

But downstate Republican David Reis countered with this. “Some are saying we’re being political here. It’s just as political saying we don’t want to get all the answers. We’re not gonna sweep this under the rug. This is almost Blagojevich-esque.”

So now we have the name of the imprisoned former Governor Rod Blagojevich being tossed around in this scandal. Don’t look for it all to end before the election.

* AP

The rare move — the Legislative Audit Commission last issued subpoenas in the early 1980s — would mean that the former state officials would be compelled to turn in documents and testify next month over two days about the 2010 Neighborhood Recovery Initiative, which was blasted in a state audit earlier this year for mismanagement and misspending. The subpoenas still required a sign off from state Rep. Frank Mautino, a Democratic co-chair of the commission that reviews state audits.

The subcommittee was initially going to take up one subpoena for Barbara Shaw, former director of an agency that was responsible for running the $55 million anti-violence program. But Democrats said they wanted a more complete list to speed up the process.

“It’s about trying to put closure to this,” said state Rep. Bob Rita, a Blue Island Democrat. “What we could do is end these two day hearings, not drag this out.”

* Mark Brown has more

The truth is Republicans don’t like any anti-violence program that doesn’t involve having more police arresting more people and putting them in prison. They particularly don’t like programs that involve hiring young minorities in Chicago to do busywork to keep them from selling drugs and killing each other. They don’t see the point.

That’s why it was particularly foolish for Quinn to sloppily rush out his Neighborhood Recovery Initiative in the fall of 2010 in the guts of his election campaign. These programs serve a useful purpose, which is why it’s important to do them right.

Quinn insists the big rush was solely for the purpose of addressing the violence that had alarmed Chicagoans that summer.

Republicans don’t believe him, and neither do I. While I’m sure the governor was concerned by the violence, I also think he saw it as a good way to make some friends at election time.

Even at the press conference announcing the program, U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush stood with Quinn and a group of ministers and said he didn’t know about the rest of them, but that he was going to “Stand pat with Pat” in the election. Sounds political to me.

And Quinn might have even gotten away with it if Illinois Auditor General William Holland hadn’t issued a scathing audit earlier this year about what a mess the program was.

Your thoughts?

* Chicago TV clips helpfully compiled by the Rauner campaign…

* WBBM (CBS) - 6.23.14 - 7 people subpoenaed in connection to Quinn’s troubled Anti-Violence Program

* WMAQ (NBC) - Lawmakers vote to subpoena anti-violence director & former Quinn chief of staff

* WGN - 6.23.14 - Lawmakers vote to subpoena Illinois anti-violence director and others

* WLS (ABC) - 6.23.14. - Lawmakers vote to subpoena Illinois anti-violence director and others

- Posted by Rich Miller   31 Comments      


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Tuesday, Jun 24, 2014

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« NEWER POSTS PREVIOUS POSTS »
* Rauner appoints Dunkin to MWRD
* Reader comments closed for the weekend
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* Question of the day
* More IDVA shakeup as embattled director quits
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* Captains obvious
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* Bitter infighting continues at troubled SIU
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* Harmon essentially claims Madigan is living in Rauner's head rent-free
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* *** UPDATED x1 - Rauner admin responds *** Madigan blames Rauner for Quincy, says members have unanswered questions
* *** LIVE *** Session coverage
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