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New Quinn ad sparks Dem criticism

Tuesday, Jul 29, 2014

* As noted below, Gov. Pat Quinn’s new TV ad in part touts his veto of General Assembly salaries

And when legislators refused to fix the pension crisis,

Pat Quinn stopped their paychecks cold, and refused his own, until the job was done.

That’s the test of leadership.

* Well, there’s been some blowback

[House Speaker Michael Madigan’s] spokesman Steve Brown questioned why Quinn would use the paycheck issue in an ad.

“I don’t think its a good example because it didn’t work,” Brown said. “It was not a well-thought-out strategy. And then it was proved to be illegal.”

The ad also raised the eyebrows of state Sen. Mike Jacobs, D-East Moline, who has complained before that Quinn often uses the Legislature as a whipping post.

“It’s always easy to make someone else the bad guy,” Jacobs said.

Jacobs said voters should be prepared to see similar claims coming from the Rauner camp as the election moves into its final 100 days.

“I just think its part and parcel of what politics has become,” Jacobs said. “It’s become more show than go.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   49 Comments      


Beware October

Tuesday, Jul 29, 2014

* As we already know, the Legislative Audit Commission will be resuming its investigation of Gov. Pat Quinn’s anti-violence initiative in early October. And now, a couple of weeks later, the IDOT lawsuit hearings resume

A legal battle between an anti-patronage lawyer and Gov. Pat Quinn’s administration will return to federal court less than two weeks before voters will decide if they want to re-elect the Chicago Democrat.

Anti-patronage attorney Michael Shakman has — as part of a lawsuit — requested an investigation of hiring in Quinn’s Department of Transportation and a monitor to ensure the administration complies with bans on political hiring for nonpolitical jobs. Quinn’s attorneys argue the judge should reject the request because it would be detrimental to state officials’ duties of hiring workers.

During a brief hearing on Tuesday, Magistrate Judge Sidney I. Schenkier gave attorneys time to file motions and told them to return to court Oct. 22.

Is Quinn’s much-vaunted luck finally running out?

- Posted by Rich Miller   35 Comments      


Question of the day

Tuesday, Jul 29, 2014

* The SJ-R looks at Illinois Executive Inspector General Ricardo Meza’s investigation of State Fair Director Amy Bliefnick for accepting free beer tickets

“There is no evidence that she schemed to obtain the tickets,” the report said. “Rather, the unsolicited gift of beer tickets from the vendor to the fair director appears to be a long-standing, albeit unlawful, practice.”

The report said that the 2013 contract with CVA expressly says that free tickets are not to be given to anyone.

For statute-of-limitation purposes, Bliefnick was only charged with violating the gift ban during the 2013 fair when she accepted at least 120 beer tickets valued at $540. Each ticket is worth $4.50.

The report said Bliefnick distributed the tickets to senior Department of Agriculture officials, her staff, fair volunteers and fair patrons.

The report said the Department of Agriculture suspended Bliefnick for two days without pay based on allegations in the report. The suspension cost her about $754, it said.

“As noted in the report, as State Fair manager I accepted the tickets for distribution only to promote the fair,” Bliefnick said in a statement. “This practice will no longer continue at the fair. I learned a valuable lesson and look forward to a great State Fair this year.”

The full report is here.

* The Question: Your thoughts on this particular investigation and punishment of Bliefnick?

- Posted by Rich Miller   53 Comments      


Quinn signs millionaire’s tax referendum

Tuesday, Jul 29, 2014

* From a press release…

Governor Pat Quinn today signed legislation that will give Illinois residents the opportunity to voice their opinion on whether millionaires should pay a little more to help ensure all students have access to a high-quality education. The legislation establishes a statewide advisory referendum on the November 4 ballot to ask voters if they favor a surcharge paid by the state’s wealthiest individuals to provide much-needed funding for public education in classrooms across Illinois. Today’s action is part of Governor Quinn’s commitment to delivering stronger education in Illinois.

“Our democracy is strongest when more voters make their voices heard about important matters of public policy,” Governor Quinn said. “Illinois voters will now be able to have their say when it comes to whether the state’s most fortunate should pay a little more to put more resources in our classrooms. An investment in education is the best investment we can make for our economic future.”

House Bill 3816, sponsored by Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago) and State Senator Michael Noland (D-Elgin), creates a Nov. 4, 2014 advisory referendum to ask voters whether the Illinois Constitution should be amended to require that each school district receive additional revenue, based on their number of students, from an additional three percent tax on income greater than one million dollars. These resources would be directed towards classroom education. The legislation is effective immediately.

The Illinois Department of Revenue estimates that a three percent tax on income greater than $1 million would generate approximately $1 billion annually for elementary and secondary education. The Governor signed the legislation today at Irving Elementary School in Berwyn.

“This legislation will provide an important benchmark. Illinois is long overdue for tax fairness and a much needed boost for our school children,” Speaker Madigan said.

Governor Quinn is committed to properly funding education in Illinois in order to give every child the opportunity for success. The Governor’s 5-year budget blueprint includes an historic $6 billion increase in classroom spending over the next five years, doubling the investment in college scholarships for students in need and increasing access to higher education through dual enrollment and early college programs. Over the next five years, the Governor’s plan would bring classroom funding to the highest levels in Illinois history.

- Posted by Rich Miller   45 Comments      


Today’s map

Tuesday, Jul 29, 2014

* HaystaqDNA plotted tea party favorability by county nationwide. Click the pic for an interactive version…

* Methodology

First,12,636 voters in eight states (Alabama, California, Iowa, Michigan, Mississippi, New Jersey, New Mexico, and South Dakota) were surveyed. Then those results were combined with 724 other data points like census demographics and turnout history. The surveys were conducted through IVR phone calls earlier this year. The model was built on two-thirds of the survey results. The remaining third was used as a hold-out sample. The model’s predictions were validated by comparing the actual responses against the hold-out sample.

A second validation survey was also conducted on July 8th among 5,829 voters in Alaska, Alabama, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Washington D.C., Delaware, Florida, Iowa, Idaho, Illinois, Kansas, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Mississippi, North Carolina, New Mexico, Nevada, Ohio, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin, and West Virginia. Overall favorability in that survey was unchanged from the findings of the original survey.

- Posted by Rich Miller   15 Comments      


Thanks, but I’ll pass

Tuesday, Jul 29, 2014

* A few years back, I wrote that I was really getting tired of the iPhone. It wasn’t the phone itself that bugged me, it was Apple’s paternalism when it came to their apps that honked me off.

I much preferred Google’s approach with its Android system. You wanna develop an Android app? Go for it. Google won’t stop you. It’s a more open, “Internet” approach, as opposed to Apple’s nearly closed system.

* So, when Amazon announced recently that it had developed a new “Fire” phone based on the Android platform, I was really excited. Some of the bells and whistles, like 3-D imagery, tilt to scroll and easy Amazon purchases looked pretty cool to me. Amazon’s Kindle Fire has received some pretty solid reviews, so I figured the new phone would build on that.

Finally, I thought, a phone that could compete with the iPhone and even best it. I was all set to jump ship.

And since I occasionally write about tech here and have a tech feed on the page, I reached out to AT&T (the sole mobile provider for Amazon’s Fire) and asked if they had a review program. They did, and I received the phone yesterday - several days after the big guys were given their own review phones.

* I like the way the phone feels in my hand. It’s slim and has a bigger screen than my iPhone. The display looks cool, and it doesn’t take long to figure out the mechanical differences between the two phones. The Fire can also display all your apps on a single page, which saves lots of time scrolling through to find the app you want to use.

I use several apps in the course of my days and weeks. And that’s the real problem with Fire. Amazon has walled off their phone from existing apps. Android apps won’t work on it. Google’s YouTube app is locked out, as is the Google maps app. And none of the apps I use the most are currently available, and I’m not sure if they ever will be.

Yes, Apple tightly controls who can make apps for its system, and I don’t like living in that world. But the iPhone is in such wide use that there are quite a lot of apps available. Amazon? Not so much.

* So, I’ll be sending my test phone back to the company. My iPhone screen is badly cracked and my AT&T contract is up, so I gotta find a new phone soon. It won’t be the Fire.

Any suggestions?

- Posted by Rich Miller   60 Comments      


Roberts appointment questioned

Tuesday, Jul 29, 2014

* The BGA looks at the ties between the new Legislative Inspector General Bill Roberts, a former US Attorney, his law firm and political leaders

* Political committees controlled by Madigan paid Hinshaw & Culbertson more than $40,000 between 2002 and 2008, according to the Illinois State Board of Elections. Roberts represented Madigan during an investigation by federal authorities in Springfield into the possible misuse of state resources that ended in early 2005 with no charges filed.

* Hinshaw has contributed to the campaign funds of Illinois Senate President John Cullerton, D-Chicago; Senate Majority Leader James Clayborne, D-East St. Louis; Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno, R-Lemont; and House Minority Leader Jim Durkin, R-Western Springs. Roberts personally donated $500 last year to the campaign fund of state Sen. Kirk Dillard, R-Hinsdale, a member of the Legislative Ethics Commission that approved Roberts’ appointment on May 30. Other members of that committee include Clayborne, who until recently worked for the law firm run by Roberts in its downstate Belleville office.

* State agencies have hired Hinshaw and paid the firm more than $1.8 million over the past five years, state records show. That includes $2,339 from the Cullerton-led Senate Democrats in the 2012 budget year and $1,950 from the Madigan-led House Democrats in 2014.

* The Sun-Times editorial board, while noting Roberts’ respected career, thinks this is a lousy choice

Roberts’ selection reflects a brazen lack of concern for the appearance of good government and the effectiveness of ethics laws. Certainly, the Legislature doesn’t appear to believe the job of the inspector general is very important. If Roberts were to investigate himself, he no doubt would find the appearances of conflict of interest are compelling. It is not a close call.

An IG at any level is supposed to be independent and pursue only the facts. There should be no restraints of a political nature. An IG also relies on the people who are interviewed in the course of gathering facts to believe they are dealing with an unquestionably impartial investigation. Roberts’ ties to legislators cast a shadow over that.

Roberts said he wouldn’t have taken the job if he thought there were conflicts. We’re not sure the average Illinois citizen will see it that way.

The General Assembly is expected next year to select a permanent person to fill the IG job until 2018. Rather than put Roberts in that job, the Legislature should cast a wider net for someone who has not only his investigatory skills, but also a firm record of independence.

Your thoughts?

- Posted by Rich Miller   24 Comments      


Poll: Rauner has 14-point lead

Tuesday, Jul 29, 2014

* Sun-Times

Gov. Pat Quinn is facing an increasingly uphill battle against Republican gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner, a new We Ask America poll shows.

Rauner is now sitting on a 14-point lead in the poll that was conducted July 28, which is up from his 10-point lead he had in a June poll. Rauner’s boost can be attributed to his economic plan, which includes a state income tax reduction. A poll showed while people don’t believe Illinois can afford this plan, a majority say it makes them more likely to vote for him. […]

Overall, if the election were held today, Rauner would pull in 47 percent of the vote, compared to Quinn’s 33 percent. Of those polled, 20 percent said they’re still undecided.

* Reboot

The poll contained three questions asked in sequence to gauge respondents’ reactions to the tax plans forwarded by Quinn and Rauner. Respondents first were asked for whom they would vote if the election were today. They then heard specifics of the tax plans in a second question: “Pat Quinn wants to make permanent the 5 percent personal income tax rate. Bruce Rauner wants to take four years to reduce the income tax rate to 3 percent. Rauner would also expand the sales tax to cover 32 services; not just goods. We’d like to know which plan you think is more likely to balance the budget?”

After answering that question, respondents were asked, “Knowing this information about each candidate’s approach to taxes and budgeting, for whom would you vote if the election were held today?”

Support for Quinn fell slightly — from 33 to 31 points — after respondents heard about Quinn’s plan to keep the current 5 percent personal income tax rate rather than allowing it to fall as scheduled to 3.75 percent at year’s end. Though Rauner’s plan contains its own version of a tax increase even as it proposes to lower the income tax over four years, his poll numbers increased slightly after respondents learned of his plan.

Respondents said they believed Rauner’s tax plan was more likely to balance the state budget than Quinn’s by an 11-point margin.

That last line is telling for its preposterousness. People really want to believe in magic fairy dust. Rauner apparently knows that.

Also, Rauner is still leading in suburban Cook. That’s truly ominous news for Quinn.

- Posted by Rich Miller   95 Comments      


Today’s rant

Tuesday, Jul 29, 2014

* Tri-County Tea Party leader Rick Newton, whose group spans DuPage, Cook and Lake counties

Over four months after the Republican primary election, we continue to hear conversations among conservatives about the uncertainty/lack of comfort with Bruce Rauner as a candidate for Governor. In my opinion, however, I sincerely believe that it’s time for anyone in Illinois whose political beliefs lie anywhere right of center (and even a little to the left!) to come to grips with reality. Not only is the primary over, but more importantly, this state is in the throes of a veritable economic death spiral.

Yet, we have people who would normally vote Republican who continue to quibble over degrees of conservatism while our state is bleeding jobs, money, and people! Do we truly believe that re-electing Pat Quinn to work in tandem with the Michael Madigan and John Cullerton will create even a modicum of meaningful, positive improvement for this state? Not only should our answer to that question be a well-deserved “Hell no!”, but it shouldn’t require deep thought.

Yes, from a conservative’s viewpoint, the Illinois GOP has ample room for improvement – but its ability and willingness to become more aligned with its own party values is not going to happen overnight. That’s going to take strong grassroots efforts to make that happen and that’s where we in the TP movement exert the most influence.

The good news is that Bruce Rauner has a viable chance to be elected Governor of Illinois. But because he’s opposing an incumbent, because Illinois politics is a cesspool of corruption and selfishness, and because the state’s Republican Party is too often its own worst enemy, we cannot afford to succumb to the distractions that would divert our focus.

It’s time for the whining to stop and for all of us to ask voters to put on their big boy/big girl underpants and recognize what’s at stake. Bruce Rauner can win this election, but it can’t happen without conservatives all rowing in the same direction and with optimal energy.

Discuss.

- Posted by Rich Miller   40 Comments      


*** UPDATED x2 *** Quinn campaign goes up with first TV ad of the season

Tuesday, Jul 29, 2014

* I’m told the governor’s campaign is launching his first TV ad today. I’m also told it’s a positive spot. Stay tuned.

*** UPDATE *** The one-minute spot is called “Comeback.” It references his veto of legislator paychecks, among other things. Rate it

…Adding… Script…

It’s in times of challenge,

when leaders are tested.

To do what’s right, no matter how hard.

Pat Quinn’s never backed down from a challenge…

even when it meant taking on the powerful.

As a young man Pat Quinn took on the giant utilities.

He stopped them from gouging families on their electric bills.

It’s who he is.

Pat Quinn sees problems, takes action, and gets the job done.

With an economy in meltdown, and a crisis of corruption,

Pat Quinn took over as governor…

and went to work.

He cut five billion dollars in spending. Created jobs.

And when legislators refused to fix the pension crisis,

Pat Quinn stopped their paychecks cold, and refused his own, until the job was done.

That’s the test of leadership.

Now, Illinois is making a comeback.

With so much more work to be done,

Pat Quinn’s the leader we need on our side.

Pat Quinn. Governor.

Because courage counts.

And character matters.

*** UPDATE *** Greg Hinz

The Rauner campaign had a response within an hour — or as the campaign put it, “Pat Quinn’s reality check.”

Among other things, it notes that Mr. Quinn once handled patronage duties for then-Gov. Dan Walker, that the state’s bond rating has plummeted during the Quinn years, and reminds viewers that the state’s economic recovery has indeed been tepid at best, lagging the rebound in almost every other state.

The Rauner rejoinder also underlines that the Quinn administration is being scrutinized for alleged patronage abuses and says spending for education has dropped while the income tax has increased.

- Posted by Rich Miller   38 Comments      


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Tuesday, Jul 29, 2014

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