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Reader comments closed for the holiday weekend

Friday, Aug 29, 2014

* Well, I decided to wait to close comments until after my errands. But I’m heading out now, campers.

Here’s Merle Haggard

Well, I keep my nose on the grindstone
Work hard every day

- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      


Fracking rules finally unveiled

Friday, Aug 29, 2014

* IDNR released its new fracking rules today. Lawrence Falbe took a quick look for us…

Rich,

My take on the revisions is that IDNR seems to worked very hard to digest an enormous body of public comment, and revise the regulations as it saw necessary and appropriate. I think that few people will be able to argue that IDNR rushed the process or otherwise did not fairly consider the staggering volume of comments it received, even if the end result is not considered perfect by either pro- or anti-fracking proponents.

Here is my “quick hit” list of what I saw that was important in my first very quick run-through.

    • Requirement to disclose specific fracking chemicals is strengthened and burden to prove protection as a trade secret is more stringent
    • Radioactivity is now addressed and a Radioactive Materials Management Plan is now required, among other things
    • The carve-out for adverse effects to water bodies that are “wholly contained” is much more stringent, with any hydrogeological connections to off-site groundwater sources now enough to exclude this caveat
    • The permit applicant must identify efforts to mitigate the impact of HVHHF on local roads
    • Burden is on the applicant to show if local first responders have adequate training and equipment to respond to emergencies
    • Changes to the permit application to address deficiencies identified by IDNR may trigger a new public comment/hearing period on those changes
    • Tightens up rules for when an objector can demand a public hearing by requiring specific facts and regulations at issue to be identified, but softens requirement to identify witnesses at time of request for public hearing
    • Public hearings must be held WITHIN THE COUNTY of the well site when possible but in no event more than 30 MILES OUTSIDE of county of well site
    • Applicants MUST appear at the public hearing (if there is one) except in a case of documented emergency, in which case the hearing can be rescheduled but applicant must pay costs
    • Clarifies that Hearing Officer does not render a “decision” but now makes only recommended findings, and the IDNR (presumably the Director but it’s not specified) makes the decision.
    • The permit decision still has to be made within 60 days of application completion unless waived by the applicant
    • The standard for granting a permit now specifically includes consideration of potential harm to property, wildlife, aquatic life and the environment
    • The IDNR has to make specific findings in its permit decision on key input from governmental agencies and objectors that was presented by public comment/hearing
    • The permit decision must consider the incremental impact and CUMULATIVE EFFECT of past, present and future fracking operations in the same vicinity or county
    • Significant deviations to the original permit application (including changes in well dimensions, boring locations, changes to proposed containment, etc.) requires another $13,500 fee
    • IDNR can impose ADDITIONAL SETBACKS as necessary to protect public health, public safety, property, wildlife, aquatic life, or the environment
    • Baseline groundwater monitoring requires GPS coordinates
    • Burden for claiming technical or economic infeasibility of complying with requirements to manage natural gas and hydrocarbon fluids produced during flowback periods is more stringent
    • Excess fluid in a reserve pit must be removed within 7 days after it is deposited
    • SITE Restoration is MANDATORY and cannot be contractually waived between site owner and permittee

Note that the new requirement that a well permit application decision must consider incremental impacts and “cumulative effects” (Section 245.300(c)(4)(vii)) is HUGE and could have a major impact on incentivizing companies to rush to get permitted, for fear that an overabundance of wells in a certain area may make additional permits harder to get as time goes on.

- Posted by Rich Miller   17 Comments      


Question of the day

Friday, Aug 29, 2014

* From the Oberweis campaign…

During his 32 years in Washington, Dick Durbin has jumped in front of every TV camera in production. So why is he shy about doing televised debates against Jim Oberweis?

Durbin has agreed to only one Chicago televised debate.

Here are some possible reasons he suddenly is allergic to TV cameras:

    1) He infamously lied about Obamacare.

    2) Then, he did it again.

    3) His policies have devastated Illinois families. Since he last ran re-election, a typical Illinois family is making $5,053 less money in annual income.

    4) He pays women staffers $11,000 less than men in his Senate office.

    5) He asked the Internal Revenue Service to scrutinize a conservative organization on the eve of the 2010 congressional election and in the midst of illegal targeting of conservatives by the IRS.

    6) He refuses to release any other correspondence he had with the IRS during the IRS scandal.

    7) He tried to intimidate conservative donors in what the Chicago Tribune editorial described as “Durbin’s enemies list.”

    8) He publicly repeated a false story about a Republican leader being rude to the President.

    9) He refuses to return $38,550 in campaign contributions linked to one of the most infamous sexual harassment firms in U.S. history.

    10) He has said nothing about $4-a-gallon gas prices after spending years haranguing about the issue when prices were lower under a Republican president.

Before we begin, I strongly encourage you to vote and comment quickly because I’m probably shutting down early today ahead of the Labor Day weekend.

* The Question: How many televised debates do you believe Sen. Durbin should agree to? Take the poll and then explain your answer in comments, please.


survey software

- Posted by Rich Miller   47 Comments      


A big IDOT roundup

Friday, Aug 29, 2014

* AP

Last week, an Office of the Executive Inspector General review concluded more than 250 IDOT “staff assistants” got jobs in the past decade based on clout, when the positions should have been publicly available to any candidate and filled based on qualifications. Quinn’s administration announced last week it was laying off 58 people who still held those jobs.

But they didn’t get rid of others who have moved into other positions still on the state payroll.

Those include two former employees of ex-U.S. Rep. Philip Hare, a Democrat. The workers were hired by IDOT as staff assistants in 2010. Rather than follow typical state hiring procedures, IDOT gave them jobs using an exemption that is supposed to be used only when the job involves policymaking or confidential information. Their jobs involved planting trees and implementing training classes, the review found.

Quinn said his administration “acted promptly” to address problems at the department, including putting in a new transportation secretary who is conducting a full analysis of all positions. He wouldn’t answer a question about why some of the improper hires still have state jobs.

* The easiest explanation for why those folks weren’t laid off with the others is that they’ve been successfully burrowed into the bureaucracy, like these folks might have been

The Illinois Department of Transportation hired four former staffers of ex-U.S. Rep. Phil Hare, D-Ill., after he lost his re-election bid in 2010, according to an inspector general’s report released late last week that said the state DOT improperly hired more than 250 people over the past decade.

The inspector general’s report focused mostly on the hiring of “staff assistants” to get around hiring rules.

Hare represented the Quad-Cities after being elected in 2006 and again in 2008. But after Hare lost in 2010, three of his former staffers were hired on at the DOT as staff assistants, while a fourth was brought on as an assistant to the regional engineer in District 2 of the Division of Highways, according to the report by Executive Inspector General Ricardo Meza.

The report doesn’t identify the employees by name, but it says one worked for Hare as a regional field organizer and two others as district schedulers.

A fourth person is referenced, too, though it doesn’t list the person’s position with Hare.

According to that story, nobody knows nothing about nothing and nobody. It’s just a series of coinkidinks. Nobody made a call, nobody reached out, nobody did anything to help out Hare’s people.

Yep.

Right.

* OK, remember this guy from yesterday?

Employee 140’s Duties Included Producing Spreadsheets And Planting Trees. “Employee 16 told the OEIG that as a Staff Assistant, Employee 140’s duties included producing spreadsheets and other computer-generated documents and assisting in the Services Development area. In that capacity, Employee 140 planted trees and performed other preventative maintenance tasks.” (“In re: Ann Schneider, Gary Hannig, Matthew Hughes and Michael Woods, Jr – OEIG Final Report, Office Of The Executive Inspector General, 8/22/14, p. 75)

IDOT Employee Andrew Waeyaert Was Employed By Phil Hare Until March 12, 2010, And Was The Only Hare Employee To Leave In March Of 2010. (Statement Of Disbursements Of The House – January 1, 2010 to March 31, 2010, U.S. House Of Representatives, p. 1266)

Waeyaert Does Not Appear On The List Of Illegal Hires Being Fired By IDOT As A Result Of The Inspector General Report. (IDOT Layoffs List, State Journal-Register, 8/27/14)
Andrew Waeyaert Is Still Listed As Being Employed By IDOT. (Employee Salary Database, Illinois Comptroller, Accessed 8/28/14)

* The Rauner campaign dug up this photo from a 2010 Illinois Statehouse News story

The newspaper’s caption

Standing in the back of the room Andy Waeyaert makes sure that Illinois Gov. Pat Quin can see his show of support for the Democratic incumbent during Gov. Quinn’s campaign stop at the Quad City International Airport in Moline on Monday afternoon, November 1. Mr. Waeyaert also held a sign supporting U.S. Rep. Phil Hare who is in a tight race a day before voters head to the polls.

* Meanwhile, is an unfortunate turn of events

Sean O’Shea, the deputy chief of staff to Gov. Pat Quinn who resigned just as his boss came under fire for patronage hiring, is going to be unemployed awhile longer.

Mr. O’Shea was going to become chief of staff to venture capitalist J.B. Pritzker but walked away from the job after his departure was reported earlier this week by Greg Hinz and became fodder for Bruce Rauner’s campaign. […]

Mr. O’Shea withdrew from the job with Pritzker Group earlier this week when it became clear he was going to be part of the campaign narrative.

“I met Sean a few months ago through our search process and was impressed that he was universally praised by every reference I spoke with as a man of high integrity with exceptional professional accomplishments,” Mr. Pritzker said in a statement. “Unfortunately, the kind of political blood-sport that smears a guy like Sean O’Shea is exactly what drives good people away from public service. I wish Sean nothing but the greatest success.”

I get why JB might not want to have been dragged into this mess, and I get that O’Shea is in an unflattering spotlight right now, but his life is really going to suck from here on out and, personally, I don’t wish it on anybody.

- Posted by Rich Miller   43 Comments      


Even Steven, for now

Friday, Aug 29, 2014

* Remember the other day when Bruce Rauner and his chief of staff were saying that Rauner’s campaign was being outspent 2-1 by Gov. Pat Quinn and his allies? No longer

Bruce Rauner’s campaign just doubled its near future TV ad buy, sources tell Early & Often.

The camp on Thursday doubled its new flight from the period of Aug. 28 through Sept. 8.

“I’ll apologize to everbody in this room. You’re going to see my face on television more in the next two months than you’ll ever want to see it,” the Republican gubernatorial candidate told the audience at the Metropolitan Planning Council event on Thursday.

I’m guessing that Rauner will do more than just catch up come September. We’ll see, though.

- Posted by Rich Miller   19 Comments      


*** UPDATED x1 - Confirmed *** Report: Libertarians file charges

Friday, Aug 29, 2014

*** UPDATE *** The Libertarian Party has sent out a press release saying they have provided documentation to the Attorney General and plan to soon file a complaint with the state’s attorney. The release is here.

[ *** End Of Update *** ]

* I had also heard this but have been so far unable to confirm

Republican News Watch has learned that the Libertarian Party of Illinois lodged complaints on Thursday with both the Office of Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan and the Office of Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez over intimidation tactics employed in an attempt to prevent the Libertarian’s slate of statewide candidates from appearing on the November ballot. […]

“The Illinois Republican Party’s actions, by hiring a private investigation firm such as Morrison Security Corporation to engage in deceptive and coercive tactics against the Libertarian Party’s petition gatherers and signers, are beyond outrageous,” said Ben Koyl, Libertarian Party candidate for Illinois Attorney General. “The actions by the Republicans are calculated to deprive registered voters of Illinois of their right to free and open elections. These coercive and deceptive tactics have a chilling effect in that they discourage people from signing petitions and are in violation not only of Illinois election law, but also of our First Amendment rights,” added Koyl.
.

The party did highlight the above story on its Facebook page, however.

* Meanwhile

Bruce Rauner for the first time personally responded to Early & Often reports that private investigators were armed with guns while working for the Republican effort to remove the Libertarians from the November ballot.

Rauner said in a news availability that he was “outraged” and “appalled” by the behavior, but said it had nothing to do with himself or his campaign. […]

When asked about ties between the program and Rauner’s campaign, Rauner said: “One person did but that person as far as I know was not involved in the specific issue that was raised. That person who we paid for a specific project that was done, it was a discreet project, it had nothing to do with this other work that the state party had to do. That was completely disconnected. Our campaign has had nothing to do with the issues.”

* Video

* The Quinn campaign offered up a “fact check”…

On the 51st anniversary of Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, Republican billionaire Bruce Rauner found himself explaining yesterday why his campaign bankrolled armed operatives to intimidate voters recently at their homes, as first reported by the Chicago Sun-Times.

In the video… Rauner refused to apologize for his campaign’s unacceptable voter intimidation with guns, let alone take an iota of responsibility. Rauner also refused to say whether anyone was fired over this dangerous dirty trick.

Rauner’s responses range from false to evasive. Check it out:

    Rauner Claim #1: “That program that was run - that was run by the state party.”

    Reality: Seriously? You mean your so-called “voter integrity” program by your lawyer, with your staffer?

    Rauner Claim #2: Only “one person” from my campaign was involved.

    Reality: Uh, no. Rauner lawyer John Fogarty is the same lawyer leading the petition attack for the Illinois Republican Party. Furthermore, Morgan Kreitner - a notary for the Rauner-backed effort to knock the Libertarians off the ballot, is a salaried employee of the Rauner campaign. In addition, Rauner personally has donated $6,500 to the man carrying out this voter integrity initiative. And Rauner has donated millions of dollars to the Illinois Republican Party.

    That’s three, at least, by our count, including the candidate himself.

    Rauner Claim #3: “That person who we paid for a specific project that was done – it was a discreet project –it had nothing to do with this other work…it was completely disconnected.”

    Reality: Wait, what? What’s this “discreet” project, exactly? Who did you pay to do what?

    Rauner Claim #4: “Our campaign has nothing to do with the issues that you describe.”

    Reality: Only you do. You bankrolled it. You’ve gone all over Illinois bragging about your so-called “voter integrity” efforts, your campaign has donated more than $2 million to the Illinois Republican Party to carry out these efforts and you personally donated $6,500 to the political organization of the man carrying out the gun intimidation effort. But now that your cronies have been caught red-handed, it’s hear-no-evil, see-no-evil, speak-no-evil. Is this the Rauner version of accountability?

* The Tribune editorial board also weighed in today

We know, we know: Politics ain’t beanbag. But politics doesn’t have to be rotten and nefarious either.

Yet oodles of people who run for office in this state will tell you of strong-arm tactics they endured, sometimes from their own party, to get their names on an Illinois ballot.

It’s shameful. Sincere candidates who believe in public service spend months walking door-to-door collecting signatures — one of the purest elements of democratic elections — only to get kicked off the ballot through dishonest means.

The latest allegation of skulduggery accuses Republican Party leaders of trying to remove Libertarian Party candidates from the Nov. 4 ballot, ostensibly to protect GOP candidate for governor Bruce Rauner. Rauner would compete more easily in a one-on-one race with Gov. Pat Quinn with no Libertarian candidate siphoning off votes. Rauner says he knew nothing of the alleged intimidation:

- Posted by Rich Miller   50 Comments      


Big guys dinged a bit, but little guys helped a lot

Friday, Aug 29, 2014

* For decades in this state, a small number of casinos had a complete, legal and state-protected monopoly on slot machine gaming. The public benefits of those monopolies have mainly been confined to a handful of communities, although the state has brought in money as well. Meanwhile, local bar owners have been hurt by the state’s smoking ban and by competition from the casinos in those areas, so legalized video poker has saved a whole lot of small business owners from ruin. Yeah, there’s some slippage at the former monopolies, but the little guys are benefiting, so I’m not sure I see a crisis or anything yet

Tony Mossuto, owner of the Double Play Saloon in the Chicago suburb of Blue Island, said bars have struggled to cope with higher liquor taxes and a 2008 smoking ban. His five slot machines have attracted a new, older clientele that is keeping his establishment open and 10 employees working.

“It’s saved our industry,” he said.

Casino revenue in Illinois fell 5.3 percent in 2013, the first full year with the new competition. Sales fell similarly in July, marking 11 straight months of decline, according to Bloomberg Intelligence data. The first casino opened in the state in 1991.

Las Vegas-based Boyd, which owns the Par-A-Dice Hotel Casino in East Peoria, cited the burgeoning competition as one reason for a shortfall in second-quarter profit. […]

Casino operators are now focused on keeping truck stops from having more than five machines and developing restrictions that limit the competition to places like bars and social clubs.

Your “position”?

- Posted by Rich Miller   36 Comments      


Today’s photo

Friday, Aug 29, 2014

* From a corn field in Tinley Park

Cool.

This is a Major League Baseball open thread.

- Posted by Rich Miller   43 Comments      


Stark contrasts on taxes, minimum wage

Friday, Aug 29, 2014

* On taxes

“It’s painful, I hate to put new taxes in place but it’s an important, pro-growth, investment policy,” Rauner said. “We shouldn’t tax investment and income, we should tax consumption.”

And

“A consumption tax hurts hard-working people raising families and living from paycheck to paycheck,” Gov. Pat Quinn said.

I’m not sure how taxes on consumption promote growth, but whatever.

* On the minimum wage and the upcoming referendum

“I wouldn’t support raising Illinois’ minimum wage without pro-business reforms. I would not support that,” Rauner said.

“There’s only one candidate for governor who supports raising the minimum wage without condition. It’s the right thing to do,” Quinn said.

Discuss.

- Posted by Rich Miller   124 Comments      


Oppo dump

Thursday, Aug 28, 2014

* From the Rauner campaign. Sorry for the length. Blame them. But there is some interesting stuff here…

Over the last week, Pat Quinn has led voters to believe he took decisive action to end patronage hiring at the Illinois Department of Transportation by laying off those who were illegally hired. The State Journal-Register published the list of people who Pat Quinn claims he laid off.

But a review of last week’s Inspector General report, the State Comptroller’s website and state hiring records reveals that dozens of people who were illegally hired by IDOT as “staff assistants” are still working at IDOT and were not part of Quinn’s announced lay-offs.

“This already looks like another broken promise from Pat Quinn,” Bruce Rauner said. “You’ve got to wonder if this is just another charade. Instead of throwing people under the bus, we need a new driver.”

Here’s a look at just three of the dozens of examples:
Employee 201

“Employee 201” Is Identified In The Illinois Executive Inspector General’s Report As The Daughter Of Chicago Alderman Gene Schulter. (“In re: Ann Schneider, Gary Hannig, Matthew Hughes and Michael Woods, Jr – OEIG Final Report, Office Of The Executive Inspector General, 8/22/14, p. 143)

Monica Schulter, Gene Schulter’s Daughter, Is Identified In Press Accounts As Having Been Hired As A “Staff Assistant” At IDOT. “The hires made under the questionable ‘staff assistant’ process include Monica Schulter, daughter of former Chicago Ald. Eugene Schulter (47th). She was hired as a staff assistant in 2010, and now makes $58,000 as an assistant to IDOT’s top administrator, Ann Schneider. When reached by phone, Monica Schulter declined to answer questions, however Eugene Schulter did.” (Patrick McCraney, “Clout Hiring Persists Under Quinn,” Better Government Association, 8/14/13)

Schulter Does Not Appear On The List Of Illegal Hires Being Fired By IDOT As A Result Of The Inspector General Report. (IDOT Layoffs List, State Journal-Register, 8/27/14)
Schulter Is Still Listed As Being Employed By IDOT. (Employee Salary Database, Illinois Comptroller, Accessed 8/28/14)

Employee 140
“Employee 140” Is Identified In The Illinois Executive Inspector General’s Report As A Former District Scheduler For Congressman Phil Hare Who Left Hare’s Office In March Of 2010. “In addition to the examples discussed above, the OEIG investigation uncovered another Rutan-exempt Staff Assistant, Employee 140, who worked for Congressman Hare immediately prior to joining IDOT. Employee 140 began employment with Mr. Hare in 2007 as a District Scheduler and held that position until March 2010.” (“In re: Ann Schneider, Gary Hannig, Matthew Hughes and Michael Woods, Jr – OEIG Final Report, Office Of The Executive Inspector General, 8/22/14, p. 75)

Employee 140’s Duties Included Producing Spreadsheets And Planting Trees. “Employee 16 told the OEIG that as a Staff Assistant, Employee 140’s duties included producing spreadsheets and other computer-generated documents and assisting in the Services Development area. In that capacity, Employee 140 planted trees and performed other preventative maintenance tasks.” (“In re: Ann Schneider, Gary Hannig, Matthew Hughes and Michael Woods, Jr – OEIG Final Report, Office Of The Executive Inspector General, 8/22/14, p. 75)

IDOT Employee Andrew Waeyaert Was Employed By Phil Hare Until March 12, 2010, And Was The Only Hare Employee To Leave In March Of 2010. (Statement Of Disbursements Of The House – January 1, 2010 to March 31, 2010, U.S. House Of Representatives, p. 1266)
Waeyaert Does Not Appear On The List Of Illegal Hires Being Fired By IDOT As A Result Of The Inspector General Report. (IDOT Layoffs List, State Journal-Register, 8/27/14)
Andrew Waeyaert Is Still Listed As Being Employed By IDOT. (Employee Salary Database, Illinois Comptroller, Accessed 8/28/14)

Employee 139
“Employee 139” Was A Former Phil Hare District Scheduler, Hired In March OF 2010, And Was Hired By IDOT Following Hare’s 2010 Loss. “Employee 139’s employment application indicates he began work for Congressman Hare as a District Scheduler in March 2010 and left that position because of Mr. Hare’s 2010 election loss. Employee 139 began employment with IDOT in the Bureau of Personnel Management, but transferred to District 2 of the Division of Highways on March 28, 2011. The Internal Personnel Request authorizing his hire into the Staff Assistant position was signed by former Director of Finance and Administration Matt Hughes and former Bureau Chief of Personnel Management Mike Woods, Jr.” (“In re: Ann Schneider, Gary Hannig, Matthew Hughes and Michael Woods, Jr – OEIG Final Report, Office Of The Executive Inspector General, 8/22/14, p. 74)

Employee 139 Developed And Implemented Training Classes, And Did Not Perform Duties Listed In The Staff Assistant Position Description. “Investigators questioned Administrative Services Manager for District 2 Employee 16 about the duties Employee 139 performed in Safety and Training after his transfer. Employee 16 stated Employee 139’s duties included developing and implementing training classes. According to Employee 16, Employee 139 did not perform duties reflected on the Staff Assistant position description.” (“In re: Ann Schneider, Gary Hannig, Matthew Hughes and Michael Woods, Jr – OEIG Final Report, Office Of The Executive Inspector General, 8/22/14, p. 74)

IDOT Employee Derek Jones Began Working For Hare On March 15, 2010, And Was The Only Hare Employee To Be Hired In March Of 2010. (Statement Of Disbursements Of The House – January 1, 2010 to March 31, 2010, U.S. House Of Representatives, p. 1265)
Jones Does Not Appear On The List Of Illegal Hires Being Fired By IDOT As A Result Of The Inspector General Report. (IDOT Layoffs List, State Journal-Register, 8/27/14)
Derek Jones Is Still Listed As Being Employed By The Illinois Department Of Transportation. (State Employee Salary Database, Illinois Comptroller, Accessed 8/28/14)

- Posted by Rich Miller   64 Comments      


Rauner doubles down

Thursday, Aug 28, 2014

* Oy…


“General growth”? C’mon. Does he even have a clue about the sky-high rate of growth we’d need to cut $8 billion in taxes and raise spending on education, infrastructure, IDNR and any other ideas he comes up with?

And if he’s gonna cut lots more than the few million he’s already proposed, then we at least deserve an outline about what he’ll be targeting.

- Posted by Rich Miller   70 Comments      


Back in the news

Thursday, Aug 28, 2014

* Remember the story I posted not long ago about how a guy had thoroughly bamboozled Springfield’s top lobbyist, Gov. Pat Quinn, House Speaker Michael Madigan, David Axelrod’s son and many others? Well, that guy was indicted yesterday

A Chicago man fraudulently raised $160 million from Chinese nationals who invested in his purported plan to build a convention center complex with hotels near O’Hare International Airport, the U.S. attorney’s office in Chicago announced Wednesday.

Charges were lodged Wednesday against Anshoo Sethi, 30, who was the founder and managing member of A Chicago Convention Center LLC, which told investors it planned to build a hotel and convention center on 3 acres of land east of O’Hare.

The indictment alleges that between January 2011 and February 2013, Sethi defrauded 290 Chinese investors and deceived the U.S. government in its review of visa applications through false statements and representations.

According to the indictment, foreign nationals may obtain a certain kind of visa if they invest money in domestic projects. Sethi solicited Chinese investors interested in obtaining this visa to invest at least half a million dollars apiece, plus a $41,500 administrative fee.

* Around 10:30 this morning, I received this e-mail from the Cheri Bustos campaign…

BREAKING NEWS: Bobby Schilling’s Controversial “Visa for Sale” Program Dominating Illinois Headlines with Indictment

Last night, a high profile indictment for fraud involving Bobby Schilling’s controversial “Visa for Sale” program was filed. Schilling himself has also been recently scrutinized for using his influence as a former Member of Congress to cash in big, selling U.S. residency to wealthy foreign nationals.

The release referenced an earlier Bustos release

After getting elected thanks to the help of executives that get rich off of wealthy foreign investors, ex-Congressman Bobby Schilling stood up in support of the controversial “Visa for Sale” program. Now he’s making a six-figure salary working for the same executives that helped him get elected.

“If this is what Bobby Schilling means by ‘leading by example,’ then what should Illinois working families expect next?” said Jeremy Jansen, Bustos’ Campaign Manager. “Schilling not only voted to give tax breaks to corporations shipping Illinois jobs overseas and fled a public meeting with workers whose jobs are now in China, but after losing re-election Schilling walked out of Congress into a six-figure job selling American visas to wealthy Chinese investors that pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to game the immigration system.”

* Schilling’s campaign responded a few moments ago…

Cheri Bustos Steps In Cowpie

Bustos co-sponsored a bill in January that would make EB-5 program permanent

Clumsy attempt to change subject backfires

Bustos campaign melting down in desperate bid to divert attention from
Bustos’ broken promise to give back 10 percent of her salary

EAST MOLINE, Ill.—Congresswoman Cheri Bustos (D-East Moline) lashed out mindlessly today by attacking Bobby Schilling (R-Colona) for supposedly “selling visas.” The EB-5 program that Bobby Schilling’s employer, CMB Regional Centers, operates under is renewed by Congress every three years, and this past January, Congresswoman Cheri Bustos co-sponsored legislation to make the EB-5 program permanent. How’s that for hypocrisy?

H.R. 15, the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act, has nearly 200 co-sponsors in Congress, including Congresswoman Cheri Bustos. The bill “makes the EB-5 visa regional center program permanent.”

Yes, you read that correctly—today Cheri Bustos lashed out against a program she co-sponsored. The program has incredible bipartisan support and even includes support from Bustos’ mentor, U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-Illinois).

The EB-5 program does the exact opposite of outsourcing jobs. For far too long, American wealth has been invested overseas, creating jobs in countries all over the world. The reason Senator Durbin and others in Congress support the EB-5 program is to lure foreign investment to the United States, creating new American jobs here at home.

Under the EB-5 program, CMB Regional Centers in Rock Island has helped create more than 90,000 new American jobs and helped add more than $7 billion in economic activity to rural and high unemployment areas throughout the United States of America.

Bustos’ claim that the program is “selling visas” is ridiculous because selling visas is illegal. It seems Bustos’ desperate campaign doesn’t know much about her record in Congress because today they attacked a U.S. government program that Congresswoman Bustos has passionately supported by co-sponsoring a bill in Congress to make the EB-5 program permanent.

Cheri Bustos cannot have it both ways. If she thought the EB-5 program was a bad idea, she should not have sponsored legislation to make it permanent. Either she thinks the voters of Illinois are not paying attention, or she thinks we are too stupid to notice that she is lambasting a program she has previously supported for political gain. Clearly her sudden revelation that the EB-5 program is a work of evil is politically motivated by her need to change the subject from her broken promise to give back 10 percent of her congressional salary.

Schilling campaign manager Steven Shearer commented, “One wonders what caused Cheri Bustos to make another unforced error of this magnitude. Out here in farm country it’s called stepping in a cowpie.”

And it’s not even September.

- Posted by Rich Miller   17 Comments      


Question of the day

Thursday, Aug 28, 2014

* The Chicago Tribune editorial board took a look at the reporting on the NRI and IDOT messes and concluded

The governor’s spokespeople invariably use the words “zero tolerance” to defend his response to the unfolding disasters.

Besides replacing Schneider at IDOT, Quinn has ordered the agency to abolish the “staff assistant” position. Last week, IDOT fired 58 people whose jobs were improperly classified and created a merit board to oversee hiring.

Quinn also signed legislation meant to toughen the rules governing state grants and prevent some of the problems that occurred with his own bungled anti-violence program. And he ordered all state agencies to cooperate with investigators.

Quinn took those actions as the headlines and audits and subpoenas exploded around him. That’s not zero tolerance. It’s CYA.

* The Question: “Zero tolerance” or “CYA”? Take the poll and then explain your answer in comments, please.


surveys

- Posted by Rich Miller   37 Comments      


Time now for another edition of “Fractured Fairy Tales”

Thursday, Aug 28, 2014

* Bruce Rauner was asked yesterday whether he thought that education should receive more money from the state. His response

“I do believe it should have a higher percentage coming from the state, yes I do.”

* He also said this

“We should have billions of dollars every year as part of our budget process…(to) maintain and expand our infrastructure,” Rauner said.

Rauner said he can do this by ending diversions from the Road Fund. However

The state puts gasoline taxes and vehicle fees into the road fund. Last year, a state audit found that $1.5 billion was diverted from the road in the 2012 budget year. Auditors, however, cited as diversions such items as $419 million in debt payments to cover previous construction projects as well as millions of dollars more salaries and benefits for workers involved in related project work.

In addition, $26 million in subsidies for the state’s Amtrak routes and nearly $18 million for the Regional Transportation Authority to cover reduced fares came out of the road fund that year.

* And, of course, there was his pledge this month to increase funding for IDNR.

And he’s gonna do all that how? By slashing taxes, of course.

Right.

Tell me another fairy tale.

- Posted by Rich Miller   59 Comments      


Frackers loving them some Bruce

Thursday, Aug 28, 2014

* This probably shouldn’t be a surprise. Kurt Erickson

But with the rules for fracking still not finalized, oil producers, drilling companies and geologists who work in the industry are shunning the governor and putting their money behind the gubernatorial campaign of wealthy Republican businessman Bruce Rauner.

On July 9, dozens of oil company officials attended a fundraiser for the Republican at a Mount Vernon restaurant.

Records show the political newcomer netted nearly $240,000 for his stop at the Rare Chop House that day, with most of the largesse coming from companies that have been waiting for the state to get the permitting process up and running. […]

Nelson Wood, a Mount Vernon-based oil producer who co-hosted the fundraiser, said his colleagues are tired of being idle.

“We just think Bruce Rauner will be the better choice. There’s a lot of consternation out there,” Wood said Wednesday. “The governor should have gotten this going a year ago.

With all these delays, their frustration is totally understandable.

- Posted by Rich Miller   15 Comments      


Rodney Davis launches first TV ad of the fall campaign

Thursday, Aug 28, 2014

* His opponent is already on the air. Announcement…

U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis’ (R-Ill.) campaign today released its first television ad for the 2014 general election.

The ad, titled “Coach”, once again features Davis’ football team, the same players, including his twin boys, he’s been coaching for nearly 10 years. In the ad, Davis talks about his success in coaching a winning football team at home, and the need to change Washington to get things done for the families of central and southwestern Illinois.

In Washington, Rep. Davis is a part of the No Labels Problem Solvers and has been named to the “Governing Caucus”, a coalition of 30 House Republicans willing to join a majority of House Democrats to pass major legislation, by the National Journal. Additionally, in the National Journal’s 2013 Vote Ratings, Davis was ranked the 220th most liberal and the 212th most conservative House member.

The ad begins today.

* Ad

* Script…

I’m Rodney Davis.

As your Congressman, I’ve had the honor of being part of a team that’s working hard, and getting results.

I’m of course talking about the football team I coach when I’m home every weekend. Go Tornadoes!

As far as DC goes, the only thing they’re good at is creating problems.

I’m working to change that…

…to get things done for hardworking taxpayers…and the next generation.

- Posted by Rich Miller   22 Comments      


Caption contest!

Thursday, Aug 28, 2014

* Illinois Review

On August break, Illinois Congressman Aaron Schock and representatives of the Global Poverty Project in New York visited with USAID/India representatives, who led a tour of sanitation improvements in a Delhi slum settlement Tuesday. The location is one of 200 slum settlements throughout India being supported by Health of the Urban Poor activities that provide water and sanitation improvement and awareness at Chanakyapuri.

Schock also met with India’s new Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi

I spoke to a group of contractors last week in Peoria. Schock spoke after me, so I stuck around. He gave some incredibly thoughtful answers to some difficult questions that went beyond the usual Beltway Speak crud.

Anyway, I thought you might wanna know that before you begin your humorous rants. Not that it will probably matter anyway, but, you know, just sayin…

- Posted by Rich Miller   45 Comments      


Today’s number: 9 percent

Thursday, Aug 28, 2014

* William Lazonick in the Harvard Business Review

Five years after the official end of the Great Recession, corporate profits are high, and the stock market is booming. Yet most Americans are not sharing in the recovery. While the top 0.1% of income recipients—which include most of the highest-ranking corporate executives—reap almost all the income gains, good jobs keep disappearing, and new employment opportunities tend to be insecure and underpaid. Corporate profitability is not translating into widespread economic prosperity.

The allocation of corporate profits to stock buybacks deserves much of the blame. Consider the 449 companies in the S&P 500 index that were publicly listed from 2003 through 2012. During that period those companies used 54% of their earnings—a total of $2.4 trillion—to buy back their own stock, almost all through purchases on the open market. Dividends absorbed an additional 37% of their earnings. That left very little for investments in productive capabilities or higher incomes for employees.

“Very little” would be 9 percent.

- Posted by Rich Miller   44 Comments      


*** UPDATED x2 Stock pics - Rauner responds *** Rate Gov. Quinn’s new TV ad

Thursday, Aug 28, 2014

* From a press release…

Just in time for Labor Day weekend, Quinn for Illinois released a new television ad highlighting Republican billionaire Bruce Rauner’s cruel proposal to cut the minimum wage, which would take $2,000 dollars a year out of the pockets of workers. The new ad hits airwaves this morning.

“What kind of man would do that?” the narrator asks.

The answer is Rauner, who during the Republican primary proposed a $1-per-hour cut to the state’s minimum wage, which he said would make Illinois “competitive.”

Using business practices that included massive layoffs, outsourcing jobs overseas and even outright fraud, Mr. Rauner has amassed incredible riches, including $53 million in 2012 alone.

* The ad

Working on getting the script.

*** UPDATE 1 *** Rauner campaign response…

Pat Quinn released a new television advertisement today falsely claiming that Bruce Rauner wants to cut the minimum wage.

Fact Check:
Bruce Rauner’s Jobs and Growth Plan includes a component on how to raise the minimum wage:

    “Rauner Reforms: To provide working families and teens relief from Pat Quinn’s economic policies, the state of Illinois should implement a phased-in minimum wage increase, coupled with workers’ compensation and lawsuit reforms to bring down employer costs.This strategy will ensure that businesses can succeed while at the same time providing more economic opportunity for thousands of Illinois residents.” (Bring Back Blueprint: Jobs and Growth Agenda, p17)

The Chicago Tribune published an op-ed written by Bruce Rauner on how to raise the minimum wage:

    Raising the national minimum wage would raise the level in Illinois and in our neighboring states, eliminating our competitive disadvantage. I support that.
    Without action from Washington, I would favor increasing Illinois’ minimum wage if we also adopt creative solutions to avoid further damage to our state’s already shattered business climate. That can be done by providing incentives to small businesses to help offset the added costs. It can be done through workers’ compensation reform, tort reform and elimination of other impediments to job growth. (Bruce Rauner, “How to Raise the Minimum Wage,” Chicago Tribune, 1/9/14)

*** UPDATE 2 *** Man, Rauner really has a lot of extra staff…

Looks like Quinn both “outsourced” his stock photos to other states and Canada and used people who don’t have minimum wage jobs (server room technician)

Woman at coffee shop: http://www.gettyimages.ca/detail/photo/coffee-shop-and-cafe-in-high-falls-called-the-last-royalty-free-image/164420051 NOTE: this photo is from a coffee shop in High Falls, NY

Man in front of computers: http://www.gettyimages.com/detail/photo/proud-server-room-technician-high-res-stock-photography/488217717
Photographer is Seattle based http://www.jettaproductions.com/models
“We shoot on location in the Seattle/Tacoma/Kitsap Peninsula areas”

Cashier at hardware store: http://www.istockphoto.com/photo/cashier-at-hardware-store-15121609
Photographer is Canadian: http://www.istockphoto.com/profile/lsophoto

Woman behind reception desk: http://www.gettyimages.com/detail/photo/portrait-of-woman-behind-reception-desk-high-res-stock-photography/140967517
Photographer is from NYC: http://www.allisonmichaelorenstein.com/#/profile

- Posted by Rich Miller   63 Comments      


Now, that’s a lede

Thursday, Aug 28, 2014

* I don’t know Kim Geiger at the Tribune, but I sure like her style. Check out this lede

State Sen. Jim Oberweis, who won the Republican primary for U.S. Senate this year without facing his opponent in a single televised debate, found himself on the other side of that issue Wednesday as Sen. Dick Durbin agreed to meet him in just one TV debate before the Nov. 4 election.

She put that relevant and admittedly zinging context right up top. Good stuff. More

It was not long ago that Oberweis, himself fairly well-known in Republican political circles, rebuffed invitations to debate his primary opponent, first-time candidate Doug Truax. Oberweis and Truax met for only one debate, which was not broadcast beyond the retirement community where it took place.

Oof.

* But, Sen. Durbin really ought to agree to more than one televised debate. C’mon, dude, you’re a big boy. Start acting like it

Oberweis, a Republican businessman from Sugar Grove, had proposed seven televised debates between himself and Durbin, a veteran lawmaker and the Senate’s second-ranking Democrat.

Durbin’s campaign countered by offering what it described as four joint appearances, including one TV debate, a radio debate, a meeting with the Chicago Tribune Editorial Board and a candidate forum with downstate farmers.

- Posted by Rich Miller   23 Comments      


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Thursday, Aug 28, 2014

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* Poll: 53 percent of Illinoisans disapprove of Trump, 64 percent say Rauner should "act to protect the reproductive health care of all women in Illinois"
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