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It ain’t over until it’s over, unless it’s already over

Wednesday, Aug 27, 2014

* Keep in mind two things when reading this Insurance Journal article about the governor’s veto of the ridesharing bills: 1) The ridesharing bills passed both chambers with huge, veto-proof majorities; and 2) The insurance industry is quite powerful in this here state

HB 5331 would have required rideshare dispatchers to “carry commercial liability insurance in the amount of $350,000 combined single limit per accident.”

HB 4075 would have provided that the private passenger auto “insurer of a motor vehicle used in a commercial ridesharing arrangement may deny coverage during the time the vehicle is made available for dispatch or used in a commercial ridesharing arrangement.” It also would have required that commercial rideshare drivers and vehicle owners be made aware of that provision. […]

The Illinois Insurance Association and the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America said they are disappointed about the veto of the bills, which they say would have protected consumers by closing the gaps in insurance coverage that leave drivers, passengers and the public vulnerable if an accident occurs.

“PCI is deeply disappointed in this veto because it is vitally important that the vehicles used by commercial ride-sharing services are properly insured and the public is protected,” Jeffrey Junkas, Illinois regional manager for PCI, said in a statement released by the organization. “These bills sought to create a comprehensive, uniform statewide approach to protecting consumers and provided a firm foundation for innovation. They offered clear insurance rules that don’t leave policyholders or accident victims in the lurch because of coverage disputes. They also would have helped to avoid the creation of a confusing and costly patch work of local regulations.”

Kevin Martin, executive director of the IIA, said his group welcomes new transportation choices but that “consumer safety is of utmost concern. We supported the provisions in the state house bills as they would have helped to prevent all Illinois drivers from subsidizing the riskier driving activities of a small number of drivers and the companies that facilitate these programs.”

However, the bill’s House sponsor is Rep. Mike Zalewski, an ally of Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who wanted the veto. If Z sides with Rahm, then the bills might not even be called for override votes.

- Posted by Rich Miller   8 Comments      


Question of the day

Wednesday, Aug 27, 2014

* Libertarian Party gubernatorial candidate Chad Grimm…

* The Question: Caption?

…Adding… I’m not sure anyone will surpass the first comment by “too obvious”

To Rauner campaign. Hands up. Don’t shoot.

I may just give him/her an award for that one.

- Posted by Rich Miller   49 Comments      


Fun with numbers

Wednesday, Aug 27, 2014

* Paul Vallas released a report today on what could happen to individual school district funding if the income tax hike is rolled back all at once

He says if Rauner rolled back the income-tax increase, public schools would see a $4 billion-a-year loss in state revenue. That’s because the income tax increase brings in $8 billion a year and education makes up half of the discretionary part of the budget. […]

Rauner campaign spokesman Mike Schrimpf says the numbers Vallas uses “are just made up.”

He says even though Quinn raised the tax 67 percent in 2011, he cut school spending by $500 million. He says Rauner will “fully fund our schools.”

OK, they’re both wrong. Rauner has recently said he’d gradually roll back the tax hike, not do it all at once. [ADDiNG: The release, which I didn’t get, acknowledged the roll back, but there likely will be some revenue gains over the years and other budget priorities could come into play, so to state categorically that it’s a $4 billion cut isn’t quite Kosher] And Schrimpf is obviously making up numbers because there’s no way Rauner can avoid cutting school funding if that tax hike is rolled back over four years. Unless, of course, he wants to start skipping pension payments again.

By the way, back in the day, George Ryan removed state pension payments from the definition of state school funding. That, in retrospect, was a big mistake. You can’t have schools without teachers, and you can’t have teachers without pensions. If you include pension funding, spending on education has, indeed, increased.

…Adding… From the IFT…

In response to an analysis of Bruce Rauner’s funding plan for education released by Governor Pat Quinn today, Illinois Federation of Teachers (IFT) President Dan Montgomery noted that Rauner’s approach completely ignores the most critical issue of school underfunding.

“Bruce Rauner’s so-called budget was not designed with students in mind,” said Dan Montgomery, President of the IFT and a high school English teacher for eighteen years. “Unsurprisingly, he claims to support working families, but his plan fails to address the fact that Illinois schools are some of the worst funded in the nation. Aside from his empty, feel-good TV commercials, he has no explanation or problem with blowing an $8-billion dollar hole in the state budget and forcing layoffs, larger class sizes, and devastating cuts to our public schools. Strong schools begin with strong investment, and Rauner’s proposals would decimate public education as we know it and force communities to raise property taxes just to keep the doors open.

“As educators, we know best what students need and parents want – high-quality neighborhood schools with libraries, support services, and experienced teachers who are fixtures in the communities they serve. The only candidate committed to these families is Governor Quinn.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   23 Comments      


Teamsters want fired IDOT workers spared

Wednesday, Aug 27, 2014

* Bernie

Lawyers representing Teamsters Local 916 said Tuesday they want 55 members of the union who were put in Illinois Department of Transportation jobs as staff assistants under a process criticized by a state inspector general’s report to be able to continue working for the agency. […]

Carl Draper, another lawyer representing the Local 916 employees, said Tuesday that the inspector general’s report showed that IDOT “used an expedient path to hire people for work they needed to have done,” and the employees shouldn’t be punished.

“I don’t understand, and the Teamsters certainly don’t understand, why their members are the ones who have to pay the price for what the OEIG (Office of Executive Inspector General) characterizes as unlawful conduct by high-ranking IDOT officials,” Draper said. He said the report showed “no criticism that these employees were doing anything other than the work that was assigned to them. … The Teamsters are looking for a way to protect the employees from becoming the scapegoat for the improper conduct either of the governor or the secretary of transportation.

* The full list is here. Back to Bernie

Among the people on the list to be dismissed is Kathleen Vehovic, who works in Springfield and makes $50,184 annually. Her father, Todd Renfrow, a one-time chairman of Sangamon County Democrats, said she is a registered nurse and her duties at IDOT are related to that field.

Also on the list is Elizabeth Haskins of Effingham, who is listed as making $51,696 annually. She is sister-in-law of Ellen Schanzle-Haskins, who is now retired and was chief counsel to IDOT in Springfield. […]

Another person listed is Cori Pickett, who makes about $50,200 at a Springfield job. She is daughter of Mike Stout, who left a job as director of IDOT’s traffic safety division at the end of 2011.

- Posted by Rich Miller   43 Comments      


Rahm reverses course, Voices backs wage hike

Wednesday, Aug 27, 2014

* Mayor Emanuel refused to say earlier this month whether he’d push to raise Chicago’s minimum wage if the state raises its minimum wage. Yesterday, he changed his tune…

Mayor Rahm Emanuel said Tuesday that he would push aldermen to raise Chicago’s minimum wage to $13 an hour no matter what Springfield lawmakers do on the issue this year.

Previously, the mayor had declined to say whether the city would move ahead with its own higher minimum wage even if state lawmakers raised the statewide minimum wage to $10 after the November election.

“Illinois should do it, and when Illinois does it, we’re going to take the steps necessary to get us to the $13 here in the city of Chicago, because it’s relevant to making sure work pays and making sure people can afford to live in the city of Chicago,” Emanuel said at a news conference about Chicago public high school graduation rates.

* More

“I’m committed … to seeing an increase in the minimum wage so people can afford to live in Chicago. And more importantly than living in Chicago, which is very important to me, is making sure that, if you work, a child is not raised in poverty.”

One day after joining Quinn and Vice-President Joe Biden at a roundtable on the minimum wage issue, Emanuel noted that 400,000 Chicagoans, “mainly mothers,” stand to benefit from a $13-an-hour minimum wage that would help them “meet their obligations” to their children.

* Meanwhile, Voices for Illinois Children has released a report supporting a hike in the minimum wage

Raising the minimum wage to at least $10.10 an hour would benefit an estimated 1.1 million Illinois workers — over 20 percent of Illinois’ workforce — and nearly one in five Illinois children (about 583,000) who have a parent who would earn higher wages. On average, parents who would benefit from an increase are responsible for a majority of their families’ income. Raising the minimum wage would boost total family income, helping these families who work hard and struggle to get by on low wages the afford basic necessities.

Children in families with enough income to cover basic necessities are healthier, have more success in school, and earn more as adults. In contrast, children whose families struggle economically are more likely to experience harmful levels of stress, more likely to struggle in school, and more likely to have health problems than their peers. By raising the minimum wage, more working families would be able to meet their children’s basic needs, reducing the adverse effects of poverty on child well-being. […]

Workers who would benefit include both those who currently earn between $8.25 and $10.10 an hour (over 700,000 men and women), as well as those who currently earn a wage at or slightly above $10.10 an hour (about 400,000 workers). Many in the latter group would benefit because employers often raise wages in order to maintain a “wage ladder” for different job levels, economists have found. Of workers who would benefit, 56 percent are women, and a majority is at least 30 years old. Over 50 percent of benefiting workers work full-time (at least 35 hours a week), and nearly half have at least some college experience

* Dot points…

    • 86 percent are at least 20 years old, and about 35 percent are at least 40 years old,
    • more than one third are married, and about one in four have children, and
    • almost 90 percent have at least a high school diploma, and 55 percent have at least some college education.

The report also cites studies which purport to show that minimum wage increases aren’t job killers.

- Posted by Rich Miller   31 Comments      


Fracking regs to be released Friday

Wednesday, Aug 27, 2014

* Tribune

Long-anticipated rules that would govern a new fracking industry in Illinois, are expected to become public Friday.

Those rules could be approved as early as next month, opening the door to oil and gas drillers to apply for permits to begin drilling the state’s shale rock in search of oil reserves. Lawmakers are hoping that an oil boom in the southern part of the state will fatten state coffers with oil revenue and bring jobs to a struggling downstate economy.

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources has been sifting through more than 35,000 comments that were launched at its first draft of the rules, which were based on legislation passed more than a year ago. It faces a November deadline to structure the law.

State Sen. Don Harmon, D-Oak Park, co-chairman of the Illinois Legislature’s Joint Committee on Administrative Rules, said IDNR has said it expects to drop the rules off with the committee Friday. The obscure committee’s approval is the final step in a multi-year effort to regulate horizontal hydraulic fracturing in Illinois, defined as 80,000 gallons of fluid or more injected into underground rock formations to extract oil and gas.

* Attorney Lawrence Falbe thinks there could be a large number of anti-fracking protesters at September’s JCAR meeting, and told me this…

While this puts fracking back in the news, which I think many people think Quinn has been trying to avoid by having IDNR slow-walk the regulations, the fact is that even if JCAR approves the regs at its September meeting, there is still a long way to go before any drilling actually occurs, since very detailed information must be included in the permit applications and will take time to compile, and it’s very likely objectors will force public hearings on at least the first batch of permits.

There will probably be a lot of attention on JCAR and its members, and how they approach this, but it’s pretty much out of Quinn’s hands at this point, so it will be interesting to see if he still gets heat from the enviros.

* And this is from a memo penned by Falbe and a colleague for clients

The end result of this is that final fracking regulations reasonably should be expected to be approved and in place by mid-October. That means the process of accepting permit applications and issuing permits can then begin. However, as both the statute and the regulations provide, any company wishing to submit a permit application must register 30 days before submitting the permit request. Moreover, those planning to apply for a permit should also anticipate having to defend objections to the permit in a public hearing, which can be demanded by objectors to such a permit after meeting some fairly minimal standards to show potential harm, should the permit be issued.

In summary, the regulation of fracking in Illinois has been a long and convoluted process, but there is now light at the end of the tunnel. Significant hurdles will still need to be overcome by those who seek permits, as the fracking objectors are poised and ready to repeat their onslaught against the first group of permit seekers. Carefully crafting a robust permit application, supported by sound science and expert testimony, and preparing a persuasive public hearing presentation that will withstand and refute the expected objections, will be the next challenge faced by permit seekers in Illinois.

- Posted by Rich Miller   13 Comments      


Making the big banks pay

Wednesday, Aug 27, 2014

* From last week

Attorney General Lisa Madigan today announced a record $300 million settlement with Bank of America over of the bank’s misconduct regarding risky mortgage-backed securities.

The settlement includes $200 million in relief to fully recover for losses incurred by Illinois’ pension systems and $100 million in consumer relief.

The agreement is part of a national settlement forged by the U.S. Department of Justice and also joined by attorneys general from California, Delaware, Massachusetts, New York and Kentucky. The settlement includes recoveries for RMBS issued by Countrywide and Merrill Lynch, both of which were acquired by Bank of America.

“This settlement resolves the fourth enforcement action I have brought against Bank of America to fight the widespread fraud that was at the root cause of the economic crisis,” said Madigan. “Bank of America, and in particular Countrywide, were major players in virtually every aspect of the market that caused the crisis, from shoddy loan originations and discriminatory lending to African Americans and Latinos to fraudulent marketing of mortgage-backed securities.”

The settlement with Bank of America stems from an investigation by Madigan’s office that revealed that between 2006 and 2008 the bank failed to disclose the true risk of RMBS investments to Illinois’ pension systems and therefore misled the systems when they invested in the RMBS market. […]

Madigan has reached similar agreements with JPMorgan Chase & Company for $100 million to Illinois’ pension systems, and with Citigroup for $44 million to the state’s pension systems and an additional $40 million in consumer relief.

* The Nation has a very long, detailed story about that JPMorgan Chase settlement

In the end, the abject fear of Ben Wagner got Jamie Dimon to cave.

For much of 2013, Dimon, the chairman and chief executive of the formidable JPMorgan Chase & Company, was telling anyone who would listen that it was unfair and unjust for federal and state prosecutors to blame him and his bank for the manufacture and sale of mortgage-backed securities that occurred at Bear Stearns & Company and at Washington Mutual in the years leading up to the financial crisis. When JPMorgan Chase bought those two failing firms in 2008, Dimon argued, he was just doing what Ben Bernanke, Hank Paulson and Timothy Geithner had asked him to do. Why should his bank be held financially accountable for the bad behavior at Bear and WaMu?

It was a clever argument—and wrong. Dimon’s relentless effort to spin his patriotic story soon collided with the fact that Wagner, the US Attorney for the Eastern District of California, had uncovered evidence that JPMorgan itself was guilty of many of the same greedy and irresponsible behaviors. Piles of subpoenaed documents and e-mails revealed that JPMorgan bankers and traders had underwritten billions of dollars’ worth of questionable mortgage-backed securities that Dimon had been telling everyone had originated at Bear Stearns and WaMu. Worse, the bad behavior had occurred on Dimon’s watch.

The likelihood that the Justice Department would file Wagner’s civil complaint last fall—exposing publicly for the first time the litany of wrongdoing at JPMorgan and threatening to push it off the perch that Dimon had so artfully constructed for it over the years—ultimately brought Dimon to the table. On September 26, just weeks after the Justice Department shared a draft copy of Wagner’s complaint with Dimon, the two sides arranged for a summit meeting between Dimon and Attorney General Eric Holder. By mid-November, the bank had agreed to pay $13 billion in a comprehensive settlement of mortgage-related securities claims with various branches of the federal government and a group of states, led by the attorneys general of New York, California, Illinois, Massachusetts and Delaware.

It was the largest financial settlement of all time, and it kept Wagner’s complaint away from the prying eyes of the public. One thing is clear: Dimon’s claim that his own bankers and traders had done nothing wrong in the years leading up to the financial crisis wasn’t true. “The investigators and the lawyers were uncovering very viable evidence,” explains Associate Attorney General Tony West, who headed up the settlement negotiations on behalf of the Justice Department. “I think there was recognition that we had enough evidence there that would support the complaint and would support a robust lawsuit.”

Go read the whole thing. Whew.

- Posted by Rich Miller   16 Comments      


Quinn vetoes another speed limit bill

Wednesday, Aug 27, 2014

* Tribune

Gov. Pat Quinn [yesterday] vetoed a measure that would have raised the maximum speed limit on Illinois’ tollways to 70 mph from the current 65 mph, citing safety concerns.

“Recent evidence shows that drivers already travel at excessive speeds on Illinois toll highways,” Quinn said in his veto message to lawmakers.

The governor said a tollway study of drivers on Interstate 94 in Lake County last year found 71 percent of them exceeded the posted limit by 15 mph or more. Another tollway study found between 91 percent and 98 percent of drivers on seven different tollway segments exceeded the speed limit from 11 mph to 15 mph during off-peak hours, he added.

Quinn signed a law last year that raised the Interstate speed limit to 70 mph. That bill applied mostly to rural areas. And the tollway limit bill’s sponsor (like the Interstate bill and the trucker speed limit bill that Quinn also vetoed this summer) is GOP US Senate candidate Jim Oberweis. So, one win is enough, I guess. And no wins can be allowed in an election year.

But I’m sure the veto was all about safety.

/snark

- Posted by Rich Miller   31 Comments      


Missing the point

Wednesday, Aug 27, 2014

* I suppose the biggest news in this Dan Mihalopoulos column is that the Illinois Republican Party no longer believes that sending armed private investigators to the homes of Libertarian Party petition signers and gatherers was a good idea

On Tuesday, though, the state party’s spokesman provided this “updated” statement: “We do not support the practice of any investigator wearing a firearm while verifying petition signatures. If even one person felt intimidated, that’s unacceptable.”

Well, that’s heartening. A bit on the late side, but heartening.

* And he finally got the Rauner campaign on record

“Bruce wants as many people engaged in the political process as possible,” Rauner spokesman Mike Schrimpf said in an e-mail. “Bruce has no knowledge of these alleged activities, and if they are true, he strongly denounces them. Bruce doesn’t agree with any form of voter intimidation.”

* And, like the comment section here, he found a handful of direct ties to various players, including the private security firm, which is owned by a member of the GOP State Central Committee who is a big Rauner supporter. A notary used in the effort to kick the Libertarians off the ballot is also a member of Rauner’s staff. His conclusion

It’s not enough for Rauner to say he was blissfully unaware of what was being done on his behalf. Not when those efforts involved many people he knows well, people he has relied upon heavily in what he says is a campaign to clean up Illinois politics.

But no mention at all that the governor has called for state and federal investigations into the alleged intimidation? I don’t get it. That’s serious news. Every time Rauner talks about how this or that is corrupt, the media’s all over it. But not on this?

* The Quinn campaign’s latest response…

“When it comes to his own campaign’s use of voter intimidation with guns right under his nose, again we see Bruce Rauner choosing to hear no evil and see no evil.

“Mr. Rauner’s previous claims that he was not linked to the individuals involved in these actions have turned out to be untrue. Even more alarming, Mr. Rauner is directly linked to the individual carrying out voter intimidation with guns.

“As we’ve said before, these are serious matters that should be investigated by the State Board of Elections, Cook County State’s Attorney, and the U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division.”

“What happened in Oak Park was unacceptable. No voter should be intimidated from making their voice heard as part of the political process.

“If this is how Mr. Rauner is going to run his campaign, what does this say about how he’s going to run the state of Illinois?”

* Again, we have allegations of armed voter intimidation, coupled with a call from the governor for law enforcement action and nobody covers it?

Especially when coupled with statements like this

[Illinois Republican Party Chairman Tim Schneider] wasn’t divulging details, but did say the party is identifying areas to keep an eye out for voter fraud.

“I’m not going to open up my playbook, but I will tell you that we will have a significant voter-integrity program,” he said.

And this

I was provided video by RIKEESHA PHELON, Illinois spokeswoman for the Democratic Governors Association, of Republican gubernatorial candidate BRUCE RAUNER at a Nov. 23 term limits town hall meeting in Elmhurst. Rauner appeared there with Chicago-area radio talk show host and former U.S. Rep. JOE WALSH, R-McHenry.

An audience member asked, “How do we make sure that those who love (President Barack) Obama don’t vote six, seven, eight, 10 times?” He wondered how Rauner could win, given that the system is “so corrupt.”

“Fair point,” Rauner responded, adding, “We have a massive voter fraud, voter-integrity issue in Illinois. That’s just true.” He said there should be “rigorous accountability controls inside our voting process to try to bring back integrity. We need identification checking. We need poll watchers.”

Rauner also he would be “driving another initiative, and raising money for that as well, and volunteers around the state to bring a voter-integrity process to our next election cycle and put it in place for the future.”

That video is here.

- Posted by Rich Miller   64 Comments      


Ballot initiatives are definitely a major national thing

Wednesday, Aug 27, 2014

* Illinois isn’t alone by any means. From the Washington Post

In a midterm election season when control of the United States Senate hangs in the balance, Democrats are increasingly turning to ballot measures to get otherwise reluctant voters to the polls.

Big Business is, too: Some of the most expensive races in the country this year will be ballot measures written by, and for, major corporations. Some the hardest-fought ballot battles of 2014 won’t involve candidates at all. They’ll be questions that come with big implications for corporate bottom lines — or promise big benefits to political strategists, especially Democrats, looking to drive turnout for other races.

For the first time in history, spending on the approximately 125 ballot questions facing voters in 41 states is likely to top $1 billion in campaign spending this year — and perhaps much more: Oil and gas companies in Alaska spent more than $170 for every vote they won in a successful campaign to reject higher taxes earlier this month.

* Spending this year is expected to vastly exceed 2012’s billion dollars…

WaPo also has a great interactive map. Go check it out.

- Posted by Rich Miller   7 Comments      


*** UPDATED x1 *** Callis unveils first TV ad, GOP says she’s “lived a life of privilege”

Wednesday, Aug 27, 2014

* From a press release…

Former Chief Judge and Congressional challenger Ann Callis today released the first ad of the general election, “Good Guys.” The ad highlights Callis’ pledge to fight for the people who make our communities stronger and safer, including teachers and soldiers.

“From the beginning, this campaign has been about standing with the men and women in Illinois who are working each day to make our communities stronger and safer. As the mom of a teacher and an Army Ranger, this fight is personal for me. While my opponent is a political insider who hires lobbyists and fights to protect his Congressional perks, I’ll never forget that Congress should work for the people who we have the honor to serve,” said Callis.

As a proven judicial reformer, Callis has made reforming Washington a central focus of her campaign, launching her Congressional Reform Agenda in response to Congressman Davis’ continued defense of taxpayer-funded perks, lobbyists on his payroll, and the “do nothing Congress.”

* [Oops. Somehow the code got left out when I hit the publish button.] The TV ad

* The script…

(CALLIS): It’s easy to spot the good guys. They put others first. Defend us. And teach our kids.
 But these days in Washington, they finish last. Medicare, education and veterans get cuts, but it’s perks for politicians and tax breaks for CEOs. I’m Ann Callis. I approve this message. As the mom of teacher and an Army Ranger, looking out for the good guys isn’t just the right thing to do. For me, it’s personal.

* NRCC Spokeswoman Katie Prill plays the class warfare card…

“Ann Callis is trying to fool Illinois families into thinking she is concerned with helping the middle class. Callis has lived a life of privilege and has benefited from her wealthy father’s status in Democrat politics her entire life. When Callis says she will look out for the good guys, she really means she will fight for the elite of the Democrat party and no one else.”

*** UPDATE *** Coincidentally, this is from today’s Tom Kacich column in the News-Gazette

Davis spokesman Andrew Flach said the Republicans don’t plan to highlight Callis’ wealth.

“If that’s an issue, it will be up to the voters to decide,” he said.

That’s probably a good idea, said David Yepsen, director of the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute at Southern Illinois University-Carbondale, and the former chief political writer at The Des Moines Register. Part of the calculus for the Davis campaign, he noted, is that Bruce Rauner, who is far richer than Callis and her husband, is at the top of the Republican ticket.

“It will be difficult for the Republicans to make that attack because they don’t want to be shooting at her and hitting Rauner. They’d have to be careful how this is done,” Yepsen said. “If the campaign moves in that direction, it could just confuse voters.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   51 Comments      


Inversion and off-shoring explained in just a few words

Wednesday, Aug 27, 2014

* There’s much, much more to this Matt Levine piece in Bloomberg, so you should really read the whole thing. But this’ll do for now

For instance, if you are a drug company, it costs you like a dollar to make a pill, and you sell it in the U.S. for $10,000. You might say, “well OK then I have $9,999 of net income in the U.S.,” but again you are being naive. The right answer is:

    * Your U.S. subsidiary makes a pill for $1.
    * Your U.S. subsidiary licenses the patent on that pill from your Bermuda subsidiary for $9,995.
    * Your U.S. subsidiary sells the pill for $10,000.
    * Your U.S. subsidiary has $4 of net income, which is taxable.
    * Your Bermuda subsidiary has $9,995 of net income, which is not.

It’s more complicated than that, but that’s the general idea. If the parent company is a U.S. company, then eventually that Bermuda sub’s net income will be taxable in the U.S. anyway. But if the parent company is Canadian or Dutch or Swiss or whatever, then the Bermuda sub’s income will never be taxed [by the US].

Again, go read the whole thing.

- Posted by Rich Miller   35 Comments      


*** UPDATED x1 *** Last man standing is leaving

Tuesday, Aug 26, 2014

* I heard this was coming last week. The timing couldn’t be worse. Greg Hinz

A senior Quinn Administration official is leaving his post amid continuing fallout from a patronage hiring scandal in the Illinois Department of Transportation.

Deputy Chief of Staff Sean O’Shea is going off the payroll, effective Friday, Aug. 29. He’s held that position since August 2011, and his responsibilities included overseeing IDOT and its hiring of senior officials in policy positions.

A spokesman for the Quinn Administration confirmed the departure, but insisted it has nothing to do with the hiring matter. […]

The Quinn spokesman said Mr. O’Shea will be leaving for an unidentified private-sector post and that the new job “has been in the works for weeks.” The spokesman also underlined the administration’s view that, while it was aware of the hirings, only officials at IDOT were aware that the employees actually were working on routine, nonpolicy matters.

Earlier today, the campaign of GOP gubernatorial nominee Bruce Rauner sent reporters an email making an issue of Mr. O’Shea’s continued state employment. “Why does a top aide that the Inspector General says approved patronage hiring still work for the governor — even months now after Quinn was shown the IG’s report?” it asked.

There’s that Sgt. Shultz defense again, “only officials at IDOT were aware that the employees actually were working on routine, nonpolicy matters.” Yep. Stick with that. It’s your only hope.

The Quinnsters insist that O’Shea’s new job is legit and didn’t have anything to do with the current scandal. That could actually be true, even though the timing won’t help Quinn any. O’Shea had made a mortal enemy out of House Speaker Michael Madigan over the years. And, as subscribers know, Madigan’s ire peaked this past spring.

*** UPDATE *** Rauner’s Mike Schrimpf…

“It’s time for Pat Quinn to stop misleading voters about his illegal patronage hiring schemes. This scandal goes straight to the top; there’s no one left to fire except Quinn himself.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   36 Comments      


Question of the day

Tuesday, Aug 26, 2014

* From a press release…

Today, the Dold for Congress campaign released its first ad of the 2014 campaign, “Enough Blame”, which highlights Bob Dold’s focus on putting people before politics and ending the partisan blame game in Washington.

“Like millions of Americans across the country, 10th District voters are tired of the partisan finger pointing in Washington and are anxious to restore serious, effective, bipartisan leadership to their seat in Congress. As a small business owner and father of three with a clear record as an independent leader who puts people before politics, Bob Dold offers 10th District voters a positive alternative to the status quo and a commitment to growing the economy and improving the quality of life for families throughout the District,” Dold Campaign Manager James Slepian said.

* The ad will be running on cable TV and online

* The script…

Who’s to blame? Washington’s favorite question. Bob Dold says, just fix it.

‘It’s putting the people first, in front of the politics’

Running a small business, raising three kids, Dold knows we’ve got problems to solve.

‘More jobs are leaving, uncertainty around retirement, cost of education. We need to make sure that there’s a level playing field.’

Bob Dold’s plan: Job training for the unemployed. Improve mass transit. Make college more affordable.

‘Washington should be trying to make it easier for you. I’m Bob Dold and I approve this message.’

* The Question: From one to five, with five being the best, your rating? Take the poll and then explain your answer in comments, please.


panel management

- Posted by Rich Miller   26 Comments      


*** UPDATED x1 *** Quinn again deflects responsibility to IDOT

Tuesday, Aug 26, 2014

* AP

Gov. Pat Quinn says it was up to his transportation secretary to follow employment rules even when hiring candidates the governor’s office favored.

The Chicago Democrat said Tuesday his cabinet members “have a duty to make sure that they comply with the rules that I’ve set down” and are accountable for that.

* Let’s review, shall we?

In a blow to Gov. Pat Quinn, his former transportation secretary has accused his office of pushing “the vast majority” of improper political hires in her agency even though an ethics report released Friday shied away from blaming the governor’s office. […]

“It is my recollection that [the] vast majority of Rutan-exempt hires were chosen from those recommended to me or my staff by the governor’s office,” Schneider said, referring to the landmark Rutan U.S. Supreme Court opinion that placed limits on political hiring in government jobs.

“The governor’s office would have been provided resumes of all such candidates and would have requested that we complete the process of having the recommended person approved for the open position,” she said. […]

“Neither I nor my staff were in a position to reject the recommended individuals for these exempt positions as no additional interview process was required,” she said.

* And

The inspector general’s report said dozens of the staff assistants had ties to Democrats including the top leaders of the legislature, House Speaker Michael Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton, both of Chicago.

* And

According to Mr. Croke, if the agency has already identified a candidate that it wishes to hire into a Rutan-exempt position:

    · the agency submits an ePAR to the Office of the Governor for approval;
    · the ePAR is approved by the Governor’s Office of Management and Budget;
    · the ePAR is approved by both the Deputy Chief of Staff and the Chief of Staff; and
    · the agency fills the vacancy with the desired candidate.

So, Quinn’s top staff runs dozens of low-level political hires through IDOT and never once stops to consider if all those sweet jobs that they couldn’t place anywhere else were properly classified?

Perhaps you have a different view of this. If so, please enlighten me.

*** UPDATE *** Rauner campaign response…

Fact #1: Pat Quinn recommended patronage hires to IDOT.

Fact #2: His chief of staff and deputy chief of staff (who still works for Quinn) approved all the hires.

Pat Quinn’s explanation is an insult to Illinoisans. He needs to stop making excuses about the illegal political hires in his administration. His office recommended the hires and then signed off on the hires. Not even Rod Blagojevich would be so brazen.

- Posted by Rich Miller   49 Comments      


A different sort of ice bucket challenge

Tuesday, Aug 26, 2014

* From Joan Parker…

Hi Rich:

I don’t know if you ever promote this type of thing on your blog, but given the popularity of the ice bucket challenge, I do want to share this information with you.

As you may recall, my late husband Brewster died of ALS (20 years ago— can you believe?) Since that time, I have become very active in the Les Turner ALS Foundation which serves more than 90 percent of the ALS patients in the Chicago area, and through its affiliation with Northwestern, is one of the country’s key research centers for this disease. Both Dawn Clark Netsch and former Senate staffer Pat Hanley were treated at our clinic at Northwestern. As Board members, we did a more serious challenge last week —- see link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1i1AAZzFbZM

If I can challenge all of my legislative and lobbyist friends through your blog, I would appreciate it. Or, if they have already done the ice bucket thing, and are looking for a place to donate, the information is: http://www.lesturnerals.org/about-the-foundation/why-take-ice-bucket-challenge

Thanks for any help you can give me.

Joan

* I’ve always had trouble saying no to Joan. This video isn’t as “fun” as the other ice bucket challenge, but it could raise even more money...

Click here to donate.

At first I wasn’t all that keen on the ice bucket thing. It seemed self-aggrandizing and a bit pointless. But it has raised a ton of money, so I’ll be accepting the challenges I’ve received this week.

- Posted by Rich Miller   7 Comments      


Group claims it registered 25K voters this summer

Tuesday, Aug 26, 2014

* That’s a lot of newly registered voters, but they’re gonna need more than this. A lot more

A coalition of community organizations affiliated with the Chicago Teachers Union and with groups opposed to many of Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s policies will announce today that they have registered 25,000 new voters this summer in advance of upcoming local and state elections.

Officials from the Grassroots Collaborative will appear with Cook County Clerk David Orr to talk about where the people they have registered live and their attempts to register another 25,000 new voters prior to the Nov. 4 state and federal elections.

The group said it is canvassing neighborhoods to register new voters by talking to residents about “raising the minimum wage and the fight for quality public schools.”

* And speaking of the minimum wage

Vice President Joe Biden, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Gov. Pat Quinn on Monday afternoon held a behind-closed-doors discussion on raising the minimum wage, appearing briefly afterward for the cameras.

Biden’s visit, which included a campaign fundraiser for the governor, allowed Emanuel and Quinn to draw attention to their efforts to raise the minimum wage in Chicago and Illinois. […]

Emanuel has said the city is prepared to act on his proposal if Springfield lawmakers do not raise the state minimum wage after the election. The mayor has refused to say, however, whether he would still push for a $13 minimum wage in Chicago if lawmakers raise the state rate to $10 an hour.

“I’m not going to answer hypotheticals at this point,” Emanuel said earlier this month. “If the state acts, I’ll bring the (city) task force back together and see what we want to do.”

* More

In the Biden event, reporters were only allowed in for the final 10 minutes to listen to statements by Biden, Emanuel and Quinn. They did not take questions.

- Posted by Rich Miller   9 Comments      


Today’s quotable

Tuesday, Aug 26, 2014

* Sen. Bill Brady

Brady said Quinn was in his “honeymoon period” in 2010, but now the honeymoon is over.

“He had taken over from Rod Blagojevich. He had a household name. People trusted him,” said Brady. “The difference now is Pat Quinn can’t blame it on Rod Blagojevich. He’s got a full four years of his own and he’s got some problems with his administration.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   43 Comments      


Rauner claims he’s being outspent 2-1

Tuesday, Aug 26, 2014

* From yesterday’s Bruce Rauner fundraising appeal…

Right now we’re being outspent by about 2 to 1 by the special interest allies who support Quinn-Madigan.

Will you help us get this ad out far and wide by making an urgent contribution of $25, $50, $100, $250, $500, $1,000, or even $2,500?

Quinn-Madigan and their allies are literally spending about a million dollars a week in lies to protect their system.

But you can stop them today, right now, with a donation.

Join us, today.

Bruce

* His campaign manager sent one out today…

Pat Quinn and his special interest allies are spending about $1 million PER WEEK with lies about Bruce.

If it sounds like a lot, that’s because it is. They’re outspending us about 2 to 1.

Quinn will spend more money this year than anyone has ever spent to win the Illinois governor’s race. Ever. He’ll spend millions more than even Blago.

Why so much? With Pat Quinn under federal investigation, more news about patronage hires, an economy in the tank, cuts to education funding, and a whole host of other problems it will take record-breaking special interest cash to give Quinn a chance.

You know when the courts are intervening to kick term limits off the ballot despite overwhelming support from rank-and-file democrats, independents, and republicans that the deck is stacked against us.

But no one ever thought shaking up the system in a state like Illinois would be easy. The machine will pull out every stop to win. Of course.

So I spent all day yesterday re-crunching the numbers. We need $437,332 to give our advertising a needed boost to close the gap with Quinn and his special interest machine.

Are they sure that’s not $437,332.47?

Price specifics like that are designed to make the ask sound more believable. But unless all of Rauner’s GTCR stock just tanked, I find it hard to believe that he’s starving for cash.

- Posted by Rich Miller   33 Comments      


A very good question

Tuesday, Aug 26, 2014

* From the Illinois GOP…

On IDOT Patronage: Ann Schneider, the former head of IDOT, says Pat Quinn’s office strong-armed the agency into appointing Quinn’s political cronies. The Inspector General report shows Quinn’s chief of staff and deputy chief of staff personally approved every single patronage hire. Pat Quinn must answer Ann Schneider’s allegations – and he must explain why his chief of staff and deputy chief of staff would have approved a spike in patronage hires if Quinn had indeed given orders to stop it.

That highlighted point is spot on

- Posted by Rich Miller   35 Comments      


*** UPDATED x1 - Rauner’s stinging response *** Quinn campaign says Rauner trying to “disguise himself as a moderate”

Tuesday, Aug 26, 2014

* From the Quinn campaign…

Today is Women’s Equality Day. As part of Republican billionaire Bruce Rauner’s attempt to disguise himself as a moderate in Illinois, he repeatedly claims on the campaign trail that he “doesn’t have a social agenda.”

But his money sure does.

Both Bruce and his wife have donated nearly $1 million to right-wing conservative candidates and organizations that are anti-choice and embrace policies that are anti-women. Not to mention, as has been previously noted, Rauner has historically taken a “Mad Men” approach to doing business, as evidenced by the fact that Rauner lists only 6 women on his firm’s staff of 51.

And where does Mr. Rauner stand on major women’s issues of the day, like the recent Supreme Court decision on Hobby Lobby? He won’t tell us.

In the meantime, here’s an overview of the Rauners’ financial support to anti-choice, right-wing candidates and organizations:

    Donated $700,000 to the Right-Wing, Conservative Organization Donors Trust. According to the State Journal Register, “There was a combined $700,000 in 2011 and 2012 to Donors Trust, an Alexandria, Virginia-based organization that, its website says, is ‘explicitly devoted to supporting organizations that promote liberty.’” [State Journal Register, 7/12/14]

    Donors Trust Donated a Total of $745,000 to Judicial Education Project, which Wrote an Amicus Brief in Favor of Restricting Contraceptive Coverage in the Hobby Lobby Supreme Court Case. According to Source Watch, Donors Trust donated a total of $745,000 to Judicial Education Project. The Judicial Education Project filed an Amicus Brief in favor of the plaintiffs challenging the ACA’s contraceptive mandate. [Donors Trust Grant Recipients, Source Watch, accessed 8/19/14; Judicial Education Project, Amicus Brief, accessed 8/19/14]

    Donated a Total of $12,500 to Tim Pawlenty. The National Review dubbed Pawlenty as the “Strongest Pro-Life Candidate in 2012.” The article cites several bills that Pawlenty signed into law as Governor of Minnesota, including the Woman’s Right to Know Act, giving women information about abortion risks and alternatives, and the Unborn Child Pain Prevention Act which gives women information about pain fetuses “feel” during an abortion. Pawlenty designated April as “Abortion Recovery Month” in Minnesota. This declaration urges agencies in the state to help women who are suffering problems following their abortions, “recognizing the massive national post-abortion movement, which features millions of women who regret their abortions…” [National Review, 3/29/11]

    Donated a Total of $15,600 to Bobby Schilling in August 2013. Bobby Schilling is a Republican running for U.S. House in Illinois’ 17th Congressional District. He has been endorsed by Campaign for Working Families and received a 100% rating on the 2011-2012 National Right to Life Committee Position scorecard. According to his campaign website, “Bobby is pro-life, and he supports common sense, reasonable restrictions on abortion. The most basic rule of law tells us that it is wrong for one person to take the life of another person, no matter their stage in life. In 2011, Bobby voted for the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act. He also supports the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, a bill that would limit abortions after 20 weeks.” [Project Vote Smart, Interest Group Ratings, accessed 8/11/14; Bobby Schilling for Congress, Issues, accessed 8/11/14]

    Donated $12,500 to Jon Huntsman in July 2011. The Salt Lake Tribune reported in August 2011 that, “Already on record as an abortion foe, the former Utah governor favors amending the U.S. Constitution to overturn the Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade and outlaw abortion. ‘Governor Huntsman supports a federal amendment that would ensure legal protections for the unborn,’ said Huntsman spokesman Tim Miller. ‘He’s proud of his record in Utah and will continue to advocate for life on a national level.’” [Salt Lake Tribune, 8/23/11]

    Donated a Total of $20,600 to David McSweeney. According to McSweeney’s campaign website, he was endorsed by four pro-life organizations: the Illinois Federation for Right to Life, the Illinois Citizens for Life, the Lake County Life PAC, and the Pro-Life Victory PAC of Right to Life of McHenry County. In an interview, McSweeney claimed that he supported a Human Life Amendment to the Constitution and did not support a rape, incest, or health of the mother exception. [David McSweeney for State Representative, 1/18/12; David McSweeney Interview, accessed 8/12/14]

    Donated a Total of $15,900 to John D. Anthony. John D. Anthony was a sponsor for HB 5463 Abortion Law-Informed Consent. This bill would require a 24-hour “informed consent” period where a woman who seeks an abortion has to have an ultrasound and heartbeat detected. The bill is designed to shame and coerce a woman to not have an abortion. [Illinois General Assembly, Bill Status HB 5463, accessed 8/13/14]

They didn’t mention several others, including state Sen. Darin LaHood, Rep. Dwight Kay, Chris Nybo, etc., etc., etc.

The Quinnsters are also pointing to a video of Rauner saying “Bill Brady lost last time and I can’t tell you how upset I was, I helped him raise millions of dollars. I was very upset.” Brady, of course, is pro-life.

*** UPDATE *** Rauner campaign…

“This is ridiculous coming from a governor who just rolled his female cancer-fighting transportation secretary for illegal patronage hiring his office directed.” - Rauner Spokesperson Lyndsey Walters

Ouch.

They also want you to see this Mark Kirk quote

- Posted by Rich Miller   77 Comments      


How did nobody notice this?

Tuesday, Aug 26, 2014

* There was a time when newspapers had reporters in all the courts buildings. But this very significant ruling last Thursday didn’t get noticed until late yesterday afternoon

Cook County’s internal government watchdog recently won a round in his legal battle for authority to probe the offices of all countywide elected officials, but Assessor Joseph Berrios continues to challenge Inspector General Patrick Blanchard on the issue.

Circuit Court Judge Franklin Valderrama last Thursday ruled Berrios must comply with a Blanchard subpoena of documents relating to an assessor’s office employee who allegedly received a homeowner’s tax exemption to which he was not entitled. Berrios, who is represented by the state’s attorney’s office, intends to appeal, according to a news release issued by Blanchard.

Berrios resisted the initial subpoena, issued in August 2012, saying he was not required to comply as a separately elected countywide official. After months of legal wrangling, in June 2013 Blanchard sued to force Berrios to comply and get a declaration that countywide elected officials are subject to his subpoenas.

Valderrama concluded that Blanchard, whose office was created by the separately elected County Board and president, does have the authority to probe fraud and mismanagement in all of county government. “The IG ordinance requires the assessor, like every other county officer, to cooperate with and comply with the IG,” Valderrama stated in his ruling.

* Perhaps this chart from a couple of years ago could explain it…

* But, heck, even Berrios didn’t know

[Valderrama] suggested that both state and county officials could conduct investigations. Furthermore, he wrote that if lawmakers want to bar Blanchard from investigating officeholders such as Berrios, they need to pass a law specifically limiting his authority.

Reached Monday, Berrios said he was unaware of the court’s ruling. But he expects his attorney — the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office — to file an appeal.

“The state’s attorney is the one doing the case,” Berrios said. “They are the ones pursuing this, and they’re the ones telling me what to do.”

Weird.

- Posted by Rich Miller   18 Comments      


Over a million bucks so far spent against Schneider

Tuesday, Aug 26, 2014

* From Congressman Brad Schneider’s campaign…

FIRST

Karl Rove dumped $640,000 on Chicagoland T.V. to smear Brad’s progressive record.

THEN

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce launched another HALF-MILLION dollar ad blitz against Brad.

NOW

Moments ago, we learned Republican Bob Dold is piling on with an ad buy of his own.

You do the Math.

If we don’t have the resources to fight back against the onslaught of Republican attacks, Democrats could lose the 10th district for a decade.

There’s nothing on Dold’s YouTube page yet, and we’ve already discussed the US Chamber ad, but Rove finally posted his anti-Schneider ad

Rate it.

- Posted by Rich Miller   15 Comments      


Today’s numbers

Tuesday, Aug 26, 2014

* As you’ll recall, Gov. Pat Quinn’s intense and high-tech social media efforts were chronicled by the Sun-Times the other day. But how do the numbers stack up? Check out the Facebook stats…

* Quinn for Illinois: 6,114 likes

* Bruce Rauner: 34,479 likes

Oof.

There’s plenty the campaign can do with Facebook users who are not Quinn “likers,” but, man, they’re doing a horrible job of attracting people to their page.

* Let’s put that into some context…

* Dick Durbin for US Senate: 31,072 likes

* Jim Oberweis: 15,355 likes

* Frerichs for Illinois: 3,004 likes

* Tom Cross: 4,108 likes

* Sheila Simon: 2,550 likes

* Judy Baar Topinka: 3,739 likes

* I’ve been running behind all morning (lots of stuff in this morning’s Capitol Fax and it took me forever to write it), and I wanted to get this posted quickly, so I just compared Quinn and Rauner on Twitter…

* Quinn for Illinois: 2,399 followers

* Bruce Rauner: 11,900 followers

* Capitol Fax: 10,300 followers

* Related…

* The 2014 digital ad juggernaut: A leading ad research firm recently estimated that more than $270 million will be spent across the country this cycle on digital campaign efforts — an 1,825 percent increase from 2010, when the first generation of tablet computers was just hitting the market.

- Posted by Rich Miller   60 Comments      


Protected: SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Supplement to today’s edition

Tuesday, Aug 26, 2014

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- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      


Protected: SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Today’s edition of Capitol Fax

Tuesday, Aug 26, 2014

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« NEWER POSTS PREVIOUS POSTS »
* Reporters actually take Skillicorn seriously - Was home on Monday - Warns of increasing hospitalizations in Wisconsin - Says USDOJ is "very much under the political thumb of the White House" - Next EO will continue eviction ban - Number of people with multiple tests "very small" - Asked about southern Illinois winery's refusal to require staff to wear masks - Dr. Ezike doesn't answer question about self quarantine for Illinoisans at Lake of the Ozarks - Repeats that legislature "abdicated their responsibility" on replacing his withdrawn IDPH rule - Will sign cocktail takeout bill when it reaches his desk - Dr. Ezike: "I can't give anybody a COVID free pass" - Says legislature should've made more cuts - State will carry on if Pres. Trump cuts off National Guard - "No deal" on cannabis with his office
* 1,178 new cases, 39 additional deaths - But Dr. Ezike warns that weekend numbers are typically "a little bit lower"
* With strong union backing, penalty enhancement bill soars through General Assembly
* Question of the day
* COVID-19 roundup
* Before you get a haircut next week, consider this
* Budget roundup
* *** UPDATED x1 *** New Senate rule allows remote committees, limited remote floor voting
* ISP: "We’re between a rock and hard place"
* Stay Safe Today, Be Vigilant For Tomorrow
* Our Democracy Is Too Important, The Fight Continues
* Always zoom out on crowds
* *** UPDATED x1 *** I've changed my mind about remote legislating
* Open thread
* SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Today's edition of Capitol Fax (use all CAPS in password)
* *** LIVE COVERAGE ***
* SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Budget and BIMP stuff (Updated with this week's password)
* Pritzker unveils business guidance; takes questions on budget, legislature, EO
* Senate President Don Harmon talks to reporters
* Madigan's closing statement
* Yesterday's stories

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