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Friday, Dec 19, 2014

* We’ll be back Monday and maybe Tuesday, depending on blog traffic. But before we go, let’s hand out some awards.

* The 2014 Golden Horseshoe Award for Best Statehouse Insider goes to Nancy Kimme

This year, in the wake of JBT, it’s hard not to honor Nancy Kimme. As Knome said, it’s her year.

But I agree with others that Tom Cullen should win this year. 1) he doesn’t want it. 2) he supports Nancy’s nomination. 3) this is about insider’s insiders, like OW said.

Tom treats staff, both Democrats and Republicans as equals. Not just because he comes from their ranks, but because it’s the right thing to do and that’s how he is. While Tom doesn’t like to lose, he does play the game with honor, integrity, passion and fairness.

Any other year, Tom would have run away with this. But, like elections, trying times define who we are and JBT’s passing put Nancy in the spotlight, where we can now learn more about the great work she does, the respect she commands, and overall love that is felt for her and high esteem people have of her.

In conclusion, I nominate Nancy Kimme because she deserves it and, like Tom, doesn’t want the attention!

Tom Cullen wins runner-up.

* The 2014 Steve Brown Golden Horseshoe Award for Best Government/Campaign Spokesperson goes to Dave Clarkin

It’s easy to be a spokesperson for another when the road is paved and the lines are there to follow. You measure a good Spokesperson when that vehicle seems to miss the paved road and the Principle needs to find their way.

Dave Clarkin added a much needed voice, a consistently sound voice that guided his Principle during a time of great uncertainty. The tone and tenor of the last 3 months of the campaign, and the days following Election Day, Dave Clarkin was instrumental in trying to keep things toned down, while at the same time continually cheerleading, but with great care and skill not to seem too brash.

I nominate Dave Clarkin for the Steve Brown Golden Horseshoe Award for Best Government/Campaign Spokesperson for the solid service rendered during a time that being a spokesperson was as important as the history playing out. Yeoman work.

The Frerichs campaign seemed to turn around when Clarkin finally arrived.

* And now it’s time to hand out the 2014 Wordslinger Golden Horseshoe Award for Best CapitolFax.com Commenter. Past winner Steve Schnorf (and several others) nominated Soccermom…

Speaks truth in such an entertaining way. Smarts, witty not too partisan, progressive without being elitist. I’m smitten, as are so many others

Past winner Oswego Willy (along with several others) nominated MrJM…

This was a year of intensity and overload. If we weren’t fact checking, we were waiting for point/counter point from governmental bodies to campaigns. There was plenty going on, and this place was place to find out.

- MrJM - was consistently on top of his game. While it seemed discussions would focus down to the tenses of verbs, - MrJM - had an uncanny knack to infuse his thoughts, many times ridiculously funny thoughts, to give a clearer ironic look at the happenings of the day.

Do yoursrlf a solid, just check out his Twitter. Hysterical. It’s like reading a supplement to his comments here, and his pithy remarks there are as interesting as they are here. There have been way too many times I laughed at the absurdity I missed and he pointed out, as only he could.

Thanks - MrJM -, I nominate you for keeping a sharply cynical view that is delivered with such comedy and style.

Linus summed it up for me…

I’d like to split my vote, and second these nominations for king and queen of the commenting prom:

– MrJM, for the reasons Precinct Captain and others have stated so well. Many are the mornings I’ve guffawed heartily into my coffee mug over his pithy posts.

– Soccermom, for her respectful opinions and the well-balanced way she shares them.

So, it’s a tie yet again: Soccermom and MrJM. Congrats to both worthy winners!

* For Baar

So let’s set the world on fire

- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      


No pension bump for Stermer, MJM still not persuaded on special session

Friday, Dec 19, 2014

* Reporters (as well as several commenters) have asked what impact this appointment of Jerry Stermer to comptroller will have on Stermer’s pension. His pay will go up about ten grand a year and he could be eligible to move over to the General Assembly Retirement System, which has a better benefit package than his current SERS deal.

Well, Stermer has always been a class act, and he demonstrated it again this afternoon.

Stermer will not pay into SERS during his three weeks as comptroller and will not seek to move over to GARS.

Good for him.

The haters are gonna have to find something else to complain about.

…Adding… As a commenter pointed out earlier, moving into GARS wouldn’t have meant much anyway…

If Mr. Stermer would qualify for a GARS pension (see 40 ILCS 5/2-105 for service requirements), for the first four years of GARS-eligible service, the pension is set at 3% of the office holder’s final salary for each year of service (https://www.srs.illinois.gov/GARS/retireben_gars.htm). With 24 days of service as Comptroller, his total benefit would be 24/365ths of 3% or 0.1973% of his final salary. Assuming that Mr. Stermer receives the same salary as the late Comptroller Topinka ($135,669.70), the most that this service could increase his pension (and it is not completely clear that it would) is $267.62 per year.

With that extra $21 per month, Mr. Stermer will finally be able to upgrade from basic cable.

* Also, I talked to Speaker Michael Madigan’s spokesman Steve Brown today about the Stermer appointment. The Speaker had asked for a bipartisan agreement with the “executive department.” Bruce Rauner’s statement about Stermer’s new job surely qualified as such…

“Appointing a temporary placeholder and keeping Judy Baar Topinka’s staff in place is an appropriate decision and will ensure continuity of services for the people of Illinois – for that I thank the governor. I know Jerry Stermer will be well served by Nancy Kimme and the team in the comptroller’s office.”

In light of that “executive department” agreement, I asked, does the Speaker have any new thoughts about a special session for a special election? Brown said his previous answer would be the same unless he hears otherwise and didn’t hold out much hope for that, claiming that a special session could possibly be dealt with in the spring session.

- Posted by Rich Miller   25 Comments      


Protected: SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - More comptroller stuff

Friday, Dec 19, 2014

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- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      


1:30 comptroller announcement expected - Stermer appointed, says he will resign January 12th

Friday, Dec 19, 2014

* We’ll know soon…

GOVERNOR’S PUBLIC SCHEDULE
**Friday, December 19, 2014**

CHICAGO – Governor Pat Quinn will appoint a Comptroller for the state of Illinois.

WHEN: 1:30 p.m.

WHERE: James R. Thompson Center
15th Floor – Blue Room
100 W. Randolph St.
Chicago, 60601

* A live video feed is here. Internet service can be sketchy from the Blue Room, so hopefully this ScribbleLive feed will work

- Posted by Rich Miller   99 Comments      


Protected: SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Comptroller stuff

Friday, Dec 19, 2014

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- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      


Golden Horseshoe Awards

Friday, Dec 19, 2014

* Our final category, with last year’s winners in parentheses…

* The 2014 Wordslinger Golden Horseshoe Award for Best CapitolFax.com Commenter (RNUG and 47th Ward)

As always, please make sure to explain your vote or it won’t count.

- Posted by Rich Miller   59 Comments      


Bears open thread

Friday, Dec 19, 2014

* In my opinion, Jay Cutler isn’t the only one who should go. The entire Bears management ought to be fired and the Halas family ought to sell the team to somebody who knows what the heck they’re doing.

Discuss.

- Posted by Rich Miller   82 Comments      


More adventures in misgovernance

Friday, Dec 19, 2014

* AP

llinois’ child-welfare agency cannot properly account for thousands of runaway or otherwise missing foster care children, is sloppy about keeping track of when they disappear, and can rarely show that proper authorities are contacted when necessary, a report by Auditor General William Holland released Thursday found.

The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services does not keep track of how many children disappear in a given year or the locations from which they vanish, the audit found.

The agency reports that, during the 2011 and 2012 audit period, an estimated 2,800 to 3,100 foster children, or state wards, disappeared in 26,500 to 29,200 separate incidents.

The agency did not differentiate between those who had run away and those whose whereabouts caregivers did not immediately know. Of 29,000 incidents, 61 were reported as abductions, while the audit found 40 of those had been wrongly classified.

Holland noted that DCFS procedures emphasize “timely action to reduce risks to missing wards.”

The full report is here.

* From a House GOP press release…

Deputy House Minority Leader Patti Bellock (R-Hinsdale), the Republican Spokesperson on the Human Services Appropriations Committee, responded to the audit’s findings and called upon lawmakers and DCFS officials to take appropriate action.

“There should be no higher priority for DCFS than ensuring the safety and welfare of children in the state’s care,” Bellock said. “These audit findings underscore the agency’s failure to meet that most basic necessity and how the lives of literally thousands of young people have been jeopardized as a result. Reforms are urgently needed to fix the broken system of reporting and locating missing kids. DCFS officials need to demonstrate what actions they’re taking to correct this tragedy and the General Assembly must be prepared to respond as needed to find and protect these kids.”

The House Human Services Committee is scheduled to meet in Chicago on January 7 to receive testimony regarding documented abuse at DCFS residential facilities. The Auditor General’s report on missing wards is also likely to be a subject of discussion for proposed reforms throughout the DCFS system.

- Posted by Rich Miller   28 Comments      


Question of the day - Golden Horseshoe Awards

Friday, Dec 19, 2014

* The 2014 Golden Horseshoe Award for Best Contract Lobbyist goes to the late Bill Luking

He completed the 2014 session and did more in those 5 months than most of us get done in our careers. Finishing the session totally makes him eligible for this nom. He left us all too soon, but there’s no comparing to him. When you have information readily in your mind like Google, there’s no rival. He was admired, treated everyone like his best friend. And was always willing to teach the technical aspects of this craft in addition to the social musts. Unforgettable.

Nobody deserves it more than Bill.

* The 2014 Golden Horseshoe Award for Best In-House Lobbyist goes to Derek Blaida

He worked relentlessly regardless of whether those employing him listened to his sage advice or not. He is respectful of everyone inside and outside of the Capitol community and conducts himself in the right way. There was not a more honorable or gracious In-House lobbyist this year given what Derek had to deal with. He deserves recognition not only for his efforts but for his good heart in a business that sometimes is lacking in that department.

* On to this morning’s categories, with last year’s winners in parentheses…

* The Mike McClain Golden Horseshoe Award for Best Statehouse Insider (Dave Vite)

* The Steve Brown Golden Horseshoe Award for Best Government/Campaign Spokesperson (Patti Thompson)

Make sure to explain your vote, please, and nominate in both categories. Thanks.

- Posted by Rich Miller   19 Comments      


Petulance all around

Friday, Dec 19, 2014

* It’s been my observation over the years that whenever somebody opposes a special session topic, they almost always bring up the cost of a special session. Ergo, today’s Chicago Tribune editorial

It’s ridiculous for Quinn to call a special session, to haul the lawmakers to Springfield at an expected cost of $50,000.

Notice, however, no mention of the cost of the last special session in 2013, which was about pension reform, an issue the Tribune supported

Quinn has called a special session of the legislature for June 19 to deal with pensions. The governor met Tuesday with House Republican leader Tom Cross and Senate GOP leader Christine Radogno, still searching for ideas. Quinn, at least, is keeping the conversation moving.

* And the same editorial page that demanded a special election to replace US Sen. Barack Obama after the 2008 election has now concocted a kinda weird “solution” to the Topinka replacement

Rauner could defuse this by appointing a comptroller who agrees to resign in two years. He should encourage the legislature to put a referendum proposal on the 2016 ballot for a constitutional amendment to combine the offices of comptroller and treasurer. If voters approve that — we’re sure they would — then Rauner could extend the appointment of the comptroller for the time needed to shut down the office.

How is that any different than appointing someone to a four-year term?

Bizarre logic there, Tribsters.

* And speaking of 2008, remember this?

IL GOP LEADERS CONTINUE TO URGE SPECIAL ELECTION

In a letter today, IL GOP leaders pled with Barack Obama, Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell to influence the U.S. Senate seat by filled by special election, a procedure the Illinois House and Senate would need to send to the Governor for his signature. The Governor said when appointing Roland Burris that he was in support of a special election. Democrats in neither the Democrat-controlled House nor Senate would allow the special election measure to be voted upon, despite both chambers being called into special session to discuss a special election two weeks ago.

The letter from Congressman Shimkus, House Minority Leader Tom Cross, Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno, IL GOP Chairman Andy McKenna and IL GOP County Chairman Randy Pollard reads as follows:

* Look, as I’ve made clear, I think this special session is a waste of time because House Speaker Michael Madigan has said he wants Quinn and Rauner to work out a compromise. I’m also an agnostic on a special election. I can see both sides of this issue.

And I most certainly agree with this section of today’s Tribune editorial

Quinn has been nothing but petulant since he lost his re-election. He stalled on conceding to Rauner. He slipped his campaign manager into a plum state job with a two-year term. He signed onto a questionable Lottery contract that locks in the new governor.

His Department of Transportation continues to pursue construction of the massively expensive Illiana Expressway, even though Rauner may opt to drop the project. Residents living along the expressway path received letters this week notifying them that appraisers will be at their homes during the holidays to set a price to buy them out.

But Quinn isn’t the only one being “petulant” here.

- Posted by Rich Miller   66 Comments      


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