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Thursday, Aug 27, 2015

* Sun-Times

Gov. Bruce Rauner’s administration is considering a second contract extension of high-priced budget consultant Donna Arduin, even as the state is rounding out its second month of the fiscal year with no budget in place. […]

After roughly eight months and about $165,000, Arduin’s contract may be extended again, according to the Rauner administration.

…Adding… Finke

The administration confirmed Thursday that Arduin’s contract is “under review” for a possible second extension.

Reuters is also reporting this.

- Posted by Rich Miller   82 Comments      


Question of the day

Thursday, Aug 27, 2015

* From the twitters…


* The Question: Caption?

- Posted by Rich Miller   95 Comments      


Stating the obvious

Thursday, Aug 27, 2015

* Fred Giertz doesn’t buy into claims by some that a “dysfunctional” General Assembly passed a pension reform bill a couple years back

Is not the approval of a poorly targeted bill that likely was unconstitutional and that entailed a substantial political cost a prima facie case for dysfunctionality?

There is another explanation why intelligent and calculating legislators would engage in this futile effort. Politicians have notoriously short-time horizons. The failed pension-reform process bought the governor and General Assembly time. It allowed them to kick the can down the road with a degree of political cover. From the passage of the bill in December 2013 to the time it was ruled unconstitutional in May 2015, politicians could assert they were dealing with pension problems. This was useful in navigating the 2014 elections.

In addition, the failed pension bill provided politicians with a response to criticism from the Chicago Tribune and the Civic Committee of the Commercial Club of Chicago who advocated reforms similar to those in Senate Bill 1. Politicians can argue they tried to implement the proposed reforms and failed through no fault of their own.

Well, yeah. I figured everybody already knew that.

- Posted by Rich Miller   26 Comments      


Oy

Thursday, Aug 27, 2015

* Ugh.

- Posted by Rich Miller   58 Comments      


US Chamber plots Zopp support, 10th CD intervention

Thursday, Aug 27, 2015

* OK, well, this explains some things.

AP

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is weighing a major role in Democratic primaries in key congressional races nationally, which could produce weakened nominees who would be more easily defeated by Republicans, according to an internal memo obtained on Thursday by the Associated Press.

The unorthodox strategy could heighten Democratic upheaval in states like Florida and Pennsylvania where the party is struggling to unite around a nominee as it fights to retake the Senate — and that appears to be precisely the Chamber’s goal. It comes as the business lobby has already begun spending aggressively on behalf of select Senate Republicans more than a year before the 2016 elections, where the GOP is fighting to hang onto its newly won majority. […]

The memo was written by the Chamber’s top two political officials, Rob Engstrom and Scott Reed, to members of the Chamber’s Public Affairs Committee, a group of about 35 business leaders and others who will meet in the fall to discuss political strategy and spending for the upcoming elections.

A senior strategist with knowledge of the deliberations confirmed that the intent of the memo was to encourage involvement in the Democratic primaries, including possible spending on television ads. A weakened Democratic nominee in a state like Florida or Illinois could make the general election more winnable for the Republican presidential candidate in 2016 and require Democratic expenditures that could cut into the party’s budget elsewhere.

* More

In Illinois, for example, Sen. Mark Kirk (R) appears to be quite vulnerable to a challenge from Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D). Under the Chamber’s plan, the group would intervene in support of Duckworth’s Democratic rival, former Chicago Urban League leader Andrea Zopp, assuming that Kirk, who trails Duckworth in statewide polls, would face a far easier race against Zopp. […]

It’s basic, old fashioned electoral mischief. The Chamber wouldn’t support candidates like Zopp and Sittenfeld because the group agrees with them; it would support these candidates because the lobbying organization sees them as easy to beat.

There is, of course, the very real possibility that Democratic primary voters will see through the charade. It’s also possible that folks like Zopp and Sittenfeld wouldn’t be quite as weak as conservatives assume.

The Illinois GOP has been pushing Zopp’s candidacy for months. Now, we may know why. There could be bigtime Chamber money coming into that primary race via independent expenditures.

* Also

On the House side, Republicans are unlikely to lose their large majority but the Chamber seems determined to keep it that way. The memo lists five races where Democrats may not have a clear shot for a nominee to take down a potentially vulnerable Republican incumbent: Bob Dold in Illinois, Bruce Poliquin in Maine, Cresent Hardy in Nevada, Mike Coffman in Colorado and Martha McSally in Arizona.

- Posted by Rich Miller   29 Comments      


Today’s quotable

Thursday, Aug 27, 2015

* Bloomberg

“We’re all a bunch of idiots,” said Representative Jack Franks, a Democrat from the northern Illinois town of Woodstock.

“Just because Bruce Rauner says ‘Republicans need to do this,’ and Speaker Madigan says ‘Democrats need to do that,’ doesn’t mean we have to listen to them,” Franks said.

Yet Republicans line up behind Rauner, who insists on labor, tax and regulatory changes, and Democrats follow Madigan, who says the budget must be passed and revenue raised. There is no hint of a break in the impasse. Bondholders get paid, although many state vendors are getting stiffed to the tune of at least $3.5 billion.

- Posted by Rich Miller   42 Comments      


A $650 Million Day for Exelon

Thursday, Aug 27, 2015

[The following is a paid advertisement.]

 The 2018-2019 PJM Capacity Auction Cleared far higher than analysts expected resulting in as much as $650 million total capacity revenue for Exelon.  Here are the highlights:

  • $400 Million in ADDITIONAL REVENUE for Exelon – Exelon received a HUGE windfall.  According to the Chicago Tribune, Exelon will receive “roughly $400 million in additional revenue” over the previous year. Exelon VP Joe Dominquez characterized this massive cash bonanza as “a marginal improvement…”
  • Byron Cleared the Auction – Will Run Through At Least May 2019 – Byron is now obligated to run until May 31, 2019.  According to Crain’s, Byron, which Exelon characterized as troubled just weeks ago, now “…stands to reap profits of around $26 million even if future energy prices remain this low.”
  • Had Quad Cities Cleared, It Could Have Made More Than $100 Million – Had Exelon bid at the level they did in the 2016-2017 auction, Quad Cities would have likely received upwards of $100 million in revenue for that year.

 BUT THAT’S NOT ALL:

  • Additional Auction Revenues Coming – On August 31 and September 9th, PJM will announce the results of two additional auctions which are expected to generate hundreds of millions in additional revenue beginning June 2016. 

 As social service providers are being decimated and legislators are forced to make increasingly painful choices, it’s time for Exelon to stop asking policy makers for $1.6 billion from struggling ratepayers.  Enough is enough. 

Just Say “NO” to the Exelon Bailout

 BEST Coalition is a 501C4 nonprofit group of dozens of business, consumer and government groups, as well as large and small businesses.  Visit www.noexelonbailout.com.

 

- Posted by Advertising Department   Comments Off      


Potential candidate: Unions “spreading propaganda” about Rauner

Thursday, Aug 27, 2015

* Bernie

Sangamon County Board member TOM MADONIA JR., R-District 9, is considering a run for state representative in the 96th House District, where Rep. SUE SCHERER, D-Decatur, is now in office.

Madonia, 44, is son of late Springfield Ward 1 Ald. TOM MADONIA, who died in 2002, and nephew of WFMB-AM 1450 talk-show host SAM MADONIA. He was unopposed when he won his county board seat in 2014 but was also campaign manager for Ward 1 Ald. CHUCK REDPATH earlier this year. […]

Why take on Scherer?

“I don’t like to get into name-calling or anything, but a person like Sue Scherer who’s kind of beholden to (House Speaker) MICHAEL MADIGAN, I’m not a big fan of that,” Madonia said.

OK, he probably can’t win, but so far so good.

* And then

He said he hadn’t talked to Gov. BRUCE RAUNER’s political team, but he is a union member and talk that Rauner wants to “ruin unions” is just “the union spreading their propaganda.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   32 Comments      


Illinois Mayors Know What’s Best For Their Communities

Thursday, Aug 27, 2015

[The following is a paid advertisement.]

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In response to the BEST Coalition’s baseless attacks on Illinois communities and middle class families, current and former mayors from the communities of Minooka, Mount Morris, Braceville, Farmer City, Morris, Byron, Cordova, Wilmington, Clinton, Braidwood, Fulton and Seneca have said:

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    “This organization is funded by companies that stand to profit financially from the closure of Illinois’ nuclear energy plants. The state of Illinois faces serious challenges that require serious solutions and cannot afford to let the greed of special interest groups undermine real policy solutions for Illinois.”

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- Posted by Advertising Department   Comments Off      


First Lady’s group blasts Gov. Rauner for “devastating policies”

Thursday, Aug 27, 2015

* Oof


Hat tip: MrJM.

…Adding… As correctly noted by a commenter, the last person who called Gov. Rauner’s CCAP rule change “devastating” was moved out of her position in the administration and ended up retiring.

- Posted by Rich Miller   63 Comments      


McCann: I was elected to serve my constituents, not Madigan, Cullerton or Rauner

Thursday, Aug 27, 2015

* Republican state Sen. Sam McCann…

Dear Friends,

Last week I had to take a somewhat controversial vote. Governor Bruce Rauner had vetoed a piece of legislation that would have changed how an impasse is handled in state employee pay negotiations. This bill would prevent state employees from going on strike or being locked out, and it would put the ultimate decision on a new contract in the hands of arbitrators.

This wasn’t a perfect bill, though very few truly are, and the situation we find ourselves in is historic. I also don’t particularly care for the vote was rescheduled. That part should have been handled differently by Senate leadership.

But how the vote was handled is a separate question from whether the motion deserved a “yay” or a “nay” vote. In recent days and weeks, I have had more calls, emails, Facebook messages, and face-to-face comments on this vote than nearly any other in my time in the Senate. Of all those thousands of points of contact, an overwhelming number asked me to vote in favor of the motion to override, as I did.

Regardless of the circumstances, I am sent here to vote for the residents of the 50th District, and they made it very clear how I should vote. The number one complaint that I glean from conversations with constituents is that they believe that elected officials don’t hear them. They believe that no one holding elected office really hears or cares about their concerns. Well, I heard my constituents loudly and clearly. These constituents spoke with both clarity and volume. And I did what I have always promised to do: to listen to my constituents and to speak and vote accordingly – and that is exactly what I did.

I am certainly not happy with the current budget process, nor the hyper-partisan stalemate in our Capitol. I think it’s an absolute tragedy that state employees are being used as political pawns in this process. These are taxpayers who earn a living by operating our state government. I have more state employees in my Senate District than any other. I was elected to serve my constituents, not Speaker Madigan, Senate President Cullerton or Governor Rauner. This district said loudly and clearly that they wanted me to vote in favor of the override, and so I did just that.

If you have any questions, or if you need assistance with anything, please don’t hesitate to contact my Capitol office at 217-782-xxxx.

Sincerely,

State Senator Sam McCann

- Posted by Rich Miller   89 Comments      


Arduin heads for the exit door

Thursday, Aug 27, 2015

* Erickson with the scoop

She came to Illinois touted as a “superstar,” ready to provide a roadmap to fix the state’s budget mess using her high-profile experience working for other Republican governors.

On Friday, however, Donna Arduin’s contract as Gov. Bruce Rauner’s budget guru expires while the state budget remains unfinished and mired in a divisive political fight.

Despite the lack of a spending plan two months into the state’s fiscal year, Rauner’s office is praising the controversial adviser as she heads back home to her job as a GOP consultant-for-hire. […]

State Rep. Greg Harris, a Chicago Democrat who chairs a House appropriations committee, said he met with Arduin once and found the two agreed on little.

“If you look at what she did in other states, she recommended Draconian cuts, balancing the budget by cutting higher education and social services. It’s not a surprise that she tried to do that here. It’s been pretty consistent,” Harris said.

Arduin also helped train budget office employees and helped draft budget reforms, which also have been heavily criticized by Democrats because they will reduce state aid to the elderly, poor and disabled.

- Posted by Rich Miller   77 Comments      


Today’s number: 1.1 percent

Thursday, Aug 27, 2015

* From the Tribune

Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s school board on Wednesday unanimously approved a budget that relies heavily on borrowed money and the hope of a nearly $500 million bailout from a stalemated Springfield, with the specter of disruptive cuts in January if that help fails to materialize.

The $5.7 billion spending plan contains another property tax hike — an estimated $19-a-year increase for the owner of a $250,000 home — as well as teacher and staff layoffs. The Chicago Board of Education also prepared to go to Wall Street to issue $1 billion in bonds and agreed to spend $475,000 so an accounting firm can monitor a cash flow problem so acute that Chicago Public Schools mulled skipping a massive teacher pension payment at the end of June. […]

Expenses in the operating budget are projected to be about $64 million lower compared to last year, CPS officials said. Earlier this year, the district said it was making $200 million in budget cuts that included the elimination of about 1,400 jobs.

To explain both our headline and the added emphasis, that $64 million reduction is just 1.123 percent of a $5.7 billion spending plan.

Not much of a cut, if you ask me, and certainly not enough to win any respect at the Statehouse.

- Posted by Rich Miller   16 Comments      


Dealing with Pat Quinn’s mess

Thursday, Aug 27, 2015

* Sun-Times

Tim McCarthy, the chief of the southwest suburban Orland Park Police Department, said he formed a 12-officer Crisis Intervention Team about a year ago and will add five officers to the team in October.

The closing of the Tinley Park Mental Health Center in 2012 by former Gov. Pat Quinn has led to a spike in emergency calls about people with mental illness, he said. In 2014, his department was involved in 160 involuntary committals of people for mental health treatment, up from only four in 2011.

“That tells me the mental health system is failing,” he said in an interview. “Sheriff Dart is calling on restoring more funding to the state budget to support mental health, and we would totally agree.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   43 Comments      


Today’s must-read

Thursday, Aug 27, 2015

* Peter Nickeas, overnight reporter for the Chicago Tribune, posted this on Facebook yesterday. There is a bit of profanity, but it’s definitely worth your time

The difference between the shooting this morning in Virginia and every other act of gun violence is that the internet had to see the fear on a woman’s face as she realized she was about to die.

There is a regularity to violence in urban areas. Today everyone saw what violence looks like, except the victims are usually a little younger and have darker skin. It’s not often on tape so the reaction isn’t so visceral. This is what violence feels like to people who see it happen, we can now all say, because we’ve all seen it happen.

In Chicago alone, it happens more than 2,000 times each year. Go to a crime scene and ask kids if they have seen someone shot. And the answer will be, “well, the first time …” What the Internet is going through right now is almost a rite of passage for kids in urban areas.

So for everyone sitting at work saying, “man, that video messed me up,” well, yea. It should mess you up. It’s a disgusting thing to watch. For everyone who says “I can’t even” or “I need to disengage today,” those are normal reactions to exposure to violence. Seek help if seeing people get hurt doesn’t bother you.

And, the emotional me wants to grab people by their collars and drag them to a crime scene so they can see the ghostly faces of people who saw it happen lingering around waiting for detectives, or the anger behind someone’s eyes while they sit there staring at the body.

Go read the whole thing.

- Posted by Rich Miller   70 Comments      


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Thursday, Aug 27, 2015

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« NEWER POSTS PREVIOUS POSTS »
* Reader comments closed until Tuesday
* *** UPDATED x1 *** Tribune asked 16 mayoral candidates to release tax returns, 6 complied
* A rough idea of what they're looking at
* Question of the day: Golden Horseshoe Awards
* Rauner was wrong about "record levels" of unionization
* SUBSCRIBERS ONLY: Stava-Murray updates
* Pritzker's inauguration ball tix will benefit Cabrini Green Legal Aid Clinic and Illinois Fairgrounds Foundation
* Rauner claims he's been too busy to reflect on his term
* Pritzker's day in DC
* *** UPDATED x3 - Morrison wants emergency meeting of ILGOP - McConnaughay explains - Schneider responds *** Rauner says he tried to drop out of race after primary
* Feds re-raid Ald. Burke's office
* *** LIVE COVERAGE ***
* Yesterday's stories

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