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Friday, Sep 25, 2015

* I’ve had kind of a tough week personally. I started cardio training on Monday and it just about completely wore me out. Today was a blast, though. The workout went really well, we had some fun pieces on the site and for the first time since my surgery I am feeling like myself again.

Sorry to close comments so early, but my dad is in town and we’ve both entered our Cadillacs in this weekend’s International Route 66 Mother Road Festival, so come see us if you’re around.

The person this is meant for will know why

I am the driver at the wheel of the horror
Marching circles at the gate
Mine eyes have seen the fury
So flattered by fate

- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      


Exelon Just Received A $1.7 Billion Rate Increase Through The “Market-Based” Capacity Auction

Friday, Sep 25, 2015

[The following is a paid advertisement.]

 The final results are in and as many analysts have noted, “Exelon was the big winner in this year’s [PJM grid capacity} auction.”  Here are the highlights:

  • $1.7 BILLION RATE INCREASE FOR EXELON – Exelon engineered the new rules to increase their profits. Their $1.7 BILLION reward will be paid for by struggling Illinois ratepayers.

 

  • Byron and Quad Cities Both Cleared the Auction and are Obligated to Run Well into the Future

 Exelon’s Low Carbon Portfolio Standard would have raised $1.6 billion over 5 ½ years for Exelon.  The Capacity markets, under Exelon-pushed rules, earned Exelon $1.7 billion over only three years.

Illinois doesn’t have a balanced budget, service providers are being decimated and real people across Illinois are hurting.  It’s time for Exelon to take their HUGE $1.7 BILLION WINDFALL and stop asking legislators to keep padding their profits. 

Enough is enough!

Just Say “NO” to the Exelon Bailout

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- Posted by Advertising Department   Comments Off      


Question of the day

Friday, Sep 25, 2015

* Chicagoist

Former alderman and mayoral candidate Bob Fioretti is trying to forge a political comeback and running for State Senate, according to a recent filing with the State Board of Elections.

Fioretti, a democrat who ran against Mayor Rahm Emanuel and later surprisingly endorsed him in his runoff against Jesus “Chuy” Garcia”, is planning to run in the West Side’s 5th District, which is currently represented by Sen. Patricia Van Pelt, according to a reception invitation sent out by his campaign. […]

The reception will be at Rosebud Prime on Oct. 6, and tickets to the event run from $5,400 to $175. A representative from Fioretti’s campaign did not immediately have a statement on the filing Friday afternoon.

* From the Twitter archives…


* The Question: Caption?

- Posted by Rich Miller   22 Comments      


Buchen: “You need to understand that when my nose gets bloodied I will break those that bloodied mine”

Friday, Sep 25, 2015

* Finke has a follow up story about Former Illinois State Fair Manager Patrick Buchen

“The politicos downtown never wanted me here,” he said. “Phillip Nelson fought for me very forcefully for my employment.” […]

Buchen said he believes the biggest reason he was being pushed out was he did not want to go along with what he believed were unfair practices.

One dispute centered on naming the grand marshals of the Twilight Parade. Buchen said he and Nelson wanted the Brandt family, owners of Brandt Agriculture Products in Springfield, to be the grand marshals as a way to bring agriculture back to the forefront in the state fair.

Instead, two U.S. Navy commanders, Jessie Porter and Darin Hess of the USS Illinois, were named the grand marshals. Buchen said Robert Alec Messina, Rauner’s policy adviser for environment and energy, insisted on that choice.

Buchen said Messina acted as liaison between the administration and the ag department.

“Alec Messina doesn’t know the difference between a boar and a barrow, and he’s our ag liaison?” Buchen said.

Um, wait. His top beef was the choice of grand marshals? They wanted military people and he wanted some ag products dealer and that’s why he threw down?

Looks might divaesque to me.

* Lance Trover at the governor’s office has responded…

Unfortunately, Mr. Buchen is continuing to demonstrate the same type of erratic behavior he exhibited as a state employee. As the email below shows, Mr. Buchen sometimes had a difficult time appropriately communicating with other state employees and often failed to treat fellow state workers with respect. He damaged morale within the agency and was beginning to create a toxic atmosphere among those who had to work with him.

Janet Dobrinsky was hired before Mr. Buchen was named Fair Director so it is untrue to claim he was forced to hire her.

A small number of Department of Natural Resources employees were provided press passes, as they had been provided in past years. The press passes enabled these employees to fulfill important duties related to the state fair, including putting on Conservation World, which is run by DNR.

    From: Buchen, Patrick
    Sent: Friday, July 10, 2015 12:26 PM
    To: Messina, Alec
    Subject: RE: quick follow-up

    Alec,

    You will learn that I seldom get upset on the spot. I try very hard to digest all and learn all perspectives. I hope that I was communicable enough to show my disappointment and we did talk about the fact that the person chosen did not help our cause at the State Fair. The gentleman is not agriculture, the submarine has not been christened and I was most disappointed in the fact that our recommendation was denied. I am here to bring back and promote agriculture for the Fair and the State of Illinois. If that is not the intent of those who made this decision then I need to go elsewhere. Further, I did not have the chance to discuss the decision with those the denied our choice. I submitted our recommendations for both Fairs. I thought it was out of common courtesy and never dreamed our choice would be denied. You need to understand that when my nose gets bloodied I will break those that bloodied mine. A metaphor of course, but getting mad or upset is unproductive. I get even.

    So you know, the Governor came to the Farmers Market yesterday and I had a nice conversation with him about the fair and this situation. I told him how disappointed I was that our selection was denied, but let him know the agriculture community is very much behind his attempts at correcting State Government. I openly discussed this matter and told him I felt that agriculture received a slap in the back of the head. He was very surprised our choice was not accepted, but I know he cannot be involved with every decision.

    The most important take-away is the fact the you and I are able to communicate about this. I always want to be able to share and I will not hold back when I feel the State Fair has been slighted. This time it has been, but we are taking steps to correct it. We will be having a State Fair Ag Ambassador and we will not be seeking anyone’s approval. Shame on those who denied our request this time, but shame on me if it ever happens again.

    Thanks for reaching out, my wife and I will be upset if you and your family do not take advantage of our hospitality during the Fair.

    Best,

    Patrick Buchen
    Illinois & DuQuoin State Fair Manager
    217-524-4885
    217-299-4659

    From: Messina, Alec
    Sent: Friday, July 10, 2015 10:27 AM
    To: Buchen, Patrick
    Subject: quick follow-up

    Patrick:

    Hope all is well. Thanks again for your time earlier this week.

    I just wanted to follow up quickly with you on one issue: the parade grand marshal. I was on a call with Director Nelson yesterday in which he indicated you were rather upset about the choice to go with the folks from the USS Illinois. I was saddened to learn that, only because I want you to feel comfortable enough with me that you can pick up the phone any time you have a problem and let me know directly. If at any time you feel like I’m inaccessible or uninterested in your opinion, then I’m doing my job poorly. Always know that I’m willing to be pushed back on!

    Talk to you soon! Thanks for all that you do!

    Alec Messina
    Policy Advisor on Environment and Energy
    Office of Governor Bruce Rauner
    207 Statehouse
    Springfield, Illinois 62706

- Posted by Rich Miller   44 Comments      


Oh, for crying out loud

Friday, Sep 25, 2015

* From SEIU Healthcare…

On July 1st, Bruce Rauner unilaterally implemented new “emergency” eligibility requirements to the highly-successful Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) – without public input or legislative debate. Since then, a statewide effort driven by providers, parents, children’s advocates and even First Lady Diana Rauner, has sought to highlight this policy for what it is: Extreme and dangerous.

We knew that thousands of Illinois parents had been forced to quit their jobs or remain unemployed because they no longer qualified for child care assistance. Rauner’s new rules are so extreme that a single parent earning the minimum wage now makes too much to qualify. We’ve now learned that some low-income parents are so desperate to find child care assistance to keep their jobs since Rauner’s cuts that they’ve turned to a new source to care for their kids: Craigslist.

According to NBC News 25, many central Illinois families have nowhere else to turn:

    For many families in central Illinois the only place to find affordable childcare is on websites like Craigslist. But many wonder, is it safe? “You never know who it is on the internet. They could say they’re one person and be completely different,” said Laura Everett of Peoria.

This news is just the latest evidence that Bruce Rauner’s extreme cuts to the CCAP program – which have absolutely nothing to do with the current budget impasse in Springfield – are causing huge economic harm to working parents throughout Illinois, and now possibly endangering the safety of our children by forcing them to seek care from unqualified or unlicensed providers.

“The alarming revelation that Bruce Rauner’s cuts are forcing some Illinois parents to seek affordable child care from strangers on the internet – just to continue putting food on the table – should truly shake people to their very core,” said SEIU Healthcare Illinois Vice President James Muhammad. “The inhumane and dangerous nature of Bruce Rauner’s cuts gets magnified every day, and it’s long past time for Rauner to stop holding millions of Illinoisans hostage to his extreme personal political agenda.

“Craigslist is not the place to raise a child. Deliberate inaction and dangerous rules changes that harm children is not the way to govern a state.”

That TV news story is here. It’s mostly a feel-good story with a bizarre slant

Tristin Lela posted an ad on Craigslist offering, “pay what you can babysitting.”

“It’s what they can pay. I mean I’m not doing this for the money, I’m doing it to help people in need,” said Lela.

She has been contacted by multiple interested families in just the two weeks since posting her ad.

“Some of the parents I’ve encountered, the government won’t help them with babysitting funds anymore, so they got to figure a way out to get a babysitter,” said Lela.

But many families can’t imagine handing their child over to a complete stranger.

“I mean I wouldn’t think so. Just because I don’t know who they are so no craigslist,” said Tricia Lovely of Pekin.

Local childcare officials say safety should be a parent’s highest priority.

This woman is doing a good deed and helping out the unfortunate during a truly lousy time for her state and that’s the coverage she gets?

Sheesh.

- Posted by Rich Miller   8 Comments      


*** UPDATED x1 *** Franks files tax loophole, BIMP bill

Friday, Sep 25, 2015

* From my pal Dave Eldridge…

Earlier this morning, Rep. Jack Franks filed HB 4300, which is a 2 year (FYs 16 & 17) revenue BIMP. Among the things the bill does, it addresses (in fact in most cases closes) many corporate tax loopholes.

I have done a quick and dirty synopsis of many components of the bill. See below.

    Article 5: Creates a not-for-profit Illinois Business & Economic Development Corporation (pp. 1-14)

    Article 10: Creates the Health Insurance Claims Assessment Act (pp. 14-24)

    Article 15: Illinois Income Tax Act–New Markets Development, Water’s Edge, LGDF changes (pp. 178-188), elimination of county officer stipends (pp. 218-36), & business filing fees reductions (pp. 237-240)

    Article 20: Changes definition of United States for continental shelf tax provision purposes (pp. 262-63)

    Article 25: Board and commission salaries and reimbursements eliminated (pp. 268-345)

    Article 30: Tangible personal property (TPP) exemption regarding rail carriers eliminated (pp. 345-398)

    Article 35: Rolling stock exemption stricken (pp. 398-440)

    Article 40: Strikes gasohol exemption (pp. 440-462)

    Article 45: No enterprise zones going forward and current zones eventually expire (pp. 462-68)

    Article 50: IRMA’s vendor’s discount exemption cut from 1.75% to 0.75% and some related discount exemptions cut to 0% (pp. 468-617)

    Article 55: Newspaper ink exemption eliminated (pp. 617-658)

    Article 60: Hotel on-line travel exemption eliminated (p. 657-59)

    Article 65: State mileage reimbursement set at 39 cents (p. 661)

    Article 70: Film tax credit capped at aggregate of $20 million per fiscal year (p. 662)

    Article 75: Lottery report regarding increasing revenue (pp. 662-663)

    Article 80: R&D credit continued but cut in half (pp. 663-697)

    Article 85: Manufacturing credit–products related TPP gets exemption (pp. 697-750)

    Article 90: Angel Investment Credit extended to 2021 & aggregate credit increased from $10 million to $20 million per fiscal year (pp. 750-57)

    Article 95: Data centers exemption (pp. 757-831)

    Article 100: Public Aid–contracting (pp. 831-888), pharmacy & dispensing fees set at $2.35 for brand name & $5.38 for generic (p. 888), reimbursement rate reduction capped at reductions of no more than 2.25% of FY15 & 1.6% of FY 16 (pp. 888-891), nursing home blended rate reduction capped at reductions of no more than 2.25% of FY15 (p. 891), managed care for DCFS wards (p. 892), hospital assessments (pp. 892-897), capitation payments (pp. 897-912), & IG (pp. 912-921)

    Article 105: DOC must maintain adequate staffing levels such that no correctional officer can work more than 2 hours of overtime per week (pp. 922-935)

    Immediate effective date

Lots of stuff in there. Thoughts?

*** UPDATE *** From the IMA…

From: Mark Denzler
Date: September 24, 2015 at 4:55:59 PM CDT
Subject: Jack Franks $3 billion tax hike filed

Today, Rep. Jack Franks filed HB 4300 that raises taxes on employers by nearly $3 billion. It also contains more than a billion dollars in spending cuts and lottery growth that are not in the realm of possibility.

We strongly oppose HB 4300 that will eliminate the Single Sales Factor, repeal the Enterprise Zone program, tax domestic and foreign dividends, repeal the rolling stock exemption, tax domestic oil companies, and decouple from the federal qualified production activities deduction.

Attached is our brief analysis. More details to come.

Thank you.

Mark Denzler
Vice President & Chief Operating Officer
Illinois Manufacturers’ Association

* Their analysis…

Reduction or Elimination of Tax Incentives

• Eliminate foreign & domestic dividend deduction $235 million

• Eliminate Single Sales Factor $150 million

• Decouple from the federal Qualified Production Deduction $65 million

• Repeal the non-combination rule $20 million

• Eliminate the continental shelf exemption $25 million

• Eliminate Enterprise Zones after bill becomes law

• Reform the Retailers Discount (IN model) $90 million

• Reform other Collection Discounts (cigarette, hotel, etc) $47.8 million

• Eliminate the E-10 incentive $120 million

• Eliminate the New Market Development Program $3.8 million

• Eliminate the rolling stock exemption $74 million

• Eliminate waters edge “offshore tax haven” $108 million

• Eliminate rail carrier sales tax exemption $3 million

• Eliminate sales tax exemption for print ink$32 million

• Treat online hotel booking same as telephone $9 million

• Health insurance claims assessment act (Michigan) $50 million

• Cap film tax credit at $20 million $25 million

New or Increased Tax Incentives

• Research & Development tax credit (permanent, 50 % base)

• Merge the MPC into the MME (permanent)

• New tax incentive for data centers

• Bonus depreciation for small businesses (< $10 million gross sales)

• Angel investment tax credit (5 year extension 2021, $10 to $20 million cap)

• Tax amnesty period (Oct 1, 2016 – Nov 8, 2016) $25 million

• Reduce LLC filing fees

Tax Items not included

• Estate tax

• Franchise tax

• Graphic Arts exemption

State Spending

• Creation of a PPP (3 year sunset)

• Increase lottery revenues by up to $1 billion $1 billion

• Cut the LGDF by 10 percent$127 million

• Eliminate DCEO $45 million GRF $771 million other

• Eliminate local government officials stipend $5.2 million

• Reform OT at the Department of Corrections $37 million

• Decouple university procurement from CMS $100 million

• Managed care for wards of the state $25 million

• Reduce care coordination fees (50 percent move from ACE/CCE) $30 million

• Durable medical equipment supplies $30 million

• SB 788 Medicaid savings $160 million

• SB 788 wards of the state to MCC $100 million

• Federal funds pursuant to ACA $200 million

• OIG savings pursuant to SB 788 $21 million

• Medicaid redetermination $53 million

• Nursing home audits pursuant to SB788 $40 million

• Medicaid federal revenue cost reduction $75 million

• Eliminate salaries, per diems, HC and pension–Boards/Commission $3 million

• Reduce mileage reimbursement state employees $10 million

TOTAL REVENUES $2,839,761,000.00

TOTAL POTENTIAL ADDITIONAL REVENUE $1,063,000,000.00

TOTAL $3,902,761,000.00

- Posted by Rich Miller   47 Comments      


For Illinois credit unions, support for communities starts from the top

Friday, Sep 25, 2015

[The following is a paid advertisement.]

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When life presents many financial challenges and opportunities, credit unions are the best partner to help members build strong financial futures. Isn’t it nice to know that someone is looking out for your best interests? Credit unions truly are A Smarter Choice.

- Posted by Advertising Department   Comments Off      


Mark Kirk makes high-risk move to get out front of negative story

Friday, Sep 25, 2015

* I received a fascinating phone call from US Sen. Mark Kirk’s campaign manager Kevin Artl the other day. He said the Chicago Tribune was about to publish a story about how Sen. Kirk had allegedly physically and verbally abused staff members and that the piece was going to be shoddy at least and downright false at worst.

So, if he sent me the correspondence with the reporter and other background materials, would I consider publishing them here, Artl asked.

Sure, but the Tribune will probably murder you, I told Kevin. This is not something you do lightly. Indeed, I’ve never heard of anybody ever doing it before. A preemptive hit on a reporter from a major newspaper? Whew, baby.

He said he’d get back to me if the Tribune decided to go with the story. Artl called yesterday and said he was sending the stuff over because the piece is likely coming out Sunday.

Man, is this ever a high-risk move, but it’s kind of fun, too, so let’s get started.

* Here is a memo that the Mark Kirk campaign plans to distribute after the Tribune story is published. All emphasis in original…

From: Kevin Artl, Campaign Manager
Kirk For Senate
Re: Chicago Tribune/Todd Lighty

Overview

For the past five weeks, Chicago Tribune Reporter Todd Lighty has called over 15 current and former staffers of Senator Kirk along with harassing Senator Kirk’s 79 year-old mother and his sister in an attempt to validate a story that Senator Kirk has been verbally and physically abusive to staff. Lighty has identified four staffers whom he says were verbally or physically abused, however staffers involved have said the incidents never occurred, including Patrick Campion whom Mr. Lighty identified as his only “on the record” source.

Patrick Campion: Signed a sworn affidavit that said he enjoyed working for Senator Kirk and that at no time was there verbal and physical abuse. Campion also attested in his affidavit that Chicago Tribune Reporter Todd Lighty “twisted his words” when they talked. (affidavit attached)

Seth Jansen: Issued the following statement, “The inference or accusation that Senator Kirk acted inappropriately towards me is simply false. “

James Zenn: In text messages responding to Mr. Lighty, James Zenn told Lighty that his facts were wrong and the incident he was alleging never happened. Zenn added: “Mr. Lighty, I am unsure of where this is coming from. I would have never told anyone that story as it did not happen. I enjoyed my time with Senator Kirk, during which I learned a lot and during which he treated me with nothing but respect. Though I moved on for another opportunity I am proud to have worked for him and I support him 100%.” (screen shots attached)

Dan Bower: No sources to support Mr. Lighty’s assertion.

Official Campaign Response

“Terrible journalism written by a biased reporter about an event that his own source signed an affidavit saying never happened.” Kevin Artl, Campaign Manager, Kirk for Senate.

Bottom Line

As indicated from affidavits, statements and conversations Mr. Lighty is fully aware of, the incidents he is alleging did not occur according to those involved. Should Mr. Lighty continue with his story, Kirk For Senate will not hesitate to avail itself of all available legal remedies.

Like I said, whew.

The Patrick Campion affidavit referenced by Artl is here. Two Campion e-mails to Lighty on August 26th are here. They were redacted by me to crop out his e-mail address. A text message screen shot of James Zenn’s flat denial is here. A letter from Artl to Tribune management with even more allegations is here.

Let’s start with the alleged “terrible journalism” part and then we’ll get to the “biased reporter” allegation.

* What follows is based on two e-mail exchanges between the Tribune reporter and Kirk’s office. One is here, the other is here.

Here are Lighty’s actual questions and Artl’s responses. Again, all emphasis in original…

From: Kevin Artl
Date: Mon, Sep 21, 2015 at 8:33 PM
Subject: Follow Up Response
To: “Lighty, Todd”

Mr. Lighty,

On September 16th you sent Danielle Varallo an email “seeking responses to several incidents involving these young men on his staff”.

Through our meeting on September 17th and additional communication with you on September 18th, I’m quite certain we have gone above and beyond in fulfilling your September 16th inquiry. However, since doubts exist, let’s go through it again.

Lighty Question #1 from Varallo Email: We understand that Sen. Kirk became physical on two separate occasions with Mr. Campion while on Capitol Hill. We understand that after the second incident, Mr. Campion requested not to be at the senator’s side was moved to another floor away from the senator, and eventually quit and returned to Illinois. We further understand that he shared what happened with Ms. Dickens and several other staffers. We are seeking Sen. Kirk’s account of what happened with Mr. Campion on those two occasions, once during a weekly GOP luncheon and the other around Jan. 27, when Sen. Kirk and Sen. Menendez introduced their Iran sanctions bill.

We will allow Mr. Campion’s sworn affidavit to refute this, in which he attests that where was no physical or verbal abuse and that he states that you have twisted his words.

Lighty Question #2 from Varallo Email: We understand that Sen. Kirk berated a second aide, Seth Jansen, after Jansen was late in picking him up at O’Hare International Airport. We further understand that Sen. Kirk wanted Jansen fired over the incident, and that he no longer works for Sen. Kirk, having been fired on Jan. 26. Again, we seek Sen. Kirk’s account of what happened with Mr. Jansen at the airport.

We will allow Mr. Jansen’s statement to refute this charge. Mr. Jansen stated that “The inference or accusation that Senator Kirk acted inappropriately towards me is simply false. “

Lighty Question #3 from Varallo Email: We understand that Sen. Kirk blamed a third aide for a mix-up Nov. 23, 2014, at First Baptist Church in Melrose Park, left without attending the service, leaving the aide, Daniel Bower, to find his own way home. What is Sen. Kirk’s account of what happened that Sunday in which Mr. Bower had to find a cab ride home?

You had mentioned you had a source on the record for this event. Can you please identify the source and his/her specific comments so that we can respond appropriately?

Lighty Question #4 from Varallo Email: In short, how does Sen. Kirk respond to accounts from those who worked for him that he loses his temper to the point of becoming physically and verbally abusive?

We will allow the statements from those directly identified by you to answer this question. Campion, Jansen and Zenn all deny your claim.

Lighty Supplemental Question to Varallo: There was one more incident that I wanted to add and ask about, as well. This one involves former staffer James Zenn. I understand that Mr. Zenn drove Sen. Kirk to an appointment at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago and that the senator would not get out of the car, and that he “flipped off”—stuck his middle finger up—at Mr. Zenn when Mr. Zenn tired to encourage him to get out of the car. Again, what is Sen. Kirk’s response to his alleged behavior?

We will allow Mr. Zenn’s responses to you citing that the incident never occurred and that he enjoyed his time working for Senator Kirk to serve as the response.

To recap, Mr. Campion, Zenn and Jansen have communicated to you that your overarching narrative for the story, encapsulated in Question #4 to Varallo, is not consistent with their own facts and experiences.

You have no “on the record” sources, simply anonymous background sources whose recollection of events is questioned and challenged by on the record statements by those with primary, first-hand knowledge.

Now you are requesting answers to 17 questions transmitted to us on Friday September 18th seeking information on the decision making process of where office desks are placed, the comings and goings of entry-level staffers and what their assignments are while reiterating questions that have already been answered. Again, we will let the statements from those involved, Mr. Campion, Jansen and Zenn answer those questions as they are all basically reiterations from your email to Varallo on the 16th. In addition, their statements answer the entirety of the narrative you are producing and fulfills our commitment to provide you answers as discussed during our September 17th meeting.

While there are no on the record sources to support your claim in Question #4 from the Varallo email and it is disputed by those involved, should you write a story regardless, then we would request you utilize this quote that may be attributed to me:

“Terrible journalism written by a biased reporter about an event that his own source signed an affidavit saying never happened.”

From our end, we would like to follow up on some of the questions that remain open

1. You said you had an on the record source in addition to Mr. Campion, but you refused to identify this person. Are you willing to identify this source now?

2. Have you identified your second on the record source to your editors?

3. Is it your understanding that failing to identify your on the record source runs counter to the code of ethics set forth by the society of professional journalists?

4. During our meeting, you never disclosed that Mr. Campion had further communications with you where he said you had twisted his words and denied your allegations. Why did you not mention that communication?

5. During our meeting, you never disclosed that Mr. Zenn denied the allegations you asked him to confirm. Why did you not mention his denial?

6. On Friday, September 18th you had additional communications with Mr. Zenn and he again said your information was inaccurate. Why was this never communicated to us?

7. Why did you ask us this question? Is it your position that James Zenn denies telling co-workers that he drove Sen. Kirk to his rehabilitation appointment, that the senator did not want to get out of the car and that he gave Mr. Zenn the middle finger? Mr. Zenn had already corresponded with you and answered the question, denying that the incident ever occurred and questioning why anyone would tell you differently.

8. Are your editors aware that Mr. Zenn has consistently denied your allegations?

9. Are your editors aware that Mr. Jansen has denied your allegations?

10. Are your editors aware that Mr. Campion has denied your allegations?

11. Have you corresponded with your background sources to question why their facts are wrong? if so, what is their excuse for providing you with false information?

12. Are your background sources standing by their false statements? Were any of your background sources present at the incidents you have discussed?

13. During our meeting, you indicated that your background sources were “multiple former employees”. Is it really multiple? Have you identified your background sources to your editors? Were any of your background sources employees who had their employment terminated?

14. In terms of your question about the location of Mr. Campion’s office, is the office location of entry-level staffers a question you are asking other elected officials?

15. Is it your understanding that being located on the 6th floor of the Hart Office Building is a better location than the 5th floor of the Hart Office Building? If so, why?

16. Have you interviewed Senator Kirk employees who are located on the 6th floor of the Hart Office Building? If so, is it your understanding that those employees would prefer to be on the 5th floor of the Hart Office Building?

17. Rep. Duckworth is the defendant in a lawsuit in which she is charged, with among other things, bullying, harassing and intimidating her employees when she was the Director of Veterans Affairs. All of these charges are sworn to in court filings. Are you planning to report on this?

Thank you,

Kevin Artl
Kirk For Senate

* OK, now, on to the “biased reporter” allegation. From Artl…

Lighty is obsessed with Kirk: Since The Beginning Of 2010, Todd Lighty has written 11 investigative articles focusing on politicians for the Chicago Tribune.(Chicago Tribune, http://www.chicagotribune.com/chi-todd-lighty-staff.html, Accessed 8/25/15)

The breakdown of these articles is as follows:

    · 6 Regarding Senator Kirk
    · 2 Regarding Former Congressman Aaron Schock.
    · 1 Regarding Congressman Luis Guiterrez.
    · 1 Regarding Former Congressman Denny Hastert.
    · 1 Regarding Illinois Speaker of the House Michael Madigan.

In fact, in 2012 Lighty invested heavily into a story on alleged Kirk FEC violations, including multiple interviews with Kirk’s estranged ex-wife, only to have the FEC rule there were no violations at all.

For more information, view these stories:

The Bottom Line: 55% of Lighty’s political stories have focused on Senator Kirk.

Lighty’s Tactics Are Beyond the Pale: Calling the Senator’s 79 year-old mother multiple times to ask her questions presumably about how her son works with his staff?

The Healthcare Hit Job: Even though Lighty was fully aware that Kirk has full approval from US Senate Select Committee on Ethics for his payroll arrangement with his healthcare aid, Lighty still took a shot.

Ignoring Duckworth: The Chicago Tribune has done ZERO original reporting on Duckworth. Even now as they focus on staff interaction, they ignore the lawsuit she is embroiled in with sworn statements like these:

Background on sworn testimony regarding Rep. Duckworth abusing staff during her term as Director of the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs:

    “48. As a direct and proximate consequence of Defendant Duckworth’s acts against Plaintiff Butler, as described in paragraphs 27-30 and 42 herein, Plaintiff suffered humiliation, mental and emotional distress, as well as lost wages and benefits of employment.” (Christine Butler and Denise Goins vs. Tammy Duckworth and Patricia Simms, First Judicial Circuit, Union County, 9/17/09, p.17)

    “66. As a direct and proximate consequence of Defendant Duckworth’s acts against Plaintiff Goins, as described in paragraphs 31, 40 and 41 herein, Plaintiff suffered humiliation, mental and emotional distress, as well as lost wages and benefits of employment.” (Christine Butler and Denise Goins vs. Tammy Duckworth and Patricia Simms, First Judicial Circuit, Union County, 9/17/09, p.21)

    Duckworth “Intentionally Humiliated” Butler By Loudly Announcing Her Termination From The Office Then Calling For Security For Her Immediate Removal. “29. After discharging Plaintiff Butler, Defendant Duckworth intentionally humiliated Plaintiff Butler by announcing publicly, in a loud voice, at the Anna Veterans Home, that she had just terminated her, and calling for security. She did not allow her to conduct an exit interview at that time and required her to remove her personal belongings and be escorted out of the facility, during working hours, at that time.” (ChristineButler and Denise Goins vs. Tammy Duckworth and Patricia Simms, First Judicial Circuit, Union County, 9/17/09, p.10)

    After Firing Butler, Duckworth Met Privately With Goins,Telling Her “If You Do Your Job And Keep Your Mouth Shut And Concentrate On Job Duties, You Will Keep Your Job.” “31. On May 3, 2007, after publicly discharging Plaintiff Butler, Defendant Duckworth called Plaintiff Goins in for an individual meeting. During this meeting, Defendant Duckworth referred to her termination of Plaintiff Butler, and intentionally sought to prevent Plaintiff Goins from raising any further complaints, stating, ‘If you do your job and keep your mouth shut and concentrate on jobduties, you will keep your job.’” (ChristineButler and Denise Goins vs. Tammy Duckworth and Patricia Simms, First Judicial Circuit, Union County, 9/17/09, p.11)

I’m more than willing to publish any Tribune rebuttal.

- Posted by Rich Miller   130 Comments      


Secretary White sends SOS about “critical” budget situation

Friday, Sep 25, 2015

* Yet again, it’s somewhat amazing to me that vendors and landlords have agreed to hold out this long…

September 24, 2015

The Honorable Bruce Rauner
Governor of Illinois
207 State House
Springfield, IL 62706

Dear Governor Rauner:

I am writing to highlight how the lack of a Fiscal Year 2016 budget is adversely impacting the Office of the Illinois Secretary of State, and could soon jeopardize the services we provide to the people of Illinois.

As you may know, the Illinois Office of the Secretary of State is the largest of its kind in the nation. Our responsibilities range from issuing over nine million driver’s licenses and 11 million license plates, to registering annually nearly 470,000 corporations and 175,000 securities salespersons, to entering approximately 500,000 convictions onto driving records, to providing maintenance and security for the Capitol Complex, to serving as the State Librarian and the State Archivist. My mission has always been and remains to provide the highest level of customer service to the people of Illinois, and to make sure our roads are as safe as possible.

Because of our wide ranging functions and responsibilities, my office collects approximately $9 million a day in revenue for the State Treasury. Among but not limited to the services we offer each day include: issuing approximately 16,000 driver’s licenses and ID cards, 14,000 vehicle titles and 45,000 vehicle registrations; entering onto driving records more than 2,000 convictions for driving offenses; delivering nearly 13,000 inter-library loan books and talking book and Braille materials.

Unfortunately, my office is getting to the point where our bills are no longer being paid, and this will directly impact office services to the people. This situation has grown critical, and we are seeking a solution to this problem.

I am particularly concerned about the following four areas:

1. Computer and software contract vendors discontinuing service

Multiple vendors have threatened to discontinue software licensing agreements as well as providing critical maintenance efforts needed for my office to function properly. Thus far we have been successful at persuading them to continue working with us. However, this won’t last much longer. Software cancellations and network maintenance disruptions would negatively impact our ability to conduct routine office transactions. They could lead to a system wide shutdown, and could make us vulnerable to data breaches considering that our firewall system blocks millions of illicit attempts each week to get into our network and breach our data. Personal information of nearly every Illinoisan could be jeopardized, which cannot be allowed to happen.

2. The inability to process lease and utility payments

My office has 138 facilities throughout the state that interact with approximately six million residents each year. The State Comptroller is unable to process the monthly lease and utility payments. Some landlords are pursuing notices of default, which could ultimately lead to the termination of certain facility leases. And if utility companies shut off power, our facilities will be unable to open and serve customers.

3. Security shortfalls

Driver and Vehicle Services facilities collect the majority of the revenue my office provides to the State Treasury – upwards of $9 million per day. The armored truck service company that safely moves cash from my facilities to banks is threatening to discontinue this important service. Some of my facilities accumulate more than $100,000 cash for the armored truck service to pick up and safely deliver to the local bank.

In addition, we have concerns that the entity that provides the electronic security at all of our facilities during non-business hours may soon discontinue this service. Our 138 Driver and Vehicle Services facilities, which contain important laminate and DL/ID card stock, would then be unsecure, which cannot be permitted to happen.

4. Capitol Complex

My office helps oversee and provide maintenance of the Capitol Complex. This includes lighting, heating and cooling the more than 20 buildings on the complex. We are concerned the local utility companies will discontinue providing electricity, gas and coal. In addition, the entity that performs daily garbage pickup and removal has threatened to discontinue this service. Thus far we have successfully convinced them to hold on a while longer.

In the short term, we will continue to manage as much as or wherever possible so that we may serve the people of Illinois. However, we have difficult decisions to make – decisions that call for cutting in one area in order to prolong for a few months a service in another area. For example, we will soon discontinue mailing vehicle registration renewal notices to customers, a service we have long provided and one which many of our citizens have grown to rely on as the reminder of their impending license plate sticker expirations. By discontinuing this service, we should be able to prolong the ability to mail actual vehicle registration renewal stickers for a month or two longer before our postage account runs out.

I will keep you updated regularly on where my office stands, and what services are in jeopardy of discontinuing due to the lack of a state budget. This is a fluid situation, with the status of some services changing in a matter of weeks or even days.

In closing, I am urging everyone to work together to solve this budget crisis so that the Secretary of State’s office, and all state government, can continue providing services the people of Illinois richly deserve. If I or my staff may be of any assistance to you, please do not hesitate to contact us.

I look forward to your timely response.

Sincerely,

Jesse White
Illinois Secretary of State

cc. House Speaker Michael Madigan
Senate President John Cullerton
Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno
House Republican Leader Jim Durkin
Lieutenant Governor Evelyn Sanguinetti
Attorney General Lisa Madigan
Comptroller Leslie Geissler Munger
Treasurer Michael Frerichs
Auditor General William Holland

- Posted by Rich Miller   59 Comments      


Noland offers to stop sending e-mails for $10

Friday, Sep 25, 2015

* State Sen. Michael Noland’s congressional campaign sent out a fundraising e-mail today entitled “the last email you will read”…

How many emails have gotten today?

My guess is, this is not the first email you’ve received this week from a candidate or organization asking you for money before the critical September 30th campaign filing deadline. I will also venture to guess that this will not be the last one you get this week.

Well, I am willing to make a deal with you. If you chip in $10 (or more) today, my campaign promises that we will NOT email you again until after the deadline has passed.

How does that sound? Will you chip in $10 today so that my campaign will stop bugging you for money?

We think $10 is a small price to pay to help send a true progressive to congress and to stop these annoying emails!

Thank you again for your support.

Mike Noland

OK, first of all, he really needs a proofreader.

And second, the “deadline” is in five days.

How much to make them stop forever?

- Posted by Rich Miller   21 Comments      


Today’s quotable

Friday, Sep 25, 2015

* Tribune

“The city — perhaps optimistically — is relying on the state approving” the pension law, Standard & Poor’s wrote in a statement on the mayor’s budget plan that was introduced Tuesday. If the law isn’t approved, the city would end up more than $200 million in the hole next year.

“If the final budget that is adopted by the end of the calendar year fails to cover the larger pension payments with an identifiable and reliable revenue source, it would likely strain the (city’s bond) rating — potentially resulting in the rating being lowered by multiple notches,” S&P warned, raising the prospect that it could join Moody’s Investors Service in giving the city a junk bond credit rating.

“Given the uncertainty regarding the reform of its police, fire, municipal and laborers pension plans, we expect city management to consider contingency plans for addressing its pension liabilities,” S&P added in its statement.

When the Tribune this week asked Emanuel if he had a Plan B should the state not enact his police and fire pension changes, he said, “First of all, if I had a Plan B, the worst thing to tell the legislature is that you have a Plan B.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   27 Comments      


Good riddance?

Friday, Sep 25, 2015

* Finke

Both state Agriculture Director Philip Nelson and Illinois State Fair Director Patrick Buchen have left their jobs, Gov. Bruce Rauner’s administration said late Thursday afternoon.

The Rauner administration said in a prepared statement that it “accepted the resignation” of Nelson on Thursday. The statement said Buchen “had also stepped down.” […]

However, contacted later, Buchen called the situation “political crap.”

“I resigned because they fired (Nelson), and it’s just a bunch of bull crap,” Buchen said.

* Erickson

Buchen, a Fulton County native, came under fire after this year’s Illinois State Fair when he announced attendance was less than half of what it was the previous year. He said his estimates were more accurate than previous counts.

Word that Buchen was leaving surfaced last week, but administration officials said he was still on the job.

The department still has not released final attendance figures for the Du Quoin State Fair, which ended more than two weeks ago.

Nelson marks the second top agency official to leave the Rauner camp since the Republican took office in January. Former Illinois Department of Corrections Director Donald Stolworthy left after four months in his position.

* Sun-Times

“I told Phil last night in an email that if he was asked to resign, I would follow him out the door,” Buchen told the Sun-Times Thursday evening.

Buchen said the governor’s administration asked for Nelson’s resignation. Buchen said he couldn’t stay on as director without him.

“I owe this job to him, and I wasn’t going to stay here working for these guys downtown,” Buchen said. “There are just some really bad apples downtown. The citizens deserve to know that agriculture had a huge hit today by asking him to resign with no apparent reason whatsoever. I don’t know what they were thinking.”

Whatever.

There have been problems with Nelson since Day One. Buchen, I’m told, was far worse and was about to be fired.

“He was a terrible manager,” said one high-level source with personal knowledge of the Buchen situation. The source also claimed Buchen was a “terrible employee” and that “Morale was super low under his tenure.”

Take that for what it’s worth, but the Rauner folks fully admit they made a bad hire here, so at least they moved to correct what they considered to be a big mistake instead of just letting it fester.

- Posted by Rich Miller   57 Comments      


Today’s must-read

Friday, Sep 25, 2015

* From Crain’s Chicago Business

Chicago’s other Magnificent Mile isn’t State Street or the Clybourn Corridor. Nope: The second-highest-grossing shopping district in the city is a 2-mile stretch of 26th Street on the Southwest Side, in predominantly Mexican-American Little Village.

The strip lacks the glamour of Michigan Avenue or the wealth of Lincoln Park. Instead, the area between Kedzie and Kostner avenues is dotted with family-owned restaurants, bakeries, barbershops, grocers and clothing shops, plus an occasional Western Union and Verizon outlet. Nothing about the simple signage or interiors hints at the huge volume of cash being spent: some $900 million annually, according to the most recent figures available, at roughly 500 businesses along 26th Street.

Neighborhood residents don’t make much money—average household income is around $33,000, and a third live below the poverty line—but they tend to spend what they have close to home. The shops’ linoleum floors are well-trodden by the 500,000 Mexican-Americans who live within a 10-minute drive. On weekends, many more pour in from suburbia and the entire Midwest for the food, clothing and household goods of a country they or their parents left behind.

“There is no other community in the country like Little Village, because of both the population and the density of Hispanics,” says Jaime di Paulo, executive director of the Little Village Chamber of Commerce. “It’s created a nostalgia market, where people can find that little product that reminds them of Grandma, of home.”

Go read the whole thing.

- Posted by Rich Miller   16 Comments      


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