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*** UPDATED x1 *** Biss won’t confirm report that he’s dropping out

Friday, Nov 20, 2015

* Politico

State Sen. Daniel Biss is pulling out of contention in the Democratic primary for Illinois Comptroller, making way for Chicago City Clerk Susana Mendoza, two top Democratic sources told POLITICO Illinois. […]

“We’ve known Dan Biss since his time in the House. We’ve worked with him. He’s a good, solid Democrat,” said Madigan spokesman and Illinois Democratic Party spokesman Steve Brown. “We’re just happy there’s not a primary. The party is always stronger when there aren’t primary battles.”

Biss could not immediately be reached for comment.

Madigan had foiled Biss at just about every turn. The county party chairmen’s endorsement of Mendoza was a major blow.

Brown told me he was told earlier today that Biss wouldn’t file petitions come Monday. So, this story seems pretty legit and I’ve also been able to confirm it.

* But here’s how Biss responded via text after I asked if he was out of the race…

We’ll see…will have more for you on this by Sunday night.

*** UPDATE *** Tribune

State Sen. Daniel Biss of Evanston on Sunday dropped his bid for the Democratic nomination for state comptroller, paving the way for Chicago City Clerk Susana Mendoza to challenge Republican Leslie Munger in next year’s general election.

Biss, a member of the legislature since 2011, said he had decided to drop out of the race to avoid a divisive primary contest that he thought would endanger Democratic efforts to capture the comptroller’s office.

“It was getting to be a more expensive and divisive battle,” Biss said. “I don’t think that’s what the party needs right now. There’s a bigger cause right now.”

Biss said he had set a deadline of Sunday afternoon to make a decision on whether to run. Monday marks the start of the one week filing period for most candidates in the March 15 primary to file candidacy nominating petitions with the Illinois State Board of Elections.

- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      

Reader comments closed for the weekend

Friday, Nov 20, 2015

* Galactic

It’s too late
To change the past

- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      

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Friday, Nov 20, 2015

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- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      

Dorothy Brown hire indicted

Friday, Nov 20, 2015

* Well, now we may know why the G wanted Dorothy Brown’s mobile phone. From the US Attorney…

A Glenview man who was hired by the Cook County Circuit Court Clerk’s Office after purportedly loaning $15,000 to a company controlled by the Clerk’s husband lied under oath when testifying about it before a grand jury, according to a federal indictment announced today.

In August 2014, SIVASUBRAMANI RAJARAM purportedly loaned $15,000 to Goat Masters Corporation, whose president was the husband of the Cook County Circuit Court Clerk. The following month, Rajaram was hired by the Clerk’s Office as a level four Senior Clerk. Rajaram had previously worked in the Clerk’s Office but had been living in India for several years.

On or about Oct. 1, 2015, Rajaram testified before a federal grand jury that was conducting an investigation of possible criminal violations in connection with the purchasing of jobs and promotions within the Clerk’s Office. During his testimony, Rajaram said he had not spoken to the Circuit Court Clerk after his 2014 hiring. He also testified he had only spoken to another high-ranking employee of the Clerk’s Office “three or four times” since returning to Chicago from India, and that the conversations were not by phone.

The indictment alleges that both statements were false. According to the indictment, Rajaram spoke with both the Clerk and the high-ranking employee after being re-hired in 2014. His conversations with the high-ranking employee occurred dozens of times via cell phone, according to the indictment.

The indictment was returned Thursday in U.S. District Court in Chicago. Rajaram, 48, of Glenview, was charged with one count of making false declarations before a grand jury. The charge carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison. The Court has not yet scheduled an arraignment hearing.
The indictment was announced by Zachary T. Fardon, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois; Anita Alvarez, Cook County State’s Attorney; Patrick M. Blanchard, Cook County Inspector General; and Michael J. Anderson, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

The public is reminded that an indictment contains only charges and is not evidence of guilt. The defendant is presumed innocent and is entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

The government is represented by Assistant United States Attorneys Heather McShain and Ankur Srivastava.

The full indictment is here.

- Posted by Rich Miller   32 Comments      

Rauner, others write the president

Friday, Nov 20, 2015

* The Miami Herald has today’s letter

The Honorable Barack Obama
President of the United States
The White House
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President:

Our country has long served as a welcoming beacon to individuals and families who seek safety and refugee status within the borders of the United States. For years we have been proud to welcome refugees into our communities in their pursuit of a better life and future.

However, we are deeply concerned that the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria may have exploited the generosity of the refugee system to carry out Friday’s terrorist attack in Paris. While the tragic event was a direct assault on the European Union’s refugee system, the potential for this situation to arise in the United States is escalated by information revealed by the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, James Comey. In testimony before Congress, he admitted to certain inadequacies in the system that would prevent the thorough vetting of the 10,000 refugees your administration has pledged to admit into the United States.

As governors, we are charged with ensuring the safety and wellbeing of our citizens. In order to adequately fulfill this duty, we request that you immediately review the process by which you conduct background checks on all individuals applying for refugee status and address the gaps acknowledged by your director of the FBI.

In the wake of this recent tragedy, and until we can ensure the citizens of our states that an exhaustive review of all security measures has been completed and the necessary changes have been implemented, we respectfully request that you suspend all plans to resettle additional Syrian refugees.


Governors Robert Bentley of Alabama, Doug Ducey of Arizona, Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas, Rick Scott of Florida, Nathan Deal of Georgia, Butch Otter of Idaho, Bruce Rauner of Illinois, Mike Pence of Indiana, Terry Branstad of Iowa, Sam Brownback of Kansas, Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, Paul LePage of Maine, Pete Ricketts of Nebraska, Brian Sandoval of Nevada, Chris Christie of New Jersey, Susana Martinez of New Mexico, Pat McCrory of North Carolina, Jack Dalrymple of North Dakota, John Kasich of Ohio, Mary Fallin of Oklahoma, Nikki Haley of South Carolina, Dennis Daugaard of South Dakota, Bill Haslam of Tennessee, Greg Abbott of Texas, Gary Herbert of Utah, Scott Walker of Wisconsin, and Matt Mead of Wyoming.

- Posted by Rich Miller   75 Comments      

Question of the day

Friday, Nov 20, 2015

* Sometimes you need a decoder ring to figure out Steve Brown. Mine doesn’t appear to be working today. From Sneed

So what does powerful House Speaker Mike Madigan think of Gov. Bruce Rauner’s decision to block new Syrian refugees from Illinois?

“The speaker is out of town at the funeral of his father-in-law,” said Madigan spokesman Steve Brown. “But I think it is safe to say most people understand the governor has no power or authority over who crosses the border — especially if people keep leaving Illinois!”

So, is he talking about how the governor is in Las Vegas for the RGA convention right now, or the exodus of people retiring out of state or leaving to look for work elsewhere? Or… ?

* The Question: Your translation?

- Posted by Rich Miller   21 Comments      

*** UPDATED x4 - Dems attack Rauner involvement *** As expected, it’s Rep. Sara Wojcicki Jimenez

Friday, Nov 20, 2015

* Bernie…

*** UPDATE 2 *** Press release…

Sara Wojcicki Jimenez was unanimously chosen on Friday by the 99th State House District Representative Committee to replace former State Rep. Raymond Poe (R-Springfield).

Jimenez, Chief of Staff to First Lady Diana Rauner, was raised in Springfield and offers a unique profile to the Republican Party while demonstrating a compassion and understanding of state government, the legislative process and a key ability to be a strong advocate for Sangamon County residents in state government.

“Sara Wojcicki Jimenez is a rising star in the Republican Party who will be a unique voice for Sangamon County in state government,” said Sangamon County Republican Chairman Rosemarie Long. “Sara has served as an elected official in Springfield and is well known in the community. She has immense state government experience as a former state house reporter, Press Secretary for House Republican Leader Tom Cross and Chief of Staff to the First Lady. Sara will be able to hit the ground running on day one.”

“Sara Wojcicki Jimenez is a good choice to serve as State Representative for Sangamon County,” said former Rep. Raymond Poe. “Many good candidates applied, including close friends and supporters. The committee had a tough decision to make.”

“I am excited to see a highly accomplished woman represent Sangamon County in the legislature,” said former Springfield Mayor Karen Hasara. “Sara Wojcicki Jimenez is tremendously qualified and will be a terrific legislator. I am honored to have Sara as my State Representative.”

“Sara Wojcicki Jimenez has an incredible background – state house reporter, communications professional and senior state government official – and that background will be invaluable in the state legislature,” said Sangamon County Board Chairman Andy Van Meter. “As a woman with a young family and wife of a current state employee, Sara will be able to advocate for Sangamon County in state government unlike anyone else.”

The vacancy for the state representative seat was created when Governor Bruce Rauner appointed Raymond Poe to be Director of the Illinois Department of Agriculture.

The 99th State House District Representative Committee consisted of Sangamon County Republican Chairman Rosemarie Long and two Sangamon County Republican Precinct Committee members within the 99th State House District. On Thursday, the Sangamon County Republican Central Committee voted to appoint Mary Sneed and Collins Piper, both Republican Precinct Committee members, to serve on the Representative Committee along with Chairman Long.

Jimenez will be sworn in as the 99th District State Representative this coming week.

*** UPDATE 2 *** Another press release…

First Lady Diana Rauner and Governor Bruce Rauner issued the following statement regarding Sara Wojcicki Jimenez:

“We offer our sincerest congratulations to Sara on her pending appointment to the Illinois House of Representatives. As a key member of the Administration, she has been a tireless worker who helped advance key priorities from agency transformation to restoring the Executive Mansion. We will miss working alongside her every day.

“Sara is a true public servant, with a wonderful spirit and passion for serving the people of Illinois. We know she will represent her district admirably in the General Assembly and look forward to the contributions she’ll make on behalf of her constituents and all Illinoisans.”

*** UPDATE 3 *** Leader Durkin…

“I look forward to welcoming Sara Wojcicki Jimenez as the newest member of the House Republican Caucus. She is joining the Illinois General Assembly during a very important time in our state’s history, I am certain she is up to the challenge. Congratulations to Sara.”

*** UPDATE 4 *** From the Sangamon County Democratic Party…

Sangamon County has a long history of representation by legislators from both parties who have stood up for the rights of the working people. Unfortunately, those days are ending.

“Once again, the Governor has created a vacancy in a Sangamon County House seat and hand – picked the replacement” said Sangamon County Democratic Party Chairwoman Doris Turner. “No longer will the middle class of the 99th District have a true representative – one who will stand up for their rights while on the job and into their retirement” Turner added. If the track record of Governor Rauner’s replacements is any guide, State of Illinois employees, as well as other middle class families living and working in Sangamon County, have another Rauner clone who will vote as Rauner wishes and against the interest of local families.

What makes Governor Rauner’s influence in these appointments even more curious is the fact that the Republican voters in Sangamon County overwhelmingly rejected candidate Rauner in the primary. Despite that, he has taken over their representation at the Capitol.

- Posted by Rich Miller   43 Comments      

Did the RGA recruit Rauner?

Friday, Nov 20, 2015

* Politico claims that “A relentless combination of big fundraising and recruiting just the right candidates transformed the Republican Governors Association into a political force”

The RGA has avoided congressional Republicans’ problems, especially in hard-to-win blue states, by playing a relentless but “quiet” role in recruiting candidates that fit their states, [Phil Musser, a former executive director of the RGA] said.

Moderate Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker started going to RGA conferences years before he first ran for the office in 2010. After losing to then-Democratic Gov. Deval Patrick in a three-way race, Baker was reluctant to try again four years later.

The RGA responded by organizing a barrage of phone calls from GOP governors and major donors to convince Baker another run would be worth it.

“He needed folks to come to him and say: ‘We’ll have your back,’” said Phil Cox, who served as the RGA’s executive director when Baker won in 2014. “And we were all over him.”

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner was a RGA donor for years before a similar recruiting pitch helped convince him to run for office himself in 2013. Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey started attending RGA conferences four years before he ran and won last year.

I don’t know much about Massachusetts or Arizona, but that may be a bit of RGA resume inflation regarding Rauner.

Then again, now we know whom to blame, or thank.

- Posted by Rich Miller   14 Comments      

New stuff!

Friday, Nov 20, 2015

* If you scroll down, you’ll see we have two new widgets in the center column from the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform’s Illinois Sunshine database: Top contributions during the past 7 days and the top fundraising committees of the past 30 days. Combine those with the Tribune’s live tweeting of all contributions, and I think we’ve got some really useful information posted here, with some context.

* Meanwhile, I’ve been talking with the good folks at AlderTrack about how best to promote their Illinois Racing Form

The candidate petition deadline is coming up and Aldertrack is gearing up. Pre-order the Illinois Racing Form and guarantee yourself a fresh digital copy of the most current information the day after the first filing day as well as weekly updated candidate information throughout the entire 2015 election season. First Report Due Tuesday, November 24.

For just $15 the Illinois Racing Form will include:

    * Each Representative and Senate district with its own map and list of candidates, along with district’s past performance
    * Candidate filings
    * Weekly campaign funding reports
    * Candidate political committee tracking and independent expenditure committee tracking
    * Updates on statements of financial interests
    * Weekly updates on objections to candidates’ filings
    * Candidates’ social media presences, including websites, Facebook , LinkedIn and Twitter

We’ll send an update email once a week with a link to download the most recent version of the Racing Form. And… if you subscribed to the Chicago Racing Form, you know that we’ll have plenty more surprises as the campaign season wears on.

It’s a great deal, so go check it out. I’m not making anything off of this, by the way. I just think AlderTrack does good work.

- Posted by Rich Miller   6 Comments      

Federal judge sends lottery case to settlement talks

Friday, Nov 20, 2015

* This entire case could be moot if the House Speaker removes his hold on the funding bill and the Senate returns in early December to pass it

A U.S. District Court judge on Wednesday sent parties in a lawsuit against the Illinois Lottery by unpaid lottery winners into settlement talks while the case continues.

Chief Judge Ruben Castillo said he will refer the case on an expedited basis to Magistrate Judge Mary Rowland, who will oversee the discussions.

Illinois has not been paying lottery winners of $600 or more since October, due to a state budget impasse between the Republican governor and the Democratic-controlled legislature. The state has continued to advertise games, sell tickets and hold lottery drawings. […]

The judge set a briefing schedule that culminates with a Dec. 16 hearing. The case expanded earlier this month to include dozens of state lotteries participating in the Mega Millions and Powerball games. The amended lawsuit also included a motion to stop the other state lotteries from sending Illinois its share of multi-state lottery winnings.

As we’ve seen time and time again, federal judges don’t care much about state constitutional requirements.

* Related…

* Illinois pilots grounded in budget fight: Yet, the same five pilots who formerly flew the planes were still on the payroll, earning a combined $39,500 per month.

* State rep calling for repurposing, reopening Illinois Youth Center in Murphysboro

* Tri-State communities affected by Illinois budget deadlock

* Illinois Hospitality Groups: Restore “Choose Chicago” Funding

- Posted by Rich Miller   14 Comments      

Poll purports to show Illinoisans can be convinced to oppose ethanol

Friday, Nov 20, 2015

* You may have seen ads on social media lately about ethanol. Here’s a video ad

* Illinois ag is not amused

Kenneth Harman, Jr., Illinois Corn Growers Association President; Richard Guebert, Jr., Illinois Farm Bureau President; and Raymond E. Defenbaugh, Illinois Renewable Fuels Association President issued the following joint statement today regarding the anti-ethanol campaign currently underway in Illinois.

“The anti-ethanol smear campaign currently underway in Illinois is heavy on rhetoric and short on facts. The timing is suspicious, as we’re just about ten days away from the deadline that requires the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s release of its final rule making on the Renewable Fuel Standard RVO requirement. Such a desperate, expensive spend on advertising reflects the precarious position of Big Oil. They don’t have a leg to stand on.

“We know that the Renewable Fuel Standard has been one of the most successful energy policies ever enacted. It has rejuvenated rural economies, created jobs nationwide, and lowered prices at the pump, all while reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

“EPA recognizes that corn ethanol provides a significant reduction in greenhouse gasses. In fact, global ethanol production and use is estimated to reduce those emissions by 100 million metric tons. That’s like taking 20 million vehicles off the road. U.S. ethanol production each year displaces the gasoline equivalent of 512 million barrels of crude oil. That’s more than we import annually from Saudi Arabia.

Illinois is the second largest producer of ethanol in the country, so we’re talking big bucks here.

* But the ethanol opponents have released a new poll of Illinoisans

How familiar are you with a federal law on the books called the Renewable Fuel Standard, which mandates certain amounts of biofuels to be added to the nation’s fuel supply?



Question 8

Let me give you some information about the Renewable Fuel Standard, or RFS. The RFS is a federal program established in 2005 and expanded in 2007 that requires biofuels, such as corn ethanol, to be blended into your gasoline. The RFS requires more and more biofuels, particularly corn ethanol, be blended added to the nation’s fuel supply each year.

Based on what you know, do you agree or disagree with the RFS and the increased use of corn ethanol in our nation’s fuel supply each year?



Question 9

Now, let me tell you a bit more about the RFS. When the RFS was created, Congress included specific targets for how much ethanol should be added to the fuel supply each year, with the numbers going up each year. But earlier this year, EPA said that those congressional targets were too high, in part because demand for gasoline has actually gone down. That’s something Congress never predicted, and which wasn’t included in the original models.

Knowing this, would you be more or less likely to support the existing RFS and the HIGHER ethanol mandate targets?


Question 10
And, which of the following statements comes closest to your view?



And then it all goes downhill from there.

* From the narrative

After being presented with the key findings of the Princeton study, which found that corn ethanol production nearly doubled greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions over 30 years, compared to conventional gasoline, 78 percent were less likely to support the RFS and higher ethanol targets. As the survey continued, 73 percent of voters believed that the ethanol mandate has an overall negative effect on the environment. 83 percent told us they were less likely to support the program once they learned of the Environmental Working Group study that found ethanol production in 2014 resulted in 27 million more tons of carbon dioxide entering the atmosphere. 72 percent of Illinoisans were less likely to support the RFS and higher ethanol targets after learning that scientists at the Sandia National Lab, a federally funded research institution, found that producing one gallon of ethanol from irrigated corn could require up to 880 gallons of water. And 83 percent believe mandating that more corn ethanol be added to the fuel supply could decrease the country’s water supply.


- Posted by Rich Miller   36 Comments      

Credit Unions – Helping families in times of need

Friday, Nov 20, 2015

[The following is a paid advertisement.]

Helping members reach their day-to-day financial goals. Providing unwavering support during crucial times. Every day, credit unions live out one philosophy: ‘People Helping People.”

Earthmover Credit Union in Aurora recently learned one of its member families was in a desperate situation. After a devastating electrical fire broke out in their home, this family of six lost nearly everything they owned. “Earthgivers,” the credit union’s charity committee, immediately jumped into action.

The goal was to raise $1,500 in one month. Candy bars were sold at all five Earthmover branch locations. Clothing donations were accepted from members and the community. Word quickly spread about this family’s plight and the credit union soon doubled its goal. In the end, more than $3,000 was raised for this family to purchase new clothing and begin to replace personal belongings.

People before profits. It’s a credit union principle that remains constant – and another reason why members know their credit union will be there for them, no matter the circumstances.

- Posted by Advertising Department   Comments Off      

Report: Rush to run again

Friday, Nov 20, 2015

* NBC 5

Congressman Bobby Rush called a news conference Friday to discuss his re-election plans and while most expect him to announce he’s running again, there is speculation he is considering retiring.

When asked if the event was Rush’s campaign kickoff, his press secretary said “you’ll have to come to the announcement.” Some speculate Rush wants to remain on the primary ballot, so that if he chooses to retire after the March primary, he can help hand pick his successor.

* But the Tribune obtained his statement

Rush to run again: House Democrat Rep. Bobby Rush on Friday plans to announce he’s running for a 13th term in Congress. The Chicago lawmaker will make it official at a 10:30 a.m. news conference at the Gary Comer Youth Center, 7200 S. Ingleside Ave.

The 68-year-old Democrat is declaring his candidacy for re-election as the deadline looms for potential challengers to file nomination petitions to run for his seat. A cancer survivor, Rush missed several House votes this year and last because of his wife’s poor health and has been the subject of retirement rumors for some time.

I think both outlets might turn out to be right. Time will tell.

- Posted by Rich Miller   27 Comments      

*** UPDATED x1 *** Immigration groups to meet with Rauner staff on Syrian refugees

Friday, Nov 20, 2015

* From a press release…

ICIRR Urges Governor Rauner to Embrace Syrian Refugees
Political, Religious and Immigrant Leaders Call for Acceptance

WHAT: The Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR) will host a press conference following our meeting with senior staff for Governor Bruce Rauner Friday morning. ICIRR and our allies will encourage the Governor to reconsider his decision to suspend resettlement of Syrian refugees in Illinois and to embrace Illinois’ long standing policy of welcoming and acceptance.

WHEN: November 20, 2015
1PM Press Conference

WHERE: ICIRR conference room, 55 E. Jackson, suite 2075, Chicago

WHO: Father Larry Dowling, Priests for Justice, Archdiocese of Chicago
Reverend Michael Mann, United Methodist Church, Northern IL conference
Suzanne Akhras Sahloul, Syrian Community Network
Lawrence Benito, CEO, Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights
Ahmed Rehab, executive director CAIR-Chicago
Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago

WHY: The Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR) will meet with senior staff of Governor Bruce Rauner Friday morning to discuss his decision to suspend resettlement of Syrian refugees in Illinois. ICIRR will encourage the Governor to both embrace refugees who are fleeing persecution and acknowledge the rigorous screening process refugees must complete before settling in Illinois.

Refugees are thoroughly vetted and must complete background checks, interviews, extensive screening and case file reviews to be considered for resettlement. The process can take over24 months, and thus far only about 100 Syrian refugees have arrived in Illinois.

On Wednesday, the Chicago City Council reaffirmed the city’s longstanding commitment to immigrants and refugees, and ICIRR is urging the Governor and all city, state, and nation leaders to do the same. At Friday’s press conference leaders from all backgrounds, faiths and perspectives will join together and reaffirm the importance of acceptance and diversity to the foundation of this country.

* Meanwhile

(T)wo Illinois Democrats joined a veto-proof House majority in Washington, D.C., on Thursday in passing a bill to require more stringent security checks on refugees from Iraq and Syria who want to enter the U.S.

The measure, drawn up after the Paris terror attacks, passed 289-137.

Joining all eight House Republicans from Illinois in supporting the bill were Democratic Reps. Dan Lipinski of Western Springs and Cheri Bustos of East Moline.

The state’s eight other House Democrats voted no. Altogether, the bill drew support from 47 Democrats. Passage came despite a White House threat to veto the measure, which is called the American Security Against Foreign Enemies Act.

*** UPDATE *** Doesn’t sound like the meeting had any impact

“The Administration explained to the groups that while Illinois wants to be a welcoming place for refugees, the federal government is still not sharing critical information requested by states,” Rauner spokeswoman Catherine Kelly said. “We hope they will advocate with federal representatives to encourage more information sharing from the federal government to the states.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   52 Comments      

*** UPDATED x1 - Meeks shows up *** ISBE responds to harsh criticism

Friday, Nov 20, 2015

* You’ll remember this press release from yesterday


Coalition Sheds Light On Governor’s Back-Door Move for Massive Charter Expansion, Demands Rejection of Federal Funds

WHAT: Parents, community organizations, school board members and elected officials will join together before the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) meeting on Friday, November 20th at 9am to protest the undemocratic decision making from ISBE to expand charter schools in Illinois without public input.

ISBE applied for and received a federal grant of $42.5 million to open 48 new charter schools – 24 for Chicago over the next 5 years and 24 for the rest of the state. But the grant only covers start-up funding, with no funds to run schools once they open, thus cannibalizing the same inadequate public dollars funding existing schools.

* The ISBE responds…

ISBE could never do what is being suggested in this release. ISBE is required by law to offer the money - once awarded - to start-up charter schools through sub-grants that are decided based on a highly regulated and competitive state procurement process.

This procurement process is governed strictly by the state procurement code to ensure transparency and fairness. The program will help educate and empower school districts to consider the ways in which charter schools can support and encourage educational innovation, community partnerships and improved student outcomes.

It will build on ISBE’s current initiatives to help all schools promote academic excellence by providing equitable options for all students to ultimately close the achievement gap.

In addition, I was told earlier: “There have been no decisions made on selection or funding for any expansion of a charter school at this time as it is still too early in the process. ISBE will release an RFP later this fall by which those determinations will be made. The purpose of the presentation in [today’s] Board meeting is to explain this RFP process.”

*** UPDATE *** Rev. James Meeks, the ISBE Chairman, interrupted the press conference at about the 5:30 mark on this BlueRoomStream video. He was polite, but some of the participants weren’t happy


- Posted by Rich Miller   25 Comments      

Sanguinetti committee passes optional collective bargaining proposal

Friday, Nov 20, 2015

* A text message from a friend yesterday…

Someone keeps blaring the “Solidarity Forever” song on the conference call of the Lt. Gov’s task force to whack collective bargaining….lol

* Illinois Public Radio

The task force is made of legislators, mayors and a library trustee. During the meeting, they approved recommendations like incentivizing schools to consolidate and encouraging municipalities to share equipment.

Then, came this proposal “to make collective bargaining permissive, instead of mandatory.”

Before they could vote, they were interrupted by the song of a banjo, then a choir singing the song “Solidarity Forever.” The chorus repeats the title phrase, then goes on to say “for the union makes us strong.”

The task force’s chair, Lt. Gov. Evelyn Sanguinetti, tried to pushed on, saying “I suppose someone put us on hold, without mute…” when the song again began to play. It happened several more times, including as a coda until the call ended after Sanguinetti adjourned the meeting.

Even so, the proposal passed 15-1.


- Posted by Rich Miller   46 Comments      

The least popular freshman governor

Friday, Nov 20, 2015

* Morning Consult

While only a small percentage of Americans approve of the job Congress is doing, the average governor’s approval rating is a healthy 54 percent. An average of 34 percent disapproved.

Running for president appears to be a good path to a lousy approval rating in one’s home state, the surveys show. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker – both of whom have an approval rating of just 40 percent — join Jindal near the bottom of the rankings (Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who sports a 59 percent approval rating, is the lone exception).

On the other hand, voters appear to give the benefit of the doubt to governors who have only recently won office: Less than a year into their terms, Baker, Hogan, Alaska’s Walker, Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R), Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts (R) and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) all have approval ratings north of 59 percent. Hawaii Gov. David Ige (D) and Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf (D) both have approval ratings over 50 percent.

Only one new governor – Illinois’s Bruce Rauner (R) – is seen in a negative light: His approval rating, 42 percent, is three points lower than the percentage who disapprove of the job he’s doing.

Rauner never really had great numbers during the campaign, and these are 2016 voters, so it’s a more Democratic sample. I seriously doubt this poll would cause any sort of panic on Team Rauner.

But it’s nothing to be proud of, for sure.

The Illinois survey had a very large sample size, by the way. Click here to see ‘em all.

- Posted by Rich Miller   51 Comments      

Today’s quotable

Friday, Nov 20, 2015

* Citadel CEO Ken Griffin, Illinois’ richest man, on CNBC

“We live in Illinois, which is economically depressed due to an overreaching government that can’t control its spending.”

…Adding… Illinois’ population is 4 percent of the nation’s, but it gained 5 percent of last month’s robust 271,000 new jobs

The Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) announced today that Illinois’ nonfarm payroll employment gained +14,100 jobs and the unemployment rate in October held at 5.4 percent, based on preliminary data released by the Department and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

- Posted by Rich Miller   72 Comments      

Group, legislators claim “undemocratic” decision on charters

Thursday, Nov 19, 2015

* I don’t know anything more about this than what’s in the release, but obviously there is gonna be some issues raised tomorrow. I’ll see if the governor’s office wants to respond, so stay tuned…



Coalition Sheds Light On Governor’s Back-Door Move for Massive Charter Expansion, Demands Rejection of Federal Funds

WHAT: Parents, community organizations, school board members and elected officials will join together before the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) meeting on Friday, November 20th at 9am to protest the undemocratic decision making from ISBE to expand charter schools in Illinois without public input.

ISBE applied for and received a federal grant of $42.5 million to open 48 new charter schools – 24 for Chicago over the next 5 years and 24 for the rest of the state. But the grant only covers start-up funding, with no funds to run schools once they open, thus cannibalizing the same inadequate public dollars funding existing schools.

Legislators will call for a hearing on how and why the state pursued this grant, and community leaders will urge a rejection of these dollars at a time when districts can scarcely fund the schools they already have.

WHEN: Friday, November 20, 2015, 9:00 a.m.

WHERE: James R. Thompson Center – Blue Room (15th floor)
100 W. Randolph Street

WHY: The ISBE applied for and received a federal grant of $42.5 million to open 48 new charter schools, 24 in Chicago over the next five years and 24 across the rest of Illinois. Coalition members are demanding to know how this one-time, non-sustainable funding is justified given current state and education financial crisis.

WHO: Brighton Park Neighborhood Council, Kenwood Oakland Community Organization, Chicago League of Women Voters, Raise Your Hand for IL Public Education, Parents4Teachers, Northwest Side Housing Center, Northern IL Jobs with Justice, Women Gathering for Justice, school board members from outside of Chicago

Elected Officials: State Senator Willie Delgado, State Rep Will Guzzardi, State Rep Lashawn Ford, State Rep Sonya Harper, State Rep Ann Williams, Alderman Rick Munoz.

- Posted by Rich Miller   54 Comments      

*** UPDATED x1 - Dold “responds” *** Some stats and facts to keep in mind, and some hyperbole to avoid

Thursday, Nov 19, 2015

* Sun-Times

[Melineh Kano, executive director of Refugee One] said Wednesday that 21 Syrian refugees have been approved by the federal government to enter the United States and are currently waiting in other countries — such as Egypt and Lebanon — for travel and living arrangements to be finalized before coming to Illinois. It’s unclear how the process will play out in light of Rauner’s announcement.

In the 12-month period ending in July, 131 Syrian refugees were resettled in Illinois, mostly in the Chicago area, Kano said. […]

Out of the approximately 800,000 refugees who have been resettled in the United States since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, only three individuals have been detained and questioned by authorities for questionable affiliations — detainments that have not resulted in convictions, she said. […]

Jessica H. Darrow, a University of Chicago lecturer who has made a career out of studying refugee issues, said that attempting to use refugee status as a ruse for terrorist activity would be extremely hard to do.

“These people end up in a camp type setting with nothing, in a tent, sometimes for 10 years at a time,” she said. “It’s a pretty tough journey to travel and have that be a false route.”

She also said security screeners rely on skepticism until proven wrong when examining the back stories of potential refugees. Screeners, she said, look at it like this: “OK, you’re here in this chair trying to game the system and gain access to our country under false premises, and we’re going to believe that until you can prove to us that you’re not lying.”

I personally know several people (Iraqis) who’ve immigrated here under the refugee program. The process is not easy, to say the least.

* Press release…

WASHINGTON— Today, Congressman Peter Roskam (IL-06) released the following statement after House passage of H.R. 4038, the America Security Against Foreign Enemies (SAFE) Act, which pauses the Obama Administration’s refugee resettlement program:

“The first and most important Constitutional duty of the federal government is protect the homeland. Last week’s tragic massacre in Paris was a wake-up call. In the days since, ISIS has declared its intention to carry out terrorist attacks on Washington, D.C. and New York City. This bill is simple: pause the refugee resettlement program until the Administration can verify with 100 percent certainty that we know who exactly is entering our country and what their intentions are. The bipartisan vote today proves that this is not a partisan issue—this is a national security issue. President Obama should do the right thing and sign this bill into law to ensure the continued safety of all Americans.”

* I’ve asked Congressman Roskam’s staff how any government can guarantee anything with “100 percent certainty.” You will recall that US Sen. Mark Kirk quickly backed off his demand for “100 percent assurances” yesterday when I pressed the issue.

I’ve also asked Congressman Bob Dold’s staff to explain the same thing regarding his demand for “absolute certainty.” So far, I’ve received only a snarky off the record response. It didn’t please me.

I’ll let you know if either man responds.

*** UPDATE *** From a Congressman Dold aide…

The only thing that’s guaranteed as of now, according the President’s own FBI Director, is that the United States does not currently have the ability to thoroughly vet the backgrounds of people claiming to be Syrian refugees. Today a bipartisan, veto proof majority of the House told the Administration that they need to fix these problems to protect the American people. In the wake of vicious ISIS attacks that have slaughtered hundreds in Paris, Beirut and in the Sinai, the notion that Members of Congress shouldn’t be demanding far better from our government is preposterous.

Move to strike as non-responsive.

[ *** End Of Update *** ]

* It’s not that I oppose the bill that passed the US House today. I don’t know enough about it either way, and some congressmen in the president’s own party are clearly frustrated with non-cooperation from the White House on this issue.

I don’t even oppose the concept of a temporary pause in Syrian refugees while the program is given a once-over. The allegations by some of playing into the hands of the terrorists just because some folks want to circle back and check the strength of the doors is just way over the top, as is this

Defying Gov. Bruce Rauner and his chicken-hearted closed border policy for Syrian refugees in the aftermath of the Paris terrorist attacks, Burke and his fellow aldermen sent a loud message that Chicago will not join in the fear-mongering.

The chest thumping on both sides is beyond ridiculous.

* How about we all get back to something that we have some control over, like the budget? Remember that?

A whole lot more Illinoisans are being hurt by that problem than could ever be hurt by a few refugees.

- Posted by Rich Miller   49 Comments      

Remap group staffs up

Thursday, Nov 19, 2015

* Press release…

In preparation for a 2016 ballot referendum on Illinois legislative redistricting reform, the Independent Maps coalition on Thursday announced the addition of Hilltop Public Solutions as campaign consultant and Dave Mellet as campaign manager.

“With the petition drive on target to meet our goal of 600,000 signatures, we now can begin to gear up for a larger education campaign and the expansion of our statewide network of volunteers,” said Dennis FitzSimons, Chair of Independent Maps. “Our campaign is well underway, and we have added two seasoned veterans of statewide campaigns to help lead us to victory at the polls in 2016.”

Hilltop Public Solutions specializes in coalition building and managing high-stakes, high-profile campaigns by using the strategies and tactics it takes to win modern campaigns.

“Hilltop’s Bill Hyers, who managed New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s 2013 campaign and has extensive campaign experience across the country, will lead the Hilltop team in Illinois for the Independent Map Amendment,” FitzSimons said. “Hyers, who has been named a rising star by Politics magazine, has a reputation as one of the top campaign managers and political strategists in the United States.”

“Its time to bring fair elections back to Illinois, and I’m thrilled to be a part of this talented and experienced team,” Hyers said. “For too long, voters in Illinois have suffered from a partisan process that has called into question the very concept of fair elections. With the gridlock in Springfield, now more than ever Illinoisans need an open, transparent government that puts people before politics.”

Hilltop’s Elizabeth Lucas will be part of the team assisting Independent Maps. Lucas, founder of The Initiative Group, has worked on and advised hundreds of ballot initiatives around the country. She served as Political Director at the Ballot Initiative Strategy Center and field director for the Ohio Democratic Party against the anti-union SB5, a statewide voter referendum defeated by an overwhelming majority in 2011. She also has served as State Director of Organizing for America in Pennsylvania and on several presidential and state-level campaigns in battleground states.

“Dave Mellet, who was campaign manager for former Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon’s 2014 campaign for comptroller, will be our campaign manager and execute the non-partisan coalition’s campaign strategy,” FitzSimons said.

Mellet has worked on state and local campaigns for close to 10 years. After receiving a master’s degree in public administration from the University of Pennsylvania, Mellet started his career working on Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell’s successful 2006 reelection campaign. He went on to staff and manage campaigns for mayor, city council, state senate, and alderman. He has lived in Illinois for several years, working as a staffer for a direct mail firm and as the campaign manager for Simon last year.

Cindi Canary, who has been serving as executive director since June, will continue in that position during a transition period through the end of the year, when she will become a senior consultant to our board.

“Cindi’s leadership has been key to expanding our base of volunteers and putting us ahead of schedule on our signature collection timeline,” FitzSimons said. “She also helped us recruit and interview campaign manager and consultant candidates, and we’re pleased that she will remain very much involved.”

Anybody have any insights on these new folks?

- Posted by Rich Miller   39 Comments      

Question of the day

Thursday, Nov 19, 2015

* Some headlines from today…

* Service agencies face uncertain future without state budget: “People who are most affected currently are the most vulnerable,” said Jean Pierce of Geneva, vice president of the league. “The state ended funding for services that help 75,000 survivors of domestic violence in Illinois. Many people will have to choose between staying in violent homes or becoming homeless.”

* Taxing is more responsible than borrowing: And if you think truly conservative elected officials won’t find creative ways to borrow to spend, well, think again. Just last week Governor Bruce Rauner’s administration revealed a plan to borrow up to $115 million from the Illinois Finance Authority — to cover basic operating expenses, like buying food for prison inmates. Governor Rauner is pretty conservative, and the Authority isn’t in the business of funding current services. In fact, according to its strategic plan, the Illinois Finance Authority exists to provide capital project “financing to 501(c)(3) nonprofits and private sector companies.” Let’s see, Illinois state government is neither a 501(c)(3) nonprofit nor a private sector company, and buying food for prison inmates isn’t a capital project, but the state’s short on revenue, so. …

* Cuts, tuition increasing as Richland deal with budget concerns

* SWIC approves belt-tightening measures in wake of state budget standoff

* Streator High raising property taxes: To get ahead of legislation in Springfield for a proposed property tax freeze, Streator Township High School is asking for the maximum it can without a truth-in-taxation hearing.

* Dementia care suffering as a result of budget impasse

* On November 2nd, Rep. Scott Drury sent this e-mail to his constituents…


Between 1976 and 2015, the federal government failed to timely pass a budget on 18 separate occasions. The longest period without a federal budget was 21 days. Yesterday, Illinois entered its fourth month (124 days) without a budget, and there is no end in sight. Why?

When the federal government shuts down, it actually shuts down. Apart from essential services — such as law enforcement — government services stop. This angers the citizenry. Politicians, worried about the next election, find a way to get past their differences and pass a budget.

While Illinois does not have a budget, Illinois government is not completely shut down. According to the comptroller, Illinois continues to pay approximately 90% of its bills. As a result, only pockets of the citizenry are angered at any one moment. Things are kept at a simmer, rather than boiling over.

Drury ended up voting against the municipal, 911, lottery, etc. funding bill because it would take away a major pressure point.

* The synopsis for Rep. La Shawn Ford’s House Joint Resolution Constitutional Amendment 43

Proposes to amend the Finance Article of the Illinois Constitution. Provides that if appropriation Acts are not in effect on July 1 of a fiscal year that provide for the expenditure of funds, the Comptroller shall order payments and the Treasurer shall make disbursements at the levels provided for in the previous fiscal year’s budget, to the extent revenues are available to make those disbursements. Provides that this provision does not apply to amounts appropriated on a continuing basis. Effective upon being declared adopted.

* The Question: Do you support or oppose HJRCA 43? Take the poll and then explain your answer in comments, please.

online survey

- Posted by Rich Miller   54 Comments      

Today’s number: 2.96 percent

Thursday, Nov 19, 2015

* Tribune

Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s speed camera program improperly issued more than $2.4 million in fines to Chicago drivers, ticketing them when cameras were supposed to be off and when the required warning signs were confusing, obscured or missing, a Tribune investigation has found.

At the same time, City Hall has systematically ticketed drivers near schools without the legally required evidence of a schoolchild in sight. A Tribune random-sample analysis puts the number of those questionable tickets at about 110,000.

Here’s how they get that 110,000 number

A ticket-by-ticket review of 1,500 randomly chosen citations from school zones found no children were present in the photographic evidence for nearly a third of the cases, even though a child’s presence was required. That review suggests that about 110,000 tickets may have been issued without legal justification.

OK, maybe. But let’s say that’s correct.

* Now, scroll almost all the way to the end of the story

The speed camera program has doled out more than 2.1 million tickets, most of them warnings, along with more than $81 million in fines.

110,000 supposedly bad tickets out of 2.1 million total citations is a 5.2 percent error rate. And $2.4 million in supposedly bad fines out of $81 million in total fines is 2.96 percent.

- Posted by Rich Miller   33 Comments      

Killing a bill ain’t passing one

Thursday, Nov 19, 2015

* Truer words were never written…

Passing a bill is a whole lot more difficult than killing one. The governor proved last week that he could kill a bill backed by Speaker Madigan. He has yet to show how he and Rep. Dunkin can pass a bill over Madigan’s objections. Why? Because they can’t.

* So, keep that in mind when you click the link to read this one


Care to do a caption contest?

- Posted by Rich Miller   90 Comments      

In a word: No

Thursday, Nov 19, 2015

* From the Illinois Policy Institute’s news service

Budget deal with reforms coming together?

Might a draft proposal by several rank-and-file lawmakers be the beginning of the end of the budget stalemate in Springfield? Several media outlets report a bipartisan group of lawmakers is working behind the scenes on a package of compromises that address reforms, spending and revenue.

Politico Illinois reports the compromise includes proposals for taxing retirement income over $50,000, allowing all school districts to bargain for 3rd party contracting, layoffs, class size, and more, and substantial workers compensation reforms along with property tax freezes.

Meanwhile Crain’s Chicago Business reports a political consultant released proposals including suggested spending and budget reforms, business and regulatory reforms, revenue, local control and pension reform, among others. Illinois is now more than four and a half months into the current fiscal year and there’s still no budget.

1) Those lawmakers haven’t met in over a month, so they’re not currently “working behind the scenes” on anything.

2) Their “compromise” was rejected by the governor, despite its “substantial workers compensation reforms.” It was too much revenue for not enough reforms, which is not a great sign since the Democrats moved pretty far off the dime. I’m not sure how much further they could go. I mean, as is, I seriously doubt they can sell this thing to their fellow Dem legislators, particularly in the House.

3) That political consultant also runs IllinoisGO, which was formed to guard Gov. Rauner’s Democratic/left flank. While his plan wasn’t completely horrible, he is persona non grata with the Democratic leadership and with most rank and file Democratic members. If you want to trace the origins of this stalemate, look to the spring, when IllinoisGO launched.

* I’ve been hearing that Ty Fahner’s Civic Committee of the Commercial Club of Chicago has been working on a little something something for months.

If that group comes out with a do-able compromise plan, then it may be time to pay attention because, as we saw with the pension reform fight, it has some powerful backers. His membership is chock full of Raunerites, so a plan would probably nudge the governor to the table. And many of those wealthy folks are also quite influential with the House Speaker.

As much as some might hate me saying it, Fahner could wind up being the key here if he manages to retain some independence when (if) he unveils his proposal.

- Posted by Rich Miller   33 Comments      

NCSL publishes “refugee primer”

Thursday, Nov 19, 2015

* Your mandatory reading assignment today is “The US Refugee Resettlement Program: A Primer for Policymakers” published by the National Conference of State Legislatures. Click here and discuss below.

- Posted by Rich Miller   35 Comments      

*** UPDATED x1 *** Is Illinois’ “climate change” for real?

Thursday, Nov 19, 2015

* From Americans for Prosperity Illinois on Tuesday…

Today the non-partisan Tax Foundation released its 2016 State Business Tax Climate Index and Illinois has jumped 8 spots, from 31st to 23rd largely due to the end of corporate and individual income tax increases first imposed back in 2011. The rate reduction is the major reason for this 8 spot jump, showing how Illinois improve its efforts to attract jobs. Americans for Prosperity Illinois fought to preserve the expiration of the tax hikes in 2014 and will continue to advocate for a better climate for competition, including a lower tax burden.

“Illinois’ leaders should take note of this report,” said AFP Illinois State Director David From. “Our state is now in a better position to compete for jobs because we have a better business environment than in years past. However, this report also shows that the massive tax hikes being advocated by many in Springfield will have the effect of making the Land of Lincoln a worse climate for job growth. AFP Illinois will continue to educate citizens on the importance of limited government and lower taxes in order to make Illinois the economic engine of the Midwest.”

Americans for Prosperity Illinois is the state’s foremost group of grassroots activists advocating for limited government and economic freedom.

* The Wall St. Journal chimed in with its usual cluelessness

The College Football Playoff rankings are intensely contested by teams and their fans. This week the Tax Foundation released its tax policy equivalent, which ought to be a major embarrassment for the blue state conference. […]

The trophy for most-improved this year goes to Illinois, which jumped to 23rd from 31st—no thanks to Democrats in Springfield. The Tax Foundation notes that the leap occurred “due to the sunset of corporate and individual income tax increases” that Democrats “first imposed in 2011 as temporary levies to address the state’s backlog of unpaid bills.” First-year Republican Governor Bruce Rauner has let the income-tax rate lapse to 3.75% from 5% and the corporate rate to 7.75% from 9.5%, though Democrats are trying to push them back up.

Keeping taxes low is critical to turning around the Prairie State, which trails its neighbors in economic growth. Would that liberal state politicians cared as much about their tax ranking as colleges do about their football standings.

Actually, it was the Democrats who let the tax hike sunset after Rauner demanded it.

And Rauner has been saying for months that he’s willing to raise the tax rate to 4.75 percent - a tiny bit below where we were a year ago.

Also too, where is the business boom and rising state revenues from the lowered tax rates here?

* The reality is, unlike the NCAA rankings, the myriad tax rankings out there have little to no value. We were just below the middle of the pack before the tax expiration, and yet we were losing population and jobs. We’re just above it now and yet the BLS numbers aren’t great. The October BLS state-level numbers haven’t been published yet, but BLS showed a strong national surge last month. Let’s see how Illinois does in those rankings.

*** UPDATE *** October’s report is pretty decent news for a change. We have 4 percent of the nation’s population, but got 5 percent of last month’s 271,000 new jobs

The Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) announced today that Illinois’ nonfarm payroll employment gained +14,100 jobs and the unemployment rate in October held at 5.4 percent, based on preliminary data released by the Department and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). October’s gain follows four consecutive monthly declines. Illinois’ average job growth since the employment recovery began in January 2010 remains below the national average, however, and employment will not recover from the 2007-2009 recession until December 2016, according to IDES analysts. The nation is currently 3.1 percent above its prior peak level of employment.

“For 2015, job growth this month was the strongest since February and it is positive that we reversed the four-month decline preceding these numbers. Our job growth rate, however, continues to lag behind the nation,” said IDES Director Jeff Mays. “While the unemployment rate remained unchanged in October, our workforce participation rate edged up slightly as more people entered the labor force and more people found jobs during the month.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   50 Comments      

Jimenez likely Poe successor

Thursday, Nov 19, 2015

* I told subscribers about this days ago, but here’s Politico’s take

A SURE DEAL? — Republican sources say they’re certain Illinois first lady Diana Rauner’s chief of staff, Sara Jimenez, will get Gov. Bruce Rauner’s backing to replace Republican state Rep. Raymond Poe. Rauner just picked Poe to head the state agriculture department.

– While Rauner has authority to appoint someone to finish Poe’s term, the seat will be up for reelection next year. “It will be an epic battle,” said one Republican source. That’s because it’s in a heavily Republican district, but also a heavy union district. It’s expected labor will spend what is must to block a Rauner-appointee from taking the seat, given the governor’s year-long blasting of unions.

Sara is the likely appointee, but, of course, it’s the county party chairmen who appoint legislators, not the governor. And in this case, Sangamon is the only county in Poe’s 99th District. So, it’s up to Rosemarie Long, who appears to be pretty close to the governor. It’s her appointment, but the widespread belief is that she’ll do Rauner’s bidding.

And I don’t know what organized labor can spend to block the appointment because it’s not a campaign. I would expect the unions to put up a fight, but can they get a Republican on the primary ballot by the November 30th deadline? I haven’t heard any names as of yet, but I’ll check around. Unions will likely do battle in the fall, but that district is pretty darned GOP.

* Jimenez does have some detractors out there

One of the contenders to be named to replace former GOP state Rep. RAYMOND POE in the 99th District doesn’t have a solid Republican voting record.

SARA WOJCICKI JIMENEZ voted in Democratic primaries in 2002 and 2008 and didn’t vote in partisan primaries in 2004 and 2006, records show. She voted in Republican primaries in 2010, 2012 and 2014 as well as this year in the special primary in the 18th Congressional District.

Wojcicki in 2008 went from a job as Statehouse reporter for WICS-TV Channel 20 to become a spokeswoman for then-Democratic state Treasurer ALEXI GIANNOULIAS. About a year later, in the spring of 2009, she became spokeswoman for then-House Republican Leader TOM CROSS of Oswego. In 2013, she went to work for then-Comptroller JUDY BAAR TOPINKA as director of intergovernmental affairs and program communications, and earlier this year, she took the $100,000-a-year job as chief of staff to first lady DIANA RAUNER — her current job.

Sangamon County election records don’t show any Democratic primary votes among three other people vying for Poe’s seat: KENT GRAY, BRYCE BENTON or GRAY NOLL. Noll has been identified by Rosemarie Long, who chairs the Sangamon County GOP, as Poe’s preferred candidate.

What some hardcore partisans often fail to comprehend is that people do change their party affiliations. And that’s a good thing for the parties who get those new people. It’s called growth.

Either way, I seriously doubt that this will hurt Sara’s chances at the appointment.

- Posted by Rich Miller   68 Comments      

Byrne claims “increasingly hostile” environment at racing board

Thursday, Nov 19, 2015

* Remember yesterday’s “Weirdest story of the day” post about how Illinois Racing Board Commissioner Kathy Byrne resigned after Arlington chairman Dick Duchossois killed off her proposal to prevent racehorse slaughters?

Well, Ms. Byrne sent this late yesterday afternoon…

Hi Rich-

It’s not really such a weird story. Since August I have been trying to get an amendment to the [Illinois Racing Board] rules to provide some protection and monitoring of racehorses so they are not shipped to Mexico or Canada for inhumane slaughter. According to the USDA, 80,000 horses are shipped off this way–alive– each year. They don’t monitor by breed, but it’s estimated that about 10% of these are racehorses.It’s a horrible death for the horses, but it’s also a black eye for the racing industry.

I worked very hard with all the tracks, the horsemen’s associations and the breeders to come up with language that was agreeable and served the purpose. Arlington Park has strong anti-slaughter policies, and was very helpful in proposing language for the amendment and I used that language.

For whatever reason, and I honestly don’t know why, the chairman and the general counsel of the IRB seemed determined not to let this amendment come up for a vote. The obstructions are too complicated to get into here, but after four months of pushing and groveling I finally got it on the agenda yesterday.

So, I was surprised and shocked when Arlington Park very publicly pulled its support, objecting to language that it had asked to have incorporated into the amendment. The specific sentence is one that requires owners and trainers to fill out an exit/destination slip when they take a horse from the track, and for the track to notify the IRB if they refuse. Arlington’s objection was seized upon by the chairman and counsel, who began arguing that there was no need for the rule at all. Rather than have the Board vote against protecting racehorses from slaughter, I withdrew it.

It has been a deteriorating and increasingly hostile situation for me since March when the new chairman was appointed. As of yesterday, I had six months left in my term and it was obvious to me that if the controlling forces on the Board were fighting me on something as benign as this amendment, anything else I might offer in the next six months would also be DOA. So rather than spending six months doing nothing, I resigned.

I hope this helps explain what happened yesterday. I’m sad to go, but it’s better this way.

Kathy Byrne


- Posted by Rich Miller   47 Comments      

* More shenanigans!
* Saturday campaign money report
* *** UPDATED x2 *** Shenanigans!
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* Reader comments closed for the weekend
* Rauner: "Madigan has rigged the Democratic primary for Pritzker"
* New Ives radio ad claims Democrats are trying to help Rauner, while Brady does Rauner robocall
* *** UPDATED x1 - DGA responds *** Elections board says DGA should file disclosure for Ives ad
* SUBSCRIBERS ONLY: Jones; IEA/IFT; Reis; Mitchell; Edgar
* ISRA, Drury both try to claim Raoul inserted "poison pill" into gun bill
* Pro-life group launches GOTV effort for Lipinski
* *** UPDATED x1 *** Rauner opens new online track against Ives
* Erika Harold still can't remember comments, but says "I was wrong"
* Rauner calls Madigan "a unified force of bad, of evil"
* Sen. Duckworth gets involved in another state central committee race
* *** UPDATED x2 *** Has Pritzker gone to ground?
* Illinois House Bill HB 4900 Wastes Government Resources
* McCann, barred from SGOP caucus meeting, claims Rauner threatened to "destroy you and your family"
* *** UPDATED x1 *** Caption contest!
* Obama mailer kerfuffle in Lipinski district
* Rauner attended Quincy campaign event after Quincy veterans' home presser
* After spending millions in Dem primary, Rauner accuses "Washington liberals" of "hijacking" the GOP primary
* Yesterday's stories

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