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The Internets is weird

Monday, Feb 29, 2016

* Sigh…


Reminds me of a funny story.

For as long as I can remember, Shimkus has mistaken the Chicago Tribune’s Rick Pearson for me. We both have beards and are about the same height, but he’s much skinnier than me now because he’s a big TV star.

Years ago, Shimkus was in the Tribune Tower riding the elevator up to an editorial board meeting and Pearson was in the same compartment. Shimkus once again thought Pearson was me and started talking to him about what he’d read in that day’s Capitol Fax. Pearson, the story goes, got off the elevator and said something like: “Congressman, this is the Tribune. Why would Rich Miller be in this building?”

Two years ago, Shimkus once again mistook Pearson for me at the Illinois State Fair.

I feel bad for Rick. Really, I do, particularly since he trimmed himself up. One day, we’re going to have to approach Shimkus together to see if he can figure out who we are.

But, knowing Shimkus, I’m betting he’ll think we’re Zach Galifianakis and his twin brother… or something.

- Posted by Rich Miller   23 Comments      


Because… Rahm!

Monday, Feb 29, 2016

* Polling dictates mailers. And, as subscribers know, Mayor Emanuel is not popular in this Chicago state Senate district…


Stuff’s really heating up out there.

- Posted by Rich Miller   8 Comments      


*** UPDATED x1 - Cullerton responds *** Rauner: Cullerton refuses to step away from Madigan’s shadow

Monday, Feb 29, 2016

* The governor has said this to me in the past, but it was strictly off the record…


I’ll let you know if the Senate President responds.

Everything is just hunky dory these days, no?

*** UPDATE *** Senate President Cullerton…

“I’m not going to dignify that with a comment. Could we please get back to governing?”

- Posted by Rich Miller   80 Comments      


Politicians behaving badly

Monday, Feb 29, 2016

* Not allowed…


Campaigns cannot legally offer inducements to vote.

* And from a reader…

Hi Mr. Miller,

I’ve been a fan of Cap fax for a while now. I don’t really post in the comments, but do enjoy reading the snark in the comments.

Though I think you might be interested in this.

I had a meeting in Chinatown today at 10am. So I decided I would go vote before the meeting. I arrived a little after the polling place opened at 9am. While I was waiting for the poll workers to finish assisting some elderly voters I saw people there handing out campaign lit for a candidate inside the polling place. It was literally being done right before people voted on the machines.

* The pics…

- Posted by Rich Miller   44 Comments      


Priorities, please

Monday, Feb 29, 2016

* Tribune

The number of homicides so far this year in Chicago climbed past 100 over the weekend, the deadliest start to a year in the city in nearly two decades, according to statistics kept by the Police Department and the Tribune. […]

Since [1997], there have been three years that the city saw more than 70 murders over January and February: 1999 (95), 2000 (85) and 2002 (77). In the last decade, there haven’t been more than 66 murders during the first two months.

Murders began rising sharply in Chicago in the mid- to late 1960s, peaking in 1992 with 943 murders before gradually declining. In 1997, the number was 796. Last year, it was 468, by the department’s measurement.

* Sun-Times

Chicago Public Schools announced $85 million in cuts on Monday, saying that in all, 62 employees — including 17 teachers — are being laid off.

In a statement, the district said its hand was forced by the lack of a funding solution from state government.

“The reductions will come through layoffs, closing vacant positions, reallocating funds held in reserve, and changing programs,” CPS said in the statement. “Next year, the reductions will amount to $120 million on an annualized basis.”

* Progress Illinois

A lawsuit against the city of Chicago pertaining to red-light cameras will continue following a Cook County judge’s decision to deny the municipality’s request to dismiss the case.

The lawsuit alleges that the city failed to provide motorists with due process in their failure to issue second notices of violation prior to sending out final determinations of liability for red-light camera tickets. A win for the plaintiffs, who have requested that the case be turned into a class-action suit, means the cash-strapped city would be on the hook for refunding millions of dollars to drivers who have been ticketed since 2003. Chicago Law Department spokesman Bill McCaffery argues that the plaintiffs are not owed “any recovery, let alone any refunds.”

* And yet he’s wasting a whole lot of political capital on this

Some Chicago aldermen, small business owners and retail lobbyists want Mayor Rahm Emanuel to reconsider his tobacco tax proposal, saying the plan would adversely affect local businesses and neighborhoods, including those already impacted by black-market sales of “loosie” cigarettes. […]

Debate rages on over Emanuel’s proposal to increase the smoking age in Chicago from 18 to 21 and impose a $6 million tax on non-cigarette tobacco products, with the revenue going in part toward Chicago Public Schools orientation programs. The plan is aimed at preventing “young people from picking up smoking, while investing in their education,” according to the administration.

The proposed ordinance encountered aldermanic opposition at the monthly city council meeting held on February 10. Some opposing aldermen used a procedural move to delay consideration of the proposal for one month. They did so even after the Emanuel administration made changes to the ordinance to appease aldermanic critics.

Alds. Leslie Hairston (5th), Susan Sadlowski Garza (10th), David Moore (17th), Jason Ervin (28th) and Nicholas Sposato (38th) joined business owners and representatives from the Illinois Retail Merchants Association during a Tuesday morning press conference at City Hall to speak out against the mayor’s tobacco plan.

After my little health issue last year, I’ve done a big about-face on tobacco. The industry is run by vultures. And I hate the argument that government can’t do more than one thing at a time. It most certainly can.

But Emanuel is so badly damaged right now and his city is in such dire straits that it boggles my mind that he is picking fights with aldermen he’s gonna need if he ever hopes to solve some of these problems.

Enough is enough, already.

- Posted by Rich Miller   18 Comments      


Rauner vs. Edgar proxy war heats up

Monday, Feb 29, 2016

* Tom Kacich

The 102nd [House] District race already is up to more than $335,000 in funds raised either by or on behalf of the candidates — Jim Acklin of Ogden, Brad Halbrook of Shelbyville and Randy Peterson of Paris.

Halbrook, who is backed by Gov. Bruce Rauner and has the money to show it, is tops with more than $190,000 raised. Among his donations: $10,800 from the governor and his wife; $53,000 from Citizens for Rauner, Inc.; and about $86,000 from the Liberty Principles PAC, which is funded by Rauner and his allies. […]

Meanwhile, Peterson last week reported another $15,000 into his campaign fund from the campaign fund of retiring Rep. Adam Brown, R-Champaign. Brown is almost singlehandedly subsidizing Peterson’s campaign; $40,000 of the $40,450 in contributions to Peterson’s campaign have come from Brown, who currently represents the 102nd District.

Acklin, the third candidate in the race last week reported $69,000 in new contributions, including $50,000 from the Illinois Education Association and $15,000 from the Associated Firefighters of Illinois. He also got $2,000 from the State Universities Annuitants Association. Acklin’s fundraising total is up to almost $105,000.

Acklin is backed by former Gov. Jim Edgar. He reported another $60K or so today, most of it from the Chicago Land Operators Joint Labor-Management PAC.

* But there’s also some new oppo out there on Acklin, so we’ll see where this goes.

- Posted by Rich Miller   7 Comments      


*** UPDATED x3 - However… - NEIU denies - CSU denies *** Because… Madigan!

Monday, Feb 29, 2016

* Twitters…


….Adding… More…


…Adding More… Heh…


*** UPDATE 1 *** From Chicago State University…

Chicago State University is a public institution, and as such, does not take sides in partisan disagreements. Currently, several varying proposals to address the funding crisis in higher education exist in the General Assembly. The official position of the Administration and Board of Trustees of Chicago State University is that University officials will not participate in news conferences regarding any of these proposals in the middle of an election.

At no point have any CSU officials had conversations with any of the four legislative leaders that included direction about which bills to support or not support. We support any legislation that will provide direct, adequate funding so that we can continue providing our students with the affordable, quality education they deserve.

*** UPDATE 2 *** More…


*** UPDATE 3 *** From the CSU press release above…

The official position of the Administration and Board of Trustees of Chicago State University is that University officials will not participate in news conferences regarding any of these proposals in the middle of an election.

News conferences and rallies must be different things

A rally was held Sunday at Chicago State University to urge state lawmakers to take action so that public universities can receive their funding.

The rally, which was attended by former Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn and U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Illinois, comes one day after CSU sent notices to all of its 900 employees that layoffs would happen if the South Side university doesn’t receive its state funding. […]

“We will never allow Gov. Rauner, or others, to take this great university from Chicago State University,” said Sen. Monique Davis, D-Chicago. […]

“The word commencement means beginning so we are going to be celebrating the beginning of the new Chicago State University, this crisis notwithstanding, we’re going to be here,” CSU President Thomas Calhoun told the crowd.

Emphasis added.

- Posted by Rich Miller   39 Comments      


Question of the day

Monday, Feb 29, 2016

* OK, that’s just a low blow…


Not to mention that it’s been done before.

* The Question: Who do you think is the governor’s favorite band? Make sure to explain your answer, please. Thanks.

- Posted by Rich Miller   47 Comments      


*** UPDATED x1 *** Gonzales trumpets Tribune endorsement

Monday, Feb 29, 2016

* From House Speaker Michael Madigan’s primary opponent Jason Gonzales…

rich –

Our campaign just received its biggest endorsement yet!

The Chicago Tribune has endorsed Jason as their pick for State Representative of the 22nd District.

We add the Tribune to our growing list of endorsements which includes U.S. Congressman Seth Moulton, Alderman Dick Simpson, State Senator Robert Meza, and Democracy for American - Southside.

Early voting has already begun. Will you stand with us in the final stretch?

Click below to donate or sign up to volunteer!

Jason for Illinois

Moulton is a Massachusetts congresscritter. Meza is from Arizona. Simpson hasn’t been an alderman since 1979. DFA Southside has 38 members. But, hey, any port in a storm I suppose.

* The Tribune, to its credit, actually admits that Gonzales is a Rauner guy

Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner and his allies are backing a few Democrats — yes, Democrats — who they believe will be more independent of Madigan. They’re funneling resources to the campaign of Jason Gonzales, a management consultant who is running against Madigan in the 22nd House District. It’s a Hail Mary from anti-Madigan forces hoping Gonzales can oust the longtime speaker.

* And here’s the paper’s completely unpredictable endorsement

Who in his or her right mind would go head-to-head against Speaker Michael Madigan? Many people have asked Jason Gonzales that very question. The 42-year-old management consultant is challenging Madigan for his Southwest Side House seat. Other daredevils have tried to unseat the longtime speaker but crashed and burned on Election Day. Gonzales says his campaign is different. He has resources and money — some from reform-minded donors who support redistricting and term limits, and some from supporters of Gov. Bruce Rauner who are tired of Madigan’s iron grip on state government.

Gonzales has only lived in the district since 2013, but he has family there — and counters that Madigan is rarely there at all. “People want someone accessible and present in the community doing what’s right rather than playing power politics in Springfield,” Gonzales says.

He also is transparent about his past. In his late teens, he was arrested and jailed for using stolen credit cards. He eventually graduated from an alternative high school and went on to earn degrees from several prestigious universities, including Harvard. Gonzales is endorsed.

Maybe I’m wrong, but I’m betting the Speaker is practically living in his district office these days.

*** UPDATE *** Somehow, I doubt this was part of the Tribune editorial board meeting…

Democrat Jason Gonzales today announced his support for a progressive income tax in Illinois as a centerpiece of his candidacy.

“Under the current system, people living in poverty are asked to pay the same as wealthy, corporate CEO’s. We need a more equitable system that looks at ability to pay, so we can take the burden off Illinois families by lowering taxes for the working and middle class and ask the wealthy to pay their fair share.” Gonzales said.

Gonzales, 42, a consultant and former small business owner has master’s degrees from MIT and Harvard. He grew up in a working class union household and became the first member of his family to graduate college. Gonzales is challenging Speaker Michael Madigan in the upcoming Democratic Primary.

“Illinois is just one of a handful of states that still uses a flat income tax. In a time where so many people are struggling and are already paying some of the highest taxes in the nation, our outdated income tax system is an impediment preventing families from having the ability to get ahead,” Gonzales said.

Gonzales’ stance on this issue and other progressive policies like a minimum wage increase and elected school board earned him the endorsement of Democracy for America-Southside, former Alderman Dick Simpson and Congressman Seth Molton.

- Posted by Rich Miller   22 Comments      


*** UPDATED x1 *** An emerging meme?

Monday, Feb 29, 2016

* I’m excerpting way too much of this David Brooks column, but for good reason

We live in a big, diverse society. There are essentially two ways to maintain order and get things done in such a society — politics or some form of dictatorship. Either through compromise or brute force. Our founding fathers chose politics.

Politics is an activity in which you recognize the simultaneous existence of different groups, interests and opinions. You try to find some way to balance or reconcile or compromise those interests, or at least a majority of them. You follow a set of rules, enshrined in a constitution or in custom, to help you reach these compromises in a way everybody considers legitimate.

The downside of politics is that people never really get everything they want. It’s messy, limited and no issue is ever really settled. Politics is a muddled activity in which people have to recognize restraints and settle for less than they want. Disappointment is normal.

But that’s sort of the beauty of politics, too. It involves an endless conversation in which we learn about other people and see things from their vantage point and try to balance their needs against our own. Plus, it’s better than the alternative: rule by some authoritarian tyrant who tries to govern by clobbering everyone in his way.

As Bernard Crick wrote in his book, “In Defence of Politics,” “Politics is a way of ruling divided societies without undue violence.”

Over the past generation we have seen the rise of a group of people who are against politics. These groups — best exemplified by the Tea Party but not exclusive to the right — want to elect people who have no political experience. They want “outsiders.” They delegitimize compromise and deal-making. They’re willing to trample the customs and rules that give legitimacy to legislative decision-making if it helps them gain power.

Ultimately, they don’t recognize other people. They suffer from a form of political narcissism, in which they don’t accept the legitimacy of other interests and opinions. They don’t recognize restraints. They want total victories for themselves and their doctrine.

This antipolitics tendency has had a wretched effect on our democracy. It has led to a series of overlapping downward spirals:

The antipolitics people elect legislators who have no political skills or experience. That incompetence leads to dysfunctional government, which leads to more disgust with government, which leads to a demand for even more outsiders.

Several Illinoisans sent me that column over the weekend, and it wasn’t because of Donald Trump.

* Related…

* Greg Hinz: How Trump and Rauner are alike

Actually, that headline is misleading and apparently designed as click bait. Here’s what Greg wrote

Given such realities, it’s not hard to explain why people will turn to crisp, simple answers and tough-talking, self-financed, little-understood Type A business titans who declare they know the formula to restore past glory.

No, I’m not talking about Gov. Bruce Rauner, though some similarities definitely exist. Rather, my target is Trump, and to a lesser degree Vermont’s Bernie “I’ll make everything free” Sanders.

* For the record, I just want to make it super clear that in no way do I believe that our governor is a racist or a misogynist. I do not believe that the two men are peas in a pod. Rauner went out of his way to court African-Americans and Latinos. He did very well with suburban soccer moms, partly as a result of his eagerness to attract minority support, partly because he’s pro-choice. I’m betting that Trump won’t do nearly as well in a general election here as Rauner did.

But, despite their very real and very important differences, the comparison between the wealthy Republican men is just too easy to make for many folks and it’s starting to pick up a little bit of steam on social media as the presidential candidates begin converging on Illinois.

…Adding… It’s not just coming from Trump/Rauner critics. From Talk of the County

Team Trump, Rauner

The people making negative comments about Donald Trump and Gov. Bruce Rauner need to wake up. It’s our chance to straighten out this country and this state. Rauner is holding back because every year the Democrats have raised taxes so they can run the state any way they want. They work for us and it’s our tax money but unfortunately our state representatives are doing whatever they please.

And…


*** UPDATE *** From the twitters…


- Posted by Rich Miller   69 Comments      


The rest of the story

Monday, Feb 29, 2016

* KMOX

No email for Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner. KMOX’s Michael Calhoun tells us that Rauner’s given up the habit and turned in his email address.

Rauner chuckled when asked about his email habits, before telling KMOX that he doesn’t have any – personal or business – and it’s improved the quality of his life.

“My life is very different as governor than it was as a private business person,” Rauner says. “My life is actually way better because I don’t use email.” […]

“I have not sent an email as governor of Illinois,” he says.

* Phil Rosenthal

None of us tethered to our smartphones should doubt for a second that Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner was absolutely correct when he said this week that giving up email has “improved the quality of my life dramatically.”

It’s also something that practically only the boss can do.

You have to be awfully powerful and/or wealthy — or poor and/or cloistered — to unplug like that in this day and age.

This may come as a surprise to him, but the little bit of nirvana he’s discovered is a luxury beyond the reach of most people.

* Doug Finke

Rauner didn’t have much political experience when he took office, but he apparently learned quickly the value of not leaving a trail.

Last week, a reporter asked Rauner about his email usage after unsuccessfully trying to get information about it.

“I have no email, none whatsoever,” the governor said. […]

“Email causes all kinds of troubles, as you’ve seen,” he said. “People send out spams. People send out emails, they copy emails, they forward emails. Nothing good comes from that. I’ll talk to somebody. I want to look somebody in the eye.”

* Not using e-mail may have also improved the “quality of life” of the governor’s many friends and associates.

Rauner had a large e-mail list before he was governor, and he was infamous among that group for constantly bombarding his recipients with rants on a myriad of topics, from the economy to education policy minutiae. At one point, Rahm Emanuel reportedly begged to be taken off the list.

I, for one, wish he’d kept his little side project going. Just imagine the possibilities of a governor with his very own newsletter.

But a guy with such a strong e-mail habit probably figured it would be best to go “cold turkey” so he didn’t get himself in trouble. Smart move.

- Posted by Rich Miller   28 Comments      


Pot, meet kettle

Monday, Feb 29, 2016

* Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez wasn’t happy that former Gov. Pat Quinn endorsed her Democratic Party primary rival Kim Foxx

Alvarez’s campaign quickly issued a statement ripping Quinn as a “career politician” and noting that he had previously received campaign donations from Foxx’s political patron and former boss, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle. Preckwinkle sent $52,500 to Quinn in 2014, state records show. Foxx served as Preckwinkle’s chief of staff until jumping into the state’s attorney’s race.

“To the surprise of no one, career politician Pat Quinn, who has been the beneficiary of hundreds of thousands in campaign spending by Toni Preckwinkle, is now backing her political puppet Kim Foxx,” Mike Carson, campaign manager for Alvarez, said in the statement.

The Alvarez campaign also made it clear they didn’t expect support from Quinn, given that two years ago Alvarez announced a criminal investigation into an anti-violence program run by his administration.

But scroll down to the bottom of the story

But while she fires away at Foxx’s support from insiders, Alvarez enjoys the backing of two of the state’s most powerful political operators: House Speaker Michael Madigan and Chicago Ald. Ed Burke. Both have donated to her past campaigns and are backing her again.

“She’s been independent,” said Carson. “She has some folks who endorse her despite that.”

Yeah. OK.

* Meanwhile

Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez says her most prominent challenger Kim Foxx showed a “lack of decency” by using some footage of the now-infamous Laquan McDonald shooting video in a new TV campaign ad.

“It is a lack of decency that someone is trying to … gain cheap political points on a death of a young man in the video that shows someone being shot. I don’t find that to be decent. I think it’s appalling,” Alvarez told reporters Wednesday morning after delivering a speech at the City Club of Chicago.

But

Mother of slain teen says Alvarez used her in commercial without permission

Sheesh.

- Posted by Rich Miller   20 Comments      


State Board of Elections probing Mautino campaign

Monday, Feb 29, 2016

* Bruce Rushton

The Illinois State Board of Elections is reviewing campaign finance reports filed by auditor general Frank Mautino while he was in the General Assembly.

The board probe was sparked by a complaint filed by Dave Cooke, a retired nuclear plant worker who lives in Streator. Cooke says that he filed his complaint earlier this month after reading media reports about campaign spending by Mautino, who reported spending more than $200,000 at a single service station, Happy’s Super Service, in less than 11 years for gas and car repairs while he was a state representative.

Many payments were made in round figures of $1,000 or more. Disclosure reports also show more than $250,000 paid to Spring Valley City Bank for poll watchers, parking, gasoline, travel expenses and other purposes that have nothing to do with banking. Most of the bank payments were in round figures, with the bank often receiving between $100 and $300 for purposes typically described as “Chicago meeting” sometimes accompanied by the words “gas” or “parking.”

Records also show that Patty Maunu, Mautino’s campaign treasurer, received $23,800 in a series of 16 payments, all in round figures, since 2013 for meeting expenses, without any details on how the money was spent aside from notations that no one vendor got more than $150. If a campaign gives more than $150 to an individual or entity in a quarterly reporting period, the name and address of the recipient must be disclosed.

“This is a gentleman who’s the auditor general of Illinois who’s going to be looking at accounting issues,” said Cooke, a Republican who once served on his local school board. “Frank’s been in office for 25 years. He didn’t know how to do this (file proper disclosure reports)? I don’t believe any of that. … He shouldn’t be just throwing money down the toilet and giving it to whoever.”

Tom Newman, director of the division of campaign disclosure at the State Board of Elections, said that he isn’t at liberty to discuss details of the board’s review.

“Based on the reporting that’s been done, you can guess the content of the complaint,” Newman said.

- Posted by Rich Miller   21 Comments      


RNUG examines two new pension ideas

Monday, Feb 29, 2016

* Finke

An Illinois House committee Monday will begin hearings on a new approach for dealing with the state’s crushing pension debt.

Under consideration will be plans that would allow workers at retirement to take pension benefits as a lump-sum cash payment and give up guaranteed pension payments for life.

For some workers, this could mean a payout of hundreds of thousands of dollars. At the same time, proponents say, it would help reduce Illinois’ crushing pension debt that now stands at $111 billion.

“I’m trying to find a constitutional way to save the state a whole bunch of money,” said Rep. Mark Batinick, R-Plainfield, sponsor of one of the pension bills. “I call it a win-win scenario.”

But it’s also a scenario that needs some scrutiny and raises a lot of questions that lawmakers want to see answered.

The article is about two bills: HB4427, sponsored by Rep. Mark Batinick, with bipartisan co-sponsors; and HB5625, sponsored by Rep. Mike Fortner.

* Our resident pension expert RNUG took a look at both proposals…

Rich,

After reading Doug Finke’s very good Sunday SJ-R pension article, I made the time to read both bills. They are similar but also different.

HB4427 - Batinick

HB5625 - Fortner

Similarities:

Both only apply to NEW retirees.

Both require an irrevocable decision

Both eliminate survivor’s benefit completely (with one exception)

Both can’t be chosen if a QILDRO is in place (which protects a divorced spouse’s interest in a pension)

Both can’t be chosen if using the Reciprocal Act

Both retain any earned rights to Group Health insurance (apparent acknowledgement to Kanerva)

Both do NOT include the value of survivor’s benefits in calculating current value of the earned pension

Can’t repay if you go back to work later

Both let you fully cash out but …

Differences:

Where the cash comes from:

    Fortner - either private partnership money (think something like JG Wentworth’s structured settlement buyouts) or possible state bond offering

    Batinick - state money

How much you might get:

    Fortner - whatever the private partner offers for the (unspecified formula) current value

    Batinick - 75% of current value including expected AAI, reminder - in either case, survivor’s benefits are not figured into current value

Financial counseling:

    Fortner - required

    Batinick - none

Distribution options:

    Fortner - “full” only

    Batinick - “full” is 75% or you can choose less than “full” by percentage and get part cash-out and part pension (apparently with only a simple interest AAI) but the cash-out has to be a minimum of$50,000. Partial pension may include a survivor’s benefit on the reduced amount (language isn’t specific enough for me to be absolutely positive but I read it as including)

Return to work:

    Fortner - silent presume start over from zero

    Batinick - start over from zero but if partial reduction, said reduction also applies to any newly earned benefits

Summary:

Both aim to reduce the State’s Pension liability by paying the retiree less than the full current value and eliminating paying survivor’s benefits. Fortner farms the payout off on the private sector which could short the retiree more than the State may be shorting them, so expect less “savings” to the State, Batinick retains all the “savings” for the State.

My Opinion:

For 98% of retirees, these options will be a bad deal, especially if you have a spouse you want to provide a pension to should you die early.

There are some cases I can think of where a retiree MIGHT consider it. If both spouses work for the State, I could see the one with the smaller pension possibly cashing out but remember there are tax implications if the cash is not rolled into a traditional IRA. Or a deathly ill currently single person with very short life expectancy who wanted to leave something to their kids. But even both of those scenarios have some risk of outliving the cash.

Either bill could be amended before passage, which might change things. If either bill is passed and you were to consider it, get the best PAID financial advice you can BEFORE you sign anything.

- RNUG

- Posted by Rich Miller   91 Comments      


Another shoe drops on Sen. Sam McCann

Monday, Feb 29, 2016

* Bernie

McCann’s family moved out of a home in Carlinville, in the old 48th Senate District, and into one in Plainview, in the new 50th, where he won a four-year term in 2012. But there was still a homestead exemption being claimed on the home in Carlinville. That tax break, which takes $6,000 off the assessed value of the home for property tax purposes, is supposed to be for the taxpayer’s “principal dwelling place.”

John Bresnan, supervisor of assessments in Macoupin, said that tax rate last year was 7.7 percent. That would have meant savings of about $460 for the year in property taxes.

“The exemption issue was taken care of the minute that it came to my attention,” McCann said. “My Carlinville property is an investment and has been vacant for a full four years.”

Speaking for McCann’s campaign, spokesman GLENN HODAS said McCann “will be certain to pay any amounts due” because of the change.

The McCanns are not listed as owners of the house where they live, and there is no homestead exemption claimed there.

His property is an investment, but it’s been vacant for four years?

This man is his very own target rich environment.

- Posted by Rich Miller   37 Comments      


Blair Hull explains his support for Speaker Madigan’s primary opponent

Monday, Feb 29, 2016

* My weekly syndicated newspaper column

A name from the past has been leading the charge for Jason Gonzales’ Democratic primary campaign against Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan.

Blair Hull, the hugely wealthy but unsuccessful 2004 Democratic candidate for US Senate, directly accounts for $100,000 of the $300,000 which the Illinois United for Change PAC has raised since late January (and maybe double that, because it’s unclear who controls a company responsible for another $100K). The independent expenditure committee has so far reported spending money only on Gonzales.

I was able to reach Hull through an intermediary to ask him why he decided to get involved against his fellow Democrat Madigan in the primary. He would only communicate by e-mail, and didn’t respond to a follow-up question.

Hull said he believes Gonzales gives the state “an opportunity for a fresh start,” and predicted his candidate, an entrepreneur who received an MBA from MIT, would be a “true statesmen” in the General Assembly.

Speaker Madigan, Hull said, “is not a team player.” Madigan “does not cooperate well with others,” and gave as an example Madigan’s lone refusal out of all 50 state party chairmen to work with the national party on sharing voter information. Madigan, Hull said, “wanted to control the voter file because he wanted to control who was elected in the state of Illinois.” He said his view was “amplified” when he discovered that Madigan opposed same day voter registration (although that is now state law with Madigan’s backing).

“This lack of cooperation and team work has led to the dismal condition of our state today,” Hull claimed. “I believe the state of Illinois and the legislature would be improved significantly without Michael Madigan.”

And with that, he politely signed off, saying he hoped what he said was helpful and looked forward to “speaking with you after March 16th.” So, that’s that until after the March 15th primary, I suppose.

So far, Illinois United for Change has sent three mailers which have all said positive stuff about Gonzales. It’s widely expected that the group will go negative on Madigan soon, perhaps even by the time you read this.

Is it possible that Madigan could actually lose? Well, the Speaker appears to be working his district like that very thing could happen, which means he’s leaving no stone unturned. His own polling reportedly shows him ahead by a 6-1 margin, but everybody is operating under the assumption that respondents may not be telling the truth.

Madigan has unleashed the hounds on Gonzales, dredging up some long ago arrests and a felony conviction and even finding a letter from Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez that strongly argued against a gubernatorial pardon, which Gonzales eventually received. Gonzales’ campaign originally claimed Madigan had “lied” and the Alvarez quote was “faked,” but relented when I showed them the actual letter.

Four years ago, Madigan was challenged by another Latino candidate who was trumpeted by some in the media as a possible winner because his district is dominated by Latino-Americans. Madigan ended up winning that race by a huge margin. Gonzales is different, though, because the Latino candidate has far more money than anybody has ever had against Madigan.

Madigan received 9,860 votes in his contested 2012 Democratic primary out of 13,021 votes cast. His own 13th Ward accounted for 6,464 of those Madigan votes, out of 7,870 cast.

Madigan’s massive political organization backed Mayor Rahm Emanuel last year, and in the runoff Emanuel received 56 percent in Madigan’s 13th Ward to Cook County Commissioner Chuy Garcia’s 44 percent, which clearly shows that the ward’s Latino voters can be convinced to vote for a white incumbent against a credible Latino opponent. And the liberal Garcia is now supporting Madigan, which should help.

Much of Gonzales’ money is coming from folks who backed Gov. Bruce Rauner’s campaign, including Hull, who told the Sun-Times in 2014 that he contributed to Rauner because “I admire wealthy people who want to serve… People who are wealthy can really do what they believe, they can push for the right reforms.”

Gov. Rauner is horribly unpopular in Chicago and among suburban Democrats, so it’s difficult to see how Gonzales can pull this off if Madigan continues the attack by tying Gonzales to the Republican governor. It’s not a huge stretch to suggest, for some Democrats, that’s almost as bad as a felony conviction – and maybe worse in some households.

I suppose stranger things have happened, though, which is what is pushing Madigan so hard.

- Posted by Rich Miller   18 Comments      


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