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Friday, Jul 29, 2016 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Here’s another one from Jamey Johnson

And promises break like an egg on the hot asphalt

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Remap reformers say recordings of Con-Con debates support their case

Friday, Jul 29, 2016 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Press release…

The recorded debates from the state’s 1970 Constitutional Convention and previous Illinois Supreme Court rulings could not be clearer – the Illinois Supreme Court should reverse a recent Cook County Circuit Court ruling and order the Independent Map Amendment be put before voters in the upcoming November election, according to the coalition’s opening brief filed Friday with the Court.

“The language of the Illinois Constitution and legislative history of the convention debates are indisputable,” said Dennis FitzSimons, Chair of Independent Maps. “Redistricting reform is clearly a topic that can be addressed by a citizen initiated amendment, and the Independent Map Amendment is exactly what the men and women who wrote the constitution had in mind when they granted Illinoisans this power.”

The brief argues that the Cook County Circuit Court ruling is an erroneous interpretation of the Illinois Constitution and is contrary to both the plain language of the constitution and the legislative debates of the constitutional convention. “Indeed, if allowed to stand, the circuit court’s ruling would effectively nullify the constitutional right of Illinois citizens to amend the legislative article through the initiative process, making it virtually impossible to craft a redistricting proposal that offers any meaningful change,” the brief states.

Quoting extensively from the debates by the members of the convention, the brief demonstrates that the framers of the constitution identified redistricting as one of the “critical” areas that voters could address in a citizen-initiated amendment. While citizen-initiated amendments are limited to structural and procedural subjects contained in the legislative article, the constitution’s “limited to” language was designed to prevent initiatives on substantive issues like taxes, abortion or the death penalty, but the language was not intended to stifle creativity of initiatives related to the legislature.

“The circuit court reached the wrong conclusion because it refused to interpret the Redistricting Initiative in a common sense manner, recognizing that each and every aspect of it is directly related to (and only to) redistricting,” the brief states.

“Under these circumstances, denying Illinois voters the right to vote on the Redistricting Initiative would deprive all of the citizens of Illinois of an important constitutional right reserved to the people by the 1970 constitution,” according to the brief, which points out that the circuit court ruling incorrectly rejected a “straight-forward, common sense interpretation” of the constitution, isolated various aspects of the amendment and re-characterized them as pertaining to something other than redistricting. “All of the provisions of the Redistricting Initiative are limited to the subject of redistricting: each and every one of them seeks to improve the redistricting process, by establishing better and more objective standards and by adopting new procedures to minimize self-interest and partisanship.”

The brief is here. “Key points” from the brief are here.

* From the key points page

A majority of the delegates agreed, however, that a more limited initiative process should be adopted “as a way to suggest constitutional change that a legislature . . . by its very nature might be unable to accomplish,” such as “reapportionment.” As one delegate noted, “we could hardly expect the legislature ever to propose a Constitutional amendment to reduce the size of its membership, to establish a reapportionment commission comprised entirely of nonlegislative members, or perhaps even to establish single - member districts.”

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Question of the day

Friday, Jul 29, 2016 - Posted by Rich Miller

* From the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity’s website

Illinois offers unparalleled opportunity at the epicenter of North America. Companies can thrive in a world class business environment with the most diverse economy in the nation, a central location with easy access to your operations, a well-educated and experienced workforce of millions, and an opportunity to be an integral part of the second most economically powerful region in America.

We have one of the world’s most culturally vibrant states that has become a magnet for the country’s brightest minds. And Illinois businesses enjoy low corporate taxes and tax-free personal property that help make us one of the most business-friendly place in the nation. [Emphasis added.]

The typo is in the original.

* The Question: Where’s Bruce “Illinois is in a death spiral” Rauner and what have they done to him?


Sunlight Foundation tags the wrong Michael J. Madigan

Friday, Jul 29, 2016 - Posted by Rich Miller

* From the Sunlight Foundation

Since February, Sunlight has pored over hundreds of names and affiliations of DNC superdelegates from all over the country. Our methodology included going state by state to the respective lobbying registration database, as well as using data from, to see if an individual was ever registered as a federal or state lobbyist.

At least 64 superdelegates have registered as a lobbyist at the federal level or state level at some point.

* That number isn’t 64, it’s 63 because the crack reformers who’ve supposedly been working hard on this project since February listed Speaker Madigan as a DC lobbyist for Akin, Gump. That particular Michael J. Madigan lobbied for a private corrections company in 2007 and formerly served as US Sen. Fred Thompson’s chief counsel.

Madigan’s spokesman says his boss has never been registered as a DC lobbyist and has never been on Sen. Thompson’s staff.


…Adding… They corrected it.


Rauner vetoes bills pushed by disability advocates, first responders, unions

Friday, Jul 29, 2016 - Posted by Rich Miller

* And now, on to the vetoes…

* From his veto message…

Today I veto House Bill 4351 from the 99th General Assembly, which would amend the Illinois Act on Aging to restrict the State’s flexibility in how we assess and serve Illinois’s elderly and physically disabled residents.

This bill is very similar to House Bill 2482, passed by the General Assembly last year, and which I returned with an amendatory veto for many of the same concerns I raise today. Although well intentioned, this bill would lead to serious unintended consequences.

First, this bill would lock into statute that an individual with a particular threshold score on the Determination of Need (DON) assessment tool would be eligible for both institutional and home and community-based long term care services. Instead, an individual with the threshold score should be entitled to institutional or home and community-based care. Many members of the General Assembly have long worked to transition the state from a reliance on institutional-based care to a focus on community care options that improve patient quality and cost efficiency. However, House Bill 4351 inhibits this transformation in the way the State delivers services for the elderly and disabled.

Second, to the extent that a motivating factor behind this legislation is to preclude a raise in the minimum DON score used to determine eligibility—as originally contemplated under the SMART Act (Public Act 97-0689)—I have no intention of raising the DON score. In light of this commitment, there can be no good reason to unnecessarily restrict the State’s ability to move from institutional-based care to community-based care through this legislation.

Finally, this bill would inhibit the Illinois Department on Aging from creating a new program, the Community Reinvestment Program (CRP). This program is designed to provide a multitude of flexible services for non-Medicaid individuals currently being served under the Community Care Program (CCP), and it furthers the State’s commitment to serving individuals in their own home and community rather than in nursing homes. CRP is also projected to produce savings of nearly $200 million during the next fiscal year. By precluding the launch of CRP, this bill would prevent the State from managing ever-rising costs and jeopardize our ability to ensure that essential community services remain available for the approximately 44,000 non-Medicaid persons now served by CCP.

…Adding… SEIU press release…

House Bill 4351, sponsored by Rep. Greg Harris (D-Chicago) and Sen. Daniel Biss (D-Evanston) would have prevented Rauner from manipulating the Determination of Need (DON) Score and limiting eligibility to seniors, which Rauner attempted last year. This is in addition to a proposed $200 million cut to CCP, which, in early talks, Rauner is proposing to replace with for-profit ride sharing vouchers, food vouchers and dry-cleaning services as an untried, unproven way to eliminate the in-home caregivers represented by SEIU Healthcare Illinois.

As a result of Rauner’s risky proposals, some 44,000 seniors are at risk of forced institutionalization.

Following is the response of Rep. Greg Harris:

“Sadly this veto by Gov. Rauner is another in his ongoing campaign targeting childcare, people with disabilities and senior citizens. We should be encouraging seniors to remain in their own homes and low-cost community settings instead of driving them into more costly institutions and nursing homes.”

* Other bills were also vetoed today…

Today I return Senate Bill 1059. This bill would allow retired state university employees who return to work after receiving a lump-sum retirement distribution to receive additional health benefits without making additional contributions to the retirement system.

Under current law, state university employees have the option to receive a one-time, lump-sum payout from the State University Retirement System upon retirement. A retired employee who elects to accept the lump-sum payout is not eligible to participate in the State’s health care program. If a retired employee later returns to work for the State after accepting a lump-sum payout, he or she no longer contributes to the State Retirement Systems and, therefore, is ineligible to receive additional future retirement benefits.

Senate Bill 1059 would allow a retired employee who accepts a lump-sum payout and then returns to work to participate in the State’s employee health care program, even though he or she would not be required to contribute to the State’s retirement systems going forward. The bill would establish an unequal benefit distribution and expose the State to unforeseen, unfunded costs to the historically underfunded State Employee Group Insurance Program. Rather than increasing retirement-related costs to the State, I urge the General Assembly to work with me on comprehensive pension reform.

* And…

Today I veto Senate Bill 2439, which amends the Illinois Pension Code to impose additional pension liability for police and firefighters on local governments, despite a local referendum rejecting such an expansion. It is identical to Senate Bill 763, which I vetoed last year.

Public safety workers deserve the right to earn good pension benefits. However, current law already provides a mechanism by which a municipality can provide pension benefits to police officers and firefighters. Benefits are mandatory in municipalities with the population of at least 5,000 people and can be created by referendum in those with fewer than 5,000 residents. Thus, in smaller municipalities, the decision rests directly with the people who will have to pay for additional benefits through higher property and other taxes.

This veto is necessary because Senate Bill 2439 would allow municipalities an end-run around local referendum results. If this legislation becomes law, a municipality could impose new pension obligations by a resolution of its governing body even if residents overwhelmingly reject the same by referendum. At a time when local governments in Illinois are struggling to make ends meet, we should not stifle direct democracy by permitting local governing bodies to ignore taxpayer’s wishes.

* And…

Today I veto Senate Bill 2531 from the 99th General Assembly to prevent yet another hindrance to economic development in Illinois.

The bill requires an economic development council that receives public money to include members of a labor council and persons from minority groups on its corporate board. Diverse representation, particularly minority representation, on corporate boards is an admirable goal and one every corporation should seek to attain. However, corporate boards should also be representative of the constituencies they serve and need flexibility to ensure that representation. Mandating certain representation on every economic development corporation that receives public monies is a one size fits all approach that ignores that many of these local and regional councils may be best served with different representation that reflects their specific mission.

Further, the vague drafting of this legislation is likely to have unintended consequences. For example, “economic development corporation” is defined as “an organization that receives public money that promotes the development, establishment or expansion of industries.” This broad definition will likely lead to the inclusion of corporations whose works bears no relationship to traditional economic development. In addition, many corporations that would fall within this definition are dedicated to representing the interests of the management side of business. Forcing the inclusion of the labor representatives on such a board is in direct conflict with such a corporation’s interest.

This bill is one of three pieces of legislation passed by the General Assembly this year that impose arbitrary mandates on groups trying to further economic development in Illinois. Last year Illinois lost thousands of jobs, and I continue to hear that businesses are leaving our State. Rather than imposing inflexible requirements on entities trying to bring jobs to the Illinois, I encourage the General Assembly to focus on passing legislation designed to further economic development.


Independent Maps has appealed to the Illinois Supreme Court

Friday, Jul 29, 2016 - Posted by Advertising Department

[The following is a paid advertisement.]

Independent Maps, a non-partisan statewide coalition of Democrats, Republicans and Independents, has appealed a circuit court judge’s ruling to the Illinois Supreme Court. If left intact, the lower court judge’s ruling would rob Illinois voters of the right make a meaningful change in the way legislative districts are drawn.

The framers of the Illinois Constitution knew that legislators would not advance amendments that impacted their offices — no matter how popular the ideas might be with Illinoisans. That’s why the Illinois Constitution gave voters the right to propose legislative reform amendments.

This important right is now endangered.

The Supreme Court hasn’t ruled on a citizen initiative since 1994, but they will now have the opportunity to preserve this important constitutional right of Illinois voters.

More than 563,000 Illinois voters signed a petition to for a transparent, fair and impartial way to draw legislative maps. Reversing this lower court ruling will restore the democratic rights of voters in our state.

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Rauner signs three controversial bills: Marijuana decriminalization, Contraception coverage; “Right of Conscience Act”

Friday, Jul 29, 2016 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Gov. Rauner just announced that he has signed three bills which have stirred some controversy. The first is the marijuana decriminalization bill. Rauner used an amendatory veto on a similar bill last year and proponents drafted another one to comply with his instructions. From a press release…

On Friday, July 29th Governor Rauner signed both SB 2228 and HB 4360. The passage of these bills represents an outstanding example of cooperation on reforming our criminal justice system.

“In the midst of a session where cooperation and compromise has been lacking, I am proud to have worked out our differences on this legislation and move our state in a very positive direction” said Representative Cassidy. “The governor and I both recognize the urgent need for criminal justice reform, reduction in prison population and the removal of barriers to reentry”

SB 2228 provides a statewide standard for cannabis possession, with a maximum $200 fine for possession of 10 grams or less and automatic expungement upon fine payment. The bill also implements scientifically proven standards for driving under the influence of cannabis and strengthens penalties for the dangerous production process of butane extracts. Representative Cassidy worked with a widespread coalition, gaining support from the Cook County State’s Attorney, Sheriff’s Office and Public Defender, in addition to numerous organizations across the state.

HB 4360 would eliminate the lifetime bar on employment and reduce time frames of prohibited hiring for various non-violent offenses for those seeking work in schools. It allows qualified individuals a schance to make their case and be considered for open positions. A thorough negotiation process secured the support of the Illinois State Board of Education.

* Two other bills signed today have been opposed by pro-life groups. Here’s part of the ACLU’s analysis on HB 5576

The Illinois Contraceptive Coverage Act will [prevent] insurance companies from imposing utilization controls that make it difficult for women to access the birth control they need, and by allowing coverage for 12 months of contraception at a time. As 99% of sexually active women use (or have used) at least one type of birth control in their lifetime, the potential impact of this legislation is widespread.

* And here’s the Illinois Family Institute’s action alert on the other bill, SB 1564

SB 1564 will radically alter the Illinois Health Care Right of Conscience Act — an Act that allows medical personnel and health care facilities to avoid participating in morally dubious medical procedures such as abortion, sterilization, and certain end-of-life care. Doctors, pharmacists, and other medical personnel have been protected from having to violate their beliefs and values for almost twenty years under this Act. […]

Under SB 1564, a doctor’s conscience and religious beliefs are irrelevant and it’s possible that a doctor refusing to assist in a procedure he/she morally objects to could result in a lawsuit.

* From the ACLU

Senate Bill 1564, now on its way to the Governor, carefully balances the needs of patients to get complete information about their medical condition with the ability of health care providers to refuse health care services to which they have a religious or conscience objection. In the course of the debate around this legislation, we have seen a campaign of false claims hurled by a handful of opponents. The debate in the House helped pierce these claims, making clear that the bill does not force anyone to participate in or refer for abortion or any other care.

Rather, Senate Bill 1564 ensures that each patient in Illinois now can be assured that they will have complete information, so that they can make the best medical decision for themselves and their families. These medical decisions, we expect, will be guided by a patient¹s individual condition and his or her personal beliefs. Senate Bill 1564 means that when Illinois patients go into an exam room, they do not need to worry that they are being denied medical information based on their health care provider¹s religious beliefs. In short, this bill protects patients when health care providers exercise religious refusals.

* When thinking about these two bills, keep this New York Times Magazine quote in mind

And as the Crain’s Chicago Business columnist Rich Miller recently wrote, in Illinois “independent suburban women have been the deciding factor in just about every statewide race since 1990.”

No brainers.


Republicans “pledge” not to vote for Madigan for Speaker

Friday, Jul 29, 2016 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Illinois Review

State Rep. Jeanne Ives (R-Wheaton) has an established reputation among conservatives as being gutsy and speaking her mind on the Illinois House floor. Thursday, she signed a petition promising her first vote in her third House term will not be for Michael Madigan as speaker.

“I almost never sign pledges, but this one is a no-brainer,” Ives wrote alongside a photo of her pledge.

Gutsy, indeed.

* The “pledge” is being sent around by a House Republican candidate named Mike Strick

I, _______________ a candidate for the office of State Representative for the District of _____ Illinois, pledge to the citizens of the ____ District of the state of Illinois that I will, upon my election and being sworn into office to the Illinois House of Representatives, refuse to vote for the incumbent Speaker of the Illinois House, Michael J. Madigan. I am free to vote for any other elected member, Democrat or Republican as I see fit.


Candidate for State Representative for the _______ District.

Strick is up against Rep. Stephanie Kifowit (D-Oswego). He raised $1175 in the second quarter, spent $100 and filed his report on paper.


More on the Lottery announcement

Friday, Jul 29, 2016 - Posted by Rich Miller

* The gaming stuff is old news, and we talked a little about the Lottery stuff yesterday, but let’s flesh it out

A new private company or perhaps a new governmental agency could run the Illinois Lottery, and Gov. Bruce Rauner said Thursday he would be open to talk about expanding casino gambling.

Rauner, who long has complained about the revenue the state lottery has generated under a deal his Democratic predecessor, Pat Quinn, brokered in 2010, announced Thursday that the state was formally requesting bidders to take over the lottery program. […]

Rauner said the state would move within a few months to hire a new firm to run the lottery, and that the state was looking for a contractor that can boost revenue by expanding the lottery’s online presence and better market games.

Rauner noted there are few companies that specialize in running state lotteries, and said his administration was willing to look at companies that don’t specialize in running games. If private companies don’t come up with proposals that win over the governor, he said he would go to the Legislature to create a quasi-government agency to oversee

* Tribune

Northstar got the 10-year deal because it made the biggest promises of profits for the state. The firm then never met those original profit targets. It blamed the state for supposedly doing things that hurt its ability to make its profit numbers, while the state fought to penalize Northstar for failing to meet the targets.

In an effort to oust Northstar, the Quinn administration cut a deal with Northstar for it to leave, and Rauner’s administration renegotiated the deal. […]

In the meantime, the Rauner administration said it was studying what metrics mattered for state lotteries to better structure the deal the second time. It unveiled those basics Thursday, which include allowing smaller firms to compete for the management job while prohibiting vendors who do the grunt work from also bidding on the management job.

Rauner said he also wants the new manager to better push internet sales. Illinois was a U.S. pioneer in introducing online lottery ticket sales, but it has struggled to capitalize on it. He said he hopes a deal can be reached with a firm in the next six months.

* AP

Rauner said it would take around six months to hire a new manager following the process set in state law. But he said if a suitable replacement can’t be found through bids, he’d consider trying to change the management model. The Republican floated the potential of a “public benefit corporation” similar to how some states, including Georgia and Tennessee, run lotteries.

Any changes would require approval from the Democrat-controlled Legislature.

Rauner’s general counsel Jason Barclay described the potential for a corporation set up within state government that wouldn’t be subject to all state requirements, like procurement rules. He said the ideas “intrigued” the governor, though no details had been decided. In 2003, Tennessee created a quasi-government entity to run games and generate money for schools.

Private manager, quasi-government entity, I don’t really care as long as it’s managed well.


Caption contest!

Friday, Jul 29, 2016 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Check out the timestamp on this tweet…


*** UPDATED x1 *** Whatever the number is, it’s still pretty darned high

Friday, Jul 29, 2016 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Twitters…

* From that link

Political contributions and transfers in Illinois for 2016 have now surpassed $100 million, nearing total amounts contributed in previous Presidential Election years.
In 2012 and 2008, there were $171 million and $151 million in contributions and transfers respectively. Years with Gubernatorial Elections tend to see more state level contributions, with over $340 million in 2014 and over $277 million in 2010.

The Illinois Republican Party spent over $130,000 on independent expenditures during the last two weeks. The money went towards advertisements for 11 challengers of Democratic incumbents in the House and Senate. No independent expenditures have been made on behalf of the Democrats in those races.

The Citizens to Protect Transportation Funding, a ballot initiative committee,
continued an upward fundraising trend this week. On Monday, the committee received $300,000 donation from Excavators, Inc and a $50,000 donation from Southern Illinois Construction Advancement Program. Those donations alone doubled the committee’s total funds from two weeks ago when there was a pick up in their fundraising. The group, which was founded in late June, already has $827,000 in available funds. They support an amendment that would create a lockbox for transportation funds.

The key word here is “transfers.” Transfers are just what they sound like: One campaign committee transfers money to another campaign committee. So, most transfers aren’t really “new” money. It’s money already in the system being moved around.

* So, I asked for the breakdown and here’s their response…

Since January 1st of 2016, there has been just over $54 million in contributions, $38 million in transfers, $6 million in loans to committees, and $4 million in in-kind contributions. That’s how we arrive at the total of roughly $102 million as of today - an updated number from yesterday’s $1.7 million.

So, the “new” money total is more like $64 million, including contributions, loans, and in-kinds.

* But look at how this year - so far - compares to previous presidential election years…


    - $38 million in individual contributions
    - $17 million in transfers
    - $4.7 million in loans
    - $3.5 million in in-kinds

Total of $63.2 million


    - $36 million in contributions
    - $16.8 million in transfers
    - $5 million in loans
    - $3 milion in in-kinds

Total of $60.8 million

It’s a whole new world, campers.

*** UPDATE ***  Missed this one

The House Republican Organization got another $500,000 from the Illinois GOP — money from a $5 million contribution from Gov. Bruce Rauner back in May.

The HRO has now received $3.5 million from the state Republican Party since May 10 as it continues a concerted cable TV advertising campaign targeting potential Democratic incumbents. House Republican leader Jim Durkin, of Western Springs, is trying to cut into Democratic Speaker Michael Madigan’s supermajority.

In addition to the HRO campaign operations, the state Republican Party last week also reported spending an additional $132,526 on legislative campaign mailings supporting 11 candidates against many of the same targeted Democrats.

The Democrats being challenged by Republicans in the mailings are Reps. Michelle Mussman, of Schaumburg; Sam Yingling, of Grayslake; Kate Cloonen, of Kankakee; Andy Skoog, of LaSalle; Mike Smiddy, of Hillsdale; Daniel Beiser, of Alton; John Bradley, of Marion; Brandon Phelps, of Harrisburg; and Sens. Tom Cullerton, of Villa Park; Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant, of Shorewood; and Gary Forby, of Benton.


Careful what you wish for

Friday, Jul 29, 2016 - Posted by Rich Miller

* News-Gazette

Faculty groups that oppose the appointment of a Champaign cybersecurity expert as the sole faculty member on the Illinois Board of Higher Education have suggested a compromise.

Let John Bambenek be one of the IBHE’s nine public members rather than the faculty representative.

The suggestion was raised last month at meetings among Bambenek, a University of Illinois lecturer, and faculty from the UI and the IBHE’s Faculty Advisory Council.

“I met with them and listened to their concerns and forwarded them to the governor,” Bambenek told The News-Gazette on Thursday. “At this point, no decision has been made.”

The IBHE has one vacancy for a public member, a term that would expire in January 2019, according to agency spokeswoman Candace Mueller.

DePaul University Professor Marie Donovan, who chairs the Faculty Advisory Council, said she heard Bambenek phone Rauner to relay the group’s recommendation after its meeting with him.

That arrangement assumes they’d be much happier with whomever Rauner chooses as the alternative faculty representative.

Somehow, I kinda doubt they’ll be overjoyed with the governor’s choice.


Duckworth speech focused on Trump as new ads slam her

Friday, Jul 29, 2016 - Posted by Rich Miller

* She spoke at 4:45 yesterday afternoon, so most people will have only read or heard about it, if at all

Rep. Tammy Duckworth addressed the delegation at the Democratic National Convention Thursday, slamming Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.

“In Donald Trump’s America, if you get knocked down, you stay down,” Duckworth said to applause. “By the way, Donald Trump, I didn’t put my life on the line to defend our democracy so you could invite Russia to interfere in it. You are not fit to be Commander-in-Chief.”

And she never once mentioned her opponent by name.

* Meanwhile, this new TV ad will be seen by a whole lot more folks

A super political action committee allied with Republican U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk’s re-election campaign is going on the air with TV and radio ads critical of Democratic challenger Tammy Duckworth’s stance on national security.

The Independent Voice for Illinois Super PAC is headed by former Kirk chief of staff Eric Elk, and it reported more than $1.3 million on hand to start the month after raising $845,000 in the first half of this year, federal election records showed.

The ads backing Kirk and criticizing Duckworth, a two-term congresswoman from Hoffman Estates, are airing in the Peoria, Champaign and Rockford markets. A spot check showed the super PAC spending about $27,000 alone to air 115 half-minute TV ads on WCIA Ch. 3 in Champaign.

The ads are critical of a statement Duckworth made last year about Syrian refugees that are in dispute by the two campaigns. The Kirk camp argues Duckworth indicated she wants 200,000 Syrian refugees to enter the United States — 20 times the number authorized by President Barack Obama. Duckworth’s campaign has said the candidate supports resettling 200,000 refugees overall in the United States, not just from Syria.

* TV ad

* Radio ad

Make sure to watch both of them and then rate ‘em. Thanks!


Just legalize it, already

Friday, Jul 29, 2016 - Posted by Rich Miller

* WaPo

There’s a simple reason why legalization may not be having much of an effect on teen marijuana use — adolescents already report that marijuana is widely available. Nationally, roughly 80 percent of 12th-graders say that pot is easy to get. The kids who want to smoke weed are probably already doing so — and legalization would do little to change that.

Drying up the black market would certainly limit pot’s availability to children. Kids can’t easily find a street-corner booze dealer like they can with pot dealers. And pot dealers don’t check ID cards. Yeah, the most determined ones will always find a way, but Walgreen’s managers don’t engage in bullet-riddled turf wars with CVS managers.

Let’s legalize it so we can stamp out the rampant criminal involvement the way we did with alcohol and video poker machines.



Today’s number: 32 percent

Friday, Jul 29, 2016 - Posted by Rich Miller

* From a Kankakee Daily Journal editorial

Women continue to be underrepresented in elected offices across the U.S., but the situation in Illinois is among the bright spots, and area voters have helped shine the light.

The state ranks sixth in the country for the percentage of female lawmakers serving in the state Legislature. Women make up about 32 percent of the Illinois General Assembly, holding 57 of the 177 seats.

There’s obviously still a long way to go, but as the editorial goes on to note, Kankakee has a female state Representative (Kate Cloonen), a female mayor (Nina Epstein) and a female US Rep. (Robin Kelly). Sen. Toi Hutchinson also represents the city. Rep. Cloonen’s Republican opponent is a female, so the GA’s gender balance won’t change if the incumbent loses.


Cullerton repeats demand that Rauner will decide tax hike

Friday, Jul 29, 2016 - Posted by Rich Miller

* This is by no means the first time Senate President John Cullerton has said this about a potential tax hike, but it’s still worth noting

In June, Illinois legislators approved a stopgap budget that will get the state through the November election and into the lame duck fall session.

Cullerton said he’s willing to work with the governor on a budget “as long as he doesn’t have radical ideas.”

“We look forward to finishing up our budget negotiations, getting a grand bargain and any kind of an agreement has to be with Gov. Rauner’s blessings. We’re not going to have any tax increase unless Gov. Rauner wants it,” Cullerton said.

“And if he wants a tax increase, he’ll determine how much that tax increase will be. But we’ll work with him. But it’s not going to happen unilaterally. It has to be two parties sitting down and willing to compromise and that’s certainly where I am.”


One way 2016 could impact 2018

Friday, Jul 29, 2016 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Riopell

Many delegates at both the Republican and Democratic conventions expressed dissatisfaction with their parties’ presidential nominees, and that discord could have an effect on Illinois’ 2018 election.

Voters upset with the choice between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton could turn to Libertarian Gary Johnson or the Green Party’s Jill Stein for president on their Illinois ballots. And if either — or both — gets more than 5 percent of the vote, it’ll be much easier for those parties to get a candidate for governor on the 2018 ballot.

That’s because crossing the 5 percent threshold in Illinois means a party’s statewide contenders would only need 5,000 petition signatures to get on the ballot instead of 25,000.

Ten years ago, Green Party candidate for governor Rich Whitney got nearly 10 percent of the vote, making it easier for his party to get ballot access, at least temporarily.

We’ll have to see how all this plays out. This portends to be a hugely negative election, between two candidates who, so far, aren’t widely liked (we’ll have to see what this week did for Clinton, but Trump’s convention bounce was not that big). That could very well force voters to flee to the sidelines or to third party candidates.

* But the Donald should probably avoid saying stuff like this

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump said Thursday afternoon he wanted to “hit” some of the Democratic National Convention speakers “so hard” while watching them last night, including a “little guy…so hard his head would spin.”

“You know what I wanted to. I wanted to hit a couple of those speakers so hard,” Trump said. “I would have hit them. No, no. I was going to hit them, I was all set and then I got a call from a highly respected governor.”

Trump didn’t immediately clarify what he meant, but he said he was made particularly upset by an unspecified person he called a “little guy.”

“I was gonna hit one guy in particular, a very little guy,” he said. “I was gonna hit this guy so hard his head would spin and he wouldn’t know what the hell happened.”

If you watch the video, it’s pretty clear he was talking about former NY Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who I thought gave one of the best “disqualifying” speeches of the week.


*** UPDATED x1 *** Is it over or not?

Friday, Jul 29, 2016 - Posted by Rich Miller

* We talked about this yesterday, but here’s the AP

A settlement in the workplace retaliation lawsuit against Democratic U.S. Rep. Tammy Duckworth is final and the plaintiffs can’t back out even if no paperwork was signed, the Illinois attorney general’s office said Thursday.

One of two women who sued Duckworth said Wednesday they wanted out of the agreement because they felt the congresswoman was tarnishing their reputations by still calling their allegations false. They said they also were upset that Duckworth’s campaign referred to their lawsuit as frivolous shortly after the agreement was announced last month. […]

Butler did not immediately return calls for comment Thursday. The attorney for her and Goins, Matthew Ferrell, did not respond to a message relayed to him by his office.

Randall Schmidt, a law professor at the University of Chicago, said the general rule is settlement agreements are enforceable even if they’re not put in writing.

“The fact that it’s not reduced to writing isn’t in and of itself enough to back out,” he said.

* Daily Herald

Goins and Butler, speaking with the Daily Herald again on Thursday, said that throughout settlement conferences this spring, they had been assured by their attorney that until the paperwork was signed, they had not committed to anything.

The women met again with their attorney Tuesday night. “We told him we wanted to continue to trial. He never said that wasn’t possible. He said we would still be proceeding to trial unless an agreement was signed.”

The attorney general’s office said Thursday that while it views the agreement as final, that no settlement agreement had yet been submitted to the courts.

A spokeswoman at the Union County courthouse confirmed an Aug. 15 trial date for the case remains on Judge Mark Boie’s docket.

* Sun-Times

Still, Kirk’s campaign on Thursday called the settlement news a “Duckworth implosion.” Campaign manager Kevin Artl said information given by the attorney general’s office about the settlement last month was “clearly misleading.”

The plaintiffs told the Daily Herald the settlement was about $40,000, with $21,000 of that amount paying for attorney fees and another $9,000 for each plaintiff.

The attorney general’s office, however, disputes that claim, saying the $26,000 settlement covered all costs, including damages paid to each client.

Bottom line: The judge in this case is going to have to decide what the heck to do.

*** UPDATE *** NBC 5 clears up the point about the docket

“We’ve obviously seen the stories, but that doesn’t change that we have a settlement agreement,” Attorney General’s office communications Director Maura Possley told Ward Room. […]

Possley told Ward Room that there is no scheduled trial.

But, according to the Union County Clerk’s office, the case is still on the docket because a settlement order to remove it hasn’t been received. Possley claimed the case is simply still on the docket from May.


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