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Question of the day

Wednesday, Sep 28, 2016

* Tribune

Robin Ventura has managed the White Sox to five straight seasons without the playoffs, but the team reportedly will retain him beyond this season if he wants to return.

Ventura’s contract expires after this season, and many viewed him on the hot seat, as he has compiled a 373-432 record since being hired before the 2012 season. That includes a 76-81 record with five games to play this season.

But according to USA Today’s Bob Nightengale, the Sox front office refuses to blame Ventura for the club’s issues and will give him a new contract should he want to come back. […]

Over Ventura’s five seasons as manager so far, the Sox have suffered a late collapse to miss the playoffs in 2012 and lost 99 games in 2013, the fourth-most in franchise history. Unless they win the final five games of the season, they will finish under .500 for the fourth straight season. They have also failed to make the playoffs for the eighth straight year in 2016.

* The Question: Is it time for Ventura to go? Take the poll and then explain your answer in comments, please.


survey software

- Posted by Rich Miller   57 Comments      


*** UPDATED x2 - GOMB, COGFA stand by projections *** Rauner issues his own stopgap deficit projection

Wednesday, Sep 28, 2016

* COGFA projected that the stopgap budget would create a $7.8 billion deficit. The governor’s budget office disagrees and has issued its own projection

Ahead of the [$1.7 billion GO bond] sale, the Republican governor’s office said the stopgap budget is on track to leave Illinois $5.4 billion in the red when the fiscal year ends on June 30 if nothing changes. A bipartisan legislative commission in July projected a $7.8 billion deficit.

* Meanwhile

Illinois’ pile of unpaid bills continues to grow, hitting nearly $8.3 billion on Tuesday.

The governor’s office said discussions are ongoing with legislative budget working groups over selling about $5 billion of shorter-term debt to pay down the bill pile.

Quinn tried to do similar borrowing to pay off bills (part of the tax hike was actually dedicated to that purpose), but he failed when Republicans wouldn’t cooperate and they couldn’t get all Democrats on board.

*** UPDATE 1 ***  COGFA’s director says he stands by the original projection. He also said he does not know how GOMB came up with its projection. I’ve asked the budget office for a brief written explanation.

*** UPDATE 2 *** I just got a quick briefing from GOMB and they made a pretty good case. Several hundred million in special funds spending wasn’t properly accounted for by COGFA, lapse spending wasn’t included, savings from refinancing bonds wasn’t included, and there are big problems with the way COGFA calculated Medicaid spending, including not factoring in projected savings and not fully counting federal reimbursements. They should’ve done this months ago, but they have a bond deal coming up, so better late than never, I suppose.

- Posted by Rich Miller   40 Comments      


More horrible pension news

Wednesday, Sep 28, 2016

* Mark D. Brodsky, the chairman of Aurelius Capital Management, writing in the Bond Buyer

For the 10 years through 2014, Chicago contributed less than $470 million per year to [its four pension plans, not including the school district’s]. These contributions were insufficient even to maintain the funded ratio, which went from a poor 61% at the end of 2005 to a dangerously low 31% at the end of 2015.

By 2019, the city’s annual pension contribution is expected to be $1.3 billion – an increase of $827 million, or 176%, above the 2014 contribution. Over the three years thereafter, the annual contributions are expected to jump another $741 million, to $2.0 billion in 2022. All of Chicago’s recent and proposed tax increases combined will be insufficient to fund these increases. We estimate the shortfall will be $647 million in 2022 alone.

After 2022, we project contributions will increase every year through 2055. Over that period, the annual contribution will increase by another $1.9 billion, to $4.0 billion in 2055 – 8½ times what the city was paying in 2014.

Do these steep increases provide steady progress toward proper funding? No. In fact, the plans’ funded ratio will actually drop over the next several years – from 31% in 2015 to 26% in 2021 – and their unfunded liabilities will increase until 2033. It will take until 2030 for the funded ratio to return to 31%; until 2050 for the funded ratio to be restored to where it was in 2005 (61%); and until 2057 for the ratio to reach 90%. […]

In our view, Chicago must, at a bare minimum, contribute enough every year, including 2016, to ensure that the plans’ funded ratio not drop below, and that their unfunded liabilities not exceed, 2015 levels. We estimate this would add $1.1 billion to the 2016 contribution. If the city cannot muster the resources and political courage to take this first step now, surely the city will lack the resources and discipline needed to dig out of a far bigger hole down the road. [Emphasis added.]

* The accompanying graph

- Posted by Rich Miller   97 Comments      


Dealing with the “Rauner question”

Wednesday, Sep 28, 2016

* We talked yesterday about how House Democratic legislators and candidates are attempting to fend off questions about Speaker Madigan. Today’s Sun-Times has a story about Rep. Michael McAuliffe (R-Chicago) denying that he’s close to Gov. Bruce Rauner

The bulk of McAuliffe’s campaign fund comes from Rauner. The GOP legislator said he knew he’d need big checks to fund the hefty pricetag of television campaign ads, which began airing in August. A second TV ad, which sought to link Marwig to Madigan by insinuating they were part of an “inside game” of lowering property taxes, began airing in September.

But McAuliffe insists he hasn’t spoken to Rauner about his campaign and that the contributions don’t tie him to the governor. A mailer sent out by SEIU featured an image of McAuliffe and Rauner and questioned whether they share the same priorities.

“I don’t feel like I have any ties to the governor except we’re both in the Republican Party. My district comes first. There are a number of bills that I’ve supported and he’s been against, where I’ve been the sole Republican. Or maybe had some other colleagues join me. So I think I just do what I feel is right for my voters,” McAuliffe said. […]

There’s no way to talk about the hotly contested race in the 20th District without talking about just how expensive it’s gotten. More than 80 percent of McAuliffe’s campaign fund has come from contributions from Rauner. The governor’s donations now total $1.2 million. That money is being channeled through the House Republican Organization.

In total, McAuliffe has more than $1.5 million in his campaign fund with just weeks to go before the election.

- Posted by Rich Miller   28 Comments      


Caption contest!

Wednesday, Sep 28, 2016

* Hmm…


- Posted by Rich Miller   50 Comments      


*** UPDATED x1 - Ad already on the air *** Oppo dump!

Wednesday, Sep 28, 2016

* The Sun-Times has a new twist in the now infamous employment case brought against Tammy Duckworth by Christina Butler and Denise Goins

Even greater problems were alleged in the civil-service case involving former Anna home administrator Patricia Simms (who also is a defendant in Butler and Goins’ ongoing lawsuit).

Although Duckworth signed employee reviews for Simms judging her work as “acceptable,” Simms was fired after Duckworth’s departure for a federal post in 2009.

In Simms’ civil-service case challenging her firing in 2010, officials said Simms was canned for failing to “properly maintain the list of veterans who are seeking admission to the veterans’ home in Anna.”

The attorney general’s office described several cases in which veterans sought to move into the Anna home but never appeared on any waiting list or were erroneously kept waiting too long. The problems prevented them from being admitted before they died.

Simms eventually resigned, promising to never again seek work with the department.

The alleged wait-list problems occurred while Duckworth headed the department.

Several dead people. Yeah, I expect that’ll be in a TV ad pretty soon.

* But one other thing about the plaintiffs

The two women expected more money from the settlement

*** UPDATE ***  Looks like they had an ad in the can while they waited for the story to be published. That’s standard procedure. This just went up today

- Posted by Rich Miller   18 Comments      


GOP chairman says Rauner criticism “drives me crazy”

Wednesday, Sep 28, 2016

* Progress Illinois

During his City Club of Chicago remarks, [Illinois GOP Chairman Tim Schneider] defended Rauner and his pro-business, anti-union policy agenda.

“He can move anywhere in the country or the world for that matter, and he’s chosen to put his foot down and lay his roots right here and try to build a better Illinois,” Schneider said.

“I hear often enough that our governor is destroying our state — he’s eliminating our social service safety net. And it drives me crazy. You’re gonna blame a guy that’s been in office for not even two years for the dire condition of the state for the last three decades? That’s not a Bruce Rauner’s making, it’s Bruce Rauner that’s trying to fix it.”

* From Illinois Public Radio last October, quoting a Rauner speech in 2012

“In Illinois there’s been a long-time history of what I would call social service, social justice, a bigger role for government in a safety net than in many other states. … What’s interesting, I think there’s a wedge issue here. … We cannot afford — we will crush our economy if we try to spend money on both high-cost, inefficient, bureaucratic, heavily unionized government and a social safety net to help the disadvantaged, the weak and the poor, which many of us would like to be able to do. We can’t afford both. … We have to make a choice. I think we can drive a wedge issue in the Democratic Party on that topic and bring the folks who say, ‘You know what? For our tax dollars, I’d rather help the disadvantaged, the handicapped, the elderly, the children in poverty. I’d rather have my tax dollars going to that than the SEIU or Af-scammy (AFSCME), who are out there for their own interests.’”

Just sayin…

- Posted by Rich Miller   40 Comments      


The power of the cyber

Wednesday, Sep 28, 2016

* Tribune

Since early September, Chicago elections officials received an average of 150 new or updated online voter registrations daily, Allen said. The number skyrocketed to more than 1,600 Friday, he said. Over the weekend, about 5,000 people registered online to vote in Chicago.

Statewide data showed more than 30,000 online registrations Friday, up from 2,800 the previous day. The momentum continued throughout the weekend, with 9,000 registrations Saturday and 5,000 on Sunday.

A Facebook post popped up in news feeds Friday, encouraging people to register and taking them to vote.USA.gov, where they can enter their state and get directed to their state voter registration page. […]

“This latest Facebook post, it wasn’t just that people saw a reminder to register, but I suspect a lot of people posted it and re-posted it. That kind of social pressure can be effective,” said [Zachary Cook, a political science professor at DePaul University], who clicked on it to change his voter registration address.

- Posted by Rich Miller   11 Comments      


Edgar, Kennedy take turns whacking Rauner, Trump

Wednesday, Sep 28, 2016

* Gov. Jim Edgar and Chris Kennedy spoke at an event in Springfield yesterday. Edgar said this is the first year he won’t be voting for the GOP presidential nominee, but wouldn’t say who he’s casting his ballot for.

Tribune

“I am not sure all that money that’s being poured in to defeat some of these Democrats Downstate will be successful,” Edgar told a crowd gathered Tuesday in Springfield for a fundraising lunch to benefit the Better Government Association, noting many Downstate lawmakers are well known for building relationships with their constituents. […]

Edgar noted Rauner’s strategy to link Democratic lawmakers to the powerful Madigan, but said years of trying to target the speaker have proved unsuccessful and are unlikely to sway voters who believe that ultimately how well state government functions falls to the governor.

“We’ve made Madigan an issue for years. I mean, when I was running for governor re-election, I had quadruple bypass surgery. I credited one of the bypasses to Mike Madigan. Most voters, they aren’t voting on him. The governor is a much more visible thing,” Edgar said.

“I will say, I think the Madigan name has been tarnished the last two years,” Edgar said. “But I don’t think that’s going to affect legislative races as much as the governor.”

The Republicans have been trying to pick off suburban Democrats for years. They never made a real push against some Downstaters (particularly in the House) because they couldn’t find decent (or any) candidates. Many (not all) of these Downstate districts lean Republican even during presidential years. So, I think he could be wrong there. But nobody knows for sure. Most of these folks remain popular locally.

And, regarding Madigan, a little anti-MJM website, smallish press pops and t-shirts four years ago is literally nothing compared to the millions the governor’s operation is spending to tie Democrats to the hugely unpopular House Speaker. I don’t know if it’ll work as planned, but they have a much better shot this year than at any time in the past because it’s far more coordinated (including with dark money groups) and way more well-funded.

* Kennedy’s turn

Kennedy was president of Merchandise Mart Properties Inc. from 2000 to 2011, and part of his role there was to manage the Merchandise Mart in Chicago, which he said dealt with more than 5,000 tenants and exhibitors annually. Among his current ventures, he chairs Joseph P. Kennedy Enterprises, Inc., which is the investment firm of the Kennedy family. In that role, he is responsible for development of the Kennedy family’s real estate holdings in Chicago known as Wolf Point.

Dealing with companies involved at the Merchandise Mart, he said, “Not one of them ever asked me about redistricting reform or term limits or tort reform or workers’ comp,” which are among things Rauner has wanted to get as part of his turnaround agenda.

But in dealing with the “billion-dollar” Wolf Point development, he said, investors from all over the world are asking, “Why should we invest in the only state that doesn’t have a budget? It’s rattling people. It’s taking a state budget problem … and turning into a statewide economic crisis, and it’s scaring people away. It’s creating uncertainty, and that’s bad for the economy.”

Hard to argue with that last paragraph.

* Related…

* Edgar: Trump candidacy, Rauner money make 2016 unpredictable

- Posted by Rich Miller   47 Comments      


New AFSCME TV ad: “Rauner is so far disconnected from how real people live”

Wednesday, Sep 28, 2016

* Press release…

Public service workers in Illinois state government are featured in a new statewide TV and digital spot that calls out Governor Bruce Rauner for refusing to negotiate with the largest union of state employees, AFSCME Council 31.

The Rauner administration broke off negotiations in January and has refused to meet with the union ever since. Recently a hearing officer of the Illinois Labor Relations Board rejected Rauner’s contention that the parties are at impasse on wages, health care and other key issues, and said the administration should be required to resume negotiations with AFSCME.

Called “Negotiate”, the spot features three Illinois public service workers describing in their own words their important work, how Rauner walked away, and their determination not to let the governor take away their voice on the job.

“Public service workers in state government protect kids, care for veterans, keep us safe and more,” AFSCME Council 31 Executive Director Roberta Lynch said. “State workers have always been willing to do their part. We’re prepared to compromise. But we can only do that if Governor Rauner puts the public good ahead of his personal demands and returns to bargaining ready to negotiate.”

In a recent statewide poll that showed strong public approval for Illinois state employees and their union coupled with a sharp decline in Bruce Rauner’s public support, likely voters sided with public service workers in their dispute with Rauner by a margin of nearly 2 to 1.

* The ad

* Script…

Thoughts?

- Posted by Rich Miller   138 Comments      


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* Rauner gets it half right while denying all blame
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