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Proft busts caps in Bertino-Tarrant race

Monday, Sep 26, 2016

* From state Sen. Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant (D-Shorewood)…

The Illinois State Board of Elections announced today that the conservative super PAC Liberty Principles PAC broke the contribution limits in the 49th Legislative District through its spending on behalf of candidate Michelle Smith.

“By breaking the contribution limits in the 49th District, Dan Proft is now allowing Michelle Smith to receive unlimited contributions from Bruce Rauner and the Chicago billionaires who already fund her campaign through Proft,” said Bertino-Tarrant. “Unlike my opponent, I am proud to have the support of small-dollar donors across the the 49th District along with organizations that represent working families, educators, and small business owners.”

The Liberty Principles PAC is headed by controversial conservative radio talk show host Dan Proft and is primarily funded by Governor Bruce Rauner and billionaire Richard Uihlein, a financial backer to Rauner’s 2014 gubernatorial campaign. To date, Liberty Principles has spent $180,093 on behalf of Michelle Smith. Illinois election law removes all contribution caps once a super PAC spends $100,000 on a candidate.

“As a fourth-generation Will County resident, a life-long educator, and state senator, I have dedicated my professional career to providing a better future for our children and families throughout the district. I am optimistic constituents will prioritize a candidate’s work-ethic and campaign’s transparency when casting their vote for state senate on November 8, 2016.”

…Adding… Sen. JBT doesn’t actually have a whole lot of small-dollar donors. If you go back to January of 2012, she’s raised just $57,810 from 277 people who have contributed $500 or less. On the other hand, her transfers in (from PACs and other committees) totaled $1,252,961 in the same time period.

- Posted by Rich Miller   8 Comments      

Today’s quotable

Monday, Sep 26, 2016

* Rep. Norine Hammond (R-Macomb)

“A lot of bills have been vetoed. So there’s going to be a whole bunch of stuff (to go over) in our six-day veto session,” she said.

“My fear is we get into the start of January – lame-duck session – and all hell breaks loose.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   37 Comments      

Funding stuff that works

Monday, Sep 26, 2016

* DNA Info

Showing his commitment to mentoring programs he intends to bolster fight crime and gun violence, Mayor Rahm Emanuel attended a Becoming a Man meeting at Morgan Park High School Friday.

“You guys haven’t given up on yourselves, and the city shouldn’t give up on you,” Emanuel told a group of a dozen Morgan Park students known as the Dreamchasers. He was joined at the meeting by Ald. Matt O’Shea (19th).

Emanuel’s visit came the day after he touted a three-year, $36 million commitment to youth mentoring as a key part of his comprehensive plan to rein in crime and gun violence in the city.

“I wanted people to see this firsthand,” he said of his visit to the high school.

* Mark Brown tagged along

The main activity of Friday’s session was an exercise in which the boys split into two teams and made paper airplanes that they were supposed to fly across the room.

The mayor mostly watched but took one turn as the paper-plane launcher. It flew back in a loop and hit him in the face.

Afterward, Anderson asked the students to assess their performance.

The plane maker for the losing team took the blame for being too slow to produce one that would fly.

“That was awesome. You manned up. It’s about owning the things you do, good or bad. You didn’t put the blame on others,” Anderson told him.

It might seem silly, but it’s in such small lessons that B.A.M. communicates the values of self-responsibility and integrity that seem to have been lost on the young people pulling the triggers.

- Posted by Rich Miller   13 Comments      

Question of the day

Monday, Sep 26, 2016

* Atrios

Things like debates have gotten so meta. There’s more talk of meta than of substance. Sure the debates are theater, and sure these days you can (though why should you have to? there’s a debate to watch!) click on a candidate website which gives you some policy information, but “we’ve” already spent a couple of weeks talking about the expectations game, and the game to game the expectations game, and the game to game the gaming of the expectations game, all of which is about impacting the post-debate pronouncements of pundits, who are making career choices themselves with these pronouncements. CNN has approximately 87 people on stage whose job it is to argue about what we’re supposed to think about the thing we watched 5 seconds ago based on arbitrary standards they cooked up 10 seconds ago. One of them should say “[expletive deleted] this” and throw down the mic, but, hey, people gotta eat.

* Arthur Brooks and Gail Collins

Arthur: There was a famous paper a few years ago in The Journal of Politics in which the authors asked what effect the media experts who appear after a debate have on viewers’ opinions. After the 2004 debate in Tempe, Ariz., between Bush and John Kerry, they asked randomly sorted viewers who had seen no post-debate analysis who won. Forty-eight percent said Kerry. Then they asked another group who had seen the debate and NBC’s analysis who won. Kerry got 17 percent.

Gail: But what happened to that group afterward? I am thinking they went back to wherever they were before. After all, Kerry got 48 percent in the actual election.

* Rex Huppke

The first debate of the 2016 presidential campaign will be held tonight, and I would like to preemptively express my outrage over how it will have been handled.

If there’s one thing we know for certain from this event that has not yet happened it’s that it will have been grossly unfair and biased toward (insert candidate’s name). Undoubtedly the American people will see this debate for the sham that it will have been, once it actually occurs, and they will respond positively to (aforementioned candidate) who will certainly have comported (himself/herself) with remarkable poise given the preposterously unjust circumstances (he/she) will, at that time, have faced.

* More snark from the Borowitz Report

As the nation awaits the first faceoff between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump on Monday night, more Americans are expected to self-medicate than for any other Presidential debate in history.

With over a hundred million people projected to watch the debate, roughly sixty million of them will be barely sentient after ingesting what they deem to be the necessary dose of intoxicants.

Davis Logsdon, of the University of Minnesota, estimated on Monday that the level of self-medication for the Trump-Clinton debate could be seven hundred per cent greater than for the first Obama-Romney debate, in 2012.

* The Question: Your thoughts on tonight’s debate?

- Posted by Rich Miller   70 Comments      

Caption contest!

Monday, Sep 26, 2016

* From the twitters…

- Posted by Rich Miller   75 Comments      

More complicated than it already looks

Monday, Sep 26, 2016


“It used to be there were fewer gangs but they were more pronounced—it was not the smaller, what I call ‘splinter’ groups that have formed since,” said the Rev. Walter Johnson, who was the pastor of a church serving the now-demolished Cabrini Green neighborhood throughout the 1990s. “In recent history it’s been just all-out war amongst everybody. In some places, I’ve noted that on one block, three or four different factions are warring against each other.” […]

Today, experts say, the crews that have replaced gangs like Hoover’s are driven by goals less tangible than money, and the conflicts that erupt between them are more often provoked by interpersonal conflict than disputes over drug territory. “Back then, if there was violence, they were fighting over something—they were fighting over drug turf,” said Bradley. “The violence you’re seeing now, it’s almost attitude-driven.”

* And the Marshall Project

The officers who patrol the Chicago’s 11th Police District face a daunting challenge. The district, which is centered around Garfield Park on the city’s West Side, has the highest murder rate in the city, and it’s rising fast. By late August the district already had more murders than in all of 2015, when it led the city with 48 homicides.

The officers of the 11th District stand out in another way. They are the youngest and least experienced police officers of any district in Chicago.

The average officer in the 11th joined the force 10 years ago; over a third of the district’s officers have less than five years on the force. Meanwhile, most veteran officers with patrol experience in the late 1990s — the last time Chicago’s murder rate was as high as today — work far from Garfield Park. Half a dozen miles to the north one of the city’s safest districts, Jefferson Park, has only three officers with under 10 years of experience. Over half the patrol officers are 20-year veterans.

And this is not confined to the 11th

* Back to the article

Though the rookie/veteran divide is present in many police departments, Chicago does have policies that may leave its force even more skewed. The Chicago Police Department’s union contract allows officers to regularly bid for open positions in other districts. Bids for patrol officer positions are decided primarily by comparing the seniority of the officers, and officers can transfer using a bid once every 12 months.

- Posted by Rich Miller   17 Comments      

Caught in a vicious cycle

Monday, Sep 26, 2016

* Illinois Public Radio

Illinois is more than a year behind on payments to people who’ve been wronged by state government. Such individuals can seek compensation through the Court of Claims, which hears cases ranging from injuries caused by state workers to people unjustly imprisoned for crimes they did not commit. […]

The problem is that the winners have no way of collecting their awards until the Illinois General Assembly approves each individual payment. Legislators have included Court of Claims awards in several bills. The only ones to pass were vetoed by Governor Bruce Rauner, casualties of his broader budget fight with Democrats.

- Posted by Rich Miller   19 Comments      

How can we miss you if you won’t go away?

Monday, Sep 26, 2016

* News-Sun columnist David Rutter wants Pat Quinn to just go away, already

Those who don’t remember the Quinn years will not recall how affability does not make you a competent governor. On the other hand, maybe Illinois has reached the point where no one could govern it.

Whatever was faulty with Quinn’s management, successor Bruce Rauner made sure to cast each one in the most apocalyptic tone.

The two terms of Quinn as chief executive were multiple messes that not even jacking up the state income tax could cure.

There is only one reason Rauner sits in the governor’s chair. That reason was Pat Quinn.

Quinn was similarly unpopular during his 2010 run, but Bill Brady couldn’t take advantage. So, while there is some truth to the “Rauner didn’t win, Quinn lost” talk, the reality is that Bruce Rauner ran a highly effective campaign and Pat Quinn did not. Both of those predicates were required for the result we got.

- Posted by Rich Miller   33 Comments      

Rules bent a bit to move ConAgra headquarters to Chicago

Monday, Sep 26, 2016

* The Omaha World-Herald reports that ConAgra passed up a huge Nebraska subsidy to relocate its headquarters to Chicago. And then this happened

ConAgra told Illinois officials that tax incentives were needed to justify moving its offices to Chicago. Illinois officials must have been convinced. They found a way around a statewide moratorium on incentives the governor had recently imposed because of a budget crisis in Illinois. […]

An Illinois spokeswoman last year told news media in Chicago that the state’s offer to ConAgra came before the incentives program was suspended. But documents obtained by The World-Herald show a different timeline.

ConAgra bypassed the moratorium by tacking its headquarters request onto an application it had submitted a few weeks before the freeze. That application for incentives was for an unrelated expansion at a northern Illinois cookie factory it owned, according to documents from the Illinois Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity, requested by The World-Herald under public records law. […]

The application for tax credits on the cookie plant — not including the headquarters move — was dated May 12, 2015, and Illinois informally approved it May 28, five days before Gov. Bruce Rauner’s June 2 moratorium announcement.

* But then the company decided to jettison that cookie plant

On July 17 ConAgra asked Illinois for new financial incentives for a corporate office in Chicago, attaching the request to the cookie plant project even though it knew the plant wouldn’t be with the company much longer. On Aug. 12 an Illinois official wrote to Connolly offering possible financial support for what ConAgra was by then calling a new corporate headquarters.

* Steve Rhodes takes a walk down memory lane

Me, October 1, 2015: “New ConAgra CEO Sean Connolly lives in Winnetka, according to the Tribune. So, yeah, this move was really about shortening his commute.”

And just 10 days ago, upon the announcement that Duracell was moving its executive suite here: “I sense a trend of HQs moving here because CEOs who already live here don’t want to move to where their companies are actually already located. True? Assignment Desk, activate!”

Not that Chicago doesn’t have a lot to offer companies, but it’s not like they’re moving distribution facilities here because of our geography or moving manufacturing plants here because of our workforce.

- Posted by Rich Miller   18 Comments      

Trump raises money in Illinois for out of state candidates, while NRSC jumps in for Kirk

Monday, Sep 26, 2016

* Tribune

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s twice-rescheduled suburban Chicago fundraising luncheon is set for Wednesday. […]

Also serving on the event host committee [with Ron Gidwitz] is Roger Claar, the longtime Bolingbrook mayor and a member of the Illinois Republican State Central Committee.

But the other event hosts, including Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus, are from out of state, reflecting the uneasy alliance that exists between Illinois Republicans and their presidential nominee. Top GOP leaders in the state have actively worked to distance themselves from Trump.

Proceeds from the event go to the victory fund established for Trump and his running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence. Money raised for the fund not only goes to the Trump campaign, but to the RNC and state GOP efforts in 11 states: Arkansas, Connecticut, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Jersey, New York, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia and Wyoming.

Perhaps no surprise that Illinois is not on that list, since Sen. Mark Kirk has been so vocal lately about his disdain for Trump. If he did get any money, there’d be heck to pay.

* Now, on to Lynn Sweet

The National Republican Senatorial Committee is poised to help Sen. Mark Kirk R-Ill., getting ready to spend about $750,000 in Kirk’s battle with Rep. Tammy Duckworth.

The spending, a source said, will show that the NRSC, the Senate GOP political operation, believes that Kirk has a chance to win in Illinois, even though an outpouring of Democratic votes is expected for presidential candidate Hillary Clinton

* And speaking of the presidential race…

- Posted by Rich Miller   12 Comments      

*** UPDATED x1 CPS responds *** CTU says 95 percent voted to strike

Monday, Sep 26, 2016

* Tribune

Chicago Teachers Union members have approved a strike, the union said days before its leaders could set an actual walkout date.

The CTU did not disclose the total number of signatures collected after it spent three days distributing petitions to members last week.

Instead, the union announced Monday that about 90.6 of its members voted and that about 95 percent of those voters supported a strike.

State law requires at least 75 percent of CTU members authorize a strike.

* Sun-Times

“This should come as no surprise to the board, the mayor or parents because educators have been angry about the school-based cuts that have hurt special education students, reduced librarians, counselors, social workers and teachers’ aides, and eliminated thousands of teaching positions,” the union said in a press release.

*** UPDATE ***  From CPS…

“A strike can be averted, and CPS will work tirelessly to make sure children’s education and progress is not interrupted. CPS teachers have helped propel Chicago students’ remarkable academic gains – so even in a difficult financial environment, CPS is offering teachers a raise that was already supported by both the CTU leadership and an independent third party arbitrator.

“A strike is a very serious step that affects the lives of thousands of parents and children, and we hope that before taking the final steps toward a strike, the CTU’s leadership works hard at the bargaining table to reach a fair deal.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   50 Comments      

Video gaming could be a huge revenue generator for state, Chicago

Monday, Sep 26, 2016

* The Southern

According to the Illinois Gaming Machine Operators Association, and reports from the Illinois Gaming Board, video gaming has generated about $785 million in state and local tax revenues since the first machines went live in September 2012.

In the beginning, there were only 13 establishments throughout the state with about 60 machines, and now there are more than 24,000 machines and more than 5,600 restaurants, bars, fraternal clubs and other businesses with liquor licenses.

The association says the state brings in more than $22 million a month in taxes from gaming that is meant to support capital infrastructure projects. […]

A study by the operator’s association found video gaming tax revenue could grow to about $500 million a year if the about 150 municipalities that don’t allow video gaming jump in the game. The association said that number doesn’t include the city of Chicago, which doesn’t allow video gaming. It says, with the largest city in Illinois, the numbers could reach $700 million a year.

So video gaming for Chicago would generate $200 million a year in tax revenues? And it would tend to benefit the city’s hundreds of small, family-owned taverns and restaurants instead of just a few rich folks if they put a big casino downtown?

Why not do both?

- Posted by Rich Miller   25 Comments      

Let’s tone it down a little

Monday, Sep 26, 2016

* Belleville News-Democrat

The Independent Maps initiative seems to be dead and buried, murdered by Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan and his four Democratic cohorts on the Illinois Supreme Court. There was an autopsy, but the results were withheld so that no one had a chance to learn anything from the death.

The gang of four that killed the will of 563,974 registered Illinois voters by tossing the Independent Map Amendment off the Nov. 8 ballot also refused to rehear the case. Their additional crime is their silence about why they refused to rehear the case.

A rehearing, or an opinion about why they refused a rehearing, would have been the four justices’ chance to explain themselves. They interpreted the Illinois Constitution very narrowly, saying that the petition for a maps amendment was not constitutional because it created duties for the state comptroller as well as made changes to state legislators’ powers and duties.

Under the justices’ interpretation, there are no conditions under which voters could petition to force lawmakers to give up the power of drawing their own districts. The justices had a duty to explain how a voter initiative ever could pass constitutional muster.

They met their duty with silence.

No hyperbole at all, though, which is nice.


* Let’s hope this isn’t related

A suspicious package found Sunday at the Illinois Supreme Court building did not contain explosives, officials said.

The package was found on the steps of the Court building, Second Street and Capitol Avenue. Around 6 p.m., police blocked Second Street in both directions, Capitol Avenue near the Third Street railroad underpass and Jackson Street. People were also not allowed on the grounds in front of the state Capitol along Second Street.

* From the Secretary of State’s office yesterday…

This evening a suspicious package was discovered on the steps of the Illinois State Supreme Court. The Secretary of State Hazardous Device Unit (HDU) responded. They took X-rays of the package, which were inconclusive for the presence of an explosive device. Subsequently, the package was remotely opened with an HDU robot confirming no explosives were inside the package. The area is now clear. The Secretary of State Police worked in conjunction with the Marshall’s Office of the Supreme Court.

* And in other news

A shooting in the loop, near Millennium Park, left a man in critical condition.

Police say the violent encounter stemmed from an altercation on Michigan Avenue, CBS 2’s Lauren Victory reports, and a witness says it was an argument about politics. […]

One witness said he saw the victim fall and it took a few minutes for him to understand what happened.

“There was a couple ladies, that I guess were with the gentleman that was shot, and they were hysterical. They said some guy on a bike shot him in the head twice and that he rode off. there was a political discussion going on,” Marques Wilson said.

The CBS 2 reporter told me that another witness mentioned a racial slur. The Chicago police initially believed the argument was about a woman.

…Adding… The victim has since died.

- Posted by Rich Miller   33 Comments      

Safe Roads backers begin TV blitz

Monday, Sep 26, 2016

* The News-Gazette rips into the transportation lockbox proposal

Our legislators, once again, have sold out the public interest to the highest bidder.

Much of Illinois state government has descended into a sham and farce, so it should be no surprise that legislators have put a constitutional amendment on the fall ballot that also is a sham and farce.

Readers, meet the “Safe Roads Constitutional Amendment” brought to you by cash-rich building contractors and labor unions who want state dollars set aside for their exclusive benefit at the expense of public schools, social service agencies, higher education, law enforcement and just about every other meaningful state program.

Of course, that’s not how the proposal is being sold. Selfish political insiders hope the proposal’s surface appeal will persuade voters to cut their own throats on Election Day.

They even throw in Speaker Madigan for maximum effect.

* Proponents are now airing TV ads. Press release…

Illinois voters have the chance to take back control in Springfield this November and provide more money for transportation needs without raising taxes, a new statewide TV ad campaign argues.

Citizen to Protect Transportation Funding – a coalition of business, labor and construction groups – today announced a $1 million ad buy for a 30-second spot titled “When,” as part of its aggressive statewide public education campaign for a constitutional amendment on the Nov. 8 ballot that will protect Illinois’ investment in its critical transportation infrastructure.

Featuring images of vehicles traveling over crumbling roadways filled with potholes and stark statistics about the high number of bridges and roads needing improvements in Illinois, the ad emphasizes that for too many years, Springfield politicians have shifted road funds to other expenses while the infrastructure decays – and the price to fix it climbs.

“Vote to require politicians to spend those transportation fees on transportation only. We can fix our roads without raising taxes. It’s not a matter of if disaster will strike, but when. Vote yes on the Safe Roads Amendment,” the ad’s narrator says, as a graphic on the screen says: Fix Roads. No New Taxes.

Lawmakers in the Illinois House and Senate in May approved House Joint Resolution Constitutional Amendment 36, which calls for Illinois to put transportation funding in a lockbox. A study by the advocacy group Transportation for Illinois Coalition, whose members are driving this ballot initiative campaign, found more than $6.8 billion in funds earmarked for transportation were swept out of the state’s Road Fund and used for non-transportation spending over more than a dozen years – including more than $500 million in transportation dollars just last year.

* The ad

* From the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform last week

The top donation this week went to Citizens to Protect Transportation Funding, the ballot initiative committee supporting a Constitutional Amendment to create a transportation lockbox on the November ballot. The committee received $975,000 yesterday from an organization called the Fight Back Fund. Another $25,000 donation from the group on September 20th led to a total of $1 million from the Fight Back Fund to Citizens to Protect Transportation Funding this week.

Little information is available on the Fight Back Fund. State Board of Elections data shows a political committee by the same name from East Moline that went inactive 10 years ago. However, there does not appear to be a connection between the two organizations. The Illinois Secretary of State’s Corporation database shows that the group is filed as a 501(c)4 or 501(c)6 nonprofit organization, and lists Marc R. Poulos of Joliet as its head. Poulos is the Executive Director of the Indiana-Illinois-Iowa Foundation for Fair Contracting and an advocate for the transportation lockbox amendment.

Unlike political committees, these types of nonprofits are not required to report their donors. Data from the Illinois State Board of Elections shows that yesterday’s $975,000 donation was the 7th largest individual donation of 2016. The other six donations were from SEIU, Governor Rauner, and GOP donors Richard Uihlein and Ken Griffin. 501(C)4 and 501(C)6 nonprofits like the Fight Back Fund are able to participate in political activity as long as it constitutes less than half of their overall activities. This organization alone accounts for 40% of Citizens to Protect Transportation Funding’s $2.5 million in cash on hand. ICPR is in the process of drafting and promoting legislation designed to bring transparency to this area of campaign finance.

Poulos is Local 150’s guy in Springfield.

- Posted by Rich Miller   22 Comments      

Kasper speaks

Monday, Sep 26, 2016

* Claire Bushey at Crain’s Chicago Business managed to convince Mike Kasper to consent to an interview. The whole thing is worth a read, but here’s his defense of his battle against remap reformers

Kasper’s opponents in the redistricting fight sought to take the process out of the sole control of legislators and spread the power among the state auditor general and members of the Supreme Court.

“I happen to believe in the apparently blasphemous proposition that people who draw maps ought to be accountable to the voters who have to live under them,” he says. “The process that we have today is a democratic one—democracy with a small ‘D.’ “

* And this is a good insight into how the game works

Election law doesn’t pay the bills for any political lawyer, Kasper included. After all, there are only two elections a year, notes Burt Odelson, a veteran in the field. The key is to leverage the relationships it builds into more lucrative work. The 21 attorneys at Odelson & Sterk in Evergreen Park represent 13 municipalities, 11 school districts and a couple of park districts, winning the work “on the back of election law as an ‘in,’ getting into these towns.”

“I can take a pretty darn good guess that (Kasper) makes almost no money in election law, same as me,” Odelson says. “If I can get a few bucks for doing petitions, OK. But if it could lead to a potential big client, then I usually donate my services, just like Mike.”

Fletcher O’Brien Kasper & Nottage boasts big-name lobbying clients, including Uber, Airbnb, Advocate Health Care, Arlington Park racetrack and the Wrigleyville rooftops that overlook Wrigley Field. Public records show Kasper handled $5.1 million in contracts to lobby the city in the last four years. He declines to provide the firm’s total annual revenue.

Interesting that Odelson would freely admit to using campaign legal work as leverage to obtain government work. But that’s how it goes here.

- Posted by Rich Miller   18 Comments      

The transformation is almost complete

Monday, Sep 26, 2016

* My weekly syndicated newspaper column

Since his inauguration, Gov. Bruce Rauner has consciously aped Washington, D.C.’s notoriously noxious battle to “win” the daily media spin cycle. The Republican has a set base of talking points based on tried and true poll-tested topics, and he rarely if ever deviates.

While Chicago suffered through its most violent summer in decades, the governor routinely focused his public comments on term limits - a not so subtle dig at the horribly unpopular Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan’s decades-long tenure, but an issue without hope of passage and irrelevant to some very serious and immediate crises, like the one pummeling our state’s largest city.

More bad economic or fiscal news? Rauner reliably trots out a vague promise of “reforms”— swearing that the Democratic leaders have promised to take them up just as soon as the campaign is over, even though his reforms would mean eviscerating the Democrats’ chief political allies (labor unions and trial lawyers) and Senate President John Cullerton has denied any such offer was ever made.

The nuclear dumpster fire that is the presidential campaign? The governor says he is simply too focused on reforming Illinois to care, or even to share who he might be voting for.

And now one of Rauner’s closest allies, the far right Illinois Policy Institute, is producing a campaign-style “documentary” about Madigan, just like similar dark money groups in D.C. have been nauseatingly churning out for years.

It’s no surprise that this movie fits in neatly with Rauner’s entire campaign strategy. Since early June, the Republicans have aired millions of dollars’ worth of television and radio ads and sent out countless mailers all designed to tie Democratic legislators and candidates to Madigan. Almost every dime of their funding for those attacks has come from Gov. Rauner (and yet, Rauner has repeatedly insisted that he’s not involved, other than to write a few checks).

It’s all one big thing. All Madigan, all the time.

And while Gov. Rauner has brought Washington’s never-ending campaign to Illinois’ executive branch, he also has a similarly tiny list of accomplishments to show for it. His administration has so far been little more than a frantic exercise in treading water until his chief nemesis can finally be vanquished, or at least brought to heel.

But this isn’t a completely new development. We’re already familiar with some of this in Illinois.

Speaker Madigan has been doing something similar for years, albeit on a much smaller, less obviously dramatic, less technologically advanced and less expensive scale.

His House chamber’s agenda is almost entirely organized around making sure that Madigan gets his more vulnerable incumbents reelected. And those vulnerable members are advised to take whatever positions are necessary to win reelection (including fanning the already intense flames of hate against Madigan’s home town of Chicago). There was a time when Madigan had a specific “theme” for each legislative week, only voting on bills that matched the weekly issue. He even at one point tried his hand at (ahem) publishing a Statehouse newsletter.

Madigan has refused to discuss any significant deal on the governor’s Turnaround Agenda, sticking closely to his talking points that Rauner is “operating in the extreme,” even though Madigan has often supported legislation in the past that unions didn’t love.

Madigan won’t budge this time because Rauner’s overt hostility has sent all those unions running to the speaker with wide open checkbooks and huge lists of precinct workers. There’s simply no political advantage to compromise, unless Rauner’s gamble pays off and he successfully makes Madigan the big issue of the year and Madigan loses a bunch of seats.

Otherwise, we may not see a deal during the “lame duck” session after the election and the impasse will likely drag on. If there is no progress, Rauner will undoubtedly make his entire 2018 reelection campaign about Madigan. But next time, it won’t be a few tens of millions of dollars like this year. It’ll be real money. Maybe $100 million.

And, unless Hillary Clinton manages to lose the presidential race, the governor’s reelection campaign will occur during yet another Democratic midterm election, which will make it that much easier to get his anti-Madigan message through to voters. (One of Rauner’s many valid and understandable reasons for refusing to give any overt public aid or comfort to Trump is that a Trump win would devastate Rauner’s reelection chances.)

This battered, much-maligned state shouldn’t have to endure this agony, but here we are, like it or not.


- Posted by Rich Miller   22 Comments      

Caps off in comptroller’s race

Monday, Sep 26, 2016

* Scott Kennedy…

* Mendoza campaign…

“By loaning herself $260,000, Leslie Munger has now broken the campaign finance limits and now can take unlimited money from Governor Rauner, either directly from him or laundered through the Republican Party that he bought with over $20 million in personal contributions. Either way, Leslie Munger will continue to be a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Governor, not the independent financial watchdog Illinois desperately needs.

This is unprecedented — no comptroller in Illinois history has broken the limits and accepted potentially massive contributions from the very officeholder she is supposed to watch over. Judy Barr Topinka didn’t do it. Shelia Simon didn’t do it. Even by Illinois standards, this is beyond the pale.”

* More

The individual contribution limit in Illinois is $5,400. It’s $10,800 for a corporation or labor group and $53,900 from a political committee. Under state election law, dollar limits for state office seekers is lifted for all candidates in the race if one of them accepts a contribution of $250,000 or more. Rauner himself blew the caps in his successful bid for governor, ultimately spending the bulk of his $60 million campaign become the first Republican governor in Illinois in a dozen years. […]

“Susana Mendoza has proven herself to Speaker Madigan by delivering ten years of votes for his unbalanced budgets, tax increases and pension holidays. In return, he has ensured she has the special interest resources she needs for her campaign,” the Munger campaign said in a statement. “With this contribution, Comptroller Munger is balancing the playing field and demonstrating her complete commitment to standing up for Illinois taxpayers.”

At the end of the second quarter of fund-raising, Munger, a Republican, closed out her campaign account with just about the size of her loan — $281,600 in all. Mendoza ended that same period with $1.13 million.

- Posted by Rich Miller   16 Comments      

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