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The Safe Roads Amendment: Time to Hold Springfield Accountable

Monday, Oct 31, 2016

[The following is a paid advertisement.]

A diabolical ploy. Outlandish drivel that’s aimed at taking care of the insiders. A waiter asking how your salmon tastes while the Titanic sinks.
 
These outraged cries of a few opinion writers aren’t about politicians, but an important ballot question: Should lawmakers be required to spend money where they say they’re going to? Our group, Citizens to Protect Transportation Funding, believes it’s important enough to ask voters to change the Constitution after seeing Springfield use road funds to prop up the state budget year after year, totaling more than $6.8 billion.
 
Today, we’re seeing the costs of those diversions:




 

 
The amendment language is complex, but its impact is simple: when you pay gas taxes and vehicles registrations, your money will go to their intended transportation needs.
 


 
Isn’t changing the Constitution too extreme? Not when the budget doomsday is already here. The Road Fund was tapped for half a BILLION DOLLARS just last year, ahead of a full year without a budget at all. Without this Amendment, why would we think it won’t happen again?
 
Vote Yes for the Safe Roads Amendment. It’s good for our economy, for our safety, and for some political sanity for a change at the state Capitol. Learn more at http://www.saferoadsamendment.com/
 


 
 

- Posted by Advertising Department   Comments Off      


No, Mark Kirk is not in hiding

Monday, Oct 31, 2016

* AP

Illinois Republican U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk, already facing an uphill battle for re-election, is entering the crucial final week before Election Day weakened by comments about his opponent that critics attacked as racist and “beyond reprehensible.”

Two organizations whose endorsements Kirk touted as indicators of his independence withdrew their backing over the weekend, issuing blistering rebukes. Both said they’re now supporting Democratic U.S. Rep. Tammy Duckworth.

Democrats are relying on winning Illinois as they look to regain control of the U.S. Senate. The party must pick up four or five seats to do so, depending on whether they retain control of the White House.

Kirk spent the weekend away from the public eye - a highly unusual move for any candidate in the waning days of a campaign, but one that allowed him to avoid rehashing the incident in the media. Duckworth had a full campaign schedule, including get-out-the-vote events with civil rights icon and U.S. Rep. John Lewis.

* Actually, Kirk was at the Coleman-Oliver Foundation’s Black Coffee Agenda on the city’s South Side on Saturday morning. According to Kirk’s campaign, he then held a “town hall” meeting at Silk N Classy Barbershop in Dolton later in the day, and used the opportunity to get a haircut.

Kirk also did a candidates’ forum with the Chicago Sinai Congregation on Sunday. Tammy Duckworth attended that event as well.

* How do I know this? Simple. First, I looked at Kirk’s Twitter account and then asked his campaign for more details. The Sun-Times also previewed the Sinai event. According to the Kirk campaign, the AP never bothered to call and check.

Look, it’s not like the incumbent had an action-packed weekend, but he did do some things. We don’t need to make this worse than it already is.

- Posted by Rich Miller   4 Comments      


Question of the day

Monday, Oct 31, 2016

* Since today is Halloween, what scares you the most about Illinois politics? Snark is heavily encouraged.

- Posted by Rich Miller   77 Comments      


Take it with a large mountain of salt

Monday, Oct 31, 2016

* Today’s Sun-Times

This past weekend saw the most fatal shootings all year in Chicago, but CPD Supt. Eddie Johnson said deploying extra officers to control crowds around Wrigley Field during the World Series did not mean other neighborhoods were neglected.

Between Friday evening and Monday morning — as the Cubs were playing three straight games at Wrigley Field — 17 people were shot and killed in Chicago, nearly all on the South and West sides. […]

The extra officers at Wrigley didn’t impact police staffing in the rest of the city, Johnson said Monday morning after a department graduation ceremony at Navy Pier.

Those neighborhoods hit by the spike in fatal shootings “didn’t get shortchanged at all this weekend,” he said.

* This past weekend in the Sun-Times

For five years, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and other city officials hewed to the same script, maintaining to the public that Chicago has enough cops.

And the mayor and police brass proclaimed that they were working with the community to fight problems that lead to crime.

But out of the spotlight, the Emanuel administration told federal officials that the Chicago Police Department needed hundreds of additional officers and that community-based policing has been withering in Chicago for years — and that’s been a factor in the rise in violent crime battering the city.

In applications for grants from the Justice Department the past two years, city officials portrayed the Chicago Police Department as dangerously understaffed — even as Emanuel and police brass publicly dismissed calls to hire more cops until just a few weeks ago.

- Posted by Rich Miller   15 Comments      


Fighting a refinery fire with an eye dropper

Monday, Oct 31, 2016

* David Giuliani is doing his best to keep up with the constant falsehoods landing in 76th House District mailboxes

In the GOP’s mind, Rep. Andy Skoog should join his fellow Democrat, Hillary Clinton, behind bars.

The party’s latest mailer depicts a smiling Skoog in a police lineup in white shirt and loosened tie. The beefy arms of fellow “bad guys” appear on either side of Skoog, with one guy’s arm heavily tattooed.

Skoog is holding a sign that reads, “$6,000/year property tax scam.” The flier implores voters to retire “crooked politician” Skoog on Election Day, calling him a tax dodger.

Over the top? Of course, it is.

Just like plenty of other political fliers in mailboxes these days.

Giuliani debunks both that mailer and a recent Democratic mailer, so click here to read it all.

* He’s also tweeting about ads as he sees them. A recent sampling…


* And everything is portrayed as the end of the world as we know it…


ZOMG! Orange zombies!!!

* Giuliani should keep up the good work. Few reporters ever bother confronting the blatant lies that are constantly churned out in legislative races because they either fall below the local media’s radar or they’re just so many of them that nobody wants to bother with the Herculean task of fact checking the avalanche.

In the end, however, it’s all just too much. Both sides have created alternate reality universes. Almost nothing they say has more than a tiny grain of truth, but their messaging has a much longer and deeper reach than any newspaper or Twitter account. Hence, the title of this post.

The only way these sorts of attacks will end is if they stop working. But since both sides do it, how could we ever tell?

- Posted by Rich Miller   8 Comments      


*** UPDATED x1 *** Another paper editorializes against the lockbox

Monday, Oct 31, 2016

* The SJ-R editorializes against the proposed lockbox amendment

If this amendment passes, the road funds will go into a “lockbox” and will be untouchable, even in a dire emergency.

It’s like taking a family’s household budget and saying that an important priority — say, saving for your kids’ college funds — would be locked up. Sounds good, until a financial crisis happens and you have no money to put food on the table, right?

Other states that have passed similar measures have provisions to declare a fiscal emergency and access those funds. Illinois’ measure doesn’t. That’s why voters should see big red flags.

Past history shows that once Illinois’ constitution is amended, it’s a highly difficult process to get it changed back. Exhibit A, the state’s efforts to find a way to deal with its skyrocketing pension obligations.

Transportation is an important investment for the state to make. But so is education, both K-12 and higher education. So are social services. So are public safety issues. Will they get their own dedicated funds?

If it wasn’t for all the Republican votes on this thing and the governor’s total silence, I’d be easily convinced this was a clever ploy by Speaker Madigan to lock up state money so that Gov. Rauner can’t use it to fund another patchwork, stopgap budget.

But, the Republicans found themselves in boiling hot water with the road builders last year when the GA and Rauner swept the Road Fund to pass the FY 16 budget “fix.” So, they had some making up to do.

Same thing happened on the Democratic side with the trade unions.

However, I cannot imagine Madigan supporting this hastily crafted proposal (with a ton of unintended consequences) under any other governor.

*** UPDATE ***  The Center for Municipal Finance has a new and unfavorable analysis of the proposal

The proposed constitutional amendment, the Illinois Transportation Taxes and Fees Lockbox Amendment, is highly problematic for several reasons.

    • First, its wording is vague, and as a result its actual impact is unclear. The proposed amendment’s lack of clarity may result in more revenue streams, at both state and local levels of government, than intended being restricted to a limited number of transportation related expenses.

    • Second, the proposed amendment is likely to divert revenue away from other areas of state and local budgets. The Lockbox Amendment would not increase total revenue—rather, it would change how existing revenue is spent.

    • Third, because it is being proposed as a constitutional amendment and not a regular statute, any negative consequences would be extremely difficult to modify or reverse.

- Posted by Rich Miller   31 Comments      


Separated at birth?

Monday, Oct 31, 2016

* From a subscriber: “Pull the string and he says ‘Turnaround Agenda’”…


* But…


* Uncanny…

I suppose y’all can use this as a World Series open thread.

- Posted by Rich Miller   50 Comments      


Anyone remember the crime problem?

Monday, Oct 31, 2016

* Lots of distractions out there with the presidential election and the World Series. But Chicago just had a terrible weekend.

From the Tribune

The last weekend of October was the deadliest so far this year in Chicago, including among its victims an eighth-grade honors student and twin 17-year-old boys, according to police and data compiled by the Tribune.

Seventeen people were fatally shot in the city between Friday afternoon and early Monday, an extraordinary toll even in a year that is far outpacing last year in shootings and homicides.

Up until now, Father’s Day weekend had been the most violent with 59 people shot, 13 fatally. The same number of people were shot this past weekend but more of the shootings were fatal, according to Tribune data.

The weekend toll also was deadlier than the three long summer holiday weekends when violence typically spikes because of the warm weather. Six people were fatally shot over the Memorial Day weekend, five over the Fourth of July weekend and 13 people over Labor Day weekend, according to Tribune data.

* Meanwhile, from FiveThirtyEight

Chicago police are shooting fewer residents and drawing fewer civilian complaints than they were before protests over the fatal 2014 shooting of a black teenager, Laquan McDonald, by a white police officer. […]

The Chicago police have continued to be less active in recent months. Narcotics arrests for the period from Jan. 1 through Oct. 3 were down 47 percent this year, compared with the same time frame in 2015. Meanwhile, crime — especially gun violence — has remained high. The total number of murders, which began increasing after the release of the video, is up by 44 percent so far this year after a 16 percent jump in 2015. Chicago is currently on pace for its highest murder total since the late 1990s and will likely experience its biggest one-year jump since the FBI began keeping track in the early 1930s.9

Relatively few of the city’s murders are solved: As of Oct. 3, the Chicago Police Department had cleared10 only 21.0 percent of murders and other homicides and 2.6 percent of nonfatal shooting incidents in 2016. That’s down considerably from 2015, when 31.8 percent of homicides and 6.1 percent of nonfatal shootings were cleared.

The Chicago Police Department has made significant strides in reducing negative interactions between police and civilians, as measured by complaints and shooting incidents. But those strides may have come at the cost of a severe drop in arrests and a worsening wave of violent crime.

* Related…

* Twin brothers, 17, among 17 killed in deadliest weekend of year

* Shots Fired at CPD Officers in 2 Separate Stops

* Man shot during Facebook Live post in March among those killed Friday

* Man critically wounded in drive-by shooting in South Shore

- Posted by Rich Miller   21 Comments      


Biss PAC ups spending to $8.8 million

Monday, Oct 31, 2016

* A new FEC filing shows Sen. Daniel Biss’ anti-Rauner LIFT PAC has spent another $2.9 million on advertising. That brings the committee’s total spending to a whopping $8.8 million.

* Here’s the new TV ad

Rate it.

* And the Sun-Times has a story on this topic

Eric Adelstein, the Chicago based Democratic political consultant, is doing the most anti-Trump-related work in Illinois, with his firm representing LIFT, Mendoza and Schneider. “While Trump allows for a nationalization of message across races, there are different strategic imperatives,” Adelstein said. […]

Adelstein said LIFT is determined not to let Rauner have it both ways. “If your opponent doesn’t want to talk about something, it’s usually a good strategy to force them to talk about it and Trump is that thing they don’t want to talk about.”

A Democrat familiar with Trump-related Illinois polling described the Trump factor as potentially depressing “turnout among good GOP constituencies in Illinois, like affluent, white college-educated voters.

“It means that GOP winners must over perform the top of the ticket by 15 points rather than 10. It means the suburbs are in play for statewide candidates and it means that GOP candidates must alienate their base or risk losing the middle, and even then it might not work,” the source said.

I’m still not completely sure after reading this piece what the actual aim of the Biss spots may be - at least as far as this cycle is concerned. Mendoza is using both Rauner and Trump in her ads, but most legislative races aren’t.

- Posted by Rich Miller   60 Comments      


A greater power than money?

Monday, Oct 31, 2016

* It’s incumbency

By analyzing data from state legislative races across the country in 2013 and 2014, the Montana-based National Institute on Money in State Politics determined that voters re-elected 91 percent of incumbents running in general elections. Current officeholders who raised more campaign cash than their opponents were even more likely to retain their seats, winning 94 percent of their races.

“Incumbency was the most powerful single factor determining a state legislative candidate’s success in the 2013 and 2014 elections, followed closely by the power of money,” Linda Casey, the institute’s lead researcher, wrote in a March report. The trend has held relatively steady since the 2001 and 2002 state election cycles, according to the institute.

The power of incumbency was even stronger in Illinois in 2014, with only one incumbent out of 124 — former state Sen. Mike Jacobs, D-East Moline — losing in the general election. Three other incumbents, two Democrats and one Republican, withdrew after the primaries. […]

Jacobs’ defeat at the hands of now-Sen. Neil Anderson, R-Rock Island, was a rare loss for an incumbent who raised more money than his challenger. Jacobs spent $2.1 million to Anderson’s $1.9 million in the most expensive legislative race in Illinois history, according to an analysis from Kent Redfield, an emeritus professor of political science at the University of Illinois Springfield.

Those dollar amounts almost seem quaint these days.

- Posted by Rich Miller   11 Comments      


Today’s number: $6.88 billion

Monday, Oct 31, 2016

* Shaw Media

The Teachers’ Retirement System of the State of Illinois announced Friday it had given preliminary approval to a contribution request for $4.56 billion to its pension fund.

The changes in state law made last year for determining actuaries’ estimates for adequately funding pensions have greatly increased the amount of contributions statewide.

The Teacher’s Retirement System said of the projected $4.56 billion contribution, just $974 million is needed to pay the cost of pensions for that year. The remaining $3.5 billion is to go toward the amount owed from previous years.

“Most of the fiscal year 2018 contribution is a self-inflicted wound,” TRS Executive Director Dick Ingram said. “That money could be spent on other priorities today if the state of Illinois had fully met its obligations in the past.”

While next year’s contribution to the teachers’ pensions is an eye-popping figure, it is far short of the actuaries’ ceiling. Using the new accounting standards, the state’s annual contribution should be $6.88 billion to catch up with its unfunded liability.

- Posted by Rich Miller   30 Comments      


Because… Baby Madigan!

Monday, Oct 31, 2016

* From a reader…

Rich -

This link about state employees says 1943 is when they [first] got Election Day off.
http://www.sj-r.com/news/20161029/why-do-state-workers-get-election-day-off

This link says Speaker Madigan was born in April 1942.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Madigan

(Tongue FIRMLY planted in cheek) Speaker Madigan is so powerful that at the age of 1 year, while still in diapers, he got the General Assembly to pass and GOP Governor Dwight Green to sign that legislation. WOW! That’s power!

* Think that’s far-fetched? Well, check out this Illinois Policy Institute opinion piece

The 1980 cutback amendment passed overwhelmingly, eliminating a few dozen lawmakers from the House of Representatives and helping Madigan consolidate power as speaker when his peers first elected him to that office in 1983.

Yep. Madigan ordered gadfly reformer Pat Quinn to put the Cutback Amendment on the ballot to consolidate his nefarious grip on power. It’s all rigged!

* Related…

* Zorn: Anti-Madigan documentary shows why he’ll be hard to beat

- Posted by Rich Miller   64 Comments      


Remember the budget?

Monday, Oct 31, 2016

* Jim Nowlan gives us a rundown of where we are

This fiscal year, our state’s general funds are spending $22 billion as a result of court-ordered outlays. Then, there is $12 billion in “hard expenditures” we must pay for debt service, pensions and transfers to local governments and Medicaid accounts.

We can add to those totals another $6 billion in unpaid bills. For example, the state is as much as 673 days late in reimbursing medical providers for employee health care services. […]

These expenditures total $40 billion for the year, but we have only $30 billion in revenue coming into the general funds to pay all these bills.

Of course, we say we must tighten our belts. And, of course, we always can do some of that, but less than you might imagine.

Annual state pension payments of $7.2 billion are mostly debt service for underfunding pensions and sweetening them in years past, and the state high court has said we must pay them.

During the past decade or so, the state also has cut expenditures for schools, universities and social services significantly. State employee numbers are down, from 89,000 in 2001 to 64,500 last year. […]

All I am saying here is cutting “waste and corruption,” the default budget-cutting option of the public, sure won’t alone erase a $10 billion budget shortfall.

- Posted by Rich Miller   32 Comments      


Frustrated by social media political posts? You’re not alone

Monday, Oct 31, 2016

* From the Pew Research Center

More than one-third of social media users are worn out by the amount of political content they encounter, and more than half describe their online interactions with those they disagree with politically as stressful and frustrating

The roughly two-thirds of American adults who use social media sites express a relatively wide range of opinions on the political interactions they witness and take part in on these platforms. Many feel overloaded by political content and view their social media interactions with those they disagree with as a source of frustration and annoyance. At the same time, a substantial minority of users enjoy the ability to consume political content and engage in discussions with people on the other side of issues:

    * Nearly twice as many social media users say they are “worn out” by the amount of political content they see in their feeds (37%) as say they like seeing lots of political information (20%). Still, about four-in-ten (41%) indicate that they don’t feel particularly strongly one way or the other about the amount of political content they encounter on social media.

    * 59% say their social media interactions with those with opposing political views are stressful and frustrating – although 35% find them interesting and informative.

    * 64% say their online encounters with people on the opposite side of the political spectrum leave them feeling as if they have even less in common than they thought – although 29% say they end these discussions feeling that they have more in common than they might have anticipated. […]

Some 40% of users agree strongly with the notion that social media are places where people say things while discussing politics that they would never say in person (an additional 44% feel that this statement describes social media somewhat well).

Meanwhile, roughly half of users feel the political conversations they see on social media are angrier (49%), less respectful (53%) and less civil (49%) than those in other areas of life. At the same time, a notable minority feels that the political discussions they see on social media are largely reflective of the political discussions they witness in other areas of their lives: For instance, 39% of users feel that these interactions are no more less respectful than other political interactions they encounter. And a small share finds political debates on social media to be more civil (7%), more informative (14%) and more focused on important policy issues (10%) than those they see elsewhere. […]

When ignoring problematic content fails, social media users tend to utilize technological tools to remove troublesome users from their feeds entirely. Nearly one-third of social media users (31%) say they have changed their settings in order to see fewer posts from someone in their feed because of something related to politics, while 27% have blocked or unfriended someone for that reason. Taken together, this amounts to 39% of social media users – and 60% of them indicate that they took this step because someone was posting political content that they found offensive. […]

Even as their overall political attitudes differ dramatically, Democrats and Republicans (including independents and other nonpartisans who “lean” toward either party) tend to view and utilize social media in largely comparable ways. For instance, they are equally likely to say that they comment, post about or engage in political discussions on social media (10% of Republican users and 8% of Democrats do so often). And a nearly identical share from each party feels worn out by the amount of political material they encounter on social media (38% of Democrats and 37% of Republicans who use social media report this) or feel that the conversations they see on social media are angrier and less civil than in other venues where these conversations occur. However, Democrats who use social media are somewhat more likely to view these sites as useful vehicles for bringing new voices into the political arena.

Thoughts?

- Posted by Rich Miller   29 Comments      


TV ads as far as the eye can see

Monday, Oct 31, 2016

* My weekly syndicated newspaper column

During any given campaign season, one or maybe two state legislative campaigns wind up running ads on Chicago broadcast television stations. But in the age of Gov. Bruce Rauner’s gigantic campaign contributions, it may be easier to count the number of Chicago-area candidates who aren’t running any city broadcast ads.

State Rep. Michael McAuliffe (R-Chicago) started the trend by airing Chicago broadcast TV ads at the beginning of August—an act completely without precedent in the General Assembly. Chicago broadcast ads are so expensive that campaigns usually don’t start airing them until mid to late October.

The ads are also incredibly inefficient. The Chicago media market has about 7.9 million people aged 12 or over, as measured by the ratings companies.

Four years ago, during the last presidential cycle, a total of 38,748 votes were cast in McAuliffe’s race. So, when McAuliffe and other House candidates air these ads, they’re aiming them at only about half a percentage point of the entire media market. It’s actually much lower than that because most people have already made up their minds by now. So, it’s like using a hydrogen bomb to kill a tiny gnat.

Just last week, the cash-rich Republicans went up on Chicago broadcast TV in five legislative races: Rod Drobinski vs. Rep. Sam Yingling (D-Grayslake), who also made a broadcast buy late last week; Rep. Chris Winger (R-Wood Dale) vs. Cynthia Borbas, who has been up on Chicago broadcast for a little while with an ad blasting Winger for her social conservatism; Rep. David Olsen (R-Downers Grove), who is fending off a late cable TV buy from Greg Hose; Steve Reick, who’s up against John Bartman, who just launched cable ads in retiring McHenry County Democratic Rep. Jack Franks’ district; and Michelle Smith vs. Sen. Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant (D-Shorewood), who is also on Chicago broadcast.

Keep in mind, those are just the latest to air the ads. Plenty of others were already on Chicago broadcast.

Both candidates in the Rep. Kate Cloonen (D-Kankakee) race have been airing broadcast TV, as have both in Democratic Rep. Andy Skoog’s LaSalle County-area race and both in Democratic Sen. Tom Cullerton’s DuPage County contest, as well as Rep. McAuliffe’s opponent Merry Marwig, among others.

And it’s not just the two parties airing the spots. Dan Proft says his Liberty Principles PAC is currently airing Chicago broadcast ads on behalf of six Republicans.

And it’s not just happening in Chicago. St. Louis broadcast TV has also been a relative rarity for legislative campaign ads. Heck, many statewide candidates forgo advertising in St. Louis because of its high cost-to-benefit ratio.

Rep. Dwight Kay (R-Glen Carbon) has been running ads on St. Louis TV for several weeks, and the Democrats just started airing ads there for Rep. Dan Beiser (D-Alton) to match his Republican opponent Mike Babcock’s buy. The Democrats also started running St. Louis ads for Mike Mathis against Rep. Avery Bourne (R-Raymond).

“It’s crazy,” said one Metro East pal about the flood of St. Louis ads. “I want to throw something at the TV.”

Head up the Mississippi River and you’ll see broadcast TV ads in the Quad Cities for and against Rep. Mike Smiddy (D-Hillsdale). Like in St. Louis, most people who watch Quad Cities television stations don’t live in Illinois.

Then head as far south in Illinois as you can go and Rep. John Bradley (D-Marion) is reportedly pushing a completely unheard of 3,900 gross ratings points on TV stations in and near his district. Generally, if you want half your targeted audience to see an ad three times, you’ll “push” 150 ratings points. Do the math. Bradley must be advertising 24 hours a day on every program.

The Republicans, by the way, estimated last week that they’ve pushed 5,000 points statewide on their anti-House Speaker Michael Madigan message.

But are any of these ads working this late in the game?

Last week, a friend of mine who doesn’t watch much broadcast television said he was watching “Chicago’s Very Own” WGN and texted me the ads as they popped up on his TV: “Anti-Yingling, pro-Duckworth, anti-Mendoza, anti-Skoog, anti-Yingling (again), anti-Cloonen. All back-to-back in a single commercial break.”

A few minutes later, he texted: “Hey back to commercials! Anti-Bartman, anti-Cullerton. Anti-Trump/Rauner (new from LIFT). What is this! An ad for Target. Like, a real ad for buying cheap [stuff]. Refreshing.”

“Seriously,” he texted, “it was just one big jumble. Nothing could break through this. And if you were getting 20 pieces of mail? Shoot me now.”

* Related…

* Republicans far outspend Dems in Illinois

- Posted by Rich Miller   29 Comments      


*** UPDATED x1 - Defiant Kirk responds *** HRC, Giffords’ group unendorse Sen. Kirk

Saturday, Oct 29, 2016

[Comments opened.]

* From the Human Rights Campaign

After careful consideration, HRC’s Public Policy Committee of the Board of Directors has taken the unprecedented step — a first in our 36-year history — of revoking an endorsement. We are a bipartisan organization and our staff and board make endorsement decisions based on a proven record of LGBTQ equality and a candidate’s ability to drive legislative change. We will not continue to make progress and pass the Equality Act without Republican support. It’s vitally important that we continue to build bipartisan coalitions so that we may continue to move equality forward. We endorsed the sitting Senator, Mark Kirk, because he has been a strong supporter of our cause time and again, scoring a 100 percent on HRC’s most recent Congressional Scorecard. But events this week have gone beyond the pale for our standards of leadership.

Leadership is about more than the legislation one sponsors and the votes one casts. On Thursday night, Senator Kirk’s comments about his opponent’s heritage were deeply offensive and racist. His attempt to use Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth’s race as a means to undermine her family’s American heritage and patriotism is beyond reprehensible. Yesterday, Senator Kirk tweeted an apology that failed to adequately address the real harm and magnitude of his words. So today, following a vote by our board’s committee, the Human Rights Campaign withdrew our support of Senator Kirk.

Attacking someone because of her race and ethnicity is inexcusable for anyone, but especially for a sitting U.S. Senator. The diversity of our movement is our greatest strength, and Senator Kirk’s remarks were an affront to our most fundamental values. We have therefore voted to endorse Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth, who has been a strong LGBTQ ally in the House of Representatives, and HRC will contribute the maximum amount to her campaign. We look forward to working with her in the Senate to secure full federal equality for all LGBTQ Americans.

The group was under serious pressure to back off its endorsement.

* And that’s not all…

Americans for Responsible Solutions PAC (ARS PAC) – the gun violence prevention organization founded by former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and Navy combat veteran and retired NASA astronaut Captain Mark Kelly – announced today it has revoked its endorsement of United States Senator Mark Kirk of Illinois in the wake of his racist attack on U.S. Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth.

STATEMENT BY ARS PAC EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR PETER AMBLER

“In public office, your values matter as much as your votes. That’s the example Gabby set in Congress and in her campaigns, and that’s the example we must follow in the movement to reduce gun violence. Senator Kirk’s racist attack on Congresswoman Duckworth is unacceptable and represents a low point, even in this election season. For that reason, Americans for Responsible Solutions PAC is revoking its endorsement of Senator Kirk. While we believe the path to responsible change and communities safer from gun violence must include Republican champions, we cannot continue to support Senator Kirk. A man who is not worthy of your vote cannot be worthy of our endorsement. As Gabby and Mark wrote in August, Congresswoman Duckworth is an American hero and a powerful voice for stronger gun laws. She will be an exceptional United States Senator.”

*** UPDATE *** From the Kirk campaign… 

Hey Rich — here are two on the record statements below from the Kirk campaign and from Divided Families USA to be included in your coverage of the HRC action.

On the record:
​”​Senator Kirk is incredibly proud of his leadership to fight discrimination at every level, including speaking on the steps of the Supreme Court to urge them to support marriage equality. The HRC decision today is unfortunate because it was based on politics instead of reality and further exemplified just how uncomfortable HRC was in supporting a Republican who was a leader for their efforts, including eradicating discrimination. ​” -Kirk campaign spokesperson Eleni Demertzis

“We believe the accusations of racism being leveled against Sen. Kirk are totally unfounded and unfair. For over a decade, Sen. Kirk has championed the Korean-American war-torn divided families issue when few legislators, Asian or otherwise, would. Without Sen. Kirk’s advocacy, we believe our divided families issue may fail to get the legislative support needed to fulfill their lifelong dreams of reunion—a humanitarian tragedy in the making. Sen. Kirk has, and continues to be, a vigorous champion for the Korean-American community and commands the respect of Asian Americans at large.” – Dr. Jason Ahn, Board Chair, Divided Families USA​

By the way, Kirk’s sister was adopted from South Korea as a baby.

- Posted by Rich Miller   42 Comments      


PREVIOUS POSTS »
* Poll: 53 percent of Illinoisans disapprove of Trump, 64 percent say Rauner should "act to protect the reproductive health care of all women in Illinois"
* Reader comments closed for the weekend
* Question of the day
* Roll Call: Rauner race is "Toss-up/Tilt Democrat"
* Clear as mud
* Can CPS avoid closing early?
* *** UPDATED x1 - Biss responds *** Rauner says HB 40 is "divisive" and "we need to focus" on fixing other problems
* Signs of the times
* Blagojevich again denied
* Illinois is heading for junk bond status
* The "growth only" canard
* Biss criticizes Democratic Party, Madigan
* Democrat Manar blasts Bourne, Rauner
* Caption contest!
* SIU and WIU join EIU, NEIU and GSU in junk bond territory
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* Chicago’s cold shoulder to charters..
* Man jailed at 15 under controversial felony mur.....
* Morning Spin: Rauner's improbable fundraising p.....
* Illinois Democrats aim high with minimum wage p.....


* Obama to deliver first post-presidency speech in Chicago
* EXCHANGE: 12-year-old student is president of a state club
* Gillespie, Monk, Ella celebrated at Chicago Jazz Festival
* Kids ride Metra for free on Take Our Children to Work Day
* Frank Lloyd Wright building tours planned to mark birthday
* Springfield children's hospital stages voting for new mascot
* 5-month paving project to begin on I-55 in Springfield
* Remains of Illinois man killed at Pearl Harbor come home
* Remains of Illinois man killed at Pearl Harbor come home
* Eastern Illinois University attempts to boost enrollment

* Lawmakers return from spring break; 'bargain' remains unresolved
* Illinois Democrats aim high with minimum wage proposals
* Lawmakers return to unresolved issues
* 2018 Illinois governor's race likely to be most expensive in U.S. history
* Next year's governor's race likely to be most expensive ever
* Springfield group seeks to help progressive women candidates
* Group seeks to help progressive women candidates
* Jacksonville drug treatment center to close
* Ratings agency downgrades credit of 6 Illinois universities
* Hearing probes Illinois auditor general's campaign spending

* Like our roundup? Share it around.
* Who's lending to South Side homebuyers?
* How big of a threat can a 13-hospital really be?
* These stock-pickers continue to outsmart the indexes
* Munoz's biggest challenge at United: fixing a 'toxic culture'


* Police: Gun found during traffic stop in Riverside
* Morel of the Week begins: And other notes around Chicago outdoors
* Jackson Street bridge in Joliet closes Monday for repairs
* Shot fired during robbery at Lincoln Park store
* Man charged with shooting friend in Elgin
* Smash-and-grab burglars hit Magnificent Mile store
* Police: Man tried to lure 4 boys to van in Gresham
* Dear Abby: Husband bought house, I do all the work
* Georgia Nicols horoscopes for April 24, 2017
* 3 robberies reported in Back of the Yards


* House call doctor accused of patient sex abuse — years after first reports to police
* Thieves crash car into Louis Vuitton store on Magnificent Mile
* Nearing 100-day mark, Trump says milestone not 'meaningful'
* Inundated with gunshot victims, Chicago doctors and nurses face 'compassion fatigue'
* Man jailed at 15 under controversial felony murder rule has sentence commuted
* Chicago visit Monday to start Obama's re-entry into public eye
* South Korea, allies brace for North Korea follow-up act
* Morning Spin: Rauner's improbable fundraising pitch: Balanced budget without tax hike
* Mainstream politics shut out as Le Pen, Macron win in France
* LINDA C. BLACK HOROSCOPES for 4/24/17


» Photos: Cosplayers Descend Upon McCormick Place For C2E2
» Chicago EPA Workers Prepare For Budget Battle With Storytelling Class
» To Explain Change On Abortion, Rauner Cites Economic Agenda
» State Week: Abortion Flip, 'Junk Bond' Universities
» Appeals Court Denies Blagojevich Request For 3rd Sentencing
» How Chicago Public Schools Could Avoid Closing Early
» Southern Illinois County Suing Manufacturers Of Opioid Painkillers
» Undocumented And A Victim Of A Violent Crime: Looking At Problems With Obtaining U-Visas In Illinois
» Illinois Issues: The Trouble With Temp Work
» City Crackdown On Party Buses Doesn’t Ban Legal Guns


* Lawmakers return from spring break; 'bargain' remains unresolved
* Illinois Democrats aim high with minimum wage proposals
* Lawmakers return to unresolved issues
* Our View: Civil town hall meetings good for democracy
* 2018 Illinois governor's race likely to be most expensive in U.S. history
* Next year's governor's race likely to be most expensive ever
* Angie Muhs: Citizens Academy gives behind-the-scenes look at the FBI
* Bernard Schoenburg: State workers highest paid? A look at the stats
* Our View: The longer we wait, the worse it will get
* Statehouse Insider: Let the show resume


* PODCAST: State Sen. Scott Bennett 04-24-17
* New Parkland board member refuses to relinquish posts
* Illinois trails national average
* 19th Ebertfest receives a lovely sendoff
* Distracted driving a choice we make
* Clinton, Reynolds speak up at Tribeca
* Those Who Served: Bretz keeping father's memories fresh
* All or nothing on crime mugshots
* Pet Talk: Tears and repairs
* Area history, April 24, 2017


* Is the tollway getting cold feet on Route 53 extension?
* Harper College could ask voters to pay for building plan
* Images: Some of the best photos that you may have missed this weekend
* Elgin man who accidentally shot friend faces gun charges
* Dawn Patrol: Student's family, Wheaton College community lean on faith

* US Rep. Randy Hultgren accepting internshi...
* GOP congressman appears to distance himsel...
* Rep. Randy Hultgren on Trump's Foreign and...
* League of Women Voters event in St. Charle...
* Randy Hultgren to participate in League of...
* Rep. Hultgren asks Caterpillar to immediat...
* Hultgren Reacts to Missile Strike On Syria...
* Batavia's Congressman Holding Service Acad...
* Oswego's Congressman Reacts to Missile Str...
* Veterans seek answers at forum with US Rep...

* Durbin: Trump Will Be Shutting Down Gov't ......
* Durbin, Duckworth announce $16 million in ......
* Illinois receives $16 million to fight opi......

* Sen. Duckworth Pushes for Free Two-Year Te......
* Duckworth talks health care, Trump during ......
* Durbin, Duckworth announce $16 million in ......
* Illinois receives $16 million to fight opi......

* Help Day For Property Tax Appeals
* CPS and “Wrong-way” Claypool.
* Trumpen. 
* People with clout are still contacting Rahm on his private e-mail account, and other Chicago news
* Scenes from Saturday's March for Science
* Hitting Left.
* NEA’s charter position is okay but a little like closing the doors on an empty barn. No mention of vouchers?
* North Korea and the gang that couldn’t shoot straight. What message is Trump sending?
* Earth Sunday.
* A Republican moderate.


* IDOT Celebrates Earth Day by Distributing Trees to Schools
* Earth Day Honor: IDOT Recognizes Longtime Adopt-A-Highway Volunteers - More than 140 groups thanked in tree-planting ceremony
* The State of Illinois to Build a Digital-Ready Workforce - Partnership with the IoT Talent Consortium to Offer Data Science Training to Illinois Workers and Learners, with Cybersecurity Training Next in the Pipeline
* Governor Makes First #GovClassroomVisit
* New Siemens Charger Locomotives Begin Testing

  
* Deal: Get a lifetime of online protection from TigerVPN for $29
* [TA Deals] Get the Java Programming Bootcamp package for $39
* Samsung Galaxy Amp Prime 2 offers Android Nougat to Cricket customers at $150
* LG G6 arrives in India to rain on Galaxy S8’s parade, lower price, Quad DAC and all
* Alcatel A30 tablet gets rendered en route to T-Mobile, Nougat and LTE most likely in tow
* Samsung Galaxy J3 (2017) has specs outed in several benchmarks, J5 (2017) swings by the FCC
* T-Mobile Galaxy Note 5 also gets Android Nougat

* In My Words: White Sox booth is Benetti's bliss
* White Sox snap out of scoring slump vs. Tribe
* Bats roar to life against Tribe in series finale
* White Sox snap out of scoring slump vs. Tribe
* Gonzalez eyes continued success vs. Royals
* Davidson out for fourth consecutive game
* White Sox turn to Holland in finale vs. Tribe


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