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The clown show strikes again

Wednesday, Oct 26, 2016

* Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the neediest man in Illinois…

* Maybe somebody ought to remind Joe about the state’s FOID card revocation law

430 ILCS 65/8) (from Ch. 38, par. 83-8)
Sec. 8. Grounds for denial and revocation. The Department of State Police has authority to deny an application for or to revoke and seize a Firearm Owner’s Identification Card previously issued under this Act only if the Department finds that the applicant or the person to whom such card was issued is or was at the time of issuance…

A person whose mental condition is of such a nature that it poses a clear and present danger to the applicant, any other person or persons or the community

In other words, maybe the state cops should grab Walsh’s musket.

- Posted by Rich Miller   79 Comments      

Here we go again

Wednesday, Oct 26, 2016

* Mark Kirk originally backed Donald Trump for president, then said he’d write in David Petraeus, then said he’d write in Colin Powell, then went back to Petraeus, and now he appears to be backing away from Petraeus again

Kirk, who is struggling in his Senate race against Democratic challenger Tammy Duckworth, said months ago that he planned to write in former CIA Director David Petraeus for president. But in an interview with a Chicago radio station on Wednesday, he refused to confirm whether that was still his plan.

“I said that largely out of total frustration,” Kirk said. “The joke I’ve seen going around is, ‘If you had a rowboat and it sprung a leak with Hillary and Trump in it and it sank, who would win?’”

Asked if that means he doesn’t have a candidate he’s planning to vote for, the Republican senator replied, “I don’t at this point. Pretty frustrated by the choice that we have now.”

This is all completely silly and useless, by the way. Write-in votes don’t count unless the candidate is registered. So, he’s flip-flopping all over the place about something that means absolutely nothing.

Listen to the entire WBEZ interview by clicking here.

- Posted by Rich Miller   30 Comments      

Local media doing its job right

Wednesday, Oct 26, 2016

* Lasalle NewsTribune

Neck-deep into this political season of flying mud, campaign propaganda is flooding mailboxes in the Illinois Valley.

The leaflets are colorful in language and graphics. Some of their claims are easily fact-checked and others are so outrageous as to be undeserving of fact-checking. Most are sent by political groups, not the candidates.

A bulk of the fliers target candidates in the race for District 76 state representative.

Andy Skoog (D-La Salle) is challenged by Jerry Long, a Republican from Streator. Two years ago, Long challenged Frank Mautino (D-Spring Valley) and lost by 337 votes. Last year, after Mautino was picked in December as state auditor general, La Salle circuit clerk Skoog was appointed to replace him as state representative.

Too wrong to even be false
Source: Illinois Republican Party
Claim — “Skoog took $16,000-plus from groups who bankrolled a politician guilty of horrific sex crimes against children.”
Misleading — This claim is nearly unworthy of being fact-checked. The advertisement alleges Andy Skoog received campaign contributions from sources that also contributed money to Rep. Keith Farnham (D-Elgin) before Farnham was convicted in 2015 of trading images of child pornography. The flier does not mention Farnham by name but it’s well understood that Farnham is who they are talking about. Farnham served five years as a state representative and, expectedly, received campaign donations.

This mailer is claiming that after Farnham’s arrest in 2014 and conviction in 2015, his allegedly crooked donors looked for other sleazy politicians to fund and landed on Andy Skoog. This vaporous connection also has been used in ads against Mike Mathis of Gillespie, a Democrat running for the House seat in District 95, and Rep. John Bradley (D-Marion). Bradley donated $1,000 to Farnham — three years before Farnham was arrested, according to the Chicago Tribune.

I’ve always believed that the content of mailers should be treated as if they came from the candidates’ own mouths. And candidates shouldn’t be able to hide behind the fact that state parties often pay for these mailers. The parties pay for them mainly because state parties get a discount on postage. I would love to see a reform which forces these party mailers to include a statement from the candidate being supported that he or she “approves” of the message.

* Anyway, some media outlets do a good job on this particular topic, most, though, often choose to ignore candidate advertising. If you continue reading the above fact-check, you’ll see a very long list of insane mailers in that district. You may quibble here and there with how the paper judges them, but it’s mostly very solid and thorough work.


- Posted by Rich Miller   9 Comments      

“It’s just not possible”

Wednesday, Oct 26, 2016

* The great Shelly Palmer

Anything that can be hacked will be hacked. Electronic voting machines are no exception. Which raises the question, “Could you hack enough electronic voting machines to influence (rig) the outcome of the upcoming presidential election?” To answer this question, you need to have high confidence in the answers to three additional questions:

    1) Are there a sufficient number of electronic voting machines in swing states?

    2) Can you identify and tamper with (hack) the right machines in the right locations?

    3) Can you infiltrate the required number of the more than 8,000 distributed, local, mostly offline, public polling places, and defraud a sufficient number of ordinary citizen volunteer election monitors, trained and credentialed partisan poll watchers, and the local and state officials who have a system in place to forestall both human error and any type of suspected tampering? […]

There’s a compelling and reassuring post by Chris Ashby, a Republican campaign finance and election lawyer, that clearly explains what would be necessary to “rig” an election. It’s a good read. In it, Chris opines: “To rig an election, you would need 1) technological capabilities that exist only in Mission Impossible movies, plus 2) the cooperation of the Republicans and Democrats who are serving as the polling place’s election officials, plus 3) the blind eyes of the partisan poll watchers who are standing over their shoulders, plus 4) the cooperation of another set of Republicans and Democrats — the officials at the post-elections canvass, plus 5) the blind eyes of the canvass watchers, too.”

What Chris means by “technological capabilities that exist only in Mission Impossible movies” is that even though hacking an individual machine is relatively easy, hacking the right machines in the right places to successfully and undetectably “rig” a national election would take an almost impossible-to-imagine coordinated effort by an army of technicians and wizened election volunteers from both political parties. […]

Between all of the hacked documents being released by WikiLeaks, the massive Yahoo email hack and the recent super-sized DDoS attack, it’s natural to wonder if a technical hack could impact or rig the upcoming election.

While conspiracy theorists, fear-mongers and attention seekers may want you to believe it’s probable, and while it is true that the chances that hackers might influence the outcome of the upcoming election are non-zero, in practice, it’s just not possible. The thousands of very well-distributed, mostly old-fashioned, partisan-monitored, local election polling places that make up our national election system are on full alert, and it is more than capable of defending our democracy on November 8th. So please, go out and vote with confidence. America needs you.

Ashby’s post is here.

- Posted by Rich Miller   27 Comments      

Question of the day

Wednesday, Oct 26, 2016

* The Tribune on the case of Michael Myers/Trivasano/Arquero

The emergency medical technician has changed his identity at least twice since 2001. Born in New Jersey with the name Larry Myers, he presented himself to authorities as Michael Trivasano during a series of arrests between 2001 and 2002 — a sequence that ended with a five-year prison term for attempted murder.

Once out of prison, he legally changed his name from Larry Myers to Michael Arquero and began a new life. He married, started a family, got his EMT license — and obtained a firearm owners identification card and later a concealed carry permit, all as Michael Arquero.

Arquero is now charged with unlawful use of a weapon by a felon. A simple fingerprint check would have revealed that he was a felon — albeit one known as Michael Trivasano — and disqualified him from owning a gun. But in Illinois, fingerprinting is not part of the background check required to get a firearm owners identification card or a concealed carry permit. Someone who wants a concealed carry permit has the option of supplying fingerprints to expedite the permit process. […]

Lawmakers could have incorporated fingerprint checks into the language of the concealed carry bill when it passed in Springfield, but they didn’t. They reasoned that someone with a criminal background wasn’t likely to apply for an FOID card or a concealed carry permit anyway. A felon will simply get a gun illegally, they shrugged.

Michael Arquero proved them wrong. It was alarmingly easy for him to defeat the supposed safeguards by misrepresenting his identity and his background. It wasn’t until he was arrested again that his fingerprints were discovered to match those of the felon known to the Illinois Department of Corrections as Michael Trivasano.

Background is here.

* The Question: Should FOID card applicants be required to undergo fingerprint checks? Take the poll and then explain your answer in comments, please.

panel management

- Posted by Rich Miller   114 Comments      

Today’s number: 7 years

Wednesday, Oct 26, 2016

* Tribune

Suburban Cook County is poised to join Chicago in adopting a $13 hourly minimum wage, a move critics say is better left to the state but proponents contend is a response to the state’s inaction.

The Cook County Board of Commissioners is expected to pass an ordinance Wednesday that would gradually raise the minimum wage to $13 by July 2020, following its approval by the board’s legislative and intergovernmental affairs committee Tuesday. […]

Commissioner Larry Suffredin, D-Evanston, lead sponsor of the proposal, said the goal is for the state to pass a minimum wage law, but a proposal put forth by Sen. Kimberly Lightford, D-Maywood, has languished since 2009. The intention is to encourage the state to move forward.

And almost exactly two years ago, Illinois voters overwhelmingly supported a non-binding referendum to raise the minimum wage to $10 an hour.

Since then? House Democratic crickets.

- Posted by Rich Miller   28 Comments      

I’d pay to see this ad

Wednesday, Oct 26, 2016

* Heh…

More here.

- Posted by Rich Miller   15 Comments      

The Democrats’ year of the woman

Wednesday, Oct 26, 2016

* This text from a North Sider isn’t the first such observation I’ve seen about 2016…

The top of the Dem ticket in Cook County


Notice anything? And add a [legislative] district like Steans and you have


That’s 9 out of 9

- Posted by Rich Miller   43 Comments      

Too poor to make bail

Wednesday, Oct 26, 2016

* Greg Hinz

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle appears to have some facts on her side when she suggested too many low-level offenders sit in expensive jail cells because they’re too poor to make bail. […]

Of the 8,222 people behind bars on Oct. 24, Dart’s office says, 298 were being held for failure to post $1,000 or less bond. Included are 62 that need $500, 17 that need $100 and one poor sap who needs just 50 bucks.

That last person is being held for allegedly shoplifting $118.26 worth of shrimp from a Mariano’s grocery store. He’s been in jail since Oct. 18, charged with retail theft under $300. His incarceration is costing taxpayers $162 a day. In other words, in terms of money, taxpayers would be better off to have reimbursed Mariano’s and let the guy go on the first day. […]

In 2015, again according to Dart, the county had 1,024 “turnarounds.” Those are cases in which a person was held so long awaiting trial that their eventual sentence was shorter than the time already served. Collectively, the excess “dead time” was a stunning 222 years in jail.

* Sun-Times editorial

It’s time more judges got serious about lowering bonds. We understand no one on the bench wants to be the person who allows a suspect to return to the street — only to commit a serious crime. But we are not talking about major infractions here. In one case we’ve written about in the past, a 33-year-old man was ordered held on $50,000 cash bail for possession of two Viagra pills. Should taxpayers foot the $143-a-day cost of jailing someone for such an offense?

Judges set bonds to ensure people show up for trial. If people don’t show up, they forfeit what they have paid. But judges have to be careful that some people without the means to pay aren’t kept in jail while others with more money and charged with the same types of crimes are released. […]

In July, the Sun-Times reported that Cook County judges routinely set bail for crime suspects at levels contrary to what the new risk-assessment system calls for. Last week, two men, one of whom is represented by the MacArthur Justice Center, filed a class action lawsuit arguing “excessive” bail set by Cook County judges is unconstitutional.

In a statement Monday, Cook County Chief Judge Timothy Evans said the courts have made significant progress. More I-bonds and electronic monitoring orders have been issued and the average population at the jail has declined, he said. In the first half of 2016, 94 percent of the lowest risk defendants were released pre-trial, he said.

That’s good. But Dart, Preckwinkle and others are correct that we can’t stop pushing until we have a system that treats all poor people fairly.

Your thoughts?

- Posted by Rich Miller   33 Comments      

Don’t even think about it

Wednesday, Oct 26, 2016

* Um, what?…

- Posted by Rich Miller   31 Comments      

Debaters showed more spark than the Cubs last night

Wednesday, Oct 26, 2016

* The Tribune’s coverage of last night’s comptroller debate

Republican Comptroller Leslie Geissler Munger again tried to link Democratic challenger Susana Mendoza to longtime House Speaker Michael Madigan and the state’s financial woes. And Munger also accused Mendoza of previously double dipping at the public trough by collecting two government paychecks.

In turn, Mendoza painted Munger as a “wingman” for Gov. Bruce Rauner and took her to task for failing to “denounce” Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.

Support of Trump has been a litmus test issue thrown at Republican candidates across the country this fall. Mendoza said Munger enjoys backing from some of the same campaign donors as Trump and that it should take “half a nanosecond” to know where to stand on the controversial candidate.

Munger said she’s “really working very hard to stay out of the issues at the top of the ticket” and “certainly cannot support a lot of the things that Mr. Trump has said.” But she declined to state her choice for president.

* Sun-Times

“She just accepted, from the person that she’s supposed to be a checks and balances to, a check for $1 million. By constitution, the Illinois comptroller’s office should be an independently elected office that serves as a watchdog for other executive offices,” Mendoza said.

Munger pointed out that some of that contribution was transferred out back to the Illinois Republican Party to fund other candidates’ races, prompting Mendoza to dub it “a legal laundering mechanism.”

Munger countered: “It’s not all coming in to me. My opponent has actually received plenty of money from special interests herself, including contracts that she’s gotten, money from companies she’s given out contracts out to, and money from Speaker [Michael] Madigan himself.”

“The Illinois Democratic Party is run by Speaker Madigan,” Munger said, as Mendoza interjected.

“Can I please finish? I was quiet when you were speaking,” Munger said.

There were numerous interjections during the appearance.

“Comptroller Munger has just admitted that she is allowing her campaign account, Citizens for Leslie Munger to be used as a legal laundering mechanism, so not only has she gone from being the state’s chief fiscal officer, she’s now admitted to being the state’s chief fiscal launderer,” Mendoza said.

* Daily Herald

Mendoza, a former state legislator and current Chicago city clerk, blasted Munger for accepting millions of campaign contributions from Rauner and business owners with close ties to the governor. The money was used largely to fund television ads that depict Mendoza as a Madigan protégé who will only do the bidding of the powerful Democratic leader if she’s elected. A large chunk of it was also distributed back to the state GOP, which is using it to help fund other campaigns. Mendoza called Munger the state’s “chief fiscal launderer.”

Munger responded by noting that she’s simply following the campaign laws that Mendoza passed when she was a legislator, and adding that she “didn’t need this job” and was doing it as a service to the state.

“The governor has not bought me,” Munger said. “Everything I have done is completely legal and transparent. It’s not illegal because Susana Mendoza voted for the law.”

Mendoza kept up the attack on Munger’s campaign finances for most of the debate and deflected Munger’s complaints that she has accepted campaign funds from Madigan through the state Democratic Party’s $150,000 contribution.

“Speaker Madigan’s campaign funds have not contributed to me, nor have I asked,” Mendoza said. “It’s not the same because the Democratic Party is not the personal piggy bank of Speaker Madigan.”

* More on that topic from Illinois Public Radio

Incumbent Republican Leslie Munger was appointed to the post by Governor Bruce Rauner. Her Democratic opponent, Chicago City Clerk Susanna Mendoza, says Munger is controlled by the wealthy governor.

“She just accepted — from the person who she’s supposed to be a checks and balances to — last week, a check for $1 million. By constitution, the Illinois comptroller’s office should be an independently-elected office that serves as a watchdog over other executive offices.”

Munger counters that she stood up to Rauner.

“The governor has not bought me. In fact, I’m probably the most independent person here because I don’t need this job. I took this role because I love Illinois.”

* The governor’s bonuses for non-union state workers was also an issue

Mendoza said the state doesn’t have money to pay its bills or keep open social service agencies, saying they “should be prioritized, certainly over anyone receiving a performance bonus while we’re in the midst of our worst, worst fiscal crisis of all time.”

But Munger said she was under court order to pay state workers.

When moderator Phil Ponce pressed: “including bonuses?” Munger said she cannot make a distinction over salary and bonus when an agency sends the request to her office for payment.

“There is no way to determine, which is bonus, which is pay,” Munger said, accusing Mendoza of not knowing how the office worked.

Mendoza countered that one of her top advisers is former comptroller Dan Hynes, and said Munger should have, upon taking office, immediately reviewed each agency’s expenses so she could make financial distinctions when necessary.

* It’s worth watching

- Posted by Rich Miller   57 Comments      

Cloonen ad lands on USA Today’s “five worst”

Wednesday, Oct 26, 2016

* USA Today editorialized today about the five worst political ads of the year

Believe it or not, this year’s crop of election commercials contains fewer really bad ads than in previous cycles. We have, nonetheless, persevered to find some of the most misleading. […]

Medicare scare in Illinois

At first glance, the ad run by Illinois Democrat Kate Cloonen seems like routine stuff. She suggests that her Republican opponent, Lindsay Parkhurst, would take away seniors’ Medicare and Social Security.

Democrats make that case frequently. But normally, they can point to some vote long ago to make modest or necessary reductions in federal spending to support their claim. In this case, the ad is not backed up by the slightest scintilla of evidence.

What makes it even more absurd is that the office that Cloonen currently holds, and that Parkhurst is seeking, is a seat in the state legislature.

Even if Parkhurst wanted to end the two signature federal programs for retirees, she’d have a hard time doing so from her perch in Springfield. Surely, Cloonen can come up with something better than this.

The ad is here.

- Posted by Rich Miller   12 Comments      

*** UPDATED x4 - Rauner admin response - Breast cancer task force responds *** I kinda doubt he’ll take this question

Wednesday, Oct 26, 2016

* Hmmm…

*** UPDATE 1 ***  Oof…

Responding to Governor Rauner’s “Facebook Live” on breast cancer detection and awareness, breast cancer advocates will hold their own “Facebook Live” to talk about how Illinois’ budget impasse has left low-income women without access to mammograms, breast exams, pelvic exams and Pap tests that could save their lives.

“Since FY 2015, the Illinois Breast and Cervical Cancer Program has lost $22 million in state funding,” said Teena Francois-Blue, MPH, Associate Director of Community Initiatives and Research for the Metropolitan Chicago Breast Cancer Taskforce. “This program makes it possible for low-income women to get health screenings that detect cancers early, when there are better treatment options. It is tragic that some Illinois women may have lost their chance for early, successful cancer treatment because our state budget was being held hostage for political reasons.”

“When Governor Rauner announced his Facebook Live session, he illustrated it with a photograph of his dog wearing a pink ribbon around her neck, saying, ‘Stella is doing her part to raise awareness and we are, too,’” said Beulah Brent, Board President of Sisters Working It Out (SWIO). “Frankly, I find that insulting. Illinois women need access to life-saving screening services, not photographs of family pets.”

Francois-Blue added: “Governor Rauner’s mother-in-law was successfully treated for breast cancer in 1987, and she has been cancer-free ever since. We believe that every woman in Illinois should have that same chance for early detection and a long, healthy life. Unfortunately, many low-income women and women of color don’t have access to high-quality screening and treatment services – a disparity that can cost them their lives. Illinois women don’t need an online chat with a nurse-practitioner; they need reliable funding that will give them access to breast exams, mammograms, pelvic exams and Pap smears.”

This Facebook Live event is being presented by the Metropolitan Chicago Breast Cancer Taskforce and members of the Responsible Budget Coalition, a large, diverse non-partisan coalition of more than 300 organizations unified in support of a fully funded, yearlong state budget with adequate revenue to serve our people and empower our communities.

Emphasis added for obvious reasons.

*** UPDATE 2 *** He did take the question and gave the standard answer…

*** UPDATE 3 *** From the Metropolitan Chicago Breast Cancer Task Force…

Hi Rich,

Hope you had a chance to see our response to Rauner Live on our Facebook page:

Just wanted to follow up on why the Illinois Breast and Cervical Cancer Program (IBCCP) and Stand Against Cancer (SAC) are so important and the $22 million in state funding cuts are so harmful.

1. One-third of Illinois’ population is Latino. Many immigrants do not have insurance and are not currently eligible for insurance on the ACA exchange or through Medicaid. IBCCP and SAC are two programs that provide lifesaving screenings, diagnostics and treatment for this population.

2. Many women who are newly insured get their screening covered for free, but then face a $1,000+ deductible for diagnostic follow up. Follow-up diagnostic screens can cost a woman anywhere from $300-$700, and a biopsy cost the woman $1,000 in out of pocket costs due to high deductibles. It is well-established that the subsidies assist people with covering their health insurance premiums but that they do nothing to assist with the deductible. The costs of diagnostic services are extremely high and pose a significant financial barrier both to early diagnosis and care.

3. Many small business owners and people who make above a certain income do not receive any subsidies. These individuals must bear the full cost their premiums, deductibles and other out of pocket expenses. Often these costs pose unreasonable barriers to care. These programs provide a safety net for people to assure that they are still able to get swift access to quality care.

Additionally, Rauner’s cut of $22 million to IBCCP and SAC have contributed to significant delays in care for Illinois women and risking women’s lives.

Thanks for your attention to this important matter,


Ariel J. Thomas, MS
Metropolitan Chicago Breast Cancer Task Force

*** UPDATE 4 *** From the governor’s office…

Despite decreasing demand for state support due to requirements of the Affordable Care Act that women be covered free of charge by insurers, Governor Rauner ensured $5 million in additional state dollars was allocated for the Illinois Breast and Cervical Cancer Program in this summer’s bridge funding. Governor Rauner agrees that funding for preventative services is of the utmost importance, which underscores why he held today’s Facebook Live highlighting Breast Cancer Awareness Month and signed legislation to improve early detection methods by requiring insurance plans, including Medicaid, to cover 3D mammography.

- Posted by Rich Miller   70 Comments      

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Wednesday, Oct 26, 2016

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