* The 2016 Golden Horsehoe Award for Best Statewide Officer goes to Secretary of State Jesse White…
He is and continues to be a guy who cares about people and cares about service. No friendlier guy you’ll ever meet.
Honorable mention to US Sen. Mark Kirk for coming back from a horrible stroke and enduring a very tough campaign.
* The 2016 Golden Horsehoe Award for Best Illinois Congresscritter goes to Mike Bost…
(W)hat it boils down to is Mike works harder than anyone for his Southern Illinois District, when others wont even answer calls, which is why he had widespread bipartisan support to win reelection.
Honorable mention to Rodney Davis for all the same reasons.
* The 2016 Golden Horsehoe Award for Best State Agency Director goes to Tim Nuding at GOMB…
Nuding for moving all that money around to keep some of this place from capsizing. Tough vote to make because on balance they’re not doing a good job but he deserves some praise.
I have nothing but respect for that man.
Honorable mention to Greg Bedalov at the Tollway.
* On to today’s categories…
* Best In-House Lobbyist
* Best Legislative Liaison
I know it’s late in the day (I just plum forgot about it), so do your best to nominate in both categories and please make sure to explain your votes. Thanks!
- Posted by Rich Miller
* From Andrea Durbin at the Illinois Collaboration on Youth…
Thought you would be interested to see the brief we filed with the Illinois Appellate Court on the Pay Now Illinois case. As you know, we are fast approaching the end of the calendar year, and with it the expiration of the stopgap spending bill. The expiration of the stopgap, and lack of any state budget, means that providers face tremendous uncertainty about when they will be paid for the work that they do and how they will manage to keep critical services flowing to keep individuals, families, and communities safe and healthy.
The full brief is here.
* Let’s look at their AFSCME argument…
The emergency basis for this direct appeal is the breakdown of constitutional government in the State of Illinois. This Court is well aware of the budget impasse between the General Assembly and Governor—now well over a year, and possibly to continue into 2017. A patchwork of court orders has kept up payment to some creditors of the State and not others. Some of the court orders require payment of pass-through federal funds, including Medicaid payments, which do not require consented-to appropriations. But there is one enormous exception. Without any consented-to appropriation, and by order of the Appellate Court, every single State employee, including many who work for the judicial branch, is receiving his or her salary as due on the same regular periodic basis… To date, notwithstanding Article VIII, Section 2(b) of the Illinois Constitution and by a court order that has been left undisturbed for eighteen months, the Comptroller has paid out over $4 billion to state employees without any consented to appropriation by the General Assembly… Significantly, though the State initially sought and was denied direct appeal to the Illinois Supreme Court, R. C2782, the State has filed no further appeal or motion since the Appellate Court’s decision to dissolve the order and has been content to leave this temporary restraining order in place by agreement and without pressing for a ruling on the merits.
Meanwhile, in the instant case, the defendants have vigorously opposed a similar action seeking a much smaller payment—precisely for lack of a consented-to appropriation. Furthermore, the Circuit Court inexplicably has failed to provide the same judicial treatment—and since there is no opinion, this Court can only guess the rationale for such a disparity. There is no “classification” that can justify this unequal treatment— and no reason why the Illinois courts should give priority to one kind of payment without a consented-to appropriation while denying another. It is especially unconscionable to inflict such an injury on those who serve the neediest citizens of the State. In AFSCME, the Appellate Court in the Fifth District justified upholding what has become a massive billion-dollar expenditure to State employees because of only a tentative and preliminary assessment that there was a valid legal claim of unlawful impairment of the obligation of contracts. Accordingly, if this Court finds that there is no legal claim of impairment in this case—a ruling on the merits—then it follows that the order of the Court in St. Clair County now paying the state employees—which is based only on a tentative or preliminary assessment of the same legal claim—has to be dissolved immediately as well. Furthermore, under state law, there should be full restitution of $4 billion for wrongful issuance of a preliminary injunction.
* And now this…
Plaintiffs recognize that the Governor and General Assembly have legitimate differences about the budget—or the Governor’s purported reform agenda as a condition for even having a budget. Plaintiffs have no position as to the merits of this political dispute. However, the Governor has in fact entered these contacts and continues to accept services without payment. He has chosen not to cancel or revoke the contracts, as he has power to do under provisions like Section 4.1 quoted in the Statement of Facts. The Governor could have used his line item veto authority to approve those parts of the budget bills—enacted in June 2015 and again in June 2016—that funded the contracts that he and the other defendants continue to enter and enforce. The defendants are always free to cancel the contracts prospectively: what they may not do, or what arises to an abuse of the powers of their offices, is to enter and continue the contracts without paying for them. Accordingly, under the well established “officer exception” to sovereign immunity, Illinois courts can issue prospective injunctive relief to specifically perform the contracts and become current in payments. Or put another way, the court has full equitable authority to bar defendants from both affirming and disaffirming the contracts all at once. Or to put it colloquially, defendants may not have their cake and eat it too.
- Posted by Rich Miller
State police said the headcount in its division of operations, the primary division responsible for traffic enforcement, has dropped from 1,849 in 2009 to 1,462 today because of retirements and attrition.
“No layoffs have occurred,” the ISP said in a statement. “The ISP is working within the budgetary environment by continuously exploring efficiencies, redistributing resources and staffing to meet public safety needs, particularly in high fatality zones.” […]
According to numbers provided to GateHouse Media Illinois, the number of traffic fatalities statewide has risen from 924 in 2014 to 998 in 2015 to 1,029 for this year through Friday.
While that number is up the past two years, it is still significantly lower than 15 years ago. In 2001, there were 1,414 fatalities, and in the 1970s, the number of fatal crashes each year was in the 2,000 range.
The ISP says the increasing the speed limit to 70 mph didn’t have a significant impact. The law took effect in January of 2014, but deaths were already on the rise. From a January 1, 2014 story…
As of New Year’s Eve , there were 973 crash fatalities in 2013 compared with 956 fatalities in 2012, a nearly 2 percent increase. That uptick adds to a 4 percent rise last year, when the death toll of 956 compared with 918 in 2011.
But deaths on Illinois roadways are still much lower than they have been historically, with 2013 the fifth consecutive year that fatalities were below 1,000, a dramatic low compared with the past nine decades.
Nationally, deaths didn’t really jump until 2015. More on that here.
Texting, low gas prices, etc. are likely factors. But a 20 percent drop in patrolling officers over 7 years can’t be ignored. Also, check out the reduction in tickets issued…
- Posted by Rich Miller
* Ken Griffin briefly attended a Chicago ceremony today with Mayor Emanuel to honor the state’s wealthiest man for contributing $12 million to create two separate bike and pedestrian paths on the city’s lakefront…
But coaxed back to the microphone to explain his ongoing support for two men who, on the surface, at least, are political foes, Griffin said he saw no contradiction between backing Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner and Democrat Emanuel.
“I’m a proud supporter of the governor and I’m a proud supporter of our mayor — two great men,” he said. “They don’t always agree, but we need great leaders to get through the problems that we face as a state.” […]
“I’d hope that these two great men would find common ground to keep Chicago at the forefront of our country and to meet the needs of our citizens,” he said before bolting again, this time for good. […]
“Ken and I don’t agree about a lot of things on policy,” [Mayor Emanuel said]. “But we do agree that public service is important, leadership is important, that Chicago is the crown jewel of the state of Illinois, and what we are doing today is investing in the city of Chicago so people can enjoy it.”
- Posted by Rich Miller
* Rep. Norine Hammond (R-Macomb)…
“The Office of the State Comptroller’s website shows that today it has more than $404 million to pay down the state’s bills. Despite having that revenue available, Comptroller Mendoza is refusing to process a $78,000 water bill for the Western Correctional Center. Because of her inaction, the facility is threatened with losing access to clean water and sewage service, creating a potential health and safety crisis for the state’s western region. Comptroller Mendoza has both the authority and cash-on-hand to pay this bill today and avoid what could become a catastrophe – she should do so immediately.”
I’m told that the Department of Corrections sent two invoices to the comptroller on December 2nd totaling $78,000. I’m not certain when IDOC received the bill, but if it’s reached the point where the prison is facing a water/sewer shutoff, you’d think the Rauner administration would’ve submitted that payment request a whole lot sooner. Unless, of course, there’s some politics involved.
There’s also a six-month bill payment backlog these days, so it could be a while before that bill is paid unless Mendoza personally intervenes and pays the invoice ahead of somebody else.
Anyway, this is precisely the sort of pressure Comptroller Mendoza can expect from here on out.
…Adding… A very good suggestion from RNUG in comments…
Two can play that game. Mendoza can flag any vouchers held at the agency more than 30 days (or 60 if you prefer) and, instead of putting them in line, shuffle them aside on a “low priory by the agency” pile to be paid whenever the State has extra money to catch up.
Getting the bills out of the agencies and into the Comptroller’s office in a timely fashion will draw the true picture of where the State stands.
* Meanwhile, from a press release…
A group of sixteen House Republican legislators are calling on State Comptroller Susana Mendoza to keep her promise of maintaining former Comptroller Leslie Munger’s policy of “No Budget No Pay’ in place with regard to payment of state lawmaker salaries. Twelve State Representatives and four State Senators sent a letter to Comptroller Mendoza today urging her to defend “No Budget No Pay” in the face of a lawsuit filed by six House Democrat legislators on December 2 suing the Comptroller for delaying payment of their salaries.
“Social service providers and many others who rely upon the state to meet its financial obligations are being adversely impacted, to put it mildly, by the General Assembly’s failure to pass a comprehensive budget,” Rep. McDermed said. “We are calling on the new Comptroller to stand with us in support of the individuals and families whose lives are being irreparably harmed due to the lack of stability in our budget.”
“We do not believe that payment of legislator salaries should be prioritized over the funding of health care and social service providers or others enduring the long delay in state payments,” Rep. Batinick added. “The principle of “No Budget No Pay” should be kept in place; and the General Assembly should come together immediately to pass a responsible state budget in order to prevent further erosion of our social safety net and damage to our economy.”
Attached is a copy of the letter that was sent to Comptroller Mendoza.
She’s already said that she’s against the lawsuit, but, again, this is just the sort of thing to expect for the next two years. The letter is here, by the way.
* Editorial: Forget the furniture and do the job: Unless Mendoza can point to specific missing files, furniture or important equipment, it’s regrettable she complained, even if only in response to a reporter’s specific question. She was a good Chicago city clerk and could be a good state comptroller. She only diminishes her reputation for competence by complaining about nothing much.
- Posted by Rich Miller
* Greg Hinz reports on some JB Pritzker contributions to House Democrats…
According to campaign records highlighted by the Rauner folks, $119,400 came from Stateline, which is listed at the same West Loop address as the Pritzker Group, and J.B. Pritzker listed the firm on a 2006 statement of economic interest.
Another $82,000 came from TNDP. It, too, has the same West Loop address, and its registered agent is Jay Robert Pritzker.
Republicans say that’s proof Pritzker is a secret agent of sorts of the governor’s arch-enemy, House Speaker Mike Madigan.
“After raising money for Rod Blagojevich, it’s no surprise that Pritzker is trying to hide hundreds of thousands in donations meant to help Mike Madigan,” Illinois Republican Party spokesman Steven Yaffe said in a statement. “Pritzker is just proving he is a political insider who will always side with Madigan to protect the status quo.”
The Stateline contributions are here. The company had previously made one campaign contribution before this November’s contributions to HDems. And that was for just $200 back in 2008.
The contributions by TNDP are here. No contributions prior to November are on record.
So, did Pritzker try to play hide the ball? Maybe. He did give to several other House Democrats this year, but not to Madigan’s Democratic Majority PAC, as he did with Stateline, nor did he contribute to Friends of MJM and DPI this fall, as he did with TNDP.
* The Pritzker camp’s response…
“While other people are finishing their Christmas and Hanukkah shopping, Bruce Rauner is obsessed with politics and J.B.,” says spokesman Dave Lundy. “If he spent a fraction of his energy solving our budget issues, maybe 125,000 college students would be able to go back to school when the stopgap budget expires on Dec. 31. J.B. is a well-known contributor to Democratic candidates and has been for decades.”
Lundy, by the way, was also in the Sun-Times today. Click here for that one.
- Posted by Rich Miller
Wednesday, Dec 21, 2016
* The Tribune jumps onto the bandwagon…
One Democrat, Rep. Scott Drury of Highwood, told WTTW’s “Chicago Tonight” program he would consider [running for House Speaker against Madigan]. Other names have been dropped, including that of Rep. Elaine Nekritz, D-Northbrook, though she told us discussions of her opposing Madigan were part of a “scheme” by Gov. Bruce Rauner to create a distraction.
No news there. The Tribune has been railing against Speaker Madigan almost since the moment he became Speaker.
* But they do manage to make a few good points. Here’s one…
To the calculus of replacing Madigan we would add: Democrats who support so-called progressive policies aren’t accomplishing those changes with Madigan in charge anyway: No increase in the minimum wage. No graduated income tax. No tax hike on the wealthy. No strengthening of the social safety net. No additional money for education. No changes to the state’s flawed school funding formula. They’re not getting done under Madigan because he doesn’t care about policy. It’s about power.
Not like they’d be for most of that anyway, but whatevs. They’re not wrong.
* And you may not know that this many HDems favor term limits…
If every Republican in the General Assembly to be seated next month voted for a different candidate for speaker — yes, GOP members can vote for a Democrat for speaker — only nine Democrats would have to defect to reach the 60-vote threshold for toppling Madigan. Nine.
Let’s start with Democrats who are on record supporting term limits for elected officials and/or legislative leaders, including Madigan. Readers, if your lawmaker is on this list, you might want to give him or her a call. You can find all of their phone numbers at www.ilga.gov. They are: Chicago Democrats Sara Feigenholtz, Fran Hurley and Kelly Cassidy; Robyn Gabel of Evanston; Carol Sente of Vernon Hills; Sam Yingling of Grayslake; Michelle Mussman of Schaumburg; Marty Moylan of Des Plaines; and Kathleen Willis of Addison. Reps. Ann Williams of Chicago and Stephanie Kifowit of Oswego both said they’d be open to leadership term limits.
- Posted by Rich Miller
* Dan Proft and Pat Hughes have a radio program called “Illinois Rising,” which is sponsored by the Illinois Policy Institute. This is from the most recent edition…
PROFT: Here’s the Turnaround Agenda, it’s workers’ comp, it’s property tax caps, it’s pension reform. Those are bullet points. There hasn’t been a simply, succinctly articulated proposal to rally people around on any of these areas. So, it just becomes like an index card of five categories, and that’s not gonna inflame anybody’s passions, and it’s not going to persuade too many people because they don’t know exactly what you mean or what they’re gonna get if we did whatever you call workers’ comp reform or whatever you call a property tax cap, different than what Madigan and Cullerton, the Chicago Democrats, call those same things.
HUGHES: Yeah, and after 18 months, almost two years of it, even those sort of words that were meant to have some meaning, the meaning has been sucked out of them because they’ve been said so many times. It’s a laundry list of terms, so any value they had in the beginning they’ve lost in the entire process.
PROFT: Everybody in this state’s a fiscal conservative, everybody in this state supports property tax caps. We have the worst bond rating of any state in the nation in 25 years, not just in the present. And with respect to property tax caps, we pay the highest property taxes in the nation. So we’ve got a bunch of fiscal conservatives running around supporting property tax caps and we don’t have anything resembling either one of those things.
HUGHES: So the question is… why doesn’t he do it? We’re closer to this political stuff than most people are, we’ve seen the governor up close working publicly and privately. What is it about this circumstance that makes him resistant to what is an obvious, in our view… a smart, meaningful political plan?
* On to the next segment…
PROFT: Pat, you posed a question about the risk, political risk Rauner needs to take to be a transformative governor. He needs to pose understandable and transformative ideas. He needs to take powerful stands, even though they are full of peril, because nothing is going to be given freely to Gov. Rauner by the Democrat power structure in this city and state. That is a known. So the unknown is why isn’t he doing some of the things we suggest he do. Even if you don’t want to pick the spot I say, I suggest you pick, then another spot to kind of get to the same place.
HUGHES: I know Bruce a little bit, I certainly know his history in business and he is not risk averse. You don’t get to be in his position by being risk averse… I think he’s getting advice from people who don’t want him to make the big mistake. Who don’t want him to take too big of a risk this far out, when they can bleed out circumstances, see how the country moves. Maybe Trump will be enormously popular, maybe circumstances will change on the ground. He knows he’s going to be resourced because he can spend $100 million of his own money, why take that risk?
…Adding… Just to clarify, on policy, Proft wants Rauner to take a much, much stronger stand against AFSCME and he wasn’t happy at all that Rauner signed the Exelon bailout bill.
Hughes then went on to question whether Rauner’s advisers were really tied enough to Illinois to want to make it a better place or just focused on Rauner’s reelection. Proft responded by saying Donald Trump “exposed” the consultant class. Trump, he said, didn’t need them, he won without them. Proft admitted that wasn’t easily replicable here, but then said…
What Rauner and his people lack is the sense of there is a revolt that is bubbling below the surface and we need to figure out how ignite it and leverage it, productively. And I don’t think they want to do that. I think they want to play the same old game, and do so, maybe unwittingly, according to Madigan’s rules.
This idea that they’re bleeding the other side out. No. They’re being bled out. They’re the holdout… They’re down 15 and they’re playing Four Corners. They’re not up 15. And, because we have these resources, we’re gonna make Madigan and whoever the Democrat nominee for governor is in ‘18 more of a bogey man than they can make me a bogey man.
That’s not the transformative leadership that was effectively his value proposition when he ran in 2014 and was elected on that basis - that he was an outsider coming in to, lack of a better phrase, drain the swamp in Springfield, or… however you want to translate that to Illinois. And if he’s just playing the tradition game the same way, less reform-minded, less transformationally inclined governors of the past like a George Ryan or a Jim Edgar or a Jim Thompson. If he’s just going to play the same way they did - two bad ideas, let’s split the difference and come up with a bad idea we agree to, like the energy bill that he just signed. That’s a good example of it. If that’s the tack he’s gonna take, that’s the Jim Edgar, Jim Thompson, George Ryan model of governance. That doesn’t end well.
HUGHES: No, and it also bleeds out his initial reason for being elected. He’s losing the outsider, he’s lost it. There’s no way to run as an outsider any more after some of these deals, the temporary budget he cut, the energy bill, the fact that he’s been battling with Madigan in Springfield for all these, the last couple of years. The outsider model is no longer gonna work. He’s gonna have to show that his governance was progress, both politically, which he’s done a little bit with these [legislative] races, but aside from politically, that people’s lives are starting to or going to improve as a consequence of the fact that he’s the leader of this state. And, currently, he can’t point to that.
PROFT: No, he can’t. So where does that put him with the prospects of facing a Democrat challenger that will have as much money as he does?… [Or if, say Downstate US Rep. Cheri Bustos wins the primary] Then Rauner is in deep trouble. And it seems to me they don’t have a sense of urgency, he doesn’t have a sense of urgency about the political trouble he’s in because of the lack of policy risks he’s taken.
- Posted by Rich Miller
* From yesterday…
* That tweet inspired some high quality trolling…
I monitor the governor’s Twitter account all day and I’ve noticed a definite uptick in anti-Rauner tweets since the election ended as liberals take out their frustrations on the nearest Republican. But the Democratic Party itself has given Rauner free rein on social media for two years.
* There were also some counter-trolls yesterday, mainly like this one…
Can you imagine if Speaker Madigan had his own Twitter account? Whew.
- Posted by Rich Miller
* OK, this is really getting goofy. A guy who isn’t in office yet, another guy who didn’t even run for reelection and is leaving office in January and therefore won’t be around to vote for House Speaker, and a Senator known for his intellectual independence. Sheesh…
Three More Added to BossMadigan.com
Time for Halpin, Jackson, and Haine to Demonstrate Independence from Madigan
Today, the Illinois Republican Party added Rep-elect Mike Halpin, Rep. Eddie Jackson, and Sen. Bill Haine to BossMadigan.com, as part of the party’s ongoing efforts to highlight those who empower Mike Madigan at our expense.
“Mike Halpin, Eddie Jackson and Bill Haine have all personally benefited from Mike Madigan, taking hundreds of thousands of dollars from Madigan in exchange for rubber-stamping his disastrous policies. As thousands flee Illinois, it’s time for them to admit their mistakes and work to oppose giving Madigan yet another term as Speaker.” – Illinois Republican Party Spokesman Steven Yaffe
Mike Halpin hasn’t even taken office yet and he’s already embroiled in Mike Madigan-related controversy. The Dispatch-Argus caught Madigan “meddling” in Halpin’s primary race, apparently directing $75,000 to Halpin to ensure he became the Democratic nominee. Halpin unbelievably claimed that he “can’t speak to who Madigan supports or doesn’t support.” Then, Madigan funneled $345,000 to help Halpin in the general election. It looks as if Mike Halpin is another bought-and-paid-for Madigan politician. Halpin can prove that wrong by opposing Madigan as Speaker in January.
Eddie Jackson has been a loyal Mike Madigan ally for years. Jackson voted to give Madigan the Speaker’s gavel four times, and in exchange Madigan has directly given Jackson over $100,000. Madigan directs the money and Jackson provides the votes. Take Madigan’s 67% income tax hike for example. Jackson supported it knowing it would cost hardworking middle-class families thousands in higher taxes. Just this year, Jackson voted for Madigan’s $8 billion unbalanced budget, which would have required even higher taxes to balance. Jackson has been just another tax-and-spend Madigan politician, but he has a chance now to change course and oppose Madigan’s re-election as Speaker.
Career politician Bill Haine might be a Senator, but he’s been in Mike Madigan’s back pocket for years, taking over $212,000 in Madigan money. First appointed in 2002, Haine has been around to vote on a decade and a half of Madigan policies, and he supports them every chance he gets. Haine supported the Madigan and Blagojevich plan to borrow $10 billion against the pension system and voted to skip pension payments, calling it a “pension holiday.” While Haine and Madigan shortchanged state workers, they sent the bill to middle class families, together raising the income tax by 67%. It’s time for Haine to stop backing Madigan’s Chicago-agenda by encouraging his colleagues to oppose him as Speaker of the Illinois House.
Also, it’s Eddie Lee Jackson.
- Posted by Rich Miller
* The background to this post is here. The Tribune has Chris Kennedy’s response to the ILGOP’s mocking video…
The video uses clips from the Democratic National Convention, when Kennedy awkwardly scolded reporters for trying to talk to him after he’d addressed an Illinois delegation breakfast meeting in Philadelphia.
“Have some decency. What have you become?” Kennedy asked the reporters as he tried to ride an elevator away from the cameras. He ultimately left the elevator and used a stairwell to flee the scene.
“I’ll admit, my elevator speech needed a little work, but we’ve made great progress since last summer,” Kennedy said in an emailed statement. “Too bad the same can’t be said for Illinois. It’s nice to see Gov. Rauner worried about someone besides himself for first time in two years.”
That’s not a bad response at all. Some self-deprecation combined with a jab at the governor’s inability to move the state forward.
But if Team Rauner follows recent practice and aggressively promotes its new video on social media and Kennedy doesn’t respond in kind, it won’t mean much.
*** UPDATE *** The ILGOP was not impressed…
Yesterday, Chris Kennedy responded to the Illinois Republican Party’s new digital ad, highlighting Kenendy’s ties to Mike Madigan, by completely avoiding the subject.
“Chris Kennedy’s dodge isn’t going to cut it. Mike Madigan endorsed Kennedy as an ‘excellent candidate’ for Governor and in return, Kennedy funneled tens of thousands of dollars to Madigan candidates and political groups. It’s time for Chris Kennedy to come clean. Does Kennedy endorse or oppose Mike Madigan as Speaker and head of the Democratic Party of Illinois? – Illinois Republican Party Spokesman Steven Yaffe
- Posted by Rich Miller
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