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Not buying the other-worldly spin

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* Despite all the parallel universe pronouncements emanating from the governor’s office, Statehouse reporters didn’t even come close to buying the official spin about the Senate’s override yesterday of Blagojevich’s ethics amendatory veto.


In a 55-0 defeat for Gov. Blagojevich, the Senate Monday rejected his rewrite of an ethics package and reinstituted an earlier ban on political contributions from big state contractors who have been the governor’s financial lifeblood.

“This shows he has zero credibility on the issue,” said Comptroller Dan Hynes, who was one of the guiding forces behind the new restrictions.


In an overwhelming rebuke of scandal-tarred Gov. Rod Blagojevich, Illinois lawmakers on Monday approved the state’s first ban on campaign donations from supporters seeking lucrative state contracts.


The action was a defeat for the governor, who used his veto power to rewrite and “improve” the bill with other ethics measures.


The vote is a stinging rebuke to Blagojevich, who had vetoed the ethics bill while offering what he said was a superior alternative. Critics said that move was actually designed to kill the reform and keep in place an unrestricted political system that Blagojevich has used to raise millions of campaign dollars.

* Meanwhile,
as I told you yesterday, the Senate Executive Committee advanced the governor’s AV proposal as an amendment

The Senate Executive Committee advanced a bill including his ethics ideas to the Senate floor Monday evening, possibly setting up a vote today.

Blagojevich applauded the Senate for advancing his ideas while playing down the significance of the ethics override vote.

“The General Assembly didn’t really move the ball forward. They only followed my lead and are just now catching up with something that I did two months ago,” Blagojevich said in a statement.

If that’s voted on today, we could be in session a while longer.

* The committee hearing was truly a sight to behold

[Cindi Canary, director of the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform] testified against the legislation, saying reform groups continue to meet with the governor’s office to refine the ideas, but that they’re not ready to become law. Reformers prefer an across-the-board limit on contributions each election, as is the case for federal races and in most states.

That bill’s sponsor, Sen. James DeLeo, D-Chicago, said if the Legislature wants ethics reform, it should go all out.

“If you do business in government, if you make money off the taxpayers, don’t contribute,” DeLeo said.

* More from the hearing

Cindi Canary… said it felt odd, but she had to oppose the [governor’s] new measure during a Senate committee Monday evening. She said the more expansive ethics legislation is “not ready for prime time, yet.”

She said she supports the concept but believes the governor’s proposal isn’t the right vehicle for enacting contribution limits on legislators. Banning state contractors from donating to elected officials who have no control over state contracts could invite a legal challenge based on the First Amendment that protects free speech, she said. She also questioned the fallout of prohibiting active state legislators from also working in some public sector jobs but not others. And she said the one aspect that would be ready to go if it were proposed as a stand-alone measure is the portion that would clarify the system of approving legislative pay raises.

* Fritchey gets the last word

I don’t have the energy right now to go into my thoughts on what the Governor will likely do next. But I can’t help but think that, regardless of what his next steps may be, that he would have been a lot better off just signing this bill in the first place.

* There was another ethics override yesterday

The Senate also voted to override an amendatory veto on another measure requiring stricter disclosure for campaign committees. Blagojevich had changed that bill to ban campaign contributions from any government employee, state or local. That measure, without the governor’s change, goes to the House.

* In other news, this wrinkle in the supplemental appropriations negotiations caused quite a stir yesterday

Sen. Donne Trotter, a Chicago Democrat and budget negotiator, said the Senate Democrats found $42 million of that $221 million that they would like to spend in a different way than approved by the House. That includes $37 million the House included to reimburse mass transit districts for the free rides granted to seniors and people with disabilities enacted earlier this year. The Senate Democrats would take that out and shift the funding, for instance, to increase the amount of money for college grants through the Monetary Award Program. The House also would restore funding for constitutional officers at 100 percent of the original funding level, while the Senate Democrats would restore them at 75 percent.

* More

Republicans are involved in the budget negotiations. According to Patty Schuh, spokeswoman for Senate Minority Leader Frank Watson, the GOP Caucus prioritizes restoring funding for state parks, historic sites and human services. But members argue that it doesn’t make sense to restore funding to the parks and historic sites and then sweep money from the special fund dedicated to the Department of Natural Resources.

* Other Senate action

— Rejected the governor’s third effort to require insurance coverage of autism treatment, even though he called a special session Monday morning specifically on that issue.

— Voted 55-0 to allow another ethics bill to proceed without the governor’s proposed ban on political donations by state and local government employees, saying it went too far.

“The governor’s veto basically had no rational point of view why he vetoed it,” said Sen. Terry Link, D-Waukegan, in pushing for the override.

— By the same vote, overrode Blagojevich vetoes that would have required some hospitals to provide more discounts to uninsured patients, and that would have forced schools to develop policies to deal with students with severe food allergies.

Blagojevich said in a statement he was “extremely disappointed” by the Senate votes, calling the food allergy vote a “regrettable action.”

* Related…

* Britt: Toon on Gov. Blagojevich and ethics legislation

* SJ-R Opinion: State’s sunshine law needs rewrite

* Senate overrides veto of hotel tax bill

* Senate overrides vetoes affecting Milan, West Frankfort and Morton

* DeWitt Chairman invites governor to Weldon Springs meeting

* Lawmakers search for compromise to keep parks, sites open

posted by Rich Miller
Tuesday, Sep 23, 08 @ 10:02 am


  1. “They only followed my lead and are just now catching up with something that I did two months ago,” Blagojevich said in a statement.

    The man’s distortion of reality and facts knows no bounds.

    Comment by Rep. John Fritchey Tuesday, Sep 23, 08 @ 10:16 am

  2. And you Governor are rapidly catching up with George Ryan’s lead.

    Comment by Leave a light on George Tuesday, Sep 23, 08 @ 10:19 am

  3. All in all, I would say it was an up day.

    Comment by WonderBoy Tuesday, Sep 23, 08 @ 10:21 am

  4. I find the governor speaking about ethics highly entertaining. I think he should do it every day. Sen. DeLeo, too.

    I hope reporters keep asking him questions about Rezko, too. HIs comments the other day about Rezko being a victim of the system were breathtaking.

    I have a number of suggested questions, but here’s one:

    “What did you tell Mr. Rezko would be his role in your administration?”

    Comment by wordslinger Tuesday, Sep 23, 08 @ 10:27 am

  5. ===The vote is a stinging rebuke to Blagojevich, who had vetoed the ethics bill while offering what he said was a superior alternative. Critics said that move was actually designed to kill the reform and keep in place an unrestricted political system that Blagojevich has used to raise millions of campaign dollars.===

    MJM said it best when he made reference to Blagojevich’s mounting legal bills (Ata comment). His former stream of money is becoming a dribble. I don’t see an firms lining up for pro bono work.

    Comment by BandCamp Tuesday, Sep 23, 08 @ 10:30 am

  6. So, Rewrite to do right isn’t a success.

    Comment by Levois Tuesday, Sep 23, 08 @ 10:30 am

  7. Sure hope Tony Rezko keeps keeping mum.

    Comment by Looney Tunes Tuesday, Sep 23, 08 @ 10:42 am

  8. Blagojevich’s way of ruining Obama’s bid for President.

    Comment by Gotcha! Tuesday, Sep 23, 08 @ 10:45 am

  9. Did anyone else catch the comment by the Gov in reply to McCain’s attack ad linking Obama to Bill Daley, Rezko, Jones, and Blegojevich? The Gov asked if his picture on the ad was good, and what states it would run in, because he had had a girlfriend in Pennsylvania. Can we say cuckoo?

    The budget cuts need to be restored but it needs to be done in a way where we are not back here in the same place in six months. Can this administration and legislature find any money without going to the same well, employee pensions? I would like to see ALL state employees, judges, legislators, etc. have the same pension, insurance, etc. After they are all state employees. Then maybe they would not be so eager to go the that trough every time they need money.

    Comment by Irish Tuesday, Sep 23, 08 @ 10:46 am

  10. Sorry - After all they are all state employees.

    Comment by Irish Tuesday, Sep 23, 08 @ 10:48 am

  11. Why can’t public schools develop their own policies for dealing with students with severe food allergies. Presumably, there are umpteen pediatric medicine groups who could tell them how to do it. Why do they need a law?

    Could be another example of lazy school administrators not wanting to bother until somebody makes them, whatever the impact on the kids. Even with those great six figure compensation packages, Illinois’ public school administrators want to get out the door when the bell rings.

    Comment by Cassandra Tuesday, Sep 23, 08 @ 11:07 am

  12. Rich, your subscription Capitol Fax today is absolutely outstanding and a good reason for more people to subscribe to it. That’s all I’ll say without giving the contents away.

    Under this Governor’s use of the amendatory veto, the only thing the members of this legislature can do right about now is permanently move to Springfield.

    Comment by Louis G. Atsaves Tuesday, Sep 23, 08 @ 11:31 am

  13. Rep. Fritchey, I always appreciate your comments, and couldn’t agree with them more in context. Now, with all due respect sir, when are the Democrats going to consider Impeachment proceedings for the Governor’s total lack of respect for state resources and political extortion? That would be leadership.

    Comment by Bassman Tuesday, Sep 23, 08 @ 11:44 am

  14. Cassandra - I will not disagree that there are some school administrators who are not diligent in the performance of their jobs. However from my experience as a school board member for 16 years they are in the minority. I doubt that the majority of administrators would like to see this bill. Most are doing everything they can for the students. They do not like to see unfunded mandates that force them to add programs and hire experts to run those programs when they are scraping to find every extra penny just to offer a sound education for every child. If you recall it was this governor? who made school mandates the subject of his State of the State address when he didn’t want to talk about every thing that was really going on in Springfield/Thompson Center. I wonder what that stack of mandates looks like now after he has added more unfunded mandates for schools to administrate.
    Many schools, if not all, have dieticians who are already advising food services on what they should serve. Couple with that each student has their own personal records that list medical issues that the schools are aware of that they follow. I know of instances where certain classrooms have had to be air conditioned for a specific student because of that child’s medical needs. All a parent has to do is make the school aware of a student’s issues and the school should comply. If they do not there are plenty of advocates out there who are more than happy to take these issues on to force the school to comply.

    Comment by Irish Tuesday, Sep 23, 08 @ 12:19 pm

  15. Yesterday was an “UP” day for Governor Dudley Do-Right.

    Comment by Little Egypt Tuesday, Sep 23, 08 @ 12:29 pm

  16. A site to behold?

    Comment by Anon Tuesday, Sep 23, 08 @ 12:40 pm

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