Saturday, May 31, 2008

Want a friend in Illinois buy a dog

Geez, Obama bails out on his Church and Pastor, Durbin bails on Blagojevich... what profiles in courage our Senators.

An Illinois GOP Press Release... and he holds up George Ryan?

Senator says he has been troubled by Blagojevich allies currently facing legal battles

By David Mendell
Chicago Tribune reporter
May 30, 2008

Illinois' senior Democratic senator said Friday he had a much better working relationship with former Republican Gov. George Ryan than Democratic successor Rod Blagojevich.

U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, during a wide-ranging interview with the Tribune editorial board, also said he was "troubled" by some of Blagojevich's early appointments. Some of those appointees, Durbin noted, played prominent roles at the public corruption trial of Antoin "Tony" Rezko, a former top fundraiser for Blagojevich.

"You may assume—and it's natural that you would —that there's a closer working relationship with the governor and senator than there actually is. There isn't much," Durbin said, adding he's talked privately with Blagojevich only a handful of times since Blagojevich took office in 2003.

Durbin said he was particularly troubled by the appointment of Republican fundraiser Stuart Levine, who later pleaded guilty in a political corruption case. Durbin, who is running for re-election this fall, said he has never been close to Levine, though he acknowledged Levine gave $1,000 to his campaign fund in 2000.

"What's happened here was fairly obvious to a lot of us on the outside," Durbin said of the federal investigations of the Blagojevich administration.

Asked whether he should have registered his unease to Blagojevich about appointees like Levine, Durbin said, "When it comes to dealing with the state and all of the decisions involved in it, there's just so much I can do, to be honest with you."

Durbin's comments came as Steve Sauerberg, the senator's GOP challenger, has sought to link the senator to the beleaguered Blagojevich. "Dick Durbin's statement about his limited contacts with the governor is either an opportunistic lie or—if it's true—represents a total abdication of responsibility on behalf of the senior senator from Illinois," Sauerberg said in a statement.

As for how Ryan compares to Blagojevich, Durbin said he regularly received phone calls from Ryan as late as midnight to discuss public business. That never happens with Blagojevich, he said.


Will ethics bill be “improved to death?"

By Patrick O'Brien
After a three-year battle, the imprisonment of one governor and federal investigations of another, state lawmakers took a step today toward taming
Illinois' “wild west” reputation for political corruption.

But despite the General Assembly’s unanimous votes on the “pay-to-play” reforms, Gov. Rod Blagojevich may make changes to the proposal and send it into limbo again. “There’s a lot more that needs to be done,” said Rebecca Rausch, a spokesperson for the governor, shortly after the House vote.

One day after a tornado in the state capital, the measure’s sponsor saw reasons to be optimistic about the measure becoming law.

“The sun is shining, the birds are singing, and we finally passed a new ethics bill in Springfield,” said Rep. John Fritchey, a Chicago Democrat.

The plan would ban contractors with more than $50,000 in state business from donating money to statewide officeholders’ political campaigns.

The measure would not ban contributions to state political parties, a point of contention for Senate President Emil Jones Jr., a Blagojevich ally who said during committee that the bill could be “improved.”

“This addresses a very specific problem, the pay-to-play problem with contractors in state government,” said Cindi Canary, executive director of the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform. She added: “If you look at the Ryan Administration, and if you look at, particularly, Ryan when he was secretary of state, we saw a lot of this. This is not a new problem. Sadly this has been taken to somewhat of an art form in recent years, but this is something that has gone on for some time.”

Fritchey said the bulk of the reforms have already been enacted by all statewide executives on their own, with “one glaring exception,” the governor.

Rep. Jack Franks, a McHenry Democrat and frequent Blagojevich critic, said the governor hasn’t taken the active role in ethics reform that he promised in a 2003 speech. “I’m still waiting for that bill from the governor that would ‘rock the system’ and reform what we’re doing in Springfield.”

Fritchey said the measure’s Senate sponsor, Don Harmon, an Oak Park Democrat, and Sen. Debbie Halvorson, a Crete Democrat, will call for a veto override in that chamber if the governor tries to change the bill. Fritchey expressed concern that the governor would try to “improve the bill to death” to defeat it.


GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips - May 31, 2008

-- Pfleger Mocks Clinton Losses, Then Apologizes From Pulpit At Obama's Church, Pastor Takes Shot At Hillary: 'I'm White. I'm Entitled. There's A Black Man Stealing My Show' - Jay Levine (Includes video clip)

-- Cardinal calls Pfleger's remarks 'partisan' (Includes video clip)
-- Lawmakers get closer to state budget - Paul Meincke (Includes video clip)

-- FRONT PAGE WITH 8X8.5-INCH COLOR PHOTO OF CARDINAL GEORGE AND 2.5X2.5-INCH COLOR PHOTO OF PFLEGER: Cardinal clamps down on Pfleger Says rebel priest has promised not to campaign or talk about political candidates - Mike Thomas,CST-NWS-priest31.article
-- Pfleger: Obama's painful new headache - Lynn Sweet,CST-NWS-sweet31.article
-- Budget battle unable to weather the weather "99 Bottles of Beer" Storms drive lawmakers into Capitol basement - Dave McKinney Jaclyn Brenning,CST-NWS-budg31.article
-- Feds raid union boss William E. Dugan's farm Allegedly used Local 150 resources illegally - Chris Fusco,CST-NWS-dugan31.article

-- FRONT PAGE TOP OF FOLD WITH COLOR PHOTO OF PFLEGER: Presidential hopefuls can't keep followers on short leash Pfleger controversy again shows the challenges for hopefuls David Berry
-- Pfleger mocks Clinton - AP
-- FRONT PAGE TOP OF FOLD: Lawmakers look to boost school funding in marathon budget sessions - John Patterson
-- DIERSEN HEADLINE: The Daily Herald is somewhat happy that DuPage County Board members froze their pay for the next 4 years and cut stipends and eliminated mileage reimbursements. But the Daily Herald is still not completely happy.
-- Nominating petitions: Seeking political office in DuPage may get easier - Jake Griffin
-- DIERSEN HEADLINE: VERY SAD BUT NOT SURPRISING: Abortion promoting feminist Diane Niesman of Wheaton blasts McCain
-- DIERSEN HEADLINE: To elect Obama, Tom Sulla of Palatine plays the "age card" big time against McCain

-- FRONT PAGE TOP OF FOLD WITH COLOR PFLEGER/JACKSON PHOTO: Cardinal George weighs in on Pfleger flap Priest agrees to 'not enter into campaigning' after Clinton remarks - Manya A. Brachear and John McCormick,0,1651452.story
-- FRONT PAGE WITH COLOR PHOTO OF MICHAEL MADIGAN AND LOU LANG: In deadline push, legislators may leave budget cuts to governor Tornado sirens send lawmakers scrambling, delay final action - Jeffrey Meitrodt and Ray Long,0,7133409.story
-- Pfleger's vile sermon - Editorial,0,3599844.story
-- Durbin says ties to governor thin Senator says he has been troubled by Blagojevich allies currently facing legal battles - David Mendell,0,4114023.story
-- Dick Durbin on Obama, Pfleger and race
-- DIERSEN HEADLINE: Because of Obama's extreme anti-Republicanism, Tom Rajcan of Wheaton must not really be a Republican if he is "giving serious consideration to voting for" Obama.,0,1591619.story

-- Budget deal reached Today’s the deadline for lawmakers to OK it - Doug Finke

-- ‘Clean car’ bill idles near state House floor - Paul Merrion
-- State budget negotiators say deal in place - AP

-- Pontiac plans parade to support prison guards, reach lawmakers Planned closing means all inmates could be moved by February - Tony Sapochetti
-- Illinois construction program continues to grow - Kurt Erickson

-- Roskam says his district's No. 1 concern is gas prices - Josh Singer,eg-roskamtalk-060508-s1.article

-- Kane County Clerk's Office eyes 'vote centers' - Steve Lord,3_1_EL31_A3VOTE_S1.article

-- Foster, Durbin cry foul over gas prices - Jonathan Bilyk
-- Lauzen questions IDOT budget - Kate Thayer

-- Martin Ozinga's faith pulling him to congressional race - Edward Felker

-- Hastert's Prairie Parkway push: FOX eyes - Mark Silva

-- Former Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert starts work on Monday as a Senior Adviser to Dickstein Shapiro's lobbying practice

-- MAY 18, 2005 FLASHBACK: Lauzen, Brady, & Collins Springfield press conference RE: SB600 and return to direct election of Illinois Republican Party State Central Committee members

-- Gambling with a crooked governor - Fran Eaton
-- The dizzying pace of our mounting state debt - Fran Eaton

-- The Imperfect Storm- Bethany Jaeger
(FROM THE ARTICLE: PHOTO CAPTION: Rep. Mike Fortner, a West Chicago Republican, explains the physics of a tornadic cell to fellow legislators and lobbyists after a tornado was sighted in Springfield.)

-- NEW BOOK: Illinois Deserves Better by Bruno Behrend and John Bambenek

-- VERY SAD: Hyatt Regency Chicago Hosts "International Mr. Leather" Perversion

-- The Friends of Obama - James L. Merriner

-- Pfleger's mocking of Clinton at Obama’s Church Reverberates - Susan Saulny

-- Hastert to Join Lobbying Firm Dickstein Shapiro

-- DIERSEN HEADLINE: Houston Chronicle seeks to downplay the negative impact of Wright and Pfleger on Obama

-- DIERSEN HEADLINE: National Journal lists Bob Kjellander as a "GOP Political Insider"

-- DIERSEN HEADLINE: Jake Tapper outrageously tries to equate New York Monsignor Josh Singer with Wright and Pfleger (Includes outstanding video clip)

-- FOX News Documentary Shows Congressmen Sent Millions in Earmarks to Their Own Families A number of U.S. congressmen and their families — including former Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert - have personally profited from congressional earmarks they slipped into federal legislation, a FOX News documentary reveals.,2933,361061,00.html

-- Roskam’s wife paints intricate oil canvas for her husband - Betsy Rothstein
(See page 34 of the May 22 edition for a 5X7-inch color copy of the painting. The painting, which depicts the Roskam team walking in a parade, includes Brigitta Johnson, David and Kirsten Mork, Jason Roe, the Roskams, Dean Thompson, Matt Vreisema, and many others.)

-- Clinton team demands Obama action on pastor attack

-- Abortion: When law encourages violence - Francis Cardinal George


Friday, May 30, 2008

The imperfect storm

By Bethany Jaeger
A tornado warning interrupted the House and Senate this evening before they could debate larger portions of the state operating budget, further delaying the ability to approve a spending plan before the constitutional deadline of midnight Saturday.

We all had to head to the basement of the Statehouse, where tunnels connect buildings on the Capitol complex. Amanda Vinicky, reporter for WUIS public radio station out of the University of Illinois at Springfield, caught up with House Speaker Michael Madigan in one of the tunnels. We listened to her audio file. She asked the speaker about the status of the budget, the leadership style of the governor and the lack of trust plaguing the democratic process.

Madigan’s advice for others was to consider the past five or six years — and to “prepare for the worst.”

The General Assembly is expected to approve a state budget before the deadline, but the budget also is expected to contain a rather large hole. Madigan said the legislature’s job is to approve the spending authority. The actual spending is up to the governor. “If he feels that some of those numbers should be changed, he has a reduction veto.”

The state Constitution grants the governor the power to strike out portions of the budget or to reduce the amount of money dedicated to specific programs.

The lawmakers also are considering the capital plan drafted by former U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert and Southern Illinois University President Glenn Poshard, who were recruited by Gov. Rod Blagojevich to bring everyone together on a multi-year plan for construction projects. Madigan has not attended any of the meetings with the negotiators and the other legislative leaders. Of the governor’s previous meetings, Madigan said, “I have found meeting with Gov. Blagojevich to be totally non-productive, and so we decided to take a different approach.” That included sending his majority leader, Rep. Barbara Flynn Currie, in his place.

The $31 billion capital plan has grown to $33 billion under the Senate proposal (see below). It now has a specific list of projects that would be funded, something legislators demanded before they could consider approving a deal. But rank-and-file legislators, particularly Democrats, continue to question whether they could trust Blagojevich to release the money for projects in their districts. Madigan reiterated the reason behind lawmakers’ hesitation: “It’s all about trust. It’s all about trust and whether people are prepared to trust Gov. Blagojevich and trust his record of broken promises.”

The legislative leaders are meeting with the governor in his Statehouse office as I post this. The Senate is expected to meet in committees yet this evening to discuss the capital plan and the proposed funding sources, including leasing the Illinois Lottery; expanding gaming to include a new and two additional riverboats, as well as expanding positions at existing facilities; and transferring money from the state’s Road Fund and the general fund. The House is done for the evening but will start with committees at 8:30 a.m. Saturday. Expect a long day and night.

Here are a few other items of interest that unfolded earlier Friday:

Potential CeaseFire agreement
Rep. Susana Mendoza, a Chicago Democrat, said she’s able to vote for a state budget now that an agreement has been made with Senate Democrats to reinsert $6.25 million into the state budget for a CeaseFire, gun violence prevention program.

The CeaseFire campaign employs ex-convicts to work as mediators to diffuse tension in communities with “hot spots” of gun and gang violence. They also connect clients to community services for jobs, education and other social services. The program is administered by the Chicago Project for Violence Prevention located at the University of Illinois at Chicago’s School of Public Health.

Gov. Rod Blagojevich last summer vetoed $6 million for CeaseFire from state budget as part of a series of budget cuts totaling about $460 million.

In early May, a Northwestern University study announced the program as successful in deterring gun violence. Professor Wesley Skogan at the Evanston school found that the number of shootings dropped between 16 percent and 34 percent in four Chicago neighborhoods with CeaseFire programs. Six CeaseFire communities saw a 42 percent average reduction in shootings during the first year of the program.

The study also shows that the program has lasting effects on such other challenges as getting jobs, returning to school or disengaging from gangs. Clients interviewed for the survey also reported that they built relationships with their mediators so that if, for instance, they felt tempted to use drugs again, they could call their mediator in the middle of the night.

The study concluded that the program saves the state and the taxpayers money by decreasing the number of emergency room visits and the number of criminals in the justice system.

Potential Medicaid reimbursements for hospitals
The state could garner up to $4.5 billion in federal funds over five years that Illinois would redistribute to hospitals, primarily facilities that care for the most needy patients. The legislature is advancing a plan that would need the governor’s signature and the feds’ approval.

About 200 hospitals in the state already have participated in a so-called hospital assessment program, collecting a total of $$2.3 billion over three years. That program is set to expire June 30. The plan approved by the House Friday afternoon (and expected to win Senate approval Saturday) would create a new program for the next five years.

The new plan would be larger than the existing program. It would distribute more than $640 million a year to the hospitals that voluntarily pay an assessment (a.k.a. tax) that leverages federal matching funds. This plan also differs in that more hospitals, particularly in the Chicago suburbs, would be considered “losers,” meaning they would pay out more than they collected in federal reimbursements. The feds view that favorably because the system would better redistribute the money to the most critical and needy hospitals in rural and low-income areas, says House Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie, a Chicago Democrat.

She added the state also needs the plan because without federal approval, “we will be looking for substantial dollars to fill a very deep hole in the state’s Medicaid budget.”

Sen. Jeff Schoenberg, an Evanston Democrat sponsoring the measure in his chamber, said hospitals agreed to the plan. “Everybody recognized that we all have a stake in it together, and without this infusion of new federal Medicaid funding, many hospitals in the state will have to either curtail their services or close their doors entirely. And we simply cannot allow that to happen.”

That’s partially because without the program, hospitals on average would be paid only 64 percent of what it actually costs to deliver the care, said Howard Peters with the Illinois Hospital Association.

The state also leverages about $130 million that’s left over from the Medicaid reimbursement program to obtain additional federal matching funds. They must be spent on health care, including services for mental health, developmental disabilities and long-term care. Schoenberg said that he would like to use some of the excess money for substance abuse and treatment programs, many of which have long waiting lists. That would require legislative approval.

Just for fun
To the right: Rep. Mike Fortner, a West Chicago Republican, explains the physics of a tornadic cell to fellow legislators and lobbyists after a tornado was sighted in Springfield.


Con Con Considerations: Presentation

Cross posted from ICPR's blog, The Race is On:

The November ballot will ask voters whether Illinois should have a Constitutional Convention. A Constitutional Convention would be authorized to review any portion of Illinois' Constitution they wanted to -- and to propose an entirely new document, amendments to existing provisions, or additions of new materials.

But the Constitution also leaves much to the General Assembly to determine. Others have taken a position on whether or not there should be a Convention, and even on what issues a Convention should address if it is called. This page is less interested in what a Convention might accomplish as in how it might work.

Last in a series

The 1970 constitution provides that, at the conclusion of a Convention, "any proposed revision or amendments approved by a majority of the delegates shall be submitted to the electors [ie, voters] in such manner as the Convention determines, at an election designated or called by the Convention occurring not less than two nor more than six months after the Convention's adjournment." In theory, the delegates could approve a series of amendment or revisions, but not adjourn until the timing of an election. Moreover, the vote on their findings must be no sooner than two months after the end of the Convention, nor more than six months after the end, meaning that the Convention will likely determine whether the results are voted upon at a Special Election or a Regular Election. How should the final product be presented? As a single up or down vote, as a series of changes, or, as in 1970, a combination of the two: a totally new Constitution and a few separate votes on more controversial components?

How, and When, Should the Convention Present its Findings?

To Comment, please visit ICPR's blog.


GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips - May 30, 2008

-- Convention Committee on Rules and Procedures Ruling

-- Champion News obtains list of delegates for the Republican State Convention in Decatur - Doug Ibendal (A-G) (H-K) (L-P) (Q-Z)
(FROM THE ARTICLE: We were finally able to obtain a statewide delegate list for next weekend's Republican State Convention in Decatur - no thanks to Andy McKenna's staff by the way. To the best of our knowledge, this is what the State Party considers to be the official certified list as of this date. As far as we know, as of right now Champion News is the only place where all Republicans can learn who will be representing them in Decatur. Needless to say, we don't pretend to vouch for the accuracy of anything coming out of this State Party these days. We're publishing what we've obtained, in the good faith belief it's as good as we're going to get at this late date. By our count, there are 1,268 names here. There is no way to tell from this list how many are delegates, and how many are alternates. But most are probably delegates. If every person listed here makes it to Decatur that would be a big increase in the turnout over the last convention in 2004. So this list indicates improvement, but we as Republicans should still be doing much better. Illinois law allows approximately 1,800 delegates this year, and the same number of alternates, for a total of 3,600 slots for the entire state. So 2,332 slots remain unfilled according to this list. In other words, nearly two-thirds of the opportunities available are going unclaimed. We'll keep you updated.)

-- Pfleger-ant foul Outspoken priest caught on video ranting about Hillary at Obama's church - Lynn Sweet,CST-NWS-sweet30.article
-- Illinois Senate OKs $16 billion loan to bolster pension system But support may be lacking in House - Dave McKinney and Jaclyn Brenning,CST-NWS-leg30.article
-- DIERSEN HEADLINE: VERY SAD: Chicago Sun-Times steps up its efforts to demonize conservatives by saying Michelle Malkin is a racist,CST-EDT-douglas30.article

-- FRONT PAGE: Illinois illegal immigrant mystery health tab - Nick Shields
(FROM THE ARTICLE: As the state's unpaid medical bills continue to climb, Illinois has enrolled thousands of undocumented immigrant children into Gov. Rod Blagojevich's All Kids insurance program, yet officials don't know how much taxpayers are spending on their care. "The figure is not available," Mark Iocca, an attorney handling information requests for the administration, said in responding to a Daily Herald legal request about those costs. A total of 1.4 million children receive state-provided health care under All Kids. Many of them were previously enrolled in Kid Care, which was folded into the new All Kids program in 2006. All Kids spent $1.85 billion on children's care in the 2007 budget year. Iocca said fewer than 4 percent of the enrollees were undocumented but said specific cost information was unavailable. He also said 2008 budget information was not available. The distinction is key as undocumented immigrants' health care generally is not eligible for federal Medicaid dollars. That means Illinois taxpayers foot the bill for the health care of undocumented children. Critics say such coverage expansions -- especially those with undocumented immigrants -- are overburdening a system that has long had problems paying medical providers on time.)
-- Lawmakers look to borrow $16 billion for pensions - John Patterson
-- Get fed up with our state officials - Editorial
-- Bad policies to blame for gas costs, Durbin says - David Beery
-- Durbin says Clintons must unite party - David Beery
-- California revives gay marriage debate - AP
-- DuPage Democrats accuse GOP board members of stifling public input - Jake Griffin
-- Voter ID idea makes sense - Flo Brinacombe, Schaumburg

-- Another video from Obama's church - John McCormick and Manya A. Brachear (Includes video clip)
-- Obama again apologizes for a pastor's comments - John McCormick and Manya A. Brachear,0,5467277.story
-- State budget may contain big boost for school funding But lawmakers still scrambling to finish work by end of month - Ray Long and Jeffrey Meitrodt,0,2170713.story
-- NU grads say Daley too small for big day As commencement speaker, mayor a letdown, some say - Jodi S. Cohen and Brian Cox,0,1022702.story
-- NU president reaffirms Daley as commencement speaker choice Some grads had complained he was too small for their big day - Jodi S. Cohen,0,2843823.story
-- Will County Board Republicans broke state law, Illinois attorney general says Secret ballot vote for new Forest District president violated Open Meetings Act, officials say,0,578508.story

-- Pfleger apologizes for comments mocking Clinton (Includes video clip)
-- Lawmakers have 2 days to pass budget - Paul Meincke (Includes video clip)

-- Pfleger's Fiery Sermon New Controversy For Obama Campaign Obama 'Deeply Disappointed' By Priest's Remarks (Includes video clip)
-- Northwestern University Students Say Mayor Not 'Cool' Commencement Speaker NBC5 Viewers Share Their Opinions In 'Soundoff' (Includes video clip)

-- Pfleger Apologizes For Mocking Clinton - Jay Levine (Includes video clip)
-- Cheney Charges Up Republicans At NYC Fundraiser Vice President Stresses Importance Of Winning Congress & White House At $1,000-A-Plate Party In Manhattan - AP

-- Hurdles imposing for state budget Top negotiator in Senate says it’s on target, though - Doug Finke

-- Jeffrey R. Brown, director of the University of Illinois Center on Business and Public Policy, contends Illinois pension debt plan is merely 'gimmick' - Kurt Erickson
-- Some state budget headway made - Mike Riopell

-- Some legislators say they should not get pay raise - Adriana Colindres

-- Recommendation for ILGOP pro-life plank - Jill Stanek

-- Obama’s 2006 choice not to transcend race: From small problems do big ones grow? - Jeff Berkowitz

-- Pro-Gay, Anti-Christianity - David R. Carlin

-- McClellan's Book Rocks the Beltway: Problem Is, Who's McClellan and Who Cares? - Daniel T. Zanoza

-- Obama's invaluable lesson to both parties. How to raise big bucks on the internet.

-- Unsettled state GOP kicks off convention - Bill Salisbury

-- State GOP convention kicks off - Lawrence Schumacher
(FROM THE ARTICLE: Republicans will also revise and adopt a platform containing the party’s core principles and conduct other party business at the Mayo Civic Center this weekend.)

-- State GOP in Spokane to decide election platform - Brad Shannon

-- State GOP to descend on Branson - Dave Abner

-- Hawaii GOP Convention - Majority and Minority Voices Heard - Stan Fichtman and Francisco Figueiredo

-- Conservatives Mixed on Top McCain Policies - Russell Berman

-- Tancredo dedicated to immigration issue Gives up House seat to join front lines - Ralph Hallow

-- Obama’s Church, Chicago Minister Pfleger Says Clinton Felt ‘White’ Entitlement

-- Priest and Obama Ally Pfleger Mocks Clinton's Tears from Obama's Church's Pulpit - Jake Tapper

-- Obama distances himself from another clergyman, Pfleger - Caryn Rousseau
-- Illinois lawmakers advance some parts of budget

-- Hillary believed she'd win 'cause she's white' In Trinity sermon, Obama spiritual adviser Pfleger says Clinton thought 'black man stealing my show' - Aaron Klein

-- Father Michael Pfleger, Surpassing Jeremiah Wright at Trinity

-- VERY SAD: Obama Praised Wright, Criticized Traditional Black Churches on Homosexuality - Penny Starr
-- VERY SAD: Support for Obama, Anti-US Feeling Alive and Well in Europe - Patrick Goodenough

-- Top Seven Reasons Why Barack Obama is a Weaker Candidate Than People Think - John Hawkins

-- Missourians Reject Obama’s Brand of Radical Liberalism - Peter Kinder

-- It’s the Communism, Stupid - Cliff Kincaid

-- The DNC's Rules and Bylaws Committee Meeting - Ken Rudin

-- Apologies for Slavery

-- Another pastor complicates Obama’s campaign Priest mocks Clinton as feeling entitled to nomination because she is white

-- Don't Link Obama to Former Radicals - Michael Kinsley,9171,1810338,00.html

-- McCain's Web gap is showing The candidate is taking a serious drubbing on the most popular video-sharing service on the Internet -- and the virtual town square for millions of young voters. - James Rainey,0,1110831.story

-- OUTSTANDING: Hultgren and Dillard join Birkett, Eckhoff, King, McBride, Olson, Fortner, Henry, Suess, Claar, and Carlin in sponsoring the Chicago Highlanders in Wheaton's 2008 Independence Day parade; all but $50 of the $1,300 cost has already been pledged - Dave Diersen
(THE ARTICLE: Outstandingly, last year, Republicans Mary Jo Arndt, Alan Bolds, Fred Bucholz, Dave Carlin, Roger Claar, Franco Coladipietro, Mike Connelly, Paul Daniels, Kirk Dillard, Bob Earl, DuPage Young Republicans, Jim Flickinger, Mike Formento, Mike Fortner, GOPUSA ILLINOIS, Mike Gresk, Gwen Henry, Randy Hultgren, Bob Jacobsen, Chris Kachiroubas, Gary King, Mark Kmiecik, Bob Larsen, J.R. McBride, Debra Olson, Mike Prueter, Peter Roskam, Darlene Ruscitti, Leonard Sanchez, Ron Smith, Phil Suess, and Tim Whelan contributed a total of $3,300 to sponsor Big Queenie the elephant ($2,000) and the Chicago Highlanders ($1,300) in Wheaton's 2007 Independence Day parade. On Saturday, May 24, I asked them to consider again sponsoring the Chicago Highlanders in Wheaton's 2008 Independence Day parade. Outstandingly, already, Hultgren has pledged $150, Dillard $50, Birkett, $100, Eckhoff $50, King $100, McBride $50, Olson $50, Henry $150, Fortner $100, Suess $150, Carlin $50, and Claar $250.)


Thursday, May 29, 2008

2010 Democratic primary is like one huge Texas Hold Em tournament

I've been playing Texas Hold Em lately. Probably way too much for my own good, so if my analogy is strained, you know what to blame. But as we approach the 2010 Democratic primary, it's a huge poker tournament. Let me explain.

Eric Zorn kicks off the campaign season with his call for Attorney General Lisa Madigan to go all in and announce now that she is running for governor.  Think of the 2010 primary, as I have increasingly done, as a poker table. There are savvy players around the table. Lisa Madigan, Pat Quinn, Dan Hynes, Paul Vallas, Jack Franks, Alexi Giannoulias and, of course, Rod Blagojevich. These are all smart, aggressive, good players. And they are all holding their cards close to the vest.

Now, if someone bets hard (say, Lisa announces that she's all in, or Alexi announces he is running for sure), that will cause some players, even with good cards, to fold. No one is folding now. So who will go in first? If a player with a low chip stack goes all in (say, Jack Franks) and announces that he is running, will that cause anyone else to fold? Probably not. What if someone bets lightly by announcing an exploratory committee? Probably won't cause anyone else to fold. So who is going all in?

That's the delicious season of anticipation that we're in now.

Then the fun part is in the ripple effect. For the first time in a decade, lots of offices can open up. Senator Obama's seat will be open in 2010, as will every statewide state elected. So if both Dan Hynes and Pat Quinn run for governor, then Comptroller and Lt. Governor are both open. In other words, in one way or another, every part of the Illinois Democratic Party is around the 2010 poker table with seven different offices to fill, at least half of which are likely to be open seats. So everyone in the state gets to play. It's going to be very exciting.

People who are better at hold em than I am can explain how most of the game's success is in the strategy of betting. And over the next six months, we get to see how the best players in the party bet with the hands they've been dealt.

Cross-posted at Progressive Advocacy


It's close

By Patrick O’Brien and Bethany Jaeger
The House and Senate may have drawn closer to agreeing on a state budget today, but it’ll come down to Friday and Saturday to find out whether the legislature is headed into overtime session.

Negotiators likely have found a common ground on school funding, which would increase by between $500 million and $530 million, according to Rep. Gary Hannig, the House budget negotiator. Higher education funding levels also are relatively close, granting nearly a 3 percent increase across the board. Budget negotiators need to work out funding levels for community colleges.

The main sticking point in the overall budget appears to be with the House Democrats, who want to increase spending for human services. But Hannig said the House tomorrow likely will present two more substantial portions of a budget that would represent an agreement between the chambers.

The House sent two smaller, less-controversial portions of the budget (here and here) to the governor this afternoon. They would fund such agencies as the Capital Development Board, the Illinois Commerce Commission and the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission at mostly current levels.

“It’s more likely that we would take up the rest of the budget perhaps tomorrow,” Hannig said. That leaves tens of billions in spending still under negotiation.

Whether the final budget will be balanced is up to debate.

Rep. Renee Kosel, a New Lenox Republican, said this year’s budget process has made it impossible to know whether the Democrats’ plan carries a deficit. “I can’t tell you whether it’s a flat budget or whether it’s a balanced budget because we don’t have all the pieces,” she said. She added that increased education funding is necessary because of increases in enrollment.

Over in the Senate, Democrats showed a rare sense of solidarity as they approved two ways to plug a projected $500 million hole in the budget.

They had to scurry around the floor to ensure all their ducks were in a row to approve a $16 billion borrowing plan. They did. The plan would pump money into the increasingly expensive pension systems for public employees. They later approved a mechanism that would allow the governor to sweep about $500 million out of special dedicated funds, which would help put more money toward education and leverage up to $530 million in new federal matching funds.

All Republicans voted against the plans. That’s a sign that the pension deal faces a severe challenge in the House, where some Republicans would have to support it for the plan to pass. Quote Hannig: “It’s hard for me to see how you can find 71 votes out here. I have advised the Senate of the difficulty that they will face in the House.”

Senate Democrats defended the pension bonding proposal as a way to refinance $42 billion of debt at a lower interest rate, saving the state about $55 billion in the long run. It also would free up $500 million that otherwise would have been earmarked for the state’s contribution to the five pension systems next fiscal year.

Republicans dismissed the bonding scheme as risky for two reasons. Current market conditions can’t guarantee generous returns on investments, and the governor and the legislature can’t be trusted as they continue to fudge with the payment schedule set in the 1990s.

“This is more about budget relief than it is about fixing the pensions,” said Sen. Christine Radogno, a Lemont Republican.

Senate Minority Leader Frank Watson likened the plan to an “Enron borrowing scheme.”

The so-called fund sweeps legislation would not only leverage federal funds and free up existing state dollars, but it also would be restricted by federal rules on how they could be spent, said Sen. Jeff Schoenberg, an Evanston Democrat sponsoring the measure. He said the federal rules address the concern that the legislature relinquishes too much power to the executive branch.

Nearly 30 funds also would be prohibited from being swept. They include funds for veterans’ homes, teachers’ health insurance and public transportation needs, as well as a motor cycle riders’ safety training fund that landed in court last year.

The House would need a regular majority to approve fund sweeps, meaning Republican votes would not be needed if all Democrats were on board.


Told You So

Even Stevie Wonder could have seen this one coming:
A temporary ban on an Illinois law requiring a moment of silence at the start of the school day was expanded Thursday to apply to all school districts across the state.

The decision by U.S. District Judge Robert Gettleman will remain in place while a legal challenge alleging the law is unconstitutional moves forward.
As I've maintained from the onset of this issue, the underlying law was pointless and last year's amendment made it even worse. The bill that I sponsored this year, which was passed by the House before being taken hostage in the Senate would have fixed the problem, but once again, common sense failed to carry the day in Springfield.

So now we wind up just where I predicted we would, with dollars that should be going into classrooms instead going into courtrooms, all in the name of fighting for an unenforceable law with no penalty provisions. Political folly at its finest.

To read or post comments, visit Open House


GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips - May 29, 2008

-- KASS: While seeking a presidential pardon for the Republican Ryan, Thompson's firm is also representing the Democratic Gov. Rod "He's next" Blagojevich, who is under federal pressure. I've given Thompson credit for establishing the sleazy bipartisan combine that runs the state, and for helping to ruin the Republican Party.,0,3274602.column
-- DIERSEN HEADLINE: VERY SAD: Promoters of homosexual activity score wins in New York and California,0,1238682.story
-- Sorry, but Mrs. Obama's fair game - Jonah Goldberg,0,6064081.story
-- House Democrats: little chance of passing capital plan - Ray Long and Jeffrey Meitrodt
-- Governor optimistic on big plan Blagojevich pushes public works, but others seek exit - Ray Long and Jeffrey Meitrodt,0,5709673.story
-- DuPage County Board freezes most members' salaries - Joseph Sjostrom,0,7572615.story

-- DIERSEN HEADLINE: The anti-conservative Daily Herald, anti-conservative George Ryan, anti-conservative Jim Thompson, and their supporters all blame all problems on conservatives and on conservatism. So it is puzzling that the Daily Herald says "George Ryan violated his public trust and wronged the people of Illinois he had promised to serve. To grant him special favors after all that would not only be unfair, it would invite the public's continued cynicism about our institutions of government." Maybe the Daily Herald is mad at George Ryan for getting caught and for causing so much bad publicity for anti-conservatives and for anti-conservatism.
-- DIERSEN HEADLINE: FRONT PAGE TOP OF FOLD: DAILY HERALD HIGHLIGHTS DEMOCRATS' AND RINOS' BELIEF THAT CHILDREN ARE HOPELESSLY PROMISCUOUS: Wheaton Warrenville School District 200: Wheaton Republican Mark Stern speaks in favor of continuation of abstinence-only sex education for middle school students. Milton Township Democrat Party Chairman Alicia Fitz and contraception education advocate Karen Henk speak against it.
(FROM THE ARTICLE: "Hopefully most (students) will postpone sexual activity for many years, and a few will wait until marriage," read Henk's speech. "But the purpose of sex ed should be providing ALL of the tools necessary to help young people make responsible decisions." District 200 residents looking for a swift resolution will have to wait. The school board did not have an immediate response. However, school board President Andy Johnson did clarify that abstinence-only sexual education classes were not instituted by board policy. District staff in a separate interview on Wednesday clarified that abstinence-only sexual education is a federally funded program, but District 200 does not take any of those dollars. The current program has been in place for about four years now. Students receive further sexual education as part of their health curriculum once they get to high school. As in many parts of the country, the sex ed debate may inject a political element. Republican Mark Stern quickly rebutted Henk's comments, saying they were not in line with the beliefs of the District 200 community as a whole. Meanwhile, Democrat Alicia Fitz, who was also in attendance, said Henk's comments have wide support.)
-- DIERSEN HEADLINE: VERY SAD BUT NOT SURPRISING: Race based politics promoter Rueben Navarrette supports Obama's attacks on Dobbs and Limbaugh
-- Lawmakers racing the clock on budget - John Patterson
-- Bob Biggins arrested on DUI charge in Springfield - Amber Krosel
(FROM THE ARTICLE: "I made a serious lapse in judgment and sincerely apologize to my family and those I represent who may be disappointed today," Biggins said in a statement provided to the Daily Herald. "I take full responsibility for my actions and will face any and all legal consequences.")
-- Chaplin v. Rathje: State: Hand over supply receipts Water agency board member takes tiff over office supplies to attorney general's office - Jake Griffin
-- Former COD chief steps back in for the interim McAninch returns to president's office - Catherine Edman
-- Illegal immigration is costly for country - Nancy J. Thorner, Lake Bluff
-- The danger posed by drug companies - Jim Peterson, Hoffman Estates
-- Same-sex rulings raw judicial fiat - Jim and Phyllis Finnegan, Barrington

-- DIERSEN HEADLINE: The anti-conservative Chicago Sun-Times, anti-conservative George Ryan, anti-conservative Jim Thompson, and their supporters all blame all problems on conservatives and on conservatism. So it is puzzling that the Chicago Sun-Times says "Ryan doesn't deserve a get-out-of-jail card." Maybe the Chicago Sun-Times is mad at George Ryan for getting caught and for causing so much bad publicity for anti-conservatives and for anti-conservatism.,CST-EDT-edit29.article

-- Pension reform bill advances to full House - Meagan Sexton
-- Bush once sought Ryan’s help; it’s a lot different now - Bernard Schoenburg
-- Prospects for Illinois Works are dim - Editorial

-- The Price Of Pampering At The Conventions? $500K

-- Auditor chides guv’s budget office for ‘poor example’ - AP
-- Lawmakers hustle to craft spending plan - AP

-- Mike Sweeney to lead Elk Grove GOP - Josh Singer and Kimberly Fornek,ah-sweeney-052908-s1.article

-- Birkett should now see there's no sure thing - Jeff Ward,2_4_AU28_WARD_S1.article

-- College of DuPage president's contract terminated Trustees say removing Chand early was a mutual decision - Paige Winfield,6_1_NA29_COD_S1.article
(FROM THE ARTICLE: Chand's departure came about as a "mutual agreement" he made with the college, board Chairman Mike McKinnon said in a written statement. David Carlin, another trustee on the eight-member board, also said the removal was a joint decision between Chand and the board. "Over the last couple months we've had discussions on different things," Carlin said. "It kind of played out as we were discussing things." The announcement came five days after a May 22 meeting during which the board conducted Chand's annual performance review. Carlin and McKinnon reportedly had a rocky relationship with Chand in recent months as they negotiated a $90,000 contract with Res Publica Group - a Chicago-based public relations firm. While Carlin declined to give specifics about any factors contributing to the decision, former board member Jan Herron said the announcement doesn't surprise her, based on the way the board leadership operated during her own tenure.)

-- Obama, Dems, Media, In Denial: Wright and "Bitter" Flap Did Have Impact On White Voters - Daniel T. Zanoza

-- Are Religious Conservatives And The GOP Headed For Divorce? - Deal W. Hudson

-- DIERSEN HEADLINE: RACE BASED POLITICS IS EXTREMELY DIVISIVE: What types of enhanced preferential treatment will Democrats promise Native Americans to get their vote?

-- Rachael Ray, Dunkin' Donuts and the Keffiyeh Kerfuffle - Michelle Malkin,_dunkin_donuts_and_the_keffiyeh_kerfuffle

-- Journalist Sympathizes With Illegal Immigrants - Bethany Stotts

-- Obama's Revisionist History - Karl Rove

-- DIERSEN HEADLINE: "Deeply flawed" Ben Pershing says that Oberweis is "deeply flawed"
-- In Rebuking Minister, McCain May Have Alienated Evangelicals - Kimberly Kindy

-- Obama: A uniter or a fraud? Whether Obama would give America 'change we can believe in' is not knowable. But Bob Beckel and Cal Thomas believe one thing is certain: If he hopes to have a consequential presidency, bipartisanship provides the surest path.

-- What Happens When the Ex-Press Secretary Doesn’t Trash His Boss - Rich Noles
(FROM THE ARTICLE: LAUER: "I can't let you go without asking about Jeff Gannon who's the reporter, the Washington bureau chief for Talon News, found out now that he had an alias. That of course he was asking some very easy questions of the administration. When you were the press secretary, you stopped going to him for questions. Why did you do that and are you surprised they went back to him after you left?" FLEISCHER: "Well I stopped calling on him because I heard he worked for something called GOPUSA. And my line in the sand is that if you work for a political party or candidate you're not a reporter but I was assured that GOPUSA, despite its name, was not a part of the party. His editor called me to tell me that and I confirmed it with the Republican National Committee." LAUER: "Were you surprised that the, the current press secretary went back to calling on him?" FLEISCHER: "Well I do think that there is a slippery slope if government officials stop calling on reporters based on ideology. Because that room is home to a lot of colorful characters left and right. And I used to call them mainstream reporters first and then I tried to get to the colorful characters at the very end. 'Cause they too are entitled to questions and the government should not pick and choose reporters on the basis of ideology.")

-- Andy Martin sets hearing in Illinois GOP 'Rigged Convention' lawsuit

-- OUTSTANDING: Birkett, Eckhoff, King, McBride, and Olson join Fortner, Henry, Suess, Claar, and Carlin in sponsoring the Chicago Highlanders in Wheaton's 2008 Independence Day parade; all but $250 of the $1,300 cost has already been pledged - Dave Diersen
(THE ARTICLE: Outstandingly, last year, Republicans Mary Jo Arndt, Alan Bolds, Fred Bucholz, Dave Carlin, Roger Claar, Franco Coladipietro, Mike Connelly, Paul Daniels, Kirk Dillard, Bob Earl, DuPage Young Republicans, Jim Flickinger, Mike Formento, Mike Fortner, GOPUSA ILLINOIS, Mike Gresk, Gwen Henry, Randy Hultgren, Bob Jacobsen, Chris Kachiroubas, Gary King, Mark Kmiecik, Bob Larsen, J.R. McBride, Debra Olson, Mike Prueter, Peter Roskam, Darlene Ruscitti, Leonard Sanchez, Ron Smith, Phil Suess, and Tim Whelan contributed a total of $3,300 to sponsor Big Queenie the elephant ($2,000) and the Chicago Highlanders ($1,300) in Wheaton's 2007 Independence Day parade. On Saturday, May 24, I asked them to consider again sponsoring the Chicago Highlanders in Wheaton's 2008 Independence Day parade. Outstandingly, already, Birkett has pledged $100, Eckhoff $50, King $100, McBride $50, Olson $50, Henry $150, Fortner $100, Suess $150, Carlin $50, and Claar $250.)
-- Gresk and Olson speak at outstanding Muehlfelt fundraiser Over 100 attendees include Bond, Bucholz, Carlson, Connelly, Crane, Dickson, Earl, Eckhoff, Edwards, Falbo, Fawell, Flickinger, Formento, Gilgis, Heidorn, Jacobsen, Keim, King, Larsen, McBride, Mitroff, Murphy, Rathje, and Smith - Dave Diersen
(THE ARTICLE: Wheaton Mayor Mike Gresk and DuPage County District 4 Board Member Debra Olson spoke at an outstanding fundraiser for Milton Township Highway Commissioner Gary Muehlfelt Wednesday evening at Manhattan's Bar & Grill in Carol Stream. The over 100 attendees included Pat Bond, Fred Bucholz, Lori Carlson, Tina Connelly, Lynn Crane, Mary Dickson, Bob Earl, Grant Eckhoff, Chris Edwards, Sal Falbo, Blanch & Jeff Fawell, Jim Flickinger, Mike Formento, Kyle Gilgis, Chris Heidorn, Bob Jacobsen, Joe Keim, Gary King, Bob Larsen, J.R. McBride, Pam Mitroff, Barb Murphy, Louis Rathje, and Ron Smith. Sponsors included Bond, Dickson & Assoc, Mr. & Mrs. Henry Dreisilker, Rick & Kyle Gilgis, Mr. & Mrs. Bob Jacobsen, Joe & Helen Keim, J.R. McBride, Barb Murphy, and Hank & Lucy Stillwell.)


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