Thursday, January 31, 2008

RezkoWatch Blog

Surprized it didn't happen sooner. A blog devoted to Rezko. There is a blog roll with other Rezko watchers.

HT Flying Debris

Update: Raw Story on the scrubbing of the site with the Rezko-Blagojevich pictures.

After rumors began circulating that Auchi may have met with Obama, information was deleted from two websites connected to Auchi's company about a spring 2004 visit to the United States that occurred as Obama was campaigning to be Illinois' junior senator.
And then this at the bottom,
More recently, according to the FBI, Rezko had contacted "certain Illinois government officials" to help Auchi get a visa to the United States. Although the senator has stated that he did not work in any way to help Auchi receive a visa, news accounts raised questions of whether Rezko may at one time have introduced Obama to Auchi.

"[W]hen he was running for the Senate, Mr. Obama stopped by to shake hands while Mr. Rezko, an immigrant from Syria, was entertaining Middle Eastern bankers considering an investment in one of his projects," the New York Times reported in June 2007.

But Obama's campaign says that the senator never met with Auchi.

"He has no recollection of ever meeting him," wrote campaign spokesman Bill Burton in an e-mail to RAW STORY.
I wonder if this will lead to bans on digital cameras at political fundraisers?

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Top Fundraising Races in the 2008 Primary

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

With just a few days to go before Tuesday’s state primary election, the largest fundraising totals are being racked up by candidates seeking the Democratic Party nomination in General Assembly districts where the party nomination is tantamount to a general election victory.

According to an Illinois Campaign for Political Reform (ICPR) analysis of contribution reports, the five Democratic candidates in Chicago’s 26th House District could amass enough money to break the state record of $479,000 spent in a House primary election.

Top Five House Contests (Cash on hand January 1, 2007 and all reported fundraising since)

26th District Democratic - $861,300
Jeffries, Elga (I)- $31,300
Chadha, Paul - $81,600
Jackson, Philip - $58,200
Burns, William - $291,300
Johnson, Kenny(a) - $399,000

25th District Democratic - $333,300
Currie, Barbara Flynn (I)- $333,300
Latiker, Sharon - $0

49th District Republican - $261,500
Schmitz, Timothy (I) - $178,300
Krenz, James - $83,200

9th District Democratic - $248,300
Walton, Dorothy - $10,400
Turner, Art (I) - $227,900

92nd District Democratic - $225,500
Mayer, G. Allen - $128,200
Gordon, Jehan - $97,300

(a) Since candidate Kenny Johnson ran for alderman in the Spring, 2007 elections, his totals reflect only cash on hand on July 1 and all reported fundraising since.

The five candidates in the 26th District (see chart above) have received at least $861,300 to date. Rep. Elga Jeffries, the incumbent, has reported only $31,300 in contributions, the lowest total of the five candidates. The $399,000 in contributions to the campaign of Kenny Johnson is the highest of the five candidates in the 26th District, as well as the highest of any House candidate in a contested primary so far this year. Will Burns, who has reported $291,300 in contributions, is the second highest in the 26th District.

For more information about contributions to all of these campaigns, visit ICPR’s website (www.ilcampaign.org) and the Sunshine Database, a powerful search tool and the only database that has standardized the names of all donors to Illinois candidates. The webiste also is home to the Illinois Voters’ Guide, a non-partisan guide to candidates running for seats on the Illinois supreme, appellate and circuit courts.

In addition to campaigns poised to break fundraising records, ICPR’s analysis also found a few candidates in House races reporting no income or expenditures, and at least one may have misrepresented receipts and expenditures on disclosure reports.

Sharon Latiker, running a second time against incumbent Rep. Barbara Flynn Currie in the 25th District, has not formed or activated a political committee, a step required by any candidate raising or spending more than $3,000.

In the 10th District, Rep. Annazette Collins reported raising and spending no funds at all for the past 13 months. Other political committees, however, reported giving her campaign $20,000. It appears that she is severely under–reporting her campaign resources. If she were to report receipts and expenditures, it is likely that the 10th District Race would crack the Top Five. Her challenger, Eddie Winters, reports $155,700.

In both House and Senate primaries, many of the contests are in areas of the City of Chicago that saw turnover in last year’s aldermanic races.

Top Five Senate Contests
(Cash on hand January 1, 2007 and all reported fundraising since)

20th District Democratic - $609,800
Martinez, Iris (I)- $469,500
Bradley, Richard - $117,800
Guevara, Carlos - $22,400

5th District Democratic - $500,600
Hendon, Rickey (I)- $273,000
Bedi, Jonathan- $181,800
Mertens, Amy Sue - $45,800

36th District Democratic - $319,900
Rumler, Paul - $29,800
Jacobs, Mike(I)- $290,100

2nd District Democratic - $282,900
Moreno, Proco "Joe" - $142,600
Delgado, William (A-I) -$140,400

41st District Republican - $269,100
Radogno, Christine (I)- $246,400
Abbott, Greg - $11,000
Bartoz, Brian- $11,800

In Cook County races, two stand out for fundraising. The announcement by incumbent State’s Attorney Dick Devine that he will retire after 12 years in office has prompted a free-for-all among factions of Chicago politics. Five of the six candidates in the Democratic primary have raised more than $500,000, and total fundraising among the Democrats has reached $4.3 million (Republican Tony Peraica is unopposed in his primary, but reports $251,700 in fundraising).

The race for the Democratic nomination to the Board of Review in the 2nd District could have significant spending . The election is between incumbent (and Cook County Democratic Party Chair) Joseph Berrios and challenger Jay Paul Deratany. However, predictions are complicated by Berrios’ holding of $1.3 million in investments in one of his funds. While it seems unlikely he would spend that much, his challenger reports $672,600 in funds raised, and this race could easily surpass $1 million.

Top Contested Cook County Contests
(Cash on hand January 1, 2007 and all reported fundraising since)

State’s Attorney Democratic - $4,289,100
Allen, Tom(b) - $1,161,500
Alvarez, Anita - $711,800
Brookins Jr, Howard(b) - $577,700
Suffredin, Larry - $996,600
Milan, Robert- $804,700
Brewer, Tommy - $35,900

Board of Review, 2nd District (D) - $2,542,000
Berrios, Joseph (I) - $1,869,400
Deratany, Jay Paul - $672,600

Recorder of Deeds Democratic - $767,600
Moore, Eugene (I)- $494,500
Smith, Ed(b)- $273,100

(b) Since candidates Tom Allen, Howard Brookins, and Ed Smith ran for alderman in the Spring, 2007 elections, their totals reflect only cash on hand on July 1 and all reported fundraising since.

ICPR will have updates of these numbers, and judicial races, between now and next Tuesday's election.

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Controversial Chicago State University president stepping down

You could put this story under, "what took her so long?" If you haven't been tracking the story, there were issues with finances and contracts at Chicago State. So now we see someone is taking a hit for these flaps from today's Trib...

Elnora Daniel, the beleaguered president of Chicago State University, told colleagues Wednesday that she plans to retire, following a year in which her spending practices and leadership repeatedly came under fire.

She plans to leave on June 30, the day her contract is set to expire, but she will continue to collect her $241,025 salary and other benefits until June 30, 2009, as an "educational leave" clause in her contract allows.

Daniel announced her departure in an e-mail sent early Wednesday morning to faculty and staff at the 7,000-student South Side university, which serves more African-American students than any other university in the state.

Daniel had been asking the board since at least June to extend her contract, but the board never acted on her requests.

Her contract requires that she give the board "reasonable notice" of her intention to seek a paid leave, which becomes an option if her contract is not renewed, according to the agreement.

Her announcement comes as federal authorities are set to audit the university's spending on a government-funded project in west Africa, the subject of a recent Tribune investigation.

"It is with both sadness and a great deal of pride that I leave the university," Daniel wrote in her e-mail, a copy of which was forwarded to the Tribune. She wrote that the decision was difficult, but that "all good things must inevitably come to an end."

Daniel did not respond to calls or e-mails requesting comment.

Daniel, 66, has been president of Chicago State for the last decade. At a July news conference, called so she could defend her spending practices, Daniel said that she had no plans to step down.

"I will not resign. Never," Daniel said. "There are many important things that have been accomplished as a result of me being at this institution."

In Wednesday's e-mail, Daniel cited the university's new library and convocation center among her accomplishments. She also pointed to the creation of the doctoral program in educational leadership—the university's first PhD program—and the new College of Pharmacy, which will welcome its first class this fall.
Let's hope that Chicago State can appoint a leader who can right the ship and make that university into a desireable destination for those looking for a school to attend.

Related posts from my blog
Chicago St. president pays back $8,650
Chicago State copier buys were inside deal

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'Obama Country' ad is nothing more than an "idiot" card

My “idiot” card arrived in my mail Wednesday.

Now I can breathe a sigh of relief, as I finally know how I am supposed to vote come Tuesday’s primary elections. At least that’s how the Cook County Democratic Party wants me to react now that I have received their mailing telling me how to cast my ballot.

I received a campaign mailing telling me the party’s slate of candidates running for countywide offices here in the Land of Cook.

So now I realize that Joseph Berrios is a quality public official who deserves to have yet another term on the Cook County Board of Review, the panel that oversees tax appeals. I’m sure the fact that Berrios is also chairman of the Cook County Democratic Party had nothing to do with his endorsement for re-election to his government post.

Such cards are not new. The “Chicago machine” has used palm cards for decades. They are meant to be disposable and small (tiny enough to fit in the palm of one’s hand), and to provide a “friendly reminder” of which candidates have the official support of the party leadership.

They get the nickname of “idiot” cards because they allegedly are meant for people who are so absentminded/stupid that they need a blunt reminder of who the organization wants to get support – and more importantly, who it does NOT want to see anymore after Election Day.

But this palm card differs from past examples because of its quality; four pages printed on a full-color, quality posterboard stock. At first glance, it looks like a little book, at the very least a campaign brochure.

It also is larger than the traditional palm card – each page measures 6 x 9.25 inches. The only way I can fit it in the “palm” of my hand is if I hold it with my old baseball glove (a Bud Harrelson model, for those who are curious).

The card also is put together in a more sophisticated manner than usual palm cards, which typically are nothing more than a list of names.

Its cover promotes Barack Obama’s presidential campaign with a silhouette of the United States and the state of Illinois highlighted as “Obama Country.” At first glance, I thought I had received a brochure from the Obama campaign.

When I opened it up and saw pictures and quotes from Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., I thought that maybe I had received a Durbin campaign brochure urging support for Obama based on the concept of party unity. But upon further inspection, it became obvious that it was just a glossy idiot card.

The card contains a “sample ballot” listing all the slated candidates in Cook County, along with the small-print legalese informing me that I can take the card into the voting booth with me when I make my visit Tuesday to the neighborhood Lutheran church (which in my neighborhood doubles as an Election Day polling place).

After scouring all four pages, I found the very tiny typeface telling me the card was, “Paid for by the Cook County Democratic Party.”

A part of me feels like I’m handling sleaze, since the party obviously spent quite a bit of money on printing up these idiot cards. One does not get this quality of paper and so much full color (including color photographs of every judicial candidate the Cook County Democratic Party wants to see retained) without spending some serious cash.

I also feel simple-minded after reading the portion telling me that Democrats stand for “good schools,” “safe neighborhoods,” “quality healthcare” and “clean environment.” Does anyone seriously oppose such vague pronouncements? I have never heard of any campaign – GOP or Dem – that said publicly it favors bad schools and wants rotten healthcare.

There must have been something more worthwhile that the money could have been spent on. A voter registration effort to get people to actually vote would have been a morally superior cause, even though I realize that political professionals actually do not want higher voter turnout unless they could be assured that ALL of the additional votes would be for their candidate.

Will anybody actually take this card with them into the polling place? I know in past years I have seen people take various voter aids into the voting booth when they mark up their ballot. Usually, it is a newspaper advertisement put together by some activist group that wants to get candidates elected who are sympathetic to their cause.

I have always wondered just why such ads and cards do not constitute electioneering. After all, there are limits on how close campaign workers can come to a polling place before their activity is officially considered illegal influence of a voter.

Back in 1988 when I was a general assignment reporter for the now-defunct City News Bureau of Chicago, I had a police officer watching me like a hawk on Election Day. I had been assigned to talk to people as they got ready to vote, in hopes of doing some icky-sweet feature about the experience of casting a ballot in Chicago. The cop was trying to make sure that I was not telling people inside the polling place who to vote for.

I suppose the idea that one voluntarily chooses which idiot cards (if any) to take with them into a voting booth is what makes it legal. But if I were feeling malicious, I could try to influence others inside the polling place by making sure they saw the card with its “Stay True Blue” logo in my possession.

There’s only one “flaw” to this version of an idiot card. It does not tell me for whom to vote for Cook County state’s attorney. That’s because the party itself did not slate any candidate to replace retiring prosecutor Dick Devine.

Hence, the primary for that office is a free-for-all. Six candidates, each of whom have legitimate credentials on paper for the post are fighting each other for the right to challenge the Republican nominee come the Nov. 4 general election.

So for the position of state’s attorney, the publishers of the idiot card have let me down. I’m actually going to have to make up my own mind.

It’s a good thing my mail also included a full-color, glossy campaign card from state’s attorney hopeful Howard Brookins, telling me that he’s an ace (as in a deck of playing cards), compared to opponents Larry Suffredin, Tom Allen and Bob Milan who are merely kings, and future GOP candidate Tony Peraica, who is a joker and, “a right-wing zealot.”

Seeing that kind of silly campaign trash almost sways me to cast my ballot for one of the candidates he didn’t mention – Anita Alvarez, who is a deputy to departing prosecutor Devine.

Now I’m sure that some of the candidates named on the idiot card are qualified officials. I may even vote for some of them.

But I think I’m going to leave the cards at home come Tuesday. I’ll follow the Cook County Democratic Party’s lead for state’s attorney and apply it to the entire ballot.

When I walk into the voting booth (these days, it’s little more than a computer touch screen with next to nothing to provide a sense of privacy), I’ll just have to think for myself.

-30-

Originally posted at www.ChicagoArgus.blogspot.com

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Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Mayberry This Ain't

Just when I thought that there was nothing to really blog about, given the campaign season and the fact that we haven't been in session, comes this doozy:

With an upcoming trial poised to focus (even more) attention on the Governor's operations, one would realize that it is only natural that the Governor would be confronted by (even more) questions about the issue of how he has run his administration and his campaign apparatus.

But rather than find an thoughtful way to try to manage the issue, the Governor busts out his best Opie Taylor impersonation and tries to turn the table on the press.
There is a bigger issue, and it could suggest why those newspapers are gettin' skinnier and skinnier. Because these guys like to write about stuff that don't really matter to people.
Wow. With a straight face no less.


- This from the Governor that charged into office on a stated mission from God to clean up corruption in state government, only to give us five more years of the headlines that Illinoisans had been sick of seeing in the years leading up to his first election.

- This from the Governor that promised two years ago to 'rock the system' and reform campaign finance in Illinois, then did - nothing.

- This from the Governor who has bottled up House Bill 1, which would end pay-to-play politics in our state, since LAST APRIL.

I think it's pretty clear who this stuff 'don't' matter to. Aunt Bea must be turning in her grave.

To read or post comments, visit Open House

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Feds recast FutureGen's future

FutureGen isn’t dead, yet. But it’s dead as we know it. The 13 energy companies that formed the FutureGen Alliance and selected Mattoon as the host of the groundbreaking project also isn’t dead, yet. In fact, Mattoon and the Alliance could land another version of the multibillion-dollar project with state-of-the art technology for cleaner energy production if they go through another long, detailed, competitive bidding process. And the Alliance would have to come up with a way to fund it other than borrowing, as it proposed in the original FutureGen deal with the federal government.

The U.S. Department of Energy announced in a conference call Wednesday that a new approach to FutureGen would be an “all around better deal for America” for less money and less risk. Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman said the department would start from scratch, seeking new bids for new projects that would a) allow for commercial operation of clean coal plants, b) use multiple locations and c) sequester “double the amount” of carbon dioxide emissions than proposed in 2003. (That’s when President George W. Bush unveiled the original FutureGen plan.) The restructured FutureGen also would aim to generate enough electricity to power 400,000 homes, more than the FutureGen projection, and faster.

New plants would be operational by 2015. Interested applicants have until March 3 to submit proposals.

The halt on federal funding for the original FutureGen site started to trickle down when the FutureGen Alliance announced Mattoon as the selected site in December. In fact, the Energy Department urged the Alliance not to continue with the announcement because of funding and feasibility concerns and didn’t attend the unveiling in Washington, D.C.

The concerns, according to DOE’s Deputy Secretary Clay Sell, focus on the cost estimates nearly doubling to $1.8 billion and drastic changes in clean-coal technology in the past five years. He said more than 33 companies are seeking permits to build plants that use similar technology that could do what made FutureGen so promising: generate electricity and hydrogen from coal and then sequester the carbon dioxide emissions underground rather than releasing them as air pollutants. The costs and the market changes underpinned the decision to take a different approach, Sell said.

It really didn’t help that the FutureGen Alliance proposed that its share of the costs would be financed by mortgage loans. “Quite simply, the financing approach advanced by the FutureGen Alliance would place interests of U.S. taxpayers at risk to that of private mortgage holders,” Sell said. “This would represent a substantial departure from DOE practice for projects which the government bears a majority of costs. And we think it would significantly and unduly increase taxpayer risk.” Ultimately, the feds and the Alliance couldn’t agree on a way to restructure FutureGen.

But what if costs escalate just as they did for the original project? “I can’t guarantee anything five years in the future, and neither can anyone in the Congress,” Sell said. Responding to the Illinois delegation’s harsh words that the feds put the kibosh on Mattoon’s version of the FutureGen, Sell added that the administration has much more confidence that the new approach wouldn’t suffer the same fate.

He also quashed skepticism that the administration pulled the plug on the Mattoon site as retribution for the project not landing in the president’s home state of Texas, as well as the notion that the DOE conveniently set a timeline that coincides with the end of Bush’s term. “Had I wanted to just wash my hands of this, I would have let it go. And the folks of Mattoon, Ill., could have continued to celebrate this for a year or maybe two years. And then when the thing went south, I could have blamed it on the next administration for failing to bring this great idea to fruition. But we recognized that we had a problem. We recognized that we needed to restructure it.”

So now the feds have to deal with the persistent Illinois Congressional delegation, as well as the state legislature and the governor, who all vow to fight for Mattoon and FutureGen.

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Prairie State Blue: Kane's Early Primary Numbers - Are Dems abstaining from Special?

A good post by Jordal over at Prairie State Blue: Kane's Early Primary Numbers - Are Dems abstaining from Special? Looks like the proprotion of Democratic and Republican ballots in the Congressional Primary are even, and then a disproportionate share of voters pull GOP ballots in the special.

Why are 12% of early-voting Democrats not voting in the Special Primary? Are they waiting until Feb 5th? (Is it even possible to wait?) Whether or not it’s intentional on the part of voters, it seems reasonable to state that the closer the race is, the more likely it is that Democrats will wind up with two different nominees for March and November, and given that these discrepancies disproportionately affect the Democratic Primary, there should be special attention paid amongst Kane County Democrats.
I'm guessing it's Democrats crossying over to vote against Oberweis after having cast a ballot for Obama.

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Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Rezko or Alsammare in that picture with Blagojevich and Auchi?

ABC linked to Middle East Online for a series of photos of Nadhmi Auchi with Blagojevich and Emil Jones.

ABC claims the man to Blagojevich's right is Rezko,

A Middle East Web site shows a photograph of what it described as Auchi visiting Illinois government officials in April 2004, with Rezko visible on the right of the photo.



He doesn't look like Rezko to me and instead looks like Aiham Alsammarae shown here in photo I downloaded from the NYT: Escaped Minister Says He Fled Iraqi Jail ‘the Chicago Way’

Alsammarae would have been Iraq's Minister of Electricitiy at the time of this photo in April 2004 so I'm not sure he would have been in country for this event. But it sure doesn't look like Tony Rezko in the photo as ABC is saying here.


Rich originally linked the ABC photo here.

Another Auchi Blagojevich photo op from GMH's website.

Update: Middle East Online and GMH have trashed their links to the Auchi Blagojevich Emil Jones bash so here's the pic of Auchi and Jones from the site yesterday,

Update: Nibras Kazimi also believes it's Alsammare in the top photo,
Regarding that top picture, I immediately recognized the third man as Alsamarrae.
Check the comments in his post Obama’s Saddam Connection?


xp Bill Baar's West Side

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Energy bust

It very well could be too good to be true for Mattoon and the state, which lost federal support of the groundbreaking FutureGen coal power plant one month after winning the project. I thought something was peculiar when I listened to President George W. Bush’s last State of the Union speech Monday night. He mentioned the need “to build a future of energy security” and pioneering “a new generation of clean energy technology,” but he didn’t name FutureGen, an international project touted to do just that.

Mattoon was selected by the energy industry group, FutureGen Alliance, to host the $1.75 billion project capable of generating energy with much less pollution. It was to be an economic boon and an environmental breakthrough. The blow to Mattoon and the entire state came Tuesday after news of a meeting between the U.S. delegation of Sen. Dick Durbin and Rep. Tim Johnson and U.S. Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman, according to published reports.

Durbin said in a statement that the feds’ move was unmatched in “cruel deception.”


“After our meeting today it is clear that Secretary of Energy Sam Bodman has misled the people of Illinois, creating false hope in a FutureGen project which he has no intention of funding or supporting.”

Gov. Rod Blagojevich said in a statement that the state will not give up the fight to make FutureGen a reality in Illinois.

Even if Illinois were to fight and win a scaled-down version of FutureGen or another kind of clean coal technology project, it likely would cost a lot more than the original estimate. FutureGen Alliance’s Michael Mudd gave an online interview about the unknown reason the U.S. Department of Energy had yet to issue a decision by mid-January. But he also said the more delay, the higher the cost — as much as $10 million a month — because of inflation.

Editor’s note: The upcoming February issue of Illinois Issues has an article about FutureGen that was printed before it could be updated with today’s news. Watch the blog and our March issue for more updates.

Utility debate returns
Get ready for another round of energy debates involving natural gas and electricity rates for Commonwealth Edison and Ameren Illinois customers. A group of consumer advocates gathered Tuesday to say consumers have a voice and should get involved in the rate-setting debates before the Illinois Commerce Commission.

Ameren proposes collecting about $245 million from customers of all three subsidiaries to deliver natural gas and electricity. The utility also proposes something called “decoupling,” which would allow it to add a surcharge on natural gas delivery rates to make up for a decline in the average amount of therms used by customers. For instance, Beth Bosch of the Illinois Commerce Commission gave this example: If Illinois has a warm winter and Ameren Illinois customers use less heat, then the utility would lose money. There is a cost to deliver the natural gas no matter how much or little customers use, says Leigh Morris, Ameren Illinois spokesman. He adds the amount of the surcharge would be minimal. The proposal also could benefit customers in the opposite scenario: If Illinois had a colder than normal winter and the utility made more money, then customers could get a credit on their bills.

The Illinois attorney general opposes that billing scheme. Janice Dale, chief of the public utilities bureau in the AG’s office, says it’s “a plan to have customers pay for natural gas service that they won’t use.”

Dale joined AARP at a Statehouse news conference Tuesday. Along with the Citizens Utility Board, they want to organize opposition to proposed rate increases and ask customers to attend public hearings before the Illinois Commerce Commission accepts some, all or none of the rate increases. Any rate changes wouldn’t be effective until at least this fall, according to Bosch.

Morris says Ameren Illinois asks customers to participate with an open mind about the company’s proposal, considering those rates apply only to the cost of delivering the power, amounting to about 25 percent of customers’ bills. Last year’s political turmoil contributed to the company’s poor credit rating, which makes it more expensive to borrow money when other costs — equipment, operations, fuel — are increasing. The company also plans to spend $900 million on infrastructure through 2010. “A rate increase is essential to our ability to meet our mission,” he says.

Public hearings are scheduled for 7 p.m. throughout Ameren’s service area:
- February 4 at the Decatur Public Library
- February 6 at Marion’s Williamson County Pavilion
- February 13 at the Belleville City Council chambers
- February 19 at Peoria City Hall
- February 26 at the Quincy City Council chambers
- February 28 at the Champaign City Council chambers.

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Durbin's Morgenthaler endorsement

An email from her campaign,

New Endorsements With just one week to go before Illinois voters head to the polls, United States Senator Dick Durbin has endorsed Jill Morgenthaler for Congress in Illinois ’ 6th District.

Senator Durbin said:

“ Jill Morgenthaler is a mom and a patriot who served her country for 30 years in the armed forces with tours in Iraq, Bosnia, Germany and Korea .

"Over the last few years, running Illinois ’ homeland security department, Jill’s made our state safer with innovation and a can-do attitude.

Jill’s combination of commonsense Illinois values and homeland security experience make her just the right person to represent the 6th district. I lend her my support in the Democratic primary, and I look forward to helping her win in November.”


Jill has also been endorsed by the Pioneer Press, Daily Herald, Sun Times, and the Chicago Tribune.
How Durbin and Morganthaler square their words will be something Roskam should ask.

Colonel Morganthaler,
Figen shared with me what it was like to spend 7 months under Iraqi occupation. As she told me the horrors of living in Kuwait under the occupation, I realized that if we had not had the first war, Saddam may have been impossible to stop with the oil under his total control. The men who did terrible things to the Kuwaitis, especially the Kuwaiti women are very similar to the men we are fighting. As people get upset about Abu Ghraib, one thing that should never be forgotten: these are men who have murdered Americans and would continue to murder Americans if given the opportunity.
Sen Durbin, (PDF file)
When you read some of the graphic descriptions of what has occurred here -- I almost hesitate to put them in the record, and yet they have to be added to this debate. Let me read to you what one FBI agent saw. And I quote from his report:

On a couple of occasions, I entered interview rooms to find a detainee chained hand and foot in a fetal position to the floor, with no chair, food or water. Most times they urinated or defecated on themselves, and had been left there for 18-24 hours or more. On one occasion, the air conditioning had been turned down so far and the temperature was so cold in the room, that the barefooted detainee was shaking with cold....

On another occasion, the [air conditioner] had been turned off, making the temperature in the unventilated room well over 100 degrees. The detainee was almost unconscious on the floor, with a pile of hair next to him. He had apparently been literally pulling his hair out throughout the night. On another occasion, not only was the temperature unbearably hot, but extremely loud rap music was being played in the room, and had been since the day before, with the detainee chained hand and foot in the fetal position on the tile floor.


If I read this to you and did not tell you that it was an FBI agent describing what Americans had done to prisoners in their control, you would most certainly believe this must have been done by Nazis, Soviets in their gulags, or some mad regime -- Pol Pot or others -- that had no concern for human beings. Sadly, that is not the case. This was the action of Americans in the treatment of their prisoners.
I'd like to know if those abused at Abu Garib murdered Americans as Morganther said, if she believes they would continue, and if so, does she think Durbin ought never forget?

Update: Colonel Morgenthaler from today's Trib.
Morgenthaler does not support a pullout of troops and said she believes it is likely the U.S. will have to maintain a presence of 30,000 troops because of its national interests in the region. The surge is working, she said.

“What the surge is not capable of is bringing the political solutions to Iraq. I don’t know if democracy is exportable. I think it has to be homegrown,” she said.
She's a Democrat I could support. If Durbin agrees, he should say so.

Now, I wish she'd express some regret on the those Abu Garib comments and instead quote the Taguba report on the real heros from that sad public-relations defeat,
4. (U) The individual Soldiers and Sailors that we observed and believe should be favorably noted include:

a. (U) Master-at-Arms First Class William J. Kimbro, US Navy Dog Handler, knew his duties and refused to participate in improper interrogations despite significant pressure from the MI personnel at Abu Ghraib.

b. (U) SPC Joseph M. Darby, 372nd MP Company discovered evidence of abuse and turned it over to military law enforcement.

c. (U) 1LT David O. Sutton, 229th MP Company, took immediate action and stopped an abuse, then reported the incident to the chain of command.
I don't think you'll find soldiers like this in any other Army in the world.

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Breaking: Rezko bail request denied, will stay in jail


Breaking news via WBBM News Radio Chicago: Tony Rezko's bail request has been denied, he will have to remain in jail until a verdict is reached in his federal trial, which begins on February 25.

Rather than residing in the stately home on the left for the next few months, the strange-looking building on the right will be the home for Antoin "Tony" Rezko, the indicted Democratic political insider and onetime friend and associate of Barack Obama.

According to WBBM-AM reporter Steve Miller, Rezko entered the hearing this afternoon "in an orange jump suit and leg shackles." I presume he left the same way.

Five years ago, Rezko hosted a $1,000 a-head fundraiser for Obama's US Senate campaign at his Wilmette residence.

The question that has to be asked is this? After a taste of life behind bars, will that make Rezko want to "drop a dime" on Governor Rod Blagojevich in exchange for sentence leniency? Reverse Spin wonders the same thing.

In other Rezko news, Stuart Levine, a Republican who is cooperating in with prosecution's case against Rezko, was ordered to undergo drug testing by Judge Amy St. Eve, after a request made by Rezko's defense team.

Levine pleaded guilty to various corruption charges in 2006, receiving a relatively light sentence in agreeing to testity against Rezko.

To comment on this post, please visit Marathon Pundit.

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Lauzen's Moolah Mailers

...as negative ads go, Lauzen's are fun.


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New Sunshine

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

The due date for filing campaign disclosure reports with the State Board of Elections was one week ago. One week from today, voters to the polls. And today, ICPR and the Sunshine Project are proud to announce a series of updates to ilcampaign.org, your front-door portal for information on campaign finance and reform.

The Sunshine Database has been updated through December 31, 2007. If you want to see which how much candidates in your area are raising, and from whom, go here.

If you want to know about campaign receipts and expenditures by candidates for Supreme our Appellate Court, go here.

If you want to know which candidates have signed the Code of Fair Campaign Practices, go here.

If you want to know where the candidates stand on a range of reform issues, from campaign finance reform to ethics laws to judicial elections, go here.

If you want to know which of the legislative leaders received $15,000 from Exelon in 2007, go here (hint: It wasn’t Emil Jones; he got $21K from Com Ed, and another $20K from Ameren, not to mention receipts in the Senate Democratic Fund).

If you want biographical and other information on judicial candidates, go here.

In the final days before the 2008 Primary, check back to ilcampaign.org for up-to-the-minute updates on the hottest legislative and judicial contests.

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Camelot Lives



Standing before a packed auditorium of nearly 4,000 American University students Senator Edward Kenney, Congressman Patrick Kennedy, and Caroline Kennedy passed the torch to a new generation, and formally endorsed Barack Obama.

There had been rumors in the party for the past week that Ted Kennedy was not very pleased with President Clinton’s campaign tactics, and he even went so far as to personally call him to tell him so. However, even as the news broke the other night that Caroline Kennedy was going to write an op-ed piece in the New York Times for Obama, few in the media believed that Sen. Kennedy would break his silence. That all changed yesterday.

Ted Kennedy approached the podium, his frailty and old age apparent, amongst a sea of fresh faces that weren’t alive to witness his fight for civil rights or his bid for the presidency nearly three decades ago. The barn-burner that ensued left few of those same people questioning why they call him the “Liberal Lion of the Senate.” Kennedy railed against cynicism and a “politics of distortion” while the crowd intermittently screamed back “yes we can.”

In what can be considered the biggest refutation of Hillary Clinton’s campaign to date, Kennedy took up nearly every accusation by the Clintons. "With Barack Obama we will close the book on the old politics of race against race, gender against gender, ethnic group against ethnic group, and straight against gay," Kennedy said.

"There was another time, when another young candidate was running for president and challenging America to cross a new frontier. He faced criticism from the preceding Democratic president, who was widely respected in the party," Kennedy contiuned, referring to Harry S. Truman.

"And John Kennedy replied, 'The world is changing. The old ways will not do. ... It is time for a new generation of leadership.’ "So it is with Barack Obama.”

The end of his speech boasted what I thought was the sharpest jab at Clinton, with the Senator chuckling that he knows he is “ready to lead on Day One.”

There are several tangible benefits that Obama will receive from this endorsement. First and foremost, it will offer cover for other high profile politicians to jump on the bandwagon. I personally witnessed the commanding respect that Kennedy has over his colleagues when I interned in the Senate last spring. Many Democratic Senators look to him for guidance and leadership. Kennedy’s endorsement is likely to open up the flood gates to other like-minded officials.

Second, and probably most useful, Kennedy has promised to stump for Obama in the Southwestern states before the February 5th primary. This could greatly help him with his lagging support among Latinos and older voters that associate Kennedy with his initiatives on immigration reform and health care.

Lastly, there is a huge symbolic benefit from this endorsement. Aside from a coronation of the Kennedy image, this endorsement is largely apolitical. Senator Kennedy did not stand to gain politically from this move. If anything, it may severely endanger his relationship with Hillary is she becomes the nominee. Additionally, Caroline’s endorsement may bear even greater weight. She mostly stays out of the spotlight, and to the best of my knowledge has never formally endorsed a candidate. Furthermore, for her to write something as personal as a piece entitled “A President like My Father,” really hits home with Americans hungry for another administration like Kennedy’s.

Only time will tell how important yesterday was, but if Obama wins the nomination I’ll bet it will be seen as a turning point.

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Tony Rezko: "a philanthropist to the medical community" with some help from Nadhmi Auchi.

Today's Sun Times,

On Monday, prosecutors said that, in 2005, Rezko "directly appealed to the State Department" and, "it appears, asked certain Illinois government officials" to let Iraqi-born billionaire Nadhmi Auchi enter this country. At the time, Auchi was "unable to enter the United States" because of a criminal conviction in France. His sentence "was suspended as long as Auchi committed no new crimes."

Aides to Obama and Blagojevich said Monday that Rezko never requested -- nor did they deliver -- any help to Auchi, whose business empire includes 62 acres in the South Loop that Rezko's development company once owned.

Last April 4, Auchi's firm, General Mediterranean Holding, transferred $3.5 million to a bank account held by the law firm Freeborn & Peters on behalf of Rezko, according to prosecutors. The next day, more than $1.3 million of that was paid to a Rezko-controlled business, three family bank accounts -- including $700,000 to his wife Rita's bank account, which previously had a balance of $4,000 -- and to creditors. Among them was Dr. Robert Simon, head of Cook County's $1 billion hospital system, who got $50,000.

Simon said Monday he's known Rezko for years, calling him "a philanthropist to the medical community." "I provided him with a loan that was solely based upon a personal friendship, and it was repaid to me in full," Simon said in a statement on county letterhead.

Rezko spent much of the rest of the remaining money on lawyers, prosecutors said.
And Nick Cohen writing back in 2003 on Nadhmi Auchi: The politics of sleaze
There is a rumour that MI6 liked to have him around because he understood the Iraqi regime. I can't substantiate it, and it may be nonsense. All I can do is point to a strange coincidence. Britain handed Auchi to France in the spring when the overthrow of Saddam's regime became inevitable and knowledge of that regime was no longer a unique selling point. The flight of Saddam should provide a happy ending of sorts, were it not for a small problem. When the Coalition handed out contracts to set-up mobile phone networks in liberated Iraq, one went to a firm called Orascom. And who's backing Orascom?
For Orascom, Check Time from 2003 Cronyism in Iraq? Also, the Financial Times original story and this apology of a sorts dated just a few weeks ago to Auchi,
An article published by the Financial Times on 11 November 2003 headed ”US delays mobile phone contracts to investigate” stated that US authorities in Iraq had launched an investigation into the award of mobile phone operators licenses to enquire into possible corrupt practices. The article further stated that the investigation would focus on the role played by Nadhmi Auchi, an Iraqi-born billionaire, in the awarding of the contracts. The US Government ultimately decided not to pursue the investigation, beyond a preliminary enquiry, as there was no evidence of any wrongdoing on the part of Mr Auchi. We are happy to correct the position and apologise for any misunderstanding.
Maybe Waxman's not looking hard enough. There is a fascinating trail of philanthropy between Chicago and Baghdad worth sorting out, and considerable sorting it's going to take.

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Monday, January 28, 2008

Rezko and the middle east

AP: Rezko's bond revoked; judge declares him a flight risk

U.S. District Judge Amy J. St. Eve said, among other things, she grew concerned after learning Rezko — a key supporter who contributed heavily to the campaigns of Sen. Barack Obama and Gov. Rod Blagojevich and raised thousands more — received $3.5 million from a company in Lebanon after claiming he didn't have any income.
Rezko will be the Democrat's nightmare. He'll be a catastrophe for the party as his story unfolds.

More from the Sun Times,
“The reality is this defendant has played a shell game,” and has “misled the court” about his financial situation, Assistant U.S. Attorney Reid J. Schar said.

Rezko allegedly secretly received millions of dollars in a bank account and funneled the money through third parties to family, friends and creditors -- all without telling the court, prosecutors alleged.

Rezko got $3.5 million from a British-based Iraqi billionaire to whom he has business ties and also cashed out of a large land investment on the South Side, prosecutors alleged.
The slum lord stuff is going to look like small potatoes.

And the Trib on Blagojevich and Obama's shared Rezko indigestion.
So when five of the six Democratic statewide officers from lieutenant governor to treasurer appeared Monday at a news conference urging voters to turn out for Obama in the Feb. 5 primary, Blagojevich’s absence was notable.

About an hour after the event began, Rezko, who raised campaign cash for Blagojevich and Obama, found himself jailed after a federal judge revoked his bond in advance of his corruption trial scheduled for late February.

Both the Obama and Blagojevich camps, however, insisted the governor’s absence was unrelated to Rezko’s legal travails.

Instead, they said Blagojevich was asked to call Democratic governors who’ve yet to endorse a presidential candidate and lobby them to back Obama. Blagojevich got that assignment because it’s something only he can do among the statewide officers, governor spokeswoman Rebecca Rausch said.
I'd love to hear the reaction to a call from the Gov.

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Just in Time for Super Tuesday

Hillary Clinton received a gift from U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald today.

Rod Blagojevich fund raiser and Barack Obama political career launcher Tony Rezko has been taken into custody.

Posted first on McHenry County Blog.

He’s to be tried on various corruption charges, starting late next month.

The arrest will put the Hillary Clinton’s Rezko attack on front pages in numerous states.

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Do Voters Care About Tort Reform? Nope, Says Poll

According to a new poll by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, few voters rank tort reform as an important issue. So few in fact, it should renew courage for legislative Democrats in the upcoming elections.

The poll of 800 likely voters had a margin of error of 3.5%.

When asked to name the single most important issue facing Illinois, just 1% ranked "civil litigation reform" as their top issue, and only another 1% ranked it as their #2 issue.

Even more revealing were the crosstabs.

Not surprisingly, 0% of Democrats ranked tort reform as a top priority.

But Democratic lawmakers in Chicago's suburbs and downstate Illinois will be relieved to know that 0% of women and 0% of Independents ranked tort reform as a top issue as well.

In fact, the only group that ranked tort reform as a top priority was Republican men, votes that Democrats were never going to get anyway, and even then tort reform ranked dead last among GOP concerns.

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Fifth Appellate District Headlines Downstate Primary Races

ICJL’s Weekly Report has featured the races for the Cook County Appellate, Circuit and Subcircuits for February 5th’s primary election. In this final, we feature the primary races for downstate Appellate and Circuit seats. There are 106 judicial candidates running in Cook County this spring. A total of 79 judicial candidates are running in the other 101 Illinois counties. However, some of the most interesting primary storylines this year are found in places like the Fifth Appellate District and Will County.

As always, the Illinois Civil Justice League encourages its readers to check out the full judicial profiles in these competitions, including links to biographies and answers to the ICJL questionnaire, all available at www.IllinoisJudges.net.

Fifth District Appellate: The revelation that a candidate loaned herself $670,000 in her run for Appellate Court hit the pages of the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin this week. It’s not the first headline about judicial campaign fundraising in the state’s southern-most Appellate district.

Longtime Democrat Judge James Wexstten is battling personal injury lawyer Judy Cates. Cates, the immediate past president of the Illinois Trial Lawyers Association, is doing little fundraising, financing most of the race from her personal fortune. Wexstten, a past president of the Illinois Judges Association, has more than $400,000 in donations from a broad and diverse collection of doctors, plaintiffs’ lawyers, insurance interests and labor unions.

Wexstten, who served nearly three terms as a Circuit Court Judge in Mt. Vernon, outscored Cates in the ISBA poll. Cates was found “Not Recommended” by the judicial advisory poll with a score of 51.52. Wexstten scored an 89.33 and was found “Recommended.” Cates’ scored an 88.22 in legal ability, yet scored 46.81 in “impartiality.” A separate evaluations committee found both candidates “qualified.”

Wexstten has been endorsed by numerous law enforcement, medical, party, and union organizations and representatives. Cates has stated she is not seeking endorsements, and she has received none.

Wexstten also has been endorsed by the Chicago Tribune, the only major newspaper to endorse in the contest as of Sunday, January 27.

Cates has spent much time in Springfield the past few General Assembly sessions lobbying on behalf of ITLA legislation – and against legislation supported by legal reform advocates. In fact, a Madison County photo of her speaking opposite Glen Amundsen and State Representative Renee Kosel is displayed on Cates’ website. Both candidates’ websites feature their TV commercials. Chances are that several more headlines make it into the ICJL News Update before February 5th.

Complete Analysis Of Downstate Judicial Races Here.

Visit www.IllinoisJudges.net.

-- Al Adomite
Illinois Civil Justice League
January 28, 2008

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Sunday, January 27, 2008

A video from Brookins for State's Attorney

The first time I checked out Ald. Howard Brookins' campaign website in a while. Up until recently there wasn't much going on there.

At about 1 minute into this video the rudest thing happened. He attempted to talk to a couple who were at a vending machine as he approaches them with literature. They get their goods and then they walk away from him without a word. Brookins stands there looking at the camera, confused, befuddled, or whatever adjective you can come up with.

I was going to post this with the idea that maybe Brookins didn't do a good thing here. Well let me just say this, I know some people don't care for politicians but there's just no reason for behavior such as this. It doesn't help if you were caught on camera doing that. Yeah I could go into race on this one, but that's just too convenient. Besides I don't know what went thru their heads when they did what they did.

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The Washington Post looks at Super Tuesday in Illinois...

So we won't just be voting for our junior Senator who is running for the Democratic Presidential nomination (he had just won in South Carolina, btw) but we've got congressional races to worry about among other things come February 5th. Here are the congressional races of note in this article...

-3rd District: Democratic Rep. Daniel Lipinski ascended to this Chicago-area seat -- held by his father, William, for more than two decades -- in 2004, in a classic example of party insiders flexing their muscles. (The elder Lipinski won his party's nomination that year, then announced his retirement less than two weeks before the deadline to replace a candidate who withdraws; he put forward his son, who was nominated with no opposition.) Lawyer Mark Pera is challenging the close connection between the Lipinskis and has become a darling of the liberal Net roots. Still, the race is a long shot for the challenger.

-8th District: Wealthy businessman and former minor-league hockey player Steve Greenberg is touted as a blue-chip recruit by national Republicans. Assuming he gets through the primary, Greenberg will face Rep. Melissa Bean (D) in November in a GOP-leaning district that she has held since 2005.

-10th District: Democrat Dan Seals, who came within six points of knocking off Rep. Mark Steven Kirk (R) in 2006 in this affluent district north of Chicago, is back for a second run, facing former Clinton administration official Jay Footlik in next week's primary. Seals has won the endorsement of Illinois Sen. Richard J. Durbin and is the heavy favorite, despite the fact Footlik has been well financed.

-14th District: The resignation of former House speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R) has set off a special election to replace him, a contest that is among the nastiest in the country. In the GOP primary race, dairy magnate Jim Oberweis is bashing state Sen. Chris Lauzen for accepting contributions (later returned) from a company that was sued over a series of sexual harassment claims; Lauzen is pushing back, casting Oberweis's ad as a "cruel, politically motivated lie." Hastert has endorsed Oberweis, but the race is up in the air. Scientist Bill Foster is the likely Democratic nominee. The primary winners will face each other in a special election on March 8.

-18th District: Youthful state Rep. Aaron Schock -- he's 26! -- is the favorite to win the three-way Republican primary to replace retiring Rep. Ray LaHood (R) in this downstate district. Democrats have struggled to find a top-tier recruit, so if Schock wins the primary nod, he will be favored to claim the seat in November.

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Saturday, January 26, 2008

Weekend mailers - Foster

Foster bores more than watching a Federally-subsidized ethanol-train roll through Freeport Illinois.



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Weekend mailers - Oberweis

This one is dirty.


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Weekend mailers - Lauzen

Not much to say other than this one's fun.


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Il-14th Democrat's debate - Joe Serra: the guy with a job

From WBEZ,

Three of the candidates have debated a number of times before - agreeing on ending the Iraq war and on expanding health care. Last night's debate, though, added a fourth candidate to the mix. Geneva resident Joe Serra hasn't made many public appearances. That's because he says

SERRA: I have a job.

Serra says he'd like to see U.S. troops stay in Iraq a while longer.

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Friday, January 25, 2008

Update on Blagojevich's health care lawsuit

Don’t expect to find out whether Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s health care expansion plans are ruled unconstitutional until at least next month. After a hearing in Chicago Friday, each party in the lawsuit needs to spell out its arguments in briefs for the judge to review. A status hearing isn’t scheduled until February 19, which happens to be the day before the governor’s annual and much-anticipated — or dreaded, depending on who you are — budget address. That’s when he maps out his agenda for the year.

Background: Attorney Richard Caro of Riverside sued the administration alleging the governor’s actions to expand state-sponsored health care were unconstitutional because he would have extended coverage to 147,000 more people for $42 million in the first year — all without legislative approval. The lawsuit includes similar allegations by the Illinois Coalition for Jobs, Growth, and Prosperity, represented by businessman Ron Gidwitz, a Republican who ran for governor, and Greg Baise, president and CEO of the Illinois Manufacturer’s Association.

History: The governor first couldn’t get his health care plans through the Illinois General Assembly last year, mostly because he proposed paying for it with a huge tax on businesses. Then he tried to use his executive authority and advance the plan through the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules, made up of six Democrats and six Republicans. That didn’t work, either. The committee rejected the emergency plan in November.

Future: Jim Duffett, executive director of the Illinois Campaign for Better Health Care that’s supporting the governor’s efforts, said he hopes the court case doesn’t have a chilling effect on lawmakers who actually want to expand health care. He advises against using the lawsuit as a diversion to the evidence that a majority of Illinois voters are concerned about health care and want guaranteed affordable health care for all. See a summary of the statewide survey here.

Watch for more about the health care lawsuit against the governor in the next edition of Illinois Issues magazine, due out in early February.

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Myron "Individual H" Cherry with Bill Clinton picture available here

Although he has not been accused of wrongdoing and is cooperating with authorities, Myron "Mike" Cherry is the "Individual H" in the October, 2006 Tony Rezko indictment.

Do you want to see Cherry with Bill Clinton? Click here, via a PDF file on Cherry's website, while it's still there.

Last summer, he was a co-host of a Hillary Rodham Clinton fundraiser in Chicago.

Cherry also represents Buffalo Grove, Illinois based International Profit Associates "in several legal matters."

International Profit Associates is being sued by the federal government for allegations of sexual harassment claimed by 113 female IPA mployees, and the Better Business Bureau, as well as the Illinois Attorney General's office, are investigating claims of deceptive business practices.

Twenty one businesses are suing International Profit Associates on charges that they "schemed to defraud."

As I've reported before, the allegations of sexual harrassment at International Profit Associates were featured on the Oprah Show in 2005.

Hillary Clinton's campaign fund has received over $150,000 in poliical donations from IPA executives, which a staffer was something they "(would) be reviewing" in 2006.

Many politicians, including Barack Obama, have returned their IPA-connected contributions, but not Senator Clinton.

Related Marathon Pundit posts:

Where is the outrage? Dem atty gen'l group takes $50K from International Profit Associates
Hillary's vacuous vetting exposes International Profit Associates hypocrisy
And now Hillary and her controversial campaign donors
More on International Profit Associates
Obama ditching more Rezko linked cash, but what about Hillary?
Potential cabin chatter between Obama and Oprah: International Profit Associates
Hillary returns Hsu money, but what about International Profit Associates cash?

To comment on this post, please click here.

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Ridin' Dirty

On January 15th I sat down and watched the Republican primary debate in the 14th district between state Senator Chris Lauzen and dairy magnate Jim Oberweis. I'd only been in Springfield for about a week at that point, but had already smelled the blood in the water. I had heard that the two candidates really didn't like each other, and that if anything it should be "entertaining to watch."

After seeing the two square off in what could only be compared to Mad Max's Thuderdome (two men enter, one man leaves) , I walked away utterly disgusted. In the first of the opening statements, something that I had always assumed was your time to tell the voters about yourself and highlight the important issues facing the constituency, Jim Oberweis spent the entire time flinging mud at his opponent. Sen. Lauzen's statement was closer to what I had previously described, but he ultimately dove into the mud later in the debate.

When it got to the point that Oberweis mocked his opponent for the shoes he wore, I decided that I could better spend my time by sticking a fork in an electrical socket; and decided to turn off my computer.

The primary was off to a good start, and has only gotten more "entertaining" since. I saw these two mailers Thursday on Bill Baar's blog:










I can understand if two opponents have legitimate policy differences, but at what point does it cross the line? This is the kind of campaigning that leaves voters disenchanted with the political process all together. If I was a voter registered in the IL- 14th primary I'd stay home.

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Now it's the Clintons and Rezko?

This is headlining on the Drudge Report today:

From Drudge's "Internet Exclusive":

Clinton tells NBC 'TODAY' show on Friday: 'I probably have taken hundreds of thousands of pictures. I don't know the man. I wouldn't know him if he walked in the door'...

Well, this certainly makes things more interesting. I wonder who leaked it to Matt Drudge...

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EveryBlock launches in Chicago

Earlier this week, EveryBlock.com launched in Chicago as well as San Francisco and NYC. While I can't directly benefit from this new Web site, I do like the idea and think it's something Chicagoans should give a try.

What is EveryBlock? Simply put, the site aggregates information -- including news, public records and even Craigslist-style personals and lost-and-found listings -- and presents the data visually over a map. You can find relevant information to your location. Just type in your address, zip code, neighborhood, etc. and instantly it all comes up.

EveryBlock creator Adrian Holovaty calls this "geocoding," but don't label it "hyperlocalism" he says in an interview with Poynter:

To be honest, I prefer to avoid using that word, as it has become meaningless. Some people use it to refer to neighborhoods, while others use it to refer to entire suburban areas. But I think the concept of address-specific news is important because, well, people tend to be more interested in news that happens near them. It's as simple as that!

You might remember Holovaty from his prior work for ChicagoCrime.org, which took information gathered from Chicago Police Department's CLEAR Geographic Information System and mashed it up with Google Maps.

Chicago papers could take a lesson from Holovaty's geocoding projects. Start investing in journalists that don't just know how to write a lede, but can also code. Start up web projects that provide a level of utility for individuals, not just a product that paints with a broad brush. Integrate these directly to your web product and develop advertising that's targeted around it.

The problem with most newspaper companies is that they don't innovate. They're playing catch-up to the curve. Meanwhile, they're missing a huge opportunity to capture online advertising revenue from great ideas like EveryBlock. Obviously, EveryBlock isn't meant to replace the Tribune or Sun-Times, but rather it act in a supplemental role. And it's these online-only initiatives that will make their news product become an information product, diversifying their options for advertisers to choose from. This is how you exploit the Internet for revenue, not just repackaging your newspaper online.

When it comes down to empowering individuals with information directly related to them, their neighborhood and, literally, their block, it's becoming more and more obvious that traditional news organizations are simply not up to the task. Or maybe they just don't think it's important. Honestly, I'm not sure which is worse.

(Cross posted to Nerdlusus)

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Pate was right -- nothing wrong with registration deadlines

It’s not everyday that I think this, but former Illinois Senate President James “Pate” Philip was right – when it came to voter registration.

Specifically, Pate used to complain whenever the Illinois Senate was forced to consider a measure meant to make it easier for people to register to vote.

I lost count of the number of times the Republican lawmaker from suburban Wood Dale would vote against the registration reforms on the grounds that he thought it already was easy enough to register to vote.

One can go to their village hall, a county clerk’s office or Illinois secretary of state facilities to fill out the brief paperwork needed to legally get oneself on the voter rolls. There also are countless occasions where officials will set up temporary stands in places with high people traffic, in hopes that passersby will take a few minutes to bother to fill out a card and register.

So I have a hard time getting upset at the notion that the absolute, last-minute, drop-dead time limit with no more extensions possible passed on Tuesday.

Some of my brethren who write on the Internet (I'm not going to bother publicizing them, they know who they are) are using their weblogs to rant and rage that the government is engaging in a criminal conspiracy by refusing to let anyone vote on Feb. 5, if they have not bothered to register by now.

Perhaps it is because I worked in the news business for two decades, but I can appreciate the concept of a deadline. There is a certain amount of time needed by clerks to prepare for an election. Everything has a point at which it becomes too late to do anything further.

Why should casting a ballot on Election Day be any different?

People were given ample chances to register locally by Jan. 8, and could still register at the county clerk’s office in downtown Chicago up until Tuesday – provided they were willing to immediately cast their ballot for the Feb. 5 elections.

Pate Philip’s response would have been to say something along the lines of, “with as many ways as there are to register, do we really want these people voting if they can’t get their act together and take the time and initiative to fill out a registration card?”

Then, he would have taken a drag on his cigar, and probably blown the smoke in your angered face.

And I would be sitting on the sidelines, holding back a chuckle at your predicament.

-30-

Originally posted at http://www.chicagoargus.blogspot.com/

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Thursday, January 24, 2008

Mailer Fest bonus mailer - Jim MacRunnels for Kane County Chairman


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Illinois 14th CD Thursday mailer fest - Lauzen




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Illinois 14th CD Thursday mailer fest - Foster




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Illinois 14th CD Thursday mailer fest - Oberweis


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Hillary is 44: chirping Rezko Rezko

geez, hardball doesn't get any harder this....

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J B Powers on Stroger Hospital

Powers knocks MSM save the Daily Herald for not covering the proposed board for Stroger Hospital.

Perhaps overwhelmed by promotion of winning a date with Drew Peterson (Chicago Tribune), or championing the ”Midwest Teen Sex Show” (Sun-Times), our two leading print newspapers neglected to report the overhaul at Cook County Hospitals.

It is not all that shocking for the Trib and Sun-Times just to ignore an entire story; it is another matter entirely when they have covered a story thoroughly, then just stop. What it is about the biggest story in the County that would want to make our newspapers keep it under wraps? My suspicion is that Todd Stroger performing like a responsible manager and sensible politician does not fit the resume that has been concocted for him by the press, so the story was just stifled, until there is some unflattering detail to publish.
Ouch... JP, I linked the Herald story here. While it may be a good management move on Todd Stroger's part, it does look like a sole source deal with Rush (which maybe should have been the deal to make before building the new hospital).

This intervention by a US Senator and a Hospital Exec is going to be an interesting thing to watch.... Suggestions for the board would be forwarded to Stroger by a county health care group assembled by U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin and led by RUSH University Medical Center President Larry Goodman.

Durbin sure not a Cook County resident. Not certain about Goodman. So those elected by Cook County Residents can't govern a key County institution? If so, what qualifies this pair to do better?

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New voter? Take a hike. It's now illegal to register.

Tuesday, democracy's door swung shut in Illinois. With the most exciting presidential primary of the last two decades less than two weeks away, the new voters, the unregistered and those who have moved since they last voted are now officially locked out of the primary.

What a shame.

It's illegal to register to vote for the primary at this point. It's illegal to register at your new address.

And in two weeks, tens of thousands of people in Illinois will try to vote and be turned away. (No data to prove that, as the government doesn't keep records of the people who show up at their precinct polling place and ask if they are permitted to help elect their leaders and politely but firmly told to take a hike because they didn't register with the government ahead of time. But I'm confident that the numbers are significant. If it's a few people in each precinct, and we've got 10,000 or so precincts in Illinois, you can do the math).

In this day and age, there is simply no good reason to continue to disenfrachise people who want to vote.

Illinois needs to follow the lead of seven states and implement same-day voter registration.

And if you're concerned about voter fraud, then you're largely chasing a ghost. There just isn't any significant voter fraud in the United States. Read the report from the Brennan Center for Justice on the topic, or from Demos before instinctively reacting with the fear of fraud.

Citizens deserve the right to pick the people who run the government, no matter when they decide to register to vote.

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Radio interview with Steve Brown

While searching Technorati to see if any students had blogged about the Legislative Leadership Forum that I missed, I found an interview with Steve Brown, spokesperson for Speaker Madigan.

The interview is conducted by Ray Hanania for his Radio Chicagoland (1530 AM - blog here).

Brown discusses the CTA, Blagojevich and last year's session. It's an insightful thing to listen to if you've got 20 minutes or so.

The files are in Windows Media Audio format (.wma), so this means that you Mac users will need to download Windows Media Player for Mac. Hanania looks like he's had a list of pretty interesting interview subjects, I just wish his stuff was available as a podcast on iTunes.

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Wednesday, January 23, 2008

A Clean Water Ticket For MWRD

Sierra Club has endorsed three candidates in the February 5th Democratic Primary for Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago. Sierra Club recommends a “clean water ticket” of Dean Maragos, Matthew Podgorski , and Mariyana Spyropoulos to Democratic primary voters in Cook County.

The safety and quality of our water supply will be on the ballot on February 5th, and these are three candidates voters can trust to safeguard our Chicago River and Lake Michigan. Each is committed to clean water, and will be champions for the changes we need to make to protect public health and drinking water.

The revival of the Chicago River is a huge success story, and people are flocking to it as a recreational resource. They should not be exposed to dangerous bacteria and pathogens in the water because MWRD chooses not to install the same disinfection equipment used by cities and towns all across Illinois and America, including by the MWRD itself at its plants in the suburbs.

None of the incumbents have committed to install disinfection equipment.

Maragos, Podgorski, and Spyropoulos would work to change that, and protect our water supply. We think they deserve the vote of those who want clean water on February 5th.

This is a chance to complete the revival of the Chicago River, and make it a safe and vibrant centerpiece of our city. Maragos, Podgorski, and Spyropoulos are leaders who have a vision for a clean and healthy river system for future generations.

The MWRD also has important responsibilities for protecting open space and guarding against flooding. Maragos, Podgorski, and Spyropoulos support new protections for Cook County’s last remaining wetlands, which soak up rainwater during storms, and using MWRD’s large land holdings for public purposes like recreation, wildlife habitat, and other non-commercial uses.

"We are at a generational crossroads where the decisions we make today regarding our natural resources will affect future generations. We have the knowledge and capability to make the right decisions, such as protecting Lake Michigan from pollutants and disinfecting our waterways,” said Mariyana Spyropoulos. “Let’s find the will to protect our natural resources."

“I would like to thank the members of the Sierra Club for putting their faith in me to serve as a true steward of our water environment,” said Matthew Podgorski. “Paying lip service to environmental causes will no longer suffice. The voters are ready to elect a Commissoner to the MWRD that has proven environmental leadership credentials.”

“What many voters do not realize is that the MWRD is one of the largest single landowners in Cook County. The District must pursue the best and highest use of that land, be it for picnicking, recreation or prairies,” said Dean Maragos, who is currently a Commissioner at the Illinois International Port District, the agency that controls most of Chicago’s southern lakefront. “The Sierra Club’s endorsement of my candidacy is a great honor I won’t soon forget. It will give voters an opportunity to better understand where I stand on important environmental issues while highlighting my sincere desire to increase recreational access to Chicago’s rivers and streams, which is an important step in improving our region’s water resources,” Maragos added.

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