Saturday, January 31, 2009

Blagojevich Is Not a Cuckoo!

As you can plainly see from this cartoon drawn for my Libertarian Party campaign against Rod Blagojevich and Jim Ryan in 2002, Blagojevich is not a cuckoo.

Mayor Richard Daley is only half right.

Blagojevich is a bird.
That bird is a chicken, however, not a cuckoo.

Here's the whole cartoon, drawn to point out that both Ryan and Blagojevich were chickens.
The two conspired to hold debates where they could dictate who was included.

And excluded.

The specific inspiration for this cartoon was when the two refused to take part in the Illinois League of Women Voters debate. The LVW rules said that any candidate who had received at least 5% in a non-candidate poll could take part.

I received just over 5% in the Daily Southtown poll, which was taken in early September, 2002.

Posted first at McHenry County Blog.

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Quinn, Blagojevich, and the Illinois Sierra Club in Happier Days

Pics from 2006 when most of the impeachable crimes had been committed. What it be too much for the Sierra Club (and Quinn) to say to Illinois Voters, We're sorry for endorsing him? Blagojevich fooled us and we should have known.

Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich today announced a strong proposal to require Illinois' coal-fired power plants to install pollution controls to reduce the levels of toxic mercury they put into Illinois' air and water. Blagojevich's plan would require Illinois coal plants to reduce mercury pollution by 90% by 2009.
Governor Blagojevich's proposal will not only protect the health of Illinois children, it will also set an example for America to follow in addressing a major public health problem," said Jack Darin, Director of the Sierra Club, Illinois Chapter.

Mercury from coal-fired power plants ends up in lakes, rivers, and oceans, and certain species of fish accumulate dangerous levels of the toxic metal in their muscle tissue. When people eat these fish, they are exposed to potentially harmful levels of mercury. The Illinois Department of Public Health has issued a warning about the dangers of eating large predator fish from all Illinois waters due to statewide mercury pollution.

The Bush Administration has proposed substantially weaker pollution controls that could allow Illinois coal plants to delay or even entirely avoid installing pollution controls. Governor Blagojevich and Attorney General Lisa Madigan filed suit against the Bush Administration's proposal in April of 2005.

"Mothers and women hoping to have children shouldn't have to worry that by eating fish or feeding it to their kids they could be doing permanent damage to a child's brain,” said Darin. “We hope Illinois power plants will heed Gov. Blagojevich's call to clean up their act and protect our children's health. The technology to protect our kids is available, affordable, and it's time we put it on these smokestacks.”
The crimes were known when you stood with him. How many kids were saved in those remaining years to have put Illinois through this? Was Blagojevich worth it? Would Topinka have been that dastardly?

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Quinn Can Lead to a Cleaner Future

IIllinois Governor Pat Quinn takes office with more knowledge and experience dealing with the energy, environmental, and conservation challenges facing our state than any new governor in Illinois history. As Lieutenant Governor, he pushed the boundaries of his job description to become Illinois' most visible environmental advocate, championing major upgrades to the policies protecting our drinking water, our public lands, our energy policies, and many more.

As Quinn said after taking the oath of office, "I'm an organizer. Early to bed, early to rise, organize, organize, organize". This inclination to action has attracted him to many good fights on behalf of the people versus the powerful. By lending the power of his office, his good name, and his knack for attracting public attention to causes that might otherwise go unnoticed, he has made a critical difference in many campaigns for a cleaner and greener Illinois. When developers wanted to cash in by building condos on prime bald eagle habitat on an island in the Illinois River, Quinn led an effort to save Plum Island, and it is now forever protected. He sided with Sierra Club and local officials against Gov. Blagojevich's IDNR to stop a coal mine in an Illinois River wetland connected to Banner Marsh, a major state wildlife area. He championed homeowners in DuPage County who were not notified that their drinking water was contaminated by leaking toxic waste, and worked to change our laws to require notification and give Illinois EPA more authority to crack down on polluters.

Now Quinn takes over the Governor's office in the midst of simultaneous crises of corruption, fiscal collapse, and a shrinking economy. He could be forgiven for momentarily forgetting his populist roots as he suddenly inherits such immense problems and responsibility, but his first hours indicated, if anything, a renewed commitment to change. In his first evening as Governor, Quinn spoke to the need for a major new capital spending program to have sustainability as a fundamental principle, including smart, clean energy as a priority. He said he would reopen closed state parks, and would appoint a natural resource professional to run the troubled Department of Natural Resources.

The problems he faces are big, and the competition for his attention will be intense, but Quinn can get off to a fast start making Illinois a leader in the new green economy. While corruption has dominated the headlines, environmental advocates have made big changes in recent years. New energy laws will require 25% of Illinois' electricity to come from wind and other renewable sources by 2025, and Ameren and ComEd are beginning major new programs to help homeowners and businesses save energy this year. We are moving to protect our rivers and lakes from phosphorus pollution from sewage plants and lawn runoff, and this year Illinois coal plants will install cutting edge technology to eliminate 90% of mercury pollution from their smokestacks.

However, big questions about our future face Quinn, the new General Assembly, and all of us. Will Illinois help Obama lead the country and the world to global warming solutions by becoming a clean car state, and setting state limits on greenhouse gas emissions? Will we focus new federal and state capital investments on transportation and energy projects that put people to work giving us cleaner air and healthier communities? Can we protect Illinois' remaining wetlands, prairies, and forests for future generations? How will we make sure a growing population and economy has access to clean, safe drinking water? How can we rebuild the Illinois DNR in the midst of a state fiscal crisis?

Fortunately, Quinn will have a lot of allies in tackling these questions. Changes in the Senate leadership have put John Cullerton and Christine Radogno, both longtime environmental champions, in charge of the Democratic and Republican caucuses, respectively. In the House, the 2008 elections were bad news for some who resisted change, and good news for a new class of leaders who have clean energy high on their list of priorities. In both the House and Senate, Quinn will find new allies for change, even among longtime veterans who will now see the writing on the wall. He can work with Attorney General Lisa Madigan, who has been a vigilant enforcer of our environmental laws, and who helped stem the Bush Administration's attacks on our environmental laws with regular legal challenges. State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias has come up with creative ways to put the power of the state's purse to work protecting the planet. Old divides between interest groups are melting, and new alliances forming, as the very broad appeal of change becomes clear. Businesses see the imperative of energy efficiency in cutting costs. Organized labor recognizes the tremendous employment potential of smart energy solutions. Hunters and anglers are teaming with birders and hikers to demand effective protection of Illinois' outdoors. Faith congregations recognize solving the climate crisis as a moral imperative. Mayors and other local government officials, from Waukegan to Chicago to Rock Island to Carbondale, have made commitments to reduce greenhouse gases locally and are poised to help craft state solutions.

Many members of Illinois' political establishment have, in the past, snickered at Quinn. Constantly picking the people over the powerful has not exactly been the golden rule of Illinois politics. But now, change is not just in vogue, it is in demand. The people of Illinois demand clean government, and they are beyond hungry for leadership they can trust to deliver a smart energy future, and to be a good steward of our air, water, and natural resources. Pat Quinn has what it takes to be that leader, but he will need help. The General Assembly must also embrace change, and each of us must hold all of our elected officials to a new, higher standard. Let's change Illinois from the capitol of "pay to play" to a laboratory of fresh, new ideas that will revitalize our economy, give us a all a cleaner, healthier place to live, and give America real examples of the change we need.


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GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips - January 31, 2009

Articles of interest to Illinois Republicans recently posted by ABC7, NBC5, CBS2, Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times, Crain's Chicago Business, Daily Herald, Suburban Chicago News, Suburban Life, Pioneer Local, Southtown Star, Rockford Register Star, Bloomington Pantagraph, Peoria Journal Star, Springfield State Journal Register, Belleville News Democrat, Southern Illinoisan, Illinois Review, Public Affairs, Champion News, Illinois Family Institute, Americans For Truth, Chicago Daily Observer, Tom Roeser, Capitalfax, etc. Since January 1, 2005, GOPUSA ILLINOIS has brought 41,299 such articles and information on many upcoming events to its subscribers' attention each morning, free of charge, and without any advertising. To view the January 31, 2009 GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips, please visit www.gopillinois.com or www.illinoisreview.com. Thanks

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Friday, January 30, 2009

IL-05 Primary Roundup Week 1

In Illinois, the first step for getting on the ballot is collecting signatures on one's nominating petitions. a sub-element of this step is staying on the ballot, as four of the 14 democrats competing for Rahm Emanuel's Congressional seat have discovered. The Cook County County Officers Electoral Board has set February 5th hearings for three of the cases (Charles Wheelan, Pete Dagher and Carlos Monteagudo) and continued the process for Roger Thompson. College students connected to the Bryar campaign, Mary Scala and Rudolph Trejo ("son of a former 32nd Ward Democratic Organization precinct captain"), were the objectors for Wheelan, Thompson and Dagher; Thomas Root was the objector for Monteagudo.

The second step (in Illinois elections) is the ballot lottery for those who are first to file their nominating petitions (iow, are in line when the Clerk's office opens up for filing). Charles Wheelan won the first ballot position. The complete ballot order is here:

Charles J. Wheelan DEM
Sara Feigenholtz DEM
John A. Fritchey DEM
Victor A. Forys DEM
Pete Dagher DEM
Jan H. Donatelli DEM
Frank Annunzio DEM
Carlos A. Monteagudo DEM
Paul J. Bryar DEM
Roger A. Thompson III DEM
Tom Geoghegan DEM
Cary Capparelli DEM
Mike Quigley DEM
Patrick J. O'Connor DEM


The sheer number of contestants, and the coverage of other political items of interest (Obama's inaugural/presidency and Blagojevich's impeachment) has kept the media at a bit of a distance from this race. The setup piece for Congressional Quarterly's online operation notes: "The 5th is 'very Catholic, very conservative,' he said. 'Democrats from Chicago are not necessarily like Democrats from San Francisco.'" Many people consider this one of the most ethnically diverse congressional districts in the country. "The district covers 486 Chicago city precincts and 92 suburban Cook County precincts in Leyden and Proviso Townships." While 65% of the workforce was defined as white collar in the 2000 census, and 34% of the population had a bachelor's degree. 23% of the district (not necessarily voters) is Hispanic, but 43% spoke a language other than English. Carol Marin observed this: "The 5th District is demographically diverse but it is also, at its core, a working-class, union, Catholic constituency with more cops and teachers than brokers and bankers."

In other news:

Democratic Party officials could not agree on endorsing any single candidate, and Mayor Richard Daley also has publicly professed his neutrality.


"Barack Obama won nearly three in four votes in the district." Andy Shaw's report about the race can be seen here.

While the traditional media may have had its hands full with other issues, the blogs have quickly filled the vacuum. Progress Illinois continues its superb coverage of Congressional races in Illinois. It banged the drum about negative polling in the race, reported on new media efforts from the campaigns, covered the NOW endorsement, the Claypool endorsement and the Nation endorsement.

Prairie State Blue also continues its tradition of community blogging around elections. wegerje observes Some IL-05 Numbers $ and Polling, Jim in Chicago writes about 15 Democrats file for IL-5 seat as well as the upcoming candidate forum, and Sandra Verthein asks (and answers) IL 05: How to decide? Issues!

Jesse Greenberg writes an interesting piece comparing the use of social networks by the candidates in the race, where he observes that, "The current elected politicians (Feigenholtz, Fritchey and Quigley) are seeing lower levels of support on Facebook than two upstart challengers - Charlie Wheelan and Tom Geoghegan." Greenberg is making a concerted effort to cover this race.

The Big Day (in more ways than one) is Sunday, February 1st, where the Democratic candidates for IL-05 will meet in a Candidates Forum.

5th CD Democratic Candidates Forum
Moderated by Washington D.C. Bureau Chief for the Chicago Sun-Times, Lynn Sweet

Sunday, February 1st, 1:00 p.m.
DePaul Student Center
Lincoln Park Campus
2250 North Sheffield
Multi-Purpose Room

The event will begin with short opening statements from each candidate followed by a question and answer period. Questions will be asked by moderator Lynn Sweet; some of questions she will ask will be questions submitted by forum attendees or sumitted online at the event website.



Mike Quigley

In many eyes, Mike Quigley scored the biggest endorsement this week when fellow Cook County Commissioner Forrest Claypool lent his support to Mike's campaign -- an announcement that got the attention of more than one national media outlet. Claypool set up a fund-raising page for Quigley on ActBlue.

While every candidate in the race touts some kind of connection to Barack Obama, Mike Quigley is the only candidate running who was slated by the Obama campaign and ran (as an Obama delegate candidate) district wide in the February Presidential Primary.

The Quigley campaign says that it filed "Little under 3K" signatures on their nominating petitions and, when asked about how much money they've raised, "We're going to full fund our budget." There has been a lot of speculation about what kind of money is required to win this race, but QUigley has amassed a professional staff that includes consultants Pete Giangreco, Saul Shorr, John Anzalone and Kelly Dietrich, as well as Tom Bowen as campaign manager, Magen Ryan as volunteer coordinator and Anna Valencia as field director. They've already released a poll finding Quigley in the lead.

Quigley is using his volunteers in the traditional manner, and Bowen says (about their volunteers): "They've really been outstanding, braving the coldest weather I can ever remember in a campaign." The Quigley campaign is canvassing every day (and we've even had a blogger who has been canvassed by a Quigley volunteer. The campaign is also using volunteers to phone bank (from 9 to 9). The campaign office is at 2035 W. Irving Park and you can sign-up online or email the volunteer coordinator: Magen-at-quigleyforcongress-dot-com.

The Quigley campaign is hosting a Chili Campaign Kickoff tomorrow (Saturday), January 31st, starting at 10am. Volunteers will go door to door with Mike Quigley and then return to the campaign's Open House (2-6 pm) for some homemade chili!

Quigley is using Twitter (sparsely), Facebook (as expected) and Link'dIn. He announced his candidacy on the blogs, including (links to DailyKos postings, which were crossposted elsewhere): Why I'm Running for Congress, My Career Reforming Government and Do you think 700 million dollars is a lot of money? He admits to being a Cubs fan, which might serve him well in his northside district. Mike probably likes mom and apple pie, too.

Mike Quigley has picked up the mantle of change. The campaign responded:

There's only one candidate in this race who has stood up for reform from the beginning. Voters, especially right now, are looking for someone who's different, who not only talks about change, but has actually done it.

They're tired of the politics as usual crowd. They desperately need someone who will look out for their interests right now as they face the worst economy maybe in the last 80 years.

Join us and make change happen.


You can contribute to the Quigley campaign through their website or through their ActBlue page.

From a contrarian point of view, David Ormsby claims that "Quigley’s ground game looks painfully week." I'm fairly certain Tom Bowen has heard that criticism before, when he ran Bill Foster's special election campaign.


John Fritchey

If Quigley got the big endorsement of the week, John Fritchey got the most television exposure. Fritchey, a vocal critic and long-time opponent of the former governor, may wish Blagojevich's trial had continued for another week or so. Regardless, he made the most of the opportunities availed.

Fritchey's connection to Barack Obama comes from the 2003 ethics reform bills they passed in 2003. For almost a year, Fritchey has been banging the drum about impeaching Rod Blagojevich and he was a member of the Special Investigative Committee that led to his removal from office.

Fritchey did win the endorsements of the Chicago Teamsters.

Fritchey has a fan in the writer of the Chicago Clout blog:

I answered my phone today and an unknown voice said hello, Representative John Fritchey! Mr. Fritchey was very nice and kind, I really enjoyed our conversation. John was always very supportive during my difficult times with the City of Chicago.


Fritchey used Facebook to announce his entry into the race (after hinting about running for days -- maybe weeks!).

Fritchey has an "Office Opening" planned for tomorrow (Saturday, January 31) at 1511 West Barry Ave.


Sara Feigenholtz

Sara Feigenholtz has the "inevitable" thing goin' on. As one news report said:

After raising $300,000 by yearend, Ms. Feigenholtz opened her second campaign office this past weekend and has recruited more than 200 volunteers, according to her campaign.


She's claimed the endorsements of EMILY's list and NOW (National Organization of Women). This might have been more better if there weren't still raw feelings from Chicago Obama supporters towards these critics of Barack Obama and his cabinet choices.

Feigenholtz's campaign has adopted "the Chicago way" of politics, as seen in their own polling efforts:

The day after filing concluded for the special election, we've got the first sign of things getting ugly in the Fifth Congressional District.

Last night on Fox Chicago's nightly newscast, Dane Placko reported on a poll apparently conducted by Sara Feigenholtz's campaign that included negative message-testing against opponents Mike Quigley and John Fritchey. According to Placko, the poll alleged that Fritchey is "paying for his campaign office with taxpayer money" and "took donations from a political action committee with ties to organized crime." Fritchey responded that the charges are false and said, "We're really seeing the two faces of Sara here."


The difference between the Obama approach to politics and this approach couldn't be more stark. Even if politics ain't beanbag.

Feigenholtz has a YouTube page, which includes a testimonial from supporters of Feigenholtz. Others have blogged on her behalf, including Richard Leo Madison here and here. Ellen Malcolm also touted Feigenholtz.


Charlie Wheelan

Charlie Wheelan made a splash today. His message of economics expertise may not be making waves (yet), but it's getting a hearing:

Wheelan describes his target voters as “the NPR crowd,” betting that educated, politically engaged voters with economic concerns are the niche group that can put him out front.


That is the core idea Wheelan nurtures as he, a college professor with no political experience, assembles an improbable strategy to beat at least four old political hands in the race to replace Rahm.

Wheelan supports Obama's move toward stimulus but thinks the money must be smartly spent. He thinks transportation spending pays dividends: reducing congestion, cutting air pollution, improving infrastructure.


Smart economics, though, won't be enough. And Wheelan has proven that he's serious about this contest. Wheelan filed 2,300 signatures and won the ballot lottery (First on the ballot). He's brought in a Campaign Manager, a Deputy Campaign Manager, a Communications Director, a Deputy Communications Director, a Finance Director, a Deputy Finance Director, a Treasurer, and what they call "Robust Field Staff." Their last FEC report showed $110K, impressive enough for someone who's never run before.

Campaign volunteers are being utilized for Direct Voter Contact, including Daily/nightly phone banking and canvassing. Erik, Wheelan's Field Director is the primary contact for people interested in volunteering with the campaign.

Wheelan also has a YouTube page, including a behind the scenes look at his new commercial, a Facebook support page and a Students for Charlie Wheelan Facebook page.

Wheelan's commercial has gotten him national attention. Politico covered it, as did Clout Street. Jesse Greenberg wrote it up, as did NBC's local media.

You can contribute to Wheelan's campaign through ActBlue.


Paul Bryar

Paul Bryar is one of two physicians running in this special election.

The Bryar campaign turned in 2,963 signatures, and "had an additional 713 in reserve" that were not filed or were returned past the due date. It has a full campaign staff, with Joe Woodward (Campaign Manager), April Valdez (Finance Director), Brendan O'Sullivan (Field Director), Brenna Crouse (RFD), Carrie Romano (Communication Director), Elin Boyle (Operations Director). They've raised $238,565.00 to date.

The Bryar campaign will use volunteers to do Voter Contact, Friend to Friend Outreach, Field, Office Administration and hosting events. Right now, they are asking volunteers to display a Yard Sign, come help out in the Office, Write a Letter to the Editor, Make Phone Calls, Talk to their Neighbors, Host a Coffee or an Event, do data entry, Pass Out Literature and Social Networking. Elin Boyle (elin@bryarforcongress.com) is the campaign's contact person for people interested in volunteering.

Unique among the campaigns (near as I can tell) is that the Bryar campaign has developed literature that supporters can download and print on their own. The Obama campaign was very successful at this.

The Bryar campaign has been endorsed by the American Academy of Ophthalmology PAC and American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery Eye Pac. Bryar is an eye doctor. You can find regular press releases from the campaign here.

The campaign reminds us that:

Paul Bryar is a nationally recognized eye surgeon at NorthwesternUniversityMedicalSchool. He has had enough with corrupt politics in Illinois and with politicians playing musical chairs at the expense of the people. Paul wants to work to restore trust in government and bring Republicans and Democrats together to pass legislation that will get Illinois and our country on the right track.

Paul is a graduate of St. Ignatius College Prep, GeorgetownUniversity and the University of Illinois at ChicagoMedicalSchool. Bryar for Congress launched on January 7th and has raised over $235,000 as of today.

Paul is one of seven brothers and sisters, including an identical twin brother named Colin. Paul ran the ChicagoMarathon in October of 2007 to raise money and awareness for treating blindness.


Bryar has a Facebook page, a YouTube channel, which includes his first commercial, and a Twitter feed that doesn't look to be in use.

You can contribute to the campaign here.


Victor Forys

Victor Forys is the other physician in the race. He's running on the "prescription for reform" mantle, although the Solidarity banner is prominently displayed on his website.

Approximately 17% of the 5th's residents are of Polish descent. Many Poles are still bitter that this did not translate into success in the 2002 primary. The Forys campaign filed petitions with 3,088, but they observe that "We did not turn in all the pages we collected. We did not turn in pages we felt did not meet the standards."

Brian Doory, former Campaign Manager for Debbie Halvorson's winning campaign for Congress is the Campaign Manager for Dr. Forys. Gerald Galloway, former longtime Political Director for Lt. Governor Pat Quinn is serving as Chief Strategist. Karen Polet, former Finance Director for the Coordinated Illinois Democratic Congressional Campaign is Finance Director. Rick Bohn, former Field Coordinator for Nancy Kaszak, is Campaign Director and Field Director for Dr. Forys.

They report that, "As of the close of the last filing period, we had raised $160,000. This report was just filed. We have raised considerably more since then." As for volunteers:

We are recruiting and empowering our volunteers as organizers to contact their neighbors. We are doing phone banking, canvases and neighbor to neighbor outreach. We have given our volunteers specific responsibilities and goals to meet for our field campaign. We also use our volunteers to network and ask their friends for low-dollar contributions. Our volunteers are the lifeblood of our campaign.

On Saturday the 31st from 1 to 3pm, we are having the "Grand Opening" of our second campaign office on West Belmont Ave., despite the fact that it has been opened for more than two weeks. 6115 W. Belmont Ave, Chicago, 773-322-8608


Volunteers can ask for Katie or Langston by calling 773-682-1120 or emailing info@victorforus.com .

Polish News continues to cover the campaign, including:

His campaign is about reforming health care, immigration, and our economy. In light of the recent troubles Illinois's Governor is facing, what better person to send to Washington D.C. than a professional business owner, rather than some other professional politician.


It is also covering what it calls Feigenholtz's negative campaigning:

"Professional Springfield politicians like Feigenholtz would rather protect insurance companies than patients. The professional Springfield politicians like Feigenholtz and Rod Blagojevich have promised health care reform time and again, and time and again the people have been let down because of campaign contributions from the insurance industry," said Victor Forys, M.D.


The Forys campaign has a blog, as well as a Facebook page and a YouTube channel to follow the campaign.

You can contribute to Dr. Forys' campaign here.


Jan Donatelli

As Anita Alvarez discovered, there is an advantage to being the only woman in a crowded field. Jan Donatelli is not the only woman competing in this race -- but there are some who might like you to think that they were (the only woman in the race).

The Donatelli campaign holds their campaign headquarters Open House tomorrow (Saturday, January 31st) at 477 W Deming Place in Chicago. They filed 2300 signatures on their nominating petitions, after having struck 50 from them. Their staff includes Rick Fromberg (Campaign Manager), Andy LaVigne (Field Director) and Kara Ratliff (Finance Director).

The campaign is using volunteers in Voter Contact (canvassing, phone banking, visibility) and research. Their phone banks operate every weeknight from 4-9, and their are other opportunities for volunteers. Learn more by emailing the campaign directly (staff@donatelliforcongress.com) or sign up on the web at www.donatelliforcongress.com. They have a Facebook page, a Linked in page and a profile at Change.org.

Donatelli has won the endorsements of:

Veterans and Military Families for Progress (www.vmfp.org)
Association of Flight Attendants - AFA-CWA
General Aviation Manufacturers Association
Airline Pilots Association - ALPA
VetPAC


The campaign informs us that:

Jan Donatelli is a candidate for Congress in Chicago's Fifth District Special Election. As one of the first female Navy Pilots entrusted with Strategic Mission Command for the United States' nuclear fleet, she has been a trailblazer in defense of our nation. A commercial pilot, union member and working mother of six, Jan Donatelli brings a fresh, outsider perspective to the race for Congress


You can donate to the Donatelli campaign here.


Tom Geoghegan

In a crowded field, someone has to be last. Tom Geoghegan has been making the rounds (he was in Washington, DC midweek). Tom has had a big week, hob-nobbing with Joe Trippi and getting the Nation endorsement.

To say that he has a following on the progressive blogs (which, if you haven't figured out, is why I put him last) is an understatement. The question has always been, can he translate that support to support in the district.

There's some evidence that he can. The Geoghegan campaign filed 3000 signatures and opened up a district office at 4419 West Irving Park Road in Chicago. They have brought in Julie Sweet (Campaign Manager), Joe Costello (Communications Director), Joanna Belinger (Finance Director), Sarah Geoghegan (Assistant Finance Director), Jacob Dusseau (Field Coordinator) as well as 3 Field Staffers and John Amdor (Scheduler). They've raised over $150 thousand in four weeks, most of it online.

Volunteers for the campaign will Phone, walk, mail and GOTV. The campaign tells us, "Our campaign is moving forward and knocking on doors in the district, we need your help." To volunteer, you can email Jacob at jacob@geogheganforcongress.com.

Tom Geoghegan has numerous blog entries up, including his campaign announcement and an Interview with William Greider. Others supporting Geoghegan with blog posts include Joe Trippi, David Sirota and AdamGreen.

Geoghegan has a Facebook page, a Twitter page and a YouTube channel.

You can contribute to Tom Geoghegan here.


Superbowl Sunday represents the sprint to the finish for the special election in the 5th Congressional District. Both Mike Quigley and Sara Feigenholtz have been claiming front runner status, and there's some truth to it. But there are also indicators that this could be an exceptionally competitive race. In reality, we will have a better idea after Sunday, when the candidates gather in their first real face-to-face forum (the campaign's calendars suggest that they may be unaware of the Saturday forum). It is one thing to compete in your own environment, where everything is familiar. But how will the candidates perform when they are in a room together? Will anyone rise above the rest? Who will stumble.

We don't know yet whether this will be the first candidate's forum of many or only a few. So we really don't know what the stakes are yet for Sunday's forum. We may never know until it is too late. The Cook County State's Attorney candidates probably had too much time together, and it certainly gave Anita an opening that she successfully exploited. The starting gun has fired. The race remains to be run...

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Some more Blago damage: Park closings

Sitting on my desk is the 2009 Illinois Travel Guide. On the cover is Abraham Lincoln. The anniversary of the birth of the greatest Illinoisan is next month, and the state bureau of tourism made the right decision by focusing on Honest Abe for this year's guide.

A project like this takes months to produce. Most of the work on this year's guide was probably completed when then-Governor Rod Blagojevich sneaked back to Illinois on the day Barack Obama gave his acceptance speech...

...at the Democratic National Convention in Denver so he could begin the process to close nearly two dozen state parks and historical sites. Hours were cut and many others. In November, that list was cut slightly to just 19 locations.

Lincoln was hit hard by Blago's pen. Remember, this is Lincoln's bicentennial year, interest in the 16th president is at a peak, Illinois should be primed for the onslaught of tourists coming here to learn more about Lincoln..

I'm looking at page 11 of the travel guide, there is a picture and description of the Lincoln Log Cabin site near Charleston, where his father and beloved stepmother lived, Abe owned the home and the surrounding land. Blago closed in on December 1. Innocent motorists picking up a travel guide at a state welcome center might decide, "Hey, let's go there."

Sorry, it's closed.

On the next page, the Vandalia Statehouse, Illinois' second state capitol, is touted.

Blago closed that too.

Hours were drastically cut at a slew of other Lincoln sites, and some seven-day-a-week sites turned into five-day-a-week locations, or in the case of the Lincoln-Herndon Law Offices, just one day a week.

The offices are promoted on page 8, as is Springfield's Old State Capitol, where Barack Obama began his successful presidential campaign. Blago cut that historical site, where Lincoln gave his "House Divided" speech to five days a week.

What about New Salem, where Lincoln first lived on his own? Five days a week.

Thanks to funding from the Illinois Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission, the Lincoln-related sites, but not the closed ones, will go back to a seven-day schedule this spring.

However, that funding will not last forever.

Back to the travel guide: If you go to page 163, you'll see the Carl Sandburg birthplace in Galesburg. It's closed now. As are nine other state historical sites, and seven state parks.

Even when he was still lieutenant governor, Patrick Quinn said he was opposed to the closings. In a press conference yesterday, his first as governor, Quinn said he wants to reopen the parks and historical sites Blago closed.

Which prompted one reporter to shout out, "Where will you get the money?"

Good question.

In an e-mail message sent last night, possible gubernatorial candidate Bill Brady (R-Bloomington) said, "We have had a governor who has balanced the State of Illinois budget with a credit card."

True.

We also just threw out a governor who ran the state on "pay-to-pay" principles. And you can't shakedown an historical reenactor working at the Lincoln Log Cabin site.

How do I know? Well, if there was a way, Blago would have done it.

I have faith that there is a way to reopen these places without breaking the state's bank.

Meanwhile, there are thousands of obsolete Illinois Travel Guides out there, warts and all, that will allow tourists to mistakenly plan their visits to the Land of Lincoln.

Another awful Blago legacy.

Oh, I almost forgot. Illinois' Historic Preservation Agency web site is out-of-date too. It gives internet surfers no notice that some of the locations listed are closed. Although the site does say, "Pat Quinn, Governor."

And when you click on the site-hours button, it leads to a dead link, at least it is that way this evening.

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Quinn's first days in office

In his first full day as Illinois’ top executive, Gov. Pat Quinn addressed ethics and political campaigns, two topics fresh in the minds of voters after former Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s legal and political problems.



Holding a bow tie of the late U.S. Sen. Paul Simon, Quinn signed his first executive order on the speaker’s podium outside of his new Statehouse office. The order officially charters an Ethics Reform Commission that he started a few weeks ago. By mid-March, the commission is expected to recommend major policy changes for everything from the way the state hires contractors to the way candidates fund political campaigns. Other topics of interest include improving transparency of state government, allowing voters to recall elected officials, revamping the way legislative districts are redrawn and strengthening protections for whistleblowers, according to Duane Noland of Blue Mound, former state lawmaker who was appointed to the commission. He said the ultimate goal is to change the attitude that Illinois has a culture of corruption and to start attracting better candidates.

The governor’s order establishes the commission as a public body, subject to public access and open meetings laws.

While that reform panel, led by former federal prosecutor Patrick Collins, could propose reforms that would be drastic for Illinois — including limiting the amount voters could donate to political campaigns — Quinn made a second statement this morning that could make waves with statewide political party leaders.

Quinn said he supports moving the primary election from February to September to shorten the campaign season. Illinois Democrats moved the date from March to February last year in an effort to boost the state’s significance in selecting now President Barack Obama as the Democratic candidate. Illinois became one of 22 states on the so-called Super-Duper Tuesday primary of 2008. The school of thought was that states that held later election dates would be less likely to matter because a majority of states already selected their candidates and doled out their electoral votes.

The ironic part is that because so many states had a February 5 primary, none mattered as much as the states that held primary elections later in the summer.

Quinn said the state’s February 2, 2010, primary would be the earliest in the country. “I don’t think it behooves Illinois or helps Illinois to have a huge, long, nine-month period of a general election. A lot of people think we are in perpetual campaign mode, perpetual fundraising mode. We need to identify the problems — that’s one of them, a big one — and I think solutions include having a shorter general election campaign, where the voters can evaluate the candidates. Six, seven, eight weeks is sufficient. It is for the presidency. I think it is for the governor.”

Moving a primary election, however, never has gained a consensus, said Steve Brown, spokesman for the Illinois Democratic Party, and may not actually shorten the campaign season. “We just saw where people were campaigning more than a year ahead of the balloting, so I don’t know that the date of the elections has that much to do with it anymore.”

He said while Illinois was in the mix of 22 Super-Duper Tuesday primaries, Illinois at least gave Obama a “good, solid big-state victory to offset Hillary Clinton’s” wins.

Quinn’s first few days in office starkly differ from Blagojevich’s tenure. Quinn ate dinner and slept in the governor’s mansion after taking his oath of office. He started his morning news conference less than 10 minutes late. He answered questions for about 30 minutes, and after he ended the news conference at the podium, he continued to talk to reporters who huddled around him.

His schedule today included meeting with all constitutional officers in Chicago and meeting with the Illinois Association of Park Districts. Tomorrow, he’s scheduled to speak at a conference of the pubic employees union, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, in Springfield, before heading to Peoria to thank volunteers who help people file their income tax returns and apply for low-income assistance. He said he wants to get to every part of the state quickly.

He also established his favorite phrase to describe his work ethic: Early to bed, early to rise. Work like hell and organize.

He said his hope is to have the most productive and reform-minded legislative session in recent memory. “That is what the public wants, and I think if we do what the public wants, we’ll do pretty well.”

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Pat Quinn in Charge

If there was any question whether Pat Quinn was ready to lead, the Illinois state government website announced he was. When I looked last night -- granted, shortly after Blagojevich was removed from office -- the website still had Rod Blagojevich, governor in the right hand corner. This morning, the transition was complete.

Can't wait to drive the tollway free of the reminder that it was paid for, pay to play...


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GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips - January 30, 2009

Articles of interest to Illinois Republicans recently posted by ABC7, NBC5, CBS2, Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times, Crain's Chicago Business, Daily Herald, Suburban Chicago News, Suburban Life, Pioneer Local, Southtown Star, Rockford Register Star, Bloomington Pantagraph, Peoria Journal Star, Springfield State Journal Register, Belleville News Democrat, Southern Illinoisan, Illinois Review, Public Affairs, Champion News, Illinois Family Institute, Americans For Truth, Chicago Daily Observer, Tom Roeser, Capitalfax, etc. Since January 1, 2005, GOPUSA ILLINOIS has brought 41,246 such articles and information on many upcoming events to its subscribers' attention each morning, free of charge, and without any advertising. To view the January 30, 2009 GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips, please visit www.gopillinois.com or www.illinoisreview.com. Thanks

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ICPR Statement: Time to Get to Work

The Illinois Campaign for Political Reform released this statement on the future of Illinois politics:

Rod Blagojevich has been removed from office. Now, the real work can begin.

The waning days of the Blagojevich Administration became a circus, with a one-man carnival-barker/freak show in the center ring. But until the political system that allowed someone like that to assume the duties of governor is changed, the Era of Corruption will continue.

Rod Blagojevich was hardly an outlier in the state's list of governors. Three of his seven predecessors went to jail, and if he is convicted of the federal corruption charges now lodged against him, then Jon Stewart's observation -- that you are more likely to go to jail if you become governor of Illinois than if you commit murder -- will be proven true.

We welcome Governor Pat Quinn. Perhaps it is no coincidence that he has both a reputation for standing up to established power and a dismal record as a campaign fundraiser. But we also recognize that installing Pat Quinn will not end corruption in Illinois government. We have turned governors out of office before, only to wind up, again and again, right back at square one. Problems with any one officeholder are just symptoms of a much larger problem with our culture of politics.

Illinois' political culture is too loose to resist the next thuggish strongman who will exploit its weaknesses. Illinois provides its citizens with far too little information about the personal financial interests of public officials, about the activities of lobbyists, about the day-to-day operation of government. Our campaign laws make it far too easy for the entrenched to monopolize power, to limit ballot access, and to leverage incumbency into campaign resources.

This is not news. The problems we face are well known and well documented, as are the solutions. What is needed now is not recognition but resolution, not further deliberation but deliberate action. The new Governor and the General Assembly should enact limits on campaign contributions and bring Illinois in line with nearly all other states and the federal system. We've seen what happens when special interests can give unlimited amounts of money to political campaigns; let's see how elections in Illinois work when held to the same standards that prevail in most other states. Gov. Quinn and the members of the House and Senate should come to terms on a system of public financing, to let candidates run for office without having to kowtow to the small group of people who now control the purse strings.

It's past time to improve the culture of politics in Illinois. We know what we need to do. Now we must do it.

For more information, go to ilcampaign.org.

To comment on this post, please visit ICPR's blog.

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Turning The Page on WhatsHisName

State Senator Ricky Hendon said something remarkable during the impeachment trial yesterday, and I'm paraphrasing here:

"Congratulations to the press. You have reestablished your power. Use it wisely."

Its going to take ALL of us to "turn the page", move beyond our former governor, and move Illinois forward.

And just as even the lowliest fungus needs a ray of light to survive, our former governor needs media attention.

Bloggers, t.v. reporters, newspaper editors: You want to stick it to our former governor? Stop covering him.


I realize this can't happen immediately. There will be the necessary stories today, the editorials this weekend.

But starting Monday, can we declare an end to his 15 minutes of fame?

1. Just because WhatsHisName has a press conference, doesn't mean we need to show up. We know it'll be the same-old circus, hardly newsworthy.

2. Just because the U.S. Attorney has a press conference, doesn't mean we have to seek a comment from WhatsHisName or his attorneys. Why should we aid them in their defense?

3. Just because the legislature advances campaign reform or ethics reform legislation, doesn't mean we have to mention WhatsHisName by name. Reform is needed, no matter who the governor was or his party.

4. Just because WhatsHisName says or does something outrageously stupid, we don't have to write about it. Again, nothing "new" there.

In keeping with that spirit, this is the last time I'll be blogging about WhatsHisName.

Here are my final thoughts on WhatsHisName's final chapter:

Even if we are to give him the benefit of the doubt in every instance, even if we are to believe the point-of-view he articulated in his closing statement, the best thing I can say about WhatsHisName is that he was a Dictator, not a Governor.

WhatsHisName can argue that he was elected by the people. Even if you ignore the fact that his election had more to do with the lack of leadership from the GOP, or that he got less than 50% of the vote in his last election, or that his popularity now is at historic lows for any governor ever. There have been lots of popular dictators who've won elections overwhelmingly. Fidel Castro comes to mind.

WhatsHisName can argue that he was trying to what was right for the people. Even if you believe that his heart was in the right place, trying to expand health care, create jobs, increase education funding. Despite the evidence from his trial that he was willing to thwart health care programs, hold up jobs projects, and run our state finances to advance his own personal interests, you can believe those things. But nearly every dictator has used populist ends to justify breaking the law as a means.

At the end of the day, WhatsHisName believed and acted as though he was Above The Law. Violating the Constitutional separation of power. Breaking state and federal laws. Using his office for his own personal, financial and political gain. Dictator, dictator, dictator.

Finally, in response to some of the pundits and reporters out there who want to give U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald ALL the credit and the Illinois General Assembly NONE of the credit for yesterday's turn-of-events.

Its certainly true that WhatsHisName's arrest and revelations about efforts to auction off a U.S. Senate seat crystallized public opinion, making impeachment a slam-dunk.

Its also true that many of the allegations included in the impeachment indictment happened during WhatsHisName's first term, and so he surely could have been impeached sooner.

Why then, did it take so long?

First, when lawmakers, led by Speaker Madigan, complained about WhatsHisName's efforts to subvert the General Assembly, ignore the Constitution, violate state laws like those granting JCAR rulemaking authority, what did the pundits and reporters do? They covered it as a battle of personalities and personal intrigue, instead of advancing public discussion of the fundamental legal questions at the core of Madigan's arguments.

Secondly, while there were certainly enough Representatives to indict WhatsHisName, and probably enough Senators willing to convict last Spring, no one who pays close attention can honestly believe that House prosecutors would have gotten a fair hearing as long as Emil Jones was President of the Senate, or even be certain that a trial would have taken place.

Personally, I think WhatsHisName would have been impeached this year even without the U.S. Attorney's actions. owing to the change in leadership in the Senate. And Senate President John Cullerton, and the members of the Senate who elected him, deserve as much if not more of the credit than the U.S. Attorney.

Sine die.

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Meet Gov. Pat Quinn

By Bethany Jaeger
Pat Quinn was once booed on the House floor in 1976 (see our recent Pat Quinn profile here). Tonight, he received a standing ovation as he took the oath as Illinois’ 41st governor. Before all constitutional officers and legislative leaders, as well as family and friends and some lawmakers, Quinn smiled and raised his right hand.



Turning to the audience, filled with all constitutional officers and legislative leaders, he addressed the serious challenges ahead. He first recited the familiar words of one of his favorite politicians, Abraham Lincoln, by honoring the philosophy of “government of the people, by the people and for the people.”

He called upon Illinoisans to prepare to make sacrifices and to work together to solve the state’s economic crisis, fiscal crisis and integrity crisis. Then, fighting tears, he read a letter written by an admiral in the U.S. Navy about his late father, Patrick Quinn. He said the people of Illinois could benefit from the same characteristics possessed by his father. “If all of us, the people of Illinois, are cheerful, earnest, cooperative, frank and honest, we can achieve great things in the Land of Lincoln.”

After receiving congratulations from lawmakers, he conducted his first news conference as governor in the Statehouse Press Room. He often intermixed serious statements with more relaxed and jovial moments. Meanwhile, one flight of stairs below, people stood on watch for the locks to be changed on the executive office.

Quinn will make his first announcement as governor at 10 a.m. Friday outside of that Statehouse office. Joking with reporters, he said it will be a surprise. Otherwise, he said, “you won’t come back. It’s my one-and-only shot.” He said he plans to regularly be available to the media because he enjoys the exchange and because it keeps public officials accountable.

Seriousness culminated with mention of the state budget. He said with no cooperation from Blagojevich’s administration to ease the transition, the governor’s annual budget address has been moved back from February 18 to March 18, giving him time to assess the damage and find out what the true size of the deficit. “I think the governor has to level with the people of Illinois. That’s what they want. And then we’ll have a blueprint for digging out of this morass.”

He said the budget he will propose will be one “that will be a proper one for the times that we are finding ourselves in.” Tax increases could be on the table, but Quinn said: “Nobody likes paying taxes. April 15 is not my favorite day, never will be. So I think it’s important to understand that in our democracy, the price of being in a democracy is that citizens agree that they do have to pay taxes in order for the common good. And so we will find a way to have a fair system, which hopefully keeps taxes as low as possible.”

He repeatedly tried to shift the public’s focus to the future. “There’s a reason God put our eyes in front of our head. If we’re going to always look backwards, we probably won’t go very far in Illinois or anywhere else. I think we need to look forward.”

Priorities will include funding a capital plan, which he said will emphasize sustainable and efficient energy and conservation and infrastructure that will allow for fiber optic lines down the road. Other priorities will include public safety, education and health care.

He addressed various issues before heading to the Executive Mansion a few blocks away for dinner with his family, including his 91-year-old mother. Here’s a brief summary of the topics he addressed and philosophies that could drive his proposals next month:

  • Public employee positions will be “under review.” He said, “If you are doing a good job and being diligent, that’s what we’re looking for.”
  • The recently appointed director of the Department of Natural Resources, former Rep. Kurt Granberg of Carlyle, might not be up to par with Quinn’s desire to have a “natural resources professional” in that position.
  • He plans to open state parks and historic sites that Blagojevich closed after cutting state funding.
  • He will take down the Chicago Tollway signs with Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s name on them and might replace them with signs that say, “The people of Illinois welcome you.”
  • Quote of the night: “I am proud of being frugal. I’m a VIP member of the Super 8, and I moved up from Motel 6.”
  • He followed up with this: “I think being frugal is useful, but I am very generous. I think everyone will tell you that I’m very generous to a fault.”
  • He would not address whether he will run for governor in 2010. “I don’t think the people of Illinois need politics right now. We’ve had our dose of that — a heavy dose — for the last seven weeks. I think this should be a year of governance, where people really work on repairing damage and making things better. And there will be plenty of time for politics in 2010.”
Blagojevich: I will continue to fight for the people
By Jamey Dunn
At the same time Quinn gave his news conference, Blagojevich spoke outside of his home and said he was “saddened” but “not surprised” by the Senate’s decision to remove him from office. He listed what he deems as his accomplishments in health care and education and listed all the public servant jobs he has held from his most recent office back to when he was a prosecutor. He said that although he is no longer governor, he will continue to fight for the people of Illinois and to prove his innocence.

"I love the people of Illinois today now more than I ever did before."

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Thursday, January 29, 2009

Senate president sets a new tone

By Hilary Russell
Breaking promises, dismissing the legislature and provoking unconventional — and allegedly illegal — methods of fundraising will no longer be the rule to follow, said Senate President John Cullerton, a Chicago Democrat, following the conviction of former Gov. Rod Blagojevich. The conviction immediately removed Blagojevich from office and forbids him from holding any public office in Illinois in the future.




“We found no pleasure in today’s outcome,” Cullerton said. “We cannot change the past. The people of Illinois have every right to expect a future with those who are elected to do so in a matter befitting to office.”

Surrounded by 13 of his colleagues, Cullerton laid out the challenges the state needs to overcome, including its history of machine-style politics and a major financial deficit made worse by repeated scandal.

“We removed Mr. Blagojevich, former governor, from office for three reasons,” he said. “He has demonstrated a clear inability to govern. He has shown disdain for the laws and processes of this state, and he has deliberately and pathologically abused his power without regard for the people he was elected to serve.”

Blagojevich said all week long on national TV interviews that personality conflicts with the state legislature led to his impeachment, combined with their desire to get him out of office so they could raise state taxes.

“That’s not what this impeachment was about,” Cullerton said. “We read the impeachment articles that the House charged him with, the criminal offenses and abuses of power. And that is what the debate was about.”

“We did not do this for political expediency. We’re not settling old scores. We did not conspire to remove the governor for our own amusement or advantage,” he added.

Just as emphatically, Cullerton promised that the state, the home of the newest U.S. president, is on its own path of change.

“There’s going to be a new spirit of cooperation with the House and with the governor and with the Senate to help solve our problems.”

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Unanimous vote to convict Blagojevich


By Jamey Dunn
Senators on both sides of the aisle expressed disappointment with then-Gov. Rod Blagojevich before unanimously voting — 59 to 0 — to remove him from office Thursday. They also voted to prevent him from holding any future public office in Illinois.


Before the vote, all senators were allowed five minutes to speak during public deliberation, an exercise that spanned two and a half hours.

The governor was called everything from an “unusually good liar” by Sen. Matt Murphy, a Palatine Republican, to a “devious, cynical, crass and corrupt politician” by Sen. Dale Righter, a Mattoon Republican.

Sen. James Meeks, a Chicago Democrat, was enthusiastic about calling for impeachment. “This is not a sad day for me. This is a great day. We have this thing called impeachment, and it’s bleeping golden, and we’ve used it the right way.”

The fact that the governor presented no defense and only came to Springfield on the last day of the trial to make a closing argument did not seem to help his case with any of the senators. “The silence that spoke the loudest was the absence of the governor,” said newly elected Sen. Toi Hutchinson, a Democrat from Chicago.

Some senators made a connection between impeaching a governor on pay-to-play politics and a need for campaign finance reform in Illinois. “He became obsessed with assuming more and more power and monetary awards for himself and his future aspirations,” said Sen. Susan Garrett, a Democrat from Lake Forest.

Political scientist Kent Redfield of the University of Illinois at Springfield said the general public would tend to agree. “I think people will really make the connection between unlimited [campaign] contributions and the corruption.”

Many said they felt frustrated with the negative attention cast upon Illinois. Sen. Terry Link, a Waukegan Democrat, compared the impeachment to an infamous page in Illinois darker history, the 1968 Democratic National Convention. “The whole world is watching Illinois again today. And you know what? I'm sick and tired of it.”

A sobering moment came when former Senate Minority Leader Frank Watson of Greenville gave a tearful apology. Recovering from a stroke that forced him to give up his leadership position, he said that partisan atmosphere in the Senate had partially been his fault and urged the new leaders not to make the same mistake. Watson spoke directly to Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno of Lemont and Senate President John Cullerton of Chicago: “The way you two have started this session working together in cooperation is a good sign for the future.”

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Advocates for Intercity Passenger Rail Call on Congress and President Obama to Increase Funding for Rail in Stimulus Plan

(Cross-posted at Midwest High Speed Rail, Improving Amtrak Incrementally)


Chicago Union Station, Great Hall

Thursday, January 29th, 12:30 pm

Contacts:

Representative Elaine Nekritz, Chair of the Illinois House Rail Committee

Paris Ervin, Illinois Department of Transportation

Rick Harnish, Midwest High Speed Rail Association

Laura Kliewer, Midwest Interstate Passenger Rail Commission

ADVOCATES FOR INTERCITY PASSENGER RAIL CALL ON CONGRESS AND PRESIDENT OBAMA TO INCREASE FUNDING FOR RAIL IN STIMULUS PLAN

Chicago press conference one of several held around the Midwest this week



Participants:
Illinois Secretary of Transportation Milt Sees, Representative Elaine Nekritz (D-Des Plaines), Representative Dave Winters (R-Rockford), Representative Al Riley (D-Hazel Crest), Representative Naomi Jakobsson (D-Urbana), Representative Paul Froehlich (D-Schaumburg), County Board Member Michael Richards (D-Champaign), Rick Harnish of the Midwest High Speed Rail Association, Laura Kliewer of the Midwest Interstate Passenger Rail Commission, John O'Brien, United Transportation Union


The economic stimulus plan currently being considered by Congress provides an incredible opportunity to build a modern regional passenger rail network that makes America more energy-efficient, sustainable and prosperous, and while there are encouraging developments in the Senate led by Dick Durbin, the first drafts of the federal stimulus plan miss the mark.




Last night the U.S. House passed its stimulus plan: the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act. The bill allocates only $1.1 billion to rail – $800 million to Amtrak and $300 million to state projects to improve intercity rail outside of Amtrak's capital needs. Investing in state projects is the best way to build up the Midwest's intercity passenger rail network.



Unfortunately, $300 million is not nearly enough to build up intercity rail. A much better proposal came from the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, which recommended a $5 billion total investment in rail: $3.4 billion for state passenger rail projects, $1.5 billion for Amtrak and $100 million for short line railroads.



The Senate Appropriations Committee plan comes closer to the $5 billion mark with $2 billion allocated to high-speed rail corridors, $850 million for Amtrak and $250 million for state investments in intercity rail. The Senate committee-passed plan also creates a discretionary program for larger projects, for which passenger rail projects are eligible.



There is pent-up demand for new and expanded service for intercity passenger rail throughout the Midwest. Passenger rail ridership – especially on shorter, corridor service that would be implemented by the build-out of the Midwest Regional Rail Initiative and Ohio Hub plans – has increased dramatically, but federal funding to help build these systems has not followed. Passenger rail is the most energy-efficient means to move people over medium distances (100–600 miles). Increased funding for our states to plan, design and construct these interconnected passenger rail systems would bring tangible benefits to the Midwest, not only creating short- and long-term jobs, but building a new, efficient passenger rail system across the region.


The way to build a regional network is by improving routes and lines in each state. State projects that can be quickly obligated total far more than $5 billion throughout the nation, not to mention the medium-term planning that is necessary to develop new routes.



Midwestern states have been working together for more than 10 years on two plans to bring faster, more-frequent passenger rail service to the region. On behalf of the Midwestern states, the Midwest Interstate Passenger Rail Commission (MIPRC) has submitted to congressional leaders a list of more than $815 million in projects that could move forward within 120 days. The preliminary environmental work on the entire Midwest Regional Rail Initiative (MWRRI) and Ohio Hub systems could be completed for about $150 million.



The best way to make sure our transportation investments meet our energy policy goals is to invest in intercity rail: we cannot afford to miss this opportunity to create jobs that lead to long-term prosperity through better intercity rail that connects the Midwest.



The Midwest High Speed Rail Association is a membership-based non-profit advocacy organization with more than 2000 members.


The MIPRC is a 10-state interstate compact commission that promotes, coordinates and supports regional improvements to passenger rail service. Member states are Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio and Wisconsin.


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Blagojevich makes his case

by Bethany Jaeger, Jamey Dunn and Hilary Russell
Gov. Rod Blagojevich made his case to the state Senate rather than to the national media this morning, asking legislators how they could impeach him for pushing and prodding — sometimes too hard, he said — to protect seniors, infants and middle-class parents.

“I want to apologize to you for what happened,” Blagojevich said to the senators this morning, “but I can’t because I didn’t do anything wrong.”

House Prosecutor David Ellis disagreed and said that the ends don’t justify the means. When the camera is on, Ellis said in his rebuttal, the governor’s "for the little guy." When the camera is off, he’s for legal, personal and political gain, referring to one of the direct quotes in federal transcripts of 61 secretly recorded conversations.


On November 12, 2008, the feds recorded Blagojevich allegedly saying that his decision to fill the U.S. Senate seat vacated by President Barack Obama would be based on "our legal situation, our personal situation, my political situation. This decision, like every other one, needs to be based upon that. Legal. Personal. Political."

“Nothing in that statement about the people of Illinois,” Ellis said to the Senate. “Nothing in that statement about the little guy.”

Blagojevich gave his final speech, lasting about 50 minutes, before the Illinois Senate voted whether to convict him and remove him from office. Senators currently are deliberating on the Senate floor in five-minute speeches. Then they’re expected to take two votes, one whether to remove him and one whether to ban him from holding public office again.

Blagojevich maintained his innocence throughout the morning. He said if he did something wrong, he would have resigned in December. “I wouldn’t put my family through this. I wouldn’t put you through this. And most importantly, I wouldn’t put the people of Illinois through this.

“But I didn’t resign then, and I’m not resigning now because I have done nothing wrong.”

He said out of the first eight grounds for impeachment, which are lifted from the federal criminal complaint, evidence was presented in only one — the four secretly recorded conversations about signing a bill that would subsidize the horse racing industry.

Ellis played the recordings again this morning and said the governor’s own words prove that Blagojevich knew he was doing something wrong. Ellis repeated Blagojevich’s statements: “You should assume everybody’s listening. The whole world is listening. Don’t put it in writing. I would do it in person. I wouldn’t do it on the phone.”

Ellis stopped and asked the chamber, “Who says those words except somebody who has something to hide, something to cover up?”

Blagojevich never denied the voice on the recorders was his. Instead, he said those four tapes show no criminal activity. He then spoke directly to senators: “Take those four tapes as they are, and you will, I believe, in fairness, recognize and acknowledge that those are conversations relating to the things that all of us in politics do to try to run campaigns and try to win elections."

In response to the remaining allegations that he abused his executive powers, Blagojevich repeatedly questioned how he could be impeached for expanding health care to middle-income families, for importing cheaper prescription drugs for seniors and for importing European flu vaccine after a threat of a shortage.

He said the end was a moral imperative, justifying the means. “Always those ways were done in consultation with lawyers. And with all due respect to the prosecutor, Mr. Ellis, always the means were legal, and in most cases, the ends were moral.”

He added that all of those things happened in his first term as governor, and if they were so bad, the legislature should have impeached him then and that the public still voted to reelect him for a second term.

While Blagojevich reminded senators about the presumption of innocence, he also asked them to consider giving him more time to gather evidence. “If you’re not comfortable with an acquittal then extend this process.”

Rep. Jack Franks, a Woodstock Democrat and vocal member of the House committee that recommended impeachment, said that if the governor had agreed to temporarily step aside, they would have considered giving him a month or two to prepare for the trial. Franks added that Blagojevich’s speech today was too little too late, particularly because it was not under oath.

“The way he came here today is so he can give a speech, but he would never answer a question and would never take the oath,” Franks said. “And that’s the big difference.”

Blagojevich continued that he wanted to clear his name so that he could get back to working on behalf of the people.

But Ellis said the governor’s own words, as transcribed in the criminal complaint, show that he no longer wanted the job. Blagojevich allegedly said he was stuck, that he would “suck it up” for two more years and that he contemplated leaving office in early 2009 by getting a position with President Barack Obama’s administration or as the head of a nonprofit organization, “anything, anything but the office of governor,” Ellis said.

Despite being on the same side of the political fence during the impeachment trial, Republican Sens. Matt Murphy of Palatine and Dale Righter of Mattoon had separate opinions about the governor's presentation. Murphy called the governor “a cynical, calculating, self-serving man who has cheated the people of this state good governance.”

Righter, on the other hand, while not condoning any of the charges leveled against the governor, said he was impressed with the governor’s speech, no matter how late in the trial it came. “The governor was pretty gracious in recognizing the fact that he could not have been elected governor, nor could he have achieved many of the policies which have wreaked havoc in this state without help from the majority of the General Assembly. And I think that’s something worth remembering."

Yet, Righter said he took issue with the governor's approach. “The unspoken theme of the governor’s speech was that the end, his end, justified whatever means are necessary. The problem I have with that is it does not square with our process of self-governance.”

Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno said the governor had a point that some of the grounds for impeachment happened during his first term, and she blamed Democrats for supporting Blagojevich's reelection run. But she said it’s not too late for his impeachment. “Quite frankly, I’ll give it some thought. But I am definitely planning to vote to impeach him.”

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GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips - January 29, 2009

Articles of interest to Illinois Republicans recently posted by ABC7, NBC5, CBS2, Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times, Crain's Chicago Business, Daily Herald, Suburban Chicago News, Suburban Life, Pioneer Local, Southtown Star, Rockford Register Star, Bloomington Pantagraph, Peoria Journal Star, Springfield State Journal Register, Belleville News Democrat, Southern Illinoisan, Illinois Review, Public Affairs, Champion News, Illinois Family Institute, Americans For Truth, Chicago Daily Observer, Tom Roeser, Capitalfax, etc. Since January 1, 2005, GOPUSA ILLINOIS has brought 41,194 such articles and information on many upcoming events to its subscribers' attention each morning, free of charge, and without any advertising. To view the January 29, 2009 GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips, please visit www.gopillinois.com or www.illinoisreview.com. Thanks

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The Last Days of Rod Blagojevich

Looks like these are the last days of Governor Blagojevich. While there will be a collective sigh of relief across the land that we will have seen the last of this Governor's corrupt rule, it will neither be the last we see of Blagojevich, abuse of power in Illinois government nor the last of the corrupt political system in which the Governor arose.

It is important to realize that this has been a family feud, a war amongst the members of Illinois' political "machine," over who will control the levers of state government (and, thus, the money that flows from it). Ridding ourselves of Rod Blagojevich only removes the most public embarrassment that stems from the corruption endemic to the state's politics. But it won't change the fact that the state remains one of the most corrupt in the nation.

This is Illinois, as one political reporter likes to remind us. Corruption is endemic here. Abuse of power is common. It is, as Illinoisans like to remind outsiders, the price of getting things done. People accept it. That's the way it's been since people can remember.

Corruption is most successful when it takes place far from view. This appears to be something that Blagojevich never understood. Focused more on his internal -- or family -- struggles with the other Dons of Illinois' political "machine," the public (and the organs of government) were completely ignored, except when they served his purpose. What could they do? Like Gary Hart, his arrogance was such that he even challenged the world to record his conversations. Which we did, under the guise of Patrick Fitzgerald's office. So we now hear the things that Rod would say in his own "No spin zone."

The other pols in Illinois' political "machine" are not so visible. They understand that their ability to perpetuate a corrupt system or abuse political power is dependent on keeping their abuse of government out of public view.

But there is Hope! Lt. Governor Pat Quinn, not one of the Dons of Illinois' political "machine," will be elevated upon Blagojevich's impeachment. Quinn is a man universally acknowledged as one free from corruption, clean of the stench of Rod Blagojevich (who wouldn't even return his calls), someone looked at with suspicion by the PTBs of the "machine" here in Illinois -- in part because of Harold Washington brought him into his administration to clean up the notoriously corrupt/inept Revenue Department of the city of Chicago.

Pat Quinn is a man, last I checked, who was the only Illinois politician who has attended every single funeral of a soldier who died in one of the wars in which we were engaged. Time magazine called him "something of a Goody Two-Shoes," a reputation quite difficult to achieve in a state better known for its corruption than its "goo-goos." His distance from the corrupt governor was confirmed by Blagojevich himself:

By most accounts, Quinn hasn't even spoken to Blagojevich — with whom he was twice elected, in 2002 and 2006 — in more than a year. At one point, as Quinn was pressing the governor over taxes and electricity rates, Blagojevich said Quinn was no longer a part of his administration. "Quinn is known as a gadfly," Blagojevich told a radio station last year. "That's one of his charming qualities."

For his part, Quinn said on Meet the Press, "I tried to talk to the governor, but the last time I spoke to him was in August of 2007. I think one of the problems is, the governor did sort of seal himself off from all the statewide officials, [from] attorney general Madigan and myself [to] many others, and that's no way to govern. You have to be able to reach out and touch people and listen."


More to the point, Pat Quinn has not only kept his distance from Blagojevich, but also kept his distance from the family feud inside Illinois' political "machine." Which only leaves him as their next target when Blagojevich is removed.

Quinn has been hard at work preparing for his inevitable elevation to Governor. When it became apparent that Blagojevich would be removed from office, he created the Illinois Reform Commission. Several news reports note that Quinn has been laying the groundwork for a smooth transition. He's promised to do two things that have rankled average people in Illinois, live in the Governor's Mansion in Springfield (Blagojevich wasted hundreds of thousands of dollars flying back and forth from Chicago to Springfield while the Legislature was in session -- which is supposed to last a mere two months) and remove the gigantic signs over Illinois' tollways with Rod Blagojevich's name on them. Quinn called these "a symbol of 'pompous government.'"

The challenge facing Pat Quinn in Illinois is the same one facing Barack Obama in Washington: changing the course of politics in their respective capitols. The impeachment of Rod Blagojevich was not an rising of a public (or government) horrified by Blagojevich's eggregious abuses, but the end-game of a long internal battle for power and control of a corrupted system. Our new governor will have his work cut out for him, and will need all of our support.

One national reporter (and I've forgotten who he was) keeps asking, Why didn't someone say something before Hospital Executive 1 was being extorted for $50,000? The answer is simple: people here in Illinois are so accustomed to the corruption in the state's politics that it doesn't occur to them to speak out about it. Everyone already knows. And speaking out could cost you your job, even in the private sector. The real answer, then, is fear. People are afraid, and Pat Quinn can't change anything about Illinois' politics until he can diminish the fear that average people have about speaking out about the corruption and abuses of power they see regularly in their government.

The smart politicians in Illinois have figured out just where are the fine lines are in ethics and reform laws. And they've figured out numerous ways around them. Blagojevich's rush for money before December 31st was merely another in an attempt to circumvent our good government laws. While one violator may be removed, others remain. Pat Quinn will soon enter the lion's den. With our help, he won't be alone.

You can visit Pat Quinn's websites here:

Campaign Site
Standing Up for Illinois, Office of Lt Governor Pat Quinn
Reform Illinois Now

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