Wednesday, September 30, 2009

GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips - September 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 51,897 such articles and information on many upcoming events to its subscribers' attention each morning, free of charge, and without any advertising. To view the September 30, 2009 GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips, please visit www.gopillinois.com. Thanks

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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips - September 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 51,831 such articles and information on many upcoming events to its subscribers' attention each morning, free of charge, and without any advertising. To view the September 29, 2009 GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips, please visit www.gopillinois.com. Thanks

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Monday, September 28, 2009

Truth about the Cook County Sales Tax

This leaflet was handed out at the recently held Chicago Football Classic on Saturday. In fact they had children hand these leaflets out before game where two HBCU football teams Mississippi Valley State University had defeated Alabama State University 10-3 at Soldier Field. Of course this wasn't the only political activity there on that day as Congressman Danny Davis, Circuit Court Clerk Dorothy Brown, and a woman named Kari K. Steele (from Chicago's Sixth Ward) were seeking petition signatures respective for County Board President and Commissioner on the Water Reclamation District.

Anyway, here's the flyer explaining the purpose of the Cook County sales tax it doesn't seem to advocate for a reduction of it. In fact it seems to want to qwell some of the bellyaching over the fact that Cook County has the highest sales tax in the county.


 
I want to present here another flyer from Bill Beavers asking us if his constituents are willing to pay an extra penny in sales tax. I got this in the mail over the summer. Posted about it on The Sixth Ward.



Well both of these pieces have an agenda one was more informative, perhaps even to quell bellyaching over the county sales tax. The other agenda was to maintain the health care services in the county.

The next question is to ask if you think these pieces were effective?

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GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips - September 28, 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 51,795 such articles and information on many upcoming events to its subscribers' attention each morning, free of charge, and without any advertising. To view the September 28, 2009 GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips, please visit www.gopillinois.com. Thanks

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Sunday, September 27, 2009

GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips - September 27, 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 51,761 such articles and information on many upcoming events to its subscribers' attention each morning, free of charge, and without any advertising. To view the September 27, 2009 GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips, please visit www.gopillinois.com. Thanks

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Saturday, September 26, 2009

GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips - September 26, 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 51,719 such articles and information on many upcoming events to its subscribers' attention each morning, free of charge, and without any advertising. To view the September 26, 2009 GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips, please visit www.gopillinois.com. Thanks

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Friday, September 25, 2009

Illinois Supreme Court Upholds Importance of Elections

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

The Illinois Supreme Court has been busy, and while most of the news coverage has been on wills and religion, sex offenders, and the death penalty, let's not forget another ruling that came down this week. In Gardner v Mullins, a unanimous court ruled that units of government cannot manipulate the length of time an appointee serves in elected office in order to avoid the voters. (download a pdf) We applaud the Court for preserving the integrity of the ballot.

The case arose after the death of an elected member of the Winnebago County Board. Mary Ann Aiello's term was to end on December 6, 2010. Her death on June 26, 2008 cut that short, leaving just over 29 months remaining on her term. According to state law, partial terms of more than 28 months can be filled by appointment only until the next General Election which, in this instance, would have been in November, 2008. The Winnebago County Board, however, did not appoint a successor until two months had elapsed, so that only 27 months remained in the term. That appointee then claimed that he did not have to stand for election until 2010.

The ability to appoint members to elected bodies is one of the more delicate powers given to public officials. The goal is to ensure a modicum of public representation until the voters can voice their desires. Special elections can be costly and generally draw low voter turnout; for many offices, Illinois policy is to allow for interim appointments until the next regular election.

But the power can be and has been abused. Most political observers can cite an instance or three of the swapping of one candidate for another after the primary or the substitution of one official for another after the election, all without asking the voters if they approve of the change. Usually, there is no recourse when the new official lacks credibility, except to wait for the next election.

In this case, the Supreme Court has narrowed the circumstances where a public body can manipulate the process to ensure that a favored person becomes a public official. By ruling that the remaining time on the ballot, which determined how soon voters are consulted, is calculated from the start of the vacancy and not the time of the appointment, the Court has appropriately make clear that voters should be consulted whenever possible, and not merely when convenient for the appointers. The unanimity of the ruling, written by Justice Garman, underscores this important point.

To comment, please visit ICPR's blog.

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GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips - September 25, 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 51,675 such articles and information on many upcoming events to its subscribers' attention each morning, free of charge, and without any advertising. To view the September 25, 2009 GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips, please visit www.gopillinois.com. Thanks

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Thursday, September 24, 2009

GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips - September 24, 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 51,634 such articles and information on many upcoming events to its subscribers' attention each morning, free of charge, and without any advertising. To view the September 24, 2009 GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips, please visit www.gopillinois.com. Thanks

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Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The elusive standard of charitable care

By Bethany Jaeger
The Illinois Supreme Court has to decide which standard to use when considering a highly anticipated case about what not-for-profit hospitals have to do to qualify for local property tax exemptions. While the case specifically deals with Provena Covenant Medical Center in Champaign County, the court decision has potential to affect about 160 nonprofit hospitals throughout Illinois.

We previewed the six-year-old case in the September edition of Illinois Issues magazine. Provena filed for a property tax exemption in 2002 based on its status as a charitable organization, but the Illinois Department of Revenue denied the charitable exemption two years later. The hospital later applied for an exemption based on its status as a religious institution. (See a timeline of the case here.)

Both sides presented oral arguments before the Illinois Supreme Court this morning with drastically different beliefs about what should count when considering charitable exemptions and what evidence the court should consider in deference when determining whether Provena qualifies for that property tax exemption.

On one hand, Provena’s lawyer, Patrick Coffey with Locke, Lord, Bissell & Liddell in Chicago, argued that the justices should undertake a brand new review of whether the denial of the hospital’s charitable exemption violates the state Constitution. The state charter gives the General Assembly authority to exempt “property of the state, units of local government and school districts and property used exclusively for agricultural and horticultural societies, and for school, religious, cemetery and charitable purposes.”

On the other hand, the Illinois Department of Revenue, represented by Assistant Attorney General Evan Siegel, argued that the justices should give deference to the lower administrative orders issued by department director Brian Hamer and affirmed by the 4th District Court of Appeals. The thinking is that the Department of Revenue has expertise in property tax matters and was the authoritative body reviewing evidence provided by 15 witnesses and two experts during administrative hearings, so the court should give a high level of respect to the administrative findings when reviewing the case.

Which standard the court chooses affects how it would consider a 2004 recommendation of an administrative law judge. After the administrative hearings, the administrative law judge found that the hospital met the standard for charitable exemption. Hamer, however, disagreed. He had the final administrative opinion to reject the tax exemption. He deemed some of the evidence irrelevant and decided that Provena didn’t qualify for a tax exemption because it dedicated only 0.7 percent of its revenue that year to providing so-called charity care to 302 patients out of 110,000 patients admitted. “I find that the property does not qualify for the charitable institution tax exemption because the evidence is clear that this property is not used exclusively for charitable purposes,” he wrote.

The two sides further disagree about whether a certain percentage of charitable care should be a deciding factor in its tax-exempt status. Coffey argued that the standard for whether not-for-profit hospitals qualify for property tax exemptions should not be whether the hospitals designate a certain percentage of their income to providing free care to needy patients.

“That has never been the requirement, and it shouldn’t be the requirement,” he said to five of seven justices. Justices Thomas Kilbride of Rock Island and Rita Garman of Danville recused themselves and did not participate in the oral arguments.

Instead, Coffey said the determination should be on a case-by-case basis and should count the hospital’s total contribution to the community. “It’s not out of bounds to consider how much free care was given, but they have also gone beyond.” For instance, Provena operates Crisis Nursery, a 24/7 child abuse prevention and support service and provided more than $13.5 million on such “community benefits” in 2002, according to the hospital’s Supreme Court filing.

Siegel, however, argued that the dominant factor when deciding charitable exemptions is the primary use of the property. He refers to a six-point test established by a 1968 Illinois Supreme Court case Methodist Old Peoples Home v. Bernard Korzen. (Read the six criteria for nonprofit institutions in our September issue.)

“It doesn’t matter whether an organization itself … is a charitable organization,” Siegel said. “What matters on that analysis is whether it is using the property for a charitable purpose.” He added that tax exemptions are granted on an annual basis. “Just because you have it for one year doesn’t mean you have it for every year.”

Justice Robert Thomas asked whether the state expected the court to set a minimum requirement of a certain percentage of charitable care. Siegel said no, that the court already determined in 1907 that a hospital must provide a “substantial amount” of free care. “All the court need do in this case on this critical factor is decide that 0.7 percent revenues in a year that only 302 people out of 110,000 admissions obtained free and discounted care is not substantial.”

In addition to the charitable exemption, the two sides differed about whether the religious exemption should be part of the court’s consideration because of a discrepancy in the record.

Chief Justice Thomas Fitzgerald questioned several times how Hamer could have ruled that Provena did not qualify for a charitable exemption based on its religious affiliation when the administrative law judge never addressed that question. “I’m still puzzled at how the director based his finding upon a statement that wasn’t there.”

“Well, it was mistaken, absolutely,” Siegel responded. “But I believe that he read the [administrative law judge’s] opinion as not giving much weight to the religious exemption.”

Coffey argued that the administrative law judge did not address the religious exemption because she already found that an exemption was warranted as a charitable organization, and Hamer rejected the religious exemption without explanation.

In addition to differing over other details, the two sides predominantly argued that their opponents were trying to change the standard of determining whether hospitals qualify for property tax exemptions.

“Provena [provided] free and reduced care to just 302 patients,” Siegel said. “That’s not a large proportion. The primary use of the property is treatment of patients with insurance. By arguing that 0.7 percent is sufficient, Provena is trying to alter the constitutional standard. And it is for this court, not the legislature, to determine what constitutes a constitutional charitable use.”

Coffey countered that the state is the one trying to base a decision on a standard that has never been used by the court, referring to the use of a certain percentage needed to qualify for a tax exemption. He said a proposal to set a minimum percentage of charitable care should go through the legislative process, not the court system.

It is up to the court to decide which standard to use. Although Justices Kilbride and Garman recused themselves and are not required to disclose their reasons, a majority opinion still requires four justices, according to Joseph Tybor, Illinois Supreme Court spokesman.

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Can a Blog Replace a Whispering Campaign?

by Cal Skinner

The McHenry County Sheriff's race has heated up considerably since former Democratic Party candidate for coroner Dave Bachmann started a blog called


The blog has taken off. As I write this article, 1,623 folks have taken a look, according to what is apparently the first counter installed. 


A second counter popped up yesterday. It has a map feature which shows where readers are located.  You see the nationwide distribution of the last 100 hits above.  I copied it yesterday afternoon.  The concentration of hits is in our area, as you can see below.


Here's what a close-up of readers in the Chicago area looked like yesterday.  The one up top is Milwaukee.  The background is not too sharp, but you can make out Lake Michigan.  The two dots above what looks like a "Hidden Mickey" are in Walworth County.  One guy was on the blog for over two hours, the counting mechanism indicates.

The blog is not laid out like McHenry County Blog.  The latest entries are not on top.  They may be in the middle or at the bottom.  To find what is new, one has to go searching.

As anyone who followed the 2008 race between Bachmann and Marlene Lantz knows, Sheriff Keith Nygren was on his fellow Republican's side. That no love is lost between Bachmann and the two Republicans is blatantly obvious.

How would one characterize Bachmann's effort?

It's satire.  No doubt about that.

Bachmann is using it to even scores.   Bachmann was none too pleased at Nygren's comments to the Northwest Herald about Bachmann's lack of investigative abilities. 

The blog's first substantive post had a photo of what readers were led to believe were items related to some arson crime on a rainy night. One that had not been solved, it seemed.  It was beyond me, but insiders might get more from it.

There are a lot of implications in the blog, but readers have to pretty much draw the inferences.  They are usually not stated directly.

To be sure, the content is over the top on any number of topics.  It even contains some "eye candy."

It reminds me of the whispering campaigns that occur in virtually every campaign of any significance. 

One side tries to get undecided voters to oppose the opponent because of something they dare not put in writing because of the backlash it might occur among those who think the whisperers are just taking part in dirty politics.

But, assuming the charges are amusing, if you aren't the target of the satire, a number of people might be interested in the blog.

Indeed, what I found above shows a number are.

How often does a sheriff get taken on by a citizen?

Maybe that's part of the draw.

As I have stated before, ridicule is the one type of criticism that politicians can't stand.

Who wants to be the butt of Saturday Night Live skits or a Chicago Tribune cut and fold doll or a Chicago Tribune editorial cartoon or another editorial cartoon in the same paper on the same subject or a fake Christmas card.

As I think about what Bachmann has created, it reminds me most of what Saturday Night Live did to Rod Blagojevich and Roland Burris.

Definitely over the top, but funny.

With Bachmann's blog out there, neither of Nygren's opponents has to play the bad guy.

Bachmann is.

Hard to blame Green Party candidate Gus Philpott and Nygren's Republican primary opponent Zane Seipler for what Bachmann does.

Bachmann does link to Seipler's web page and has a supplementary web page entitled

on which he asks readers to send him information at this email address:
RANOFF2MEXICO@AOL.COM
Somehow I don't think Bachmann has enough material to keep this going through the November general election in 2010, but it's going strong now.

Posted first on McHenry County Blog.

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GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips - September 23, 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 51,567 such articles and information on many upcoming events to its subscribers' attention each morning, free of charge, and without any advertising. To view the September 23, 2009 GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips, please visit www.gopillinois.com. Thanks

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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips - September 22, 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 51,529 such articles and information on many upcoming events to its subscribers' attention each morning, free of charge, and without any advertising. To view the September 22, 2009 GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips, please visit www.gopillinois.com. Thanks

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Monday, September 21, 2009

Cindi Canary in the News

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

ICPR Director Cindi Canary is in this week's Crain's Chicago Business with a discussion of Rod Blagojevich's recent book and how it relates to the way that campaign finance reform is playing out. A subscription is required, but here's the link.

And here's an excerpt:

With about 275,000 new book titles published annually in the United States, the odds were that, sooner or later, even Rod Blagojevich would find a publisher.

“The Governor” tells his side of the story, and I’m not buying it—either the book or his fairy tale about the zealous prosecutor out to get him.

Some might ask what Illinois has done to deserve the spectacle of Rod Blagojevich on the talk-show circuit and his wife on a jungle reality show.


And if you were listening to NPR over the weekend, yes, that was Cindi in a rebroadcast of This American Life. The show, which originally aired in 2000, includes a segment with Cindi discussing a situation where "The Fix is In." Download the free podcast here.

To comment, please visit ICPR's blog.

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Manzullo's Health Care Town Hall Meeting


No signs were allowing inside McHenry County College on Sunday for 16th District Congressman Don Manzullo's Town Hall meeting on Health Care, but that didn't stop this motorcycle owner from getting his message across.

The skeleton on back is labeled "Obama Care."
Posted first on McHenry County Blog.

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GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips - September 21, 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 51,498 such articles and information on many upcoming events to its subscribers' attention each morning, free of charge, and without any advertising. To view the September 21, 2009 GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips, please visit www.gopillinois.com. Thanks

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Sunday, September 20, 2009

GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips - September 20, 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 51,466 such articles and information on many upcoming events to its subscribers' attention each morning, free of charge, and without any advertising. To view the September 20, 2009 GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips, please visit www.gopillinois.com. Thanks

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Saturday, September 19, 2009

GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips - September 19, 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 51,419 such articles and information on many upcoming events to its subscribers' attention each morning, free of charge, and without any advertising. To view the September 19, 2009 GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips, please visit www.gopillinois.com. Thanks

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Friday, September 18, 2009

Plan to release 1,000 prisoners unveiled

By Bethany Jaeger
About 1,000 prisoners who committed non-violent crimes will start being released from the Illinois Department of Corrections “within a couple of weeks” as a way to ease overcrowding and budget constraints, according to a plan announced today by department director Michael Randle.

The announcement came with a $4 million boost from the governor’s office. About $2 million of that is slated for so-called mandatory supervised electronic detention, or releasing non-violent drug offenders early from prison and giving them ankle bracelets and parole officers.

Reducing the average daily population by 1,000 could save the agency about $5 million a year, according to Januari Smith, spokeswoman for the corrections department. At one time, it was rumored that the state could release between 5,000 to 10,000 prisoners, which would have included more categories of prisoners than Randle intends to make eligible.

Randle plans to be stricter than state statute by excluding sex offenders, parole violators, inmates with active protective orders and inmates with a history of domestic violence from being eligible for early release. Since 1993, state law has allowed certain nonviolent offenders to be released within 90 days of their parole dates as long as they served home detention, including wearing electronic monitoring devices.

The concept of early release is supported by the John Howard Association, a Chicago-based prison reform group, as well as Treatment Alternatives for Safe Communities. In a statement, president of TASC, Pamela Rodriguez, said: “In our extensive history working with the justice system, we have found that alternatives to incarceration are far more effective ways to reduce crime for the vast majority of non-violent, short-term drug-involved offenders.”

Bill Ryan, a prison reform activist since 1994 and publisher of the prisoner-written newspaper Stateville Speaks, said for my September column for Illinois Issues that he is “definitely in favor” of early release. However, he added, “my concern is that many of the people leaving prison on electronic monitoring will require some sort of supportive services, more than just having an ankle bracelet and a parole officer.”

Dubbed the Illinois Crime Reduction Act of 2009, the other part of the package will dedicate an additional $2 million to community-based services in an attempt to help non-violent drug offenders stay out of jail.

According to the department, the prison population has increased from 18,000 in fiscal year 1986 to nearly 46,000 in fiscal year 2009, much of it attributed to the higher rate of imprisonment for non-violent drug offenders.

Friday’s announcement did not mention layoffs of prison staff, but Smith said 419 prison workers already have received their notices and will be terminated September 30. Gov. Pat Quinn’s administration has said it will have to lay off as many as 1,000 corrections employees because it could not strike an agreement with Council 31 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees to take furlough days or forgo their annual raises. Some prison workers could be eligible to fill vacancies in other prisons.

The amount of overtime hours worked, however, has been increasing and cost the department $37 million two years ago, according to a recent audit. In 2005, the department employed 13,670 people, according to the Illinois Criminal Justice Authority. In August, Smith said the department employed 10,951.

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GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips - September 18, 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 51,360 such articles and information on many upcoming events to its subscribers' attention each morning, free of charge, and without any advertising. To view the September 18, 2009 GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips, please visit www.gopillinois.com. Thanks

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Thursday, September 17, 2009

Super-max prison reforms proposed

By Bethany Jaeger
One of the state’s maximum-security prisons designed to hold the most disruptive and violent offenders has a new set of rules that are intended to give inmates incentives to improve their behavior so they can return to less restrictive facilities.

The new Illinois Department of Corrections director, Michael Randle, issued a 10-step plan for reforming Tamms Correctional Center, which is at the very southwestern tip of the state. It houses an average of 432 men, costing an average of $67,000 each, according to the department. Male prisoners arrive at Tamms if they pose a threat to other inmates, themselves or prison staff. It’s one of six maximum-security prisons in Illinois and is intended for short-term placement until inmates are stable and able to return to the general prison population.

The “supermax” prison has been under scrutiny from human rights advocates and a volunteer group known as Tamms Year Ten for what it deems as prolonged solitary confinement and poor treatment of mentally ill prisoners.

Appointed by Quinn in May to replace former director Roger Walker, Randle was born in Chicago but worked 19 years in the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections, most recently as assistant director. His first assignment in Illinois was to review Tamms.

His 10-step plan announced today in Chicago includes a full mental health evaluation of all Tamms prisoners within 30 days of their arrival. Clinical staff also will make weekly rounds of all areas throughout the prison, not just the mental health unit, to detect whether inmates’ conditions worsen or if they become suicidal.

Another significant change is the new process for reviewing prisoners who are to be transferred from a lower security prison to Tamms. Hearings will be conducted to allow inmates to rebut information that led them to be placed in Tamms, and they would be able to appeal their placement there. All hearings would be recorded.

Other changes include:

  • Inform each inmate of an estimated time they’ll stay at Tamms and how they can earn privileges and eventually transfer out to a less restrictive prison.
  • Enhance incentives for good behavior, including earning the right to use the telephone or spend more time out of their cells.
  • Begin offering General Educational Development testing.
  • Implement congregate religious services for inmates.
  • Rescind some of the restrictions on printed materials.
  • Develop a plan to allow inmates access to a “step down” program, which would help at-risk inmates transition from Tamms to the general prison population.
  • Plan a media, legislative and public outreach program that includes a visit to Tamms.
  • Reexamine the population of inmates having served extensive time at Tamms to see whether they are eligible to transfer out. Some have been at Tamms since it opened in 1998.

Laurie Jo Reynolds, organizer of the Tamms Year Ten grass-roots campaign, says Randle’s reforms move in the right direction. The establishment of a transfer review hearing, for instance, is significant, she said. “Over half the prisoners who are there were not actually convicted of a crime in an Illinois prison, and many of them did not know the reasons for their placement. So this is a welcome reform.”

But she added that the reforms in general don’t go as far as desired in House Bill 2633, sponsored by Rep. Julie Hamos, an Evanston Democrat. (Hamos put the bill on hold in May because Randle recently took over, and she wanted to see what changes he would make.)

Hamos’ bill, as well as Tamms Year Ten, Amnesty International and other mental health advocates in Illinois, have sought an independent monitoring of mental health diagnosis and treatment of the prisoners.

“Our concern is that there are a lot of mentally ill prisoners there who have not been properly diagnosed or treated, and there’s nothing in the plan that would provide a safeguard for those prisoners,” Reynolds said.

According to Randle, who said he hasn’t considered an independent monitor, all staff are trained in recognizing the symptoms of mental illness or other psychological needs on an as-needed basis. “As far as I’m concerned, I don’t think it’s necessary for us to do that,” he said.

Reynolds said she also hoped to see clear criteria outlining reasons for transferring inmates to Tamms, rather than using the current case-by-case approach. She said she continues to work with other advocates and legislators to consider whether legislation should codify the changes so they remain permanent regardless of whether the administration changes.

Randle said he doesn’t know whether legislation would be needed because the changes are happening now and are intended to be permanent. However, he added: “I think it’s important to point out that a lot of this is contingent on the offenders’ behavior. … If the guys behave appropriately and do the right things, certainly these things will continue. If we begin to have issues that come up as a result of this, then certainly we need to be in a position to take a look at these.”

Reynolds said Quinn did a great thing by appointing Randle. “I feel like he is committed to long-term reforms and to changes, which are beneficial to both public safety and to prisoners and to lowering recidivism,” she said. On the other hand, she added, “this list of 10 things could end up being really superficial or they could end up being profound, depending on how they’re implemented. So we can only look forward to dialogue as we go forward.”

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GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips - September 17, 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 51,294 such articles and information on many upcoming events to its subscribers' attention each morning, free of charge, and without any advertising. To view the September 17, 2009 GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips, please visit www.gopillinois.com. Thanks

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Terry Link Asks Help from McHenry County Democrats

by Cal Skinner

Wednesday night Lake County Democratic Party Chairman and State Senator Terry Link went courting McHenry County Democratic Party Chairman and McHenry County Board member Kathy Bergan Schmidt Wednesday night at the McHenry County Farm Bureau building.

Before the above photo, there was a slight bow as Link went up to where Schmidt was putting out goodies for the assembled committeemen and guests. It would have been a classic.

During the meeting Schmidt explained how Link had been helpful to McHenry County Democrats back to when John Bartman chaired the central committeeman.

"I'd like to welcome Cal Skinner.  I never thought I'd live long enough to do that," he said before saying,

"I can actually go back to John McClatchy."


Link explained that he had been Lake County's Democratic Central Committee Chairman for eighteen years.

"We took a very bright red county and made it light blue.  It took a lot of work.  I could not have done it by myself."

Referring to his candidacy for the Democratic Party nomination for lieutenant governor, he said,
"I'm not ready to retire."
He said he would use the position to advance issues across the state the way he had passed the Smoke Free Illinois bill.  He wants the office to advance economic as it does in Indiana.

Link said his re-write of the Workers Compensation law--the first time in 30 years--had pleased both labor and industry so much that both gave him awards for his role of facilitator.

He was extremely proud of getting the Early Voting law passed.  He pointed out that he "carried all election law" bills and had faced House Speaker Mike Madigan down over Early Voting.

"I stood heel to heel with (Madigan).  I told him I wouldn't sign off on (his bills if he wouldn't pass Early Voting)."

Making his pitch to his fellow suburban residents, Link observed,
"We have nobody on this ticket who had announced--and I'm saying 'announced'--who lives outside of Cook County, except me."
Guess Link was referring to the possibility of McHenry County's State Rep. Jack Franks running for governor or some other statewide office.

"I have the experience.  I come from business.  I know what it's like to run a business."

He also pointed out he knew what it was like to live in a rapidly growing county.

"I was born and raised in Lake County.  We have our problems.  We need to have that perspective (at the table).

"I'm asking for your support."

= = = = =
The photos are of State Senator Terry Link.  In the bottom picture, he is talking to Spring Grove's Jeff Thirtyacre.

Posted first on McHenry County Blog.

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Wednesday, September 16, 2009

GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips - September 16, 2009

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Tuesday, September 15, 2009

GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips - September 15, 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 51,176 such articles and information on many upcoming events to its subscribers' attention each morning, free of charge, and without any advertising. To view the September 15, 2009 GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips, please visit www.gopillinois.com. Thanks

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Monday, September 14, 2009

GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips - September 14, 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 50,142 such articles and information on many upcoming events to its subscribers' attention each morning, free of charge, and without any advertising. To view the September 14, 2009 GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips, please visit www.gopillinois.com. Thanks

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Sunday, September 13, 2009

GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips - September 13, 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 50,106 such articles and information on many upcoming events to its subscribers' attention each morning, free of charge, and without any advertising. To view the September 13, 2009 GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips, please visit www.gopillinois.com Thanks

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Saturday, September 12, 2009

GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips - September 12, 2009

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Friday, September 11, 2009

GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips - September 11, 2009

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Thursday, September 10, 2009

No Word from Jack Franks Yet

by Cal Skinner


It's after Labor Day.

That's when McHenry County State Rep. Jack Franks said he was going to decide what he was going to run for.

Will it be governor?

Since Franks is against an income tax hike and Governor Pat Quinn and State Comptroller Dan Hynes are both on record as being in favor of an income tax hike, there is certainly an opportunity there.

A Democrat against an income tax hike?

When I was running against Rod Blagojevich in 2002, he came out against an income tax increase.

And Franks says he's against an income tax hike.

There would be that little matter of feeding the Democratic Party interest groups, however.

And he has just been named a

"Taxpayer Friend"

by Jim Tobin's National Taxpayers United of Illinois.
 
He ranks as high as any Republican!

Or will he run for state representative, the "walk in the park" option?

Or lieutenant governor, an office, he might very well be able to pick off?  But will he be willing to stake his future on a tax hike promising Quinn or Hynes?

He could run for one of the financial offices where he could use his banking background?

In any event, it's past Labor Day.

Folks are waiting in McHenry County.

Vacating the legislative seat could set off quite a primary election among Republicans.  Maybe a Democrat will even file to replace Franks.

= = = = =
In the photo of the Rod Blagojevich Impeachment Committee hearing, State Rep. Jack Franks shakes hands with U.S. Senator Roland Burris after Burris' testimony.

Published first on McHenry County Blog.

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GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips - September 10, 2009

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Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Citizens United, and Citizens' Elections

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

The US Supreme Court today hears oral arguments in Citizens United v FEC. It's an unusual time for the US Supreme Court to hear arguments (their term doesn't start until next month), but Citizens United is not a typical case. The Court heard arguments last Spring in the case and then took the unusual step of asking for additional arguments on issues not raised by the parties. This could be the case where the US Supreme Court takes off on a new activist agenda in the area of campaign finance.

Many have weighed in on the possible outcome, and ICPR signed onto an amicus brief (PDF) urging the Court to consider the impact of their decision on judicial elections. Much of the commentary has focused on the possibility that the Court will strike down a century of jurisprudence that forbids corporations to make campaign donations. But there are a lot of other ways the Court could rule, which also would have a dramatic impact on how campaigns are conducted, and how the public perceives the honesty of the electoral process.

At issue is whether an organization can promote a commercial enterprise during the weeks right before an election, when that commercial enterprise is focused squarely on a candidate in the election. Citizens United produced "Hillary: The Movie," a documentary critical of then-US Sen. and presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, and sought to promote the movie through TV commercials. The movie itself was available on a pay-per-view basis. The FEC objected, finding that the ads to promote the movie violated the electioneering communications provision of the 2002 McCain-Feingold Act.

How far the Court uses this case to strike down portions of McCain-Feingold will indicate how activist the Court has become. The Court could find merely that the FEC was mistaken that the electioneering communications provision covered the ads. (The electioneering communications provision deals with some ads that mention candidates in the 60 days before a General Election) The Court could find that the electioneering communications provision is unconstitutional in some circumstances, or perhaps in all circumstances. At an extreme, the Court could find, as some have predicted, that corporations have a constitutional right to participate in elections by making campaign contributions.

How the Court rules will clearly have a significant impact on how states can ensure the integrity of elections by regulating campaign finances. While striking the prohibition on corporate contributions is indeed the worst case scenario, it would have little impact in Illinois, where corporations can and do already make large (indeed, unlimited) contributions. But Illinois also has an electioneering communications provision and so a ruling in that area will affect Illinois. No matter how the Court rules, states around the nation, including Illinois, will have to take stock of their laws and make changes to assure the public that elections are fair and honest.

To comment, please visit ICPR's blog.

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GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips - September 9, 2009

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Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Chris Kelly pleads guilty to O'Hare scheme

By Bethany Jaeger
Christopher Kelly, a close adviser and fundraiser for former Gov. Rod Blagojevich, pleaded guilty today to two counts of mail fraud in one of three federal indictments against him. But it's unknown whether he's cooperating in the ex-governor's ongoing corruption trial.

Read his plea agreement here. The Burr Ridge resident reports to jail September 18 and will forfeit $450,000 for a scheme of rigging roofing contracts with two major airlines and using illegal kickbacks for personal use. On top of a three-year prison sentence for a separate tax fraud case, his plea Tuesday calls for a nearly five-year sentence.


Kelly pleaded guilty to rigging bids to steer $8.5 million in inflated contracts for roofing work done on American Airlines and United Airline facilities at O’Hare International Airport between 1998 and 2006. The scheme benefited BCI Commercial Roofing Inc. in Markham, of which he is president and owner.

About $1 million of the kickbacks went to repay gambling debts and a home loan, according to the plea. Some of the kickbacks also went to entities associated with Tony Rezko.

Kelly originally was charged with 11 counts of mail fraud and six counts of money laundering for the scheme.


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GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips - September 8, 2009

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Monday, September 07, 2009

GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips - September 7, 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 50,730 such articles and information on many upcoming events to its subscribers' attention each morning, free of charge, and without any advertising. To view the September 7, 2009 GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips, please visit www.gopillinois.com. Thanks

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Sunday, September 06, 2009

Math Impaired Teachers

by Cal Skinner

This will not be the first time I have taken errant folks to task about their inability to calculate percentages.

Remember,

3-16-9 Pam, Pam, Pam

3-14-9 Math-Impaired Liberal Says One Percentage Point Means 1%

2-8-9 Joel Weisman Falsely Frames the Income Tax Hike Issue
Through the whole income tax hike debate proponents have talked about the one or two percentage increase they favored.

Take a look at page ten of this Illinois Federation of Teachers publication called "Insight."

No need to wonder why Chicago school kids don't do well in math. (The IFT has most of its members in the Chicago Public School system.)

Take a look at option one:

Income tax increase

A 1 percent increase would generate
$3.7 billion; a 1.5 percent increase
would raise $5.6 billion, with the local
government match aiding cities and
counties meet serviced needs.

Oh, really.

In Fiscal Year 2008, Illinois collected almost $14.9 billion. One percent times $14.9 billion equals $149 million on my calculator.

And, just to show that the problem goes all the way to the top of the IFT, look at the letter from President Ed Geppert, Jr.

Here's one of his paragraphs:
"So here we stand in 2009. No sustainable revenue plan has been passed in this state for 20 years, and Illinois stands with an $11.5 billion deficit. There truly is no way out of this financial mess without increasing the state’s income tax rate by somewhere between 1 and 2 percent."
Posted first on McHenry County Blog, where lots of Labor Day Weekend articles appear.

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GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips - September 6, 2009

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Saturday, September 05, 2009

GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clps - September 5, 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 50,658 such articles and information on many upcoming events to its subscribers' attention each morning, free of charge, and without any advertising. To view the September 5, 2009 GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips, please visit www.gopillinois.com. Thanks

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Friday, September 04, 2009

UI board of trustees complete

By Bethany Jaeger
After months of being under a cloud of an alleged scandal that led seven trustees to resign, the University of Illinois board of trustees now has all positions filled before its first meeting of the school year.

Gov. Pat Quinn appointed five new trustees this morning, filling a total of seven seats that were vacated. Two trustees refused to resign and remain on the board. The board has been under public scrutiny since June, when The Chicago Tribune exposed a clout-heavy admissions process that favored more than 800 students over some more qualified applicants.


The five new trustees, appointed to six-year terms, are all University of Illinois alumni. They include:

  • Karen Hasara of Springfield (Republican) is a former mayor, state legislator (House and Senate, 1980-1993), local mass transit trustee, circuit court clerk, county board member, real estate executive and teacher.
  • Timothy Koritz of Roscoe (Republican) is an anesthesiologist, a former U.S. Air Force flight surgeon and officer in charge of a space shuttle emergency medical response team.
  • Edward McMillan of Greenville (Republican) is an agribusiness executive. He also is a reappointed trustee. Quinn appointed him in March, but he never received Senate confirmation.
  • Pamela Strobel of Winnetka (Democrat) is an Exelon Corp. executive and lawyer.
  • Carlos Tortolero of Berwyn (Democrat) is founder of the National Museum of Mexican Art and a longtime arts advocate.

They join Christopher Kennedy, a Democrat and Chicago’s Merchandise Mart Properties president, and Orland Park’s Lawrence Oliver II, chief legal counsel for the Boeing Company. He lists himself as an "independent." Quinn appointed them August 26.

Democrats Frances Carroll and James Montgomery remain. Quinn said last week he would not force them to resign because he wanted to avoid a lengthy legal battle over his executive powers to do so. Both were appointed by former Gov. Rod Blagojevich. Frances’ term is set to expire January 2011, Montgomery’s January 2013.

Former federal Judge Abner Mikva, who led Quinn's special panel to investigate the allegations, said yesterday that the governor handled the situation well. “It would be foolish to waste the resources engaging in a long court fight to remove [Trustee Montgomery] and Trustee Carroll. They didn’t do much while they were on the board, so I don’t think they’ll do much harm if they stay another year or two. It just leaves them with two spots that could be filled by better trustees.”

However, Mikva said he anticipated the board’s and the university’s quick and complete recovery.

New trustee Hasara said she did not think Frances’ and Montgomery’s continued service would be an issue. “It’s what it is,” she said this morning. “And I can only believe that they, like the rest of us, have what’s good for the university at heart. And they will cooperate as all the other board members in trying to solve this problem.”

She does expect the job to be a challenge. “But I don’t want to overestimate that challenge. I think that this looks to me like it’s a wonderful board of very, very competent people. And I feel very confident that this board will be able to get this solved and get it behind us because there are so many important things going on that the campuses of the University of Illinois, and no one wants to see something like this drag out.”

McMillan, whom Quinn appointed in March to fill a vacancy, said he attended only a few trustee meetings before resigning at the recommendation of Quinn’s investigative panel. He said he had no angst when the Tribune’s investigation broke because he had no part in the process and was never mentioned as being involved. He resigned but informed Quinn he would like to continue serving on the board if the governor saw fit.

“I’m pleased the governor has the confidence in me to let me continue,” he said this morning.

Going forward, McMillan said he was pleased to see such a diverse group of trustees from various professions and geographies. While having so many new members without a chairperson is going to pose challenges, he said he expects the first few items of business to include electing a new chair, establishing a new code of conduct and developing new ethics standards for the board. Those could be on top of the state and university ethics rules already in place, he sad.

“The most important thing is the university and making sure the integrity of this university and its global, world-class capability and research and education and outreach is reinforced and sustained,” he said, “so there’s no question going forward of, ‘Do we deserve the reputation that we’ve had in the past, and can we earn it in the future?’ I think we’ve all got to form together as a group and make sure we do that.”

The board has 13 members, including the governor and three students. No more than five can be from the same political party. The board oversees the university’s three campuses in Chicago, Champaign-Urbana and Springfield.

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Schools Allowing Opt-Out on Obama's Speech

by Cal Skinner

As I was looking at how various area school districts are coping with President Barack Obama's request to penetrate every school room in America, I was pointed to Carpentersville Unit District 300's message to the public:

"Message from the Superintendent:

"Some D300 teachers and principals are allowing their students to watch President Obama's national address to American school chilren at 11 a.m. Tuesday, Sept. 8.

"The topic is the importance of education and setting/meeting goals.

"Parents who do not want their children to watch this Presidential address can contact their teacher so the teacher may make other arrangements for their children."
It appears that District 300 is allowing parents to opt out of the "opportunity," just as Crystal Lake Grade School District 47 is.

Huntley School District 300, on the other hand, is foregoing the opportunity. Here's what Crystal Lake High School District 155 is doing.

Posted first on McHenry County Blog.

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GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips - September 4, 2009

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Thursday, September 03, 2009

GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips - September 3, 2009

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Hynes challenges Quinn and his tax plan

By Bethany Jaeger
The Democratic primary election between Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn and Comptroller Dan Hynes gained another dynamic Wednesday as Hynes officially announced his candidacy for governor with a proposal to raise the state income tax based on income.


Both political campaigns are staying true to their original slogans that we wrote about during the State Fair. Hynes says Quinn received his job by default after the legislature impeached former Gov. Rod Blagojevich and that Quinn has since failed to implement a consistent and calibrated agenda. Quinn, on the other hand, maintains that Hynes, as comptroller, has stood on the sidelines as a “shrinking violet.”

Before today, however, Hynes had not officially announced where he stood on an income tax increase other than saying the legislature and governor should look to cut spending first. On Wednesday, he announced, first in Chicago then in Springfield, a three-step plan that would rely on various cuts and efficiencies this fiscal year and propose a graduated income tax next fiscal year.

Because the state Constitution specifies Illinois’ income tax rate is a “flat” rate applied evenly to individuals, as well as a separate flat rate applied to businesses, changing the tax structure to a graduated rate would require a constitutional amendment. Hynes said he would want the General Assembly to approve a measure to put the question to voters about whether to change the Constitution in the November 2010 election.

The graduated rate, according to Hynes, would range from the current 3 percent on individuals to a new 7.5 percent, which Hynes said would only apply to individuals who make more than $1 million a year. He would not change the corporate rate. If instituted in January 2011, Hynes said the new tax would generate $5.5 billion to help close the budget deficit his second year in office.

Quinn, in his March budget proposal to the General Assembly, proposed raising the individual income tax rate from 3 percent to 4.5 percent and the corporate rate from 4.8 percent to 7.2 percent, but he would keep the rate “flat,” which would not require a constitutional amendment.

“Rather than taking years to enact through a constitutional amendment, it could have been done quickly through an act of the legislature,” said John Kupper, spokesman for the Taxpayers for Quinn campaign.

Quinn also wanted to triple the personal tax exemption, which he said in March would mean that about half of the state’s taxpayers would pay less, while the other half would pay more than they currently do.

Today, Hynes countered that Quinn would levy a 50 percent higher tax rate on all taxpayers, while his proposal would only increase taxes on those making more than $200,000 a year. “Because of the graduated income tax and the way it is designed, you’re actually going to pay more under Pat Quinn’s plan, even if you make a half a million dollars a year,” Hynes said in Springfield. “That is why his plan is not only inequitable and unfair, but really, wrongheaded and backwards.”

Both Quinn and Hynes use similar language — cut spending before seeking higher taxes — (we quoted Quinn as saying it in June, when budget negotiations hit a stalemate). Quinn cut $1 billion in spending already and said he is working toward another $1 billion as part of the final budget agreement for fiscal year 2010 (the current year).

But Hynes says Quinn’s approach to cutting is across-the-board and, therefore, unfair. Instead, one of Hynes’ cost-cutting proposals is to fire half of Blagojevich’s political employees or appointees making more than $70,000 a year. Hynes said his campaign identified 1,600 such employees through state payroll. Firing half of them, or 800 workers, would save $100 million a year, he said, but it would be up to the governor and his agency directors to determine which half to fire.

Other immediate cost-saving measures proposed by Hynes today include reducing discretionary grants, slashing contracts for advertising, consulting and other professional services and closing so-called tax loopholes by expanding the state sales tax to include such “luxury” services as Botox cosmetic injections, car and truck rentals and membership of private clubs. He’d also borrow $1.5 billion to pay down backlogged bills, which he said would leverage enhanced federal reimbursements temporarily available through the federal stimulus package.

Hynes said those would be the prelude to the second year, when he would then increase the income tax, merge the comptroller’s and treasurer’s offices and create two or three more gaming licenses to open new casinos, among other ideas. (See his proposals here.)

Several of his ideas — instituting a graduated income tax structure, building three new casinos, increasing the sales tax on cigarettes by $1, closing corporate tax breaks and prohibiting the state from rolling over unpaid bills into the next fiscal year — have been proposed within the past few years but have all stalled in the legislature.

In a phone interview shortly after the Springfield event, Hynes said legislators who opposed those ideas in the past might look at them in a different light under the current economic and fiscal circumstances. He added that his leadership style would differ. “I’d like to think that I have the ability to persuade lawmakers that this is the correct path. Part of that is leadership. Part of it is having a clear vision and being consistent, not wavering, not waffling and not changing your opinion, your position and your plan every week.”

Kupper of the Quinn campaign dismissed Hynes’ ideas as playing politics. “In a very real sense, this is a proposal that was put together for the benefit of a political campaign and not a serious effort to address the state’s fiscal problems,” he said. “It’s a lot of rehashed proposals that came right out of the political playbook 101. The question is better addressed to Dan Hynes as to how he is going to enact these things, since he’s pretty much been on the sidelines as these budget issues have been debated.”

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Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Deborah Sims' Suburban Problem

In reality, it shouldn't have been a surprise that Cook County Commissioner Deborah Sims reversed her vote and upheld President Stroger's veto of the recent tax increase repeal. It was a surprise that she ever voted to repeal the tax increase in the first place.

Sims is as loyal to the Strogers as one can be. As a resident of the 5th Cook County Commission district, this would be less distressing if we actually got something from her loyalty. You wouldn't know it unless you drove around the county, but the condition of county property, facilities and roads are much worse in the South Suburbs than in the Western and Northern suburbs.

While this neglect suggests to people that the South Suburbs just doesn't care, it is really evidence of the lack of money spent by county government in the Southland and a massive failure of leadership on the part of those who represent us.

Commissioner Deborah Sims. Commissioner Joan Patricia Murphy.

Deborah Sims can vote with impunity -- or so she believes -- because of several factors. First of all, she doesn't really represent the South Suburbs, she represents her Chicago Wards -- and, specifically, her loyalists are very proud of her residence in the 34th Ward. If Sims can get the votes out of the Chicago Wards and Thornton township, then she wins. Her work -- her neglect of the Southland -- is evidence that she understands this political calculation.

Hence her continued loyalty to Todd Stroger. Thus her neglect of the Southland.

Unlike the Northern and Western suburbs, people in the South Suburbs don't really know who their county commissioners are. We conducted issues canvasses down in the South Suburbs this summer, and while the number of respondants in each county commission district was small (~200), the results were not. Joan Murphy had almost no name recognition in her district and Deborah Sims was only a little better. The numbers aren't statistically significant, because an issues canvass conducted by volunteers via door to door canvassing isn't methodologically sound, but Sims had less than 10% name recognition in the South Suburban doors we knocked. (I'd assume that it was higher in the city.)

There's a good reason for this. In the decade that I've lived in Flossmoor, I've never seen Deborah Sims in the South Suburbs (except for once before at Frank Z's annual summer picnic) until petitions started being passed this year. Over that time, she may have conducted one Southland appearance (probably always in Thornton township) a year. Sims simply doesn't leave the city that often. When she does, she certainly isn't coming to the South Suburbs.

In the place of presence, Sims has built up a culture of fear. Opponents are confronted, with the purpose of beating them down. Pretty standard political tactics for Chicago machine wards. My own experience with Sims' loyalists seems pretty typical. Down in Springfield, for Governor's Day, a Sims' supporter asked me about why the political group I work with had allowed Sims' opponent to speak before the group. "Lies and misleading facts" were being used against the commissioner.

You know me, I'm fairly blunt. "The South Suburbs," I told her, "are getting f*cked and where's Deborah Sims? You can't be surprised that there's a lot of anger out there."

With irony dripping from every word, she replied: "It's those MEN on the county commission. That's why. They don't care about the South Suburbs."

I didn't have the heart to explain to her that it wasn't the job of "those MEN" (I can't properly explain the disgust with which she referred to the male commissioners) to care about the South Suburbs. They don't represent us. They are supposed to care about *their* districts.

I was struck by the admission of failure on the part of Sims' loyalist. The South Suburbs are getting screwed because we don't have effective leadership. The South Suburbs are screwed because our elected leaders can't negotiate effectively with the rest of the board. The South Suburbs are screwed because everybody on the board already knows how she is going to vote.

With the Strogers. The South Suburbs (two thirds of the voters in her district) be damned.

This admission of failure to lead on the county commission is reinforced by her work with Southland representatives in the General Assembly to get state money for South Suburban projects. Deborah Sims is quite proud of her working with our local state reps to bring in money from Springfield. I'm not complaining, but where's the money from Cook County? I pay county taxes, too, and it seems that the only benefits we see down here from Cook County are the politically connected county employees who have two and three county jobs. Many of them appear to work outside of the South Suburbs, so while they may be politically useful, they aren't helping to better *our* communities.

In an environment of fear and an absence of knowledge about who their county representatives are, voters in the South Suburbs may be more willing to consider the recommendations on the palm cards they are given at the polls. Even if both sides wage competitive campaigns and spend real money courting votes, the lack of name recognition on the part of Deborah Sims and Sheila Chalmers-Currin (in the 5th) and Joan Murphy and John Fairman (in the 6th) will be problematic. As Doug Price, one of the few organizers in the South Suburbs, pointed out, voter anger won't know who to direct itself at if voters don't know who is the incumbent.

On the other hand, there's a real possibility that both Sims and Murphy could be outspent in this election cycle. Neither one had much cash on hand in the last report, and both are aware that they face an angry electorate. Conventional wisdom down in the Southland is that neither Sims nor Murphy will get the endorsements of the newspapers. While the unions are generally expected to endorse the incumbents, unless they import workers into the South Suburbs it's hard to imagine that this will have much effect. Local AFSCME members say they expect their union to support Sims and Murphy, but they say they won't vote with their union leadership. They may feel differently if the union has an actual presence down here -- especially if they have to walk by a union member to enter the polls.

We should never forget that political machines -- of all varieties -- are more effective in low-informational races. Whether or not these county commission races are low information is up to opponents. It is the incumbents who benefit otherwise.

In the end, Deborah Sims has to do two contradictory things: have a strong presence in the South Suburbs (especially in Thornton township) and hope that voters don't realize who she is. Todd Stroger won't be successful down here -- John Stroger wouldn't have done that well if Forrest Claypool's campaign had tried to compete in the South Suburbs.

If Democratic reformers want to break the stranglehold that the machine has on the Cook County board, they will have to take over these two seats. Which won't be difficult in this particular political environment. Voters in the South Suburbs are pissed and there is no reason to expect them to be loyal to the machine. Toni Preckwinkle figured this out early, and has found the Southland to be a rich hunting ground. The era of Sims and Murphy is fast fading from the scene...

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