Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Brady unveils recovery plan

By Jamey Dunn

State Sen. Bill Brady, the Republican candidate for governor, laid out his plan for economic recovery today. He and Gov. Pat Quinn agree that job creation is the biggest issue of the campaign and even back some similar proposals. But their disagreements center on what may be the second biggest issue of the race: taxes.

Brady’s plan has four goals. The first is to create a “stable tax environment.”

As he has said before, he wants to repeal the sales tax on gasoline and the estate tax. He also wants to make permanent a research and development tax credit that the General Assembly extended this year.

He estimates that cutting the sales and estate taxes would cost the state $650 million to $1 billion. He says the economic growth those two cuts would spur means they would pay for themselves in a “year or two.” In the meantime, he would have to cut that amount if he wants to uphold his pledge of presenting a plan for a balanced budget to legislators next year.

Brady said discussion of an income tax increase, such as Quinn’s proposed 1-percentage-point hike, creates uncertainty for businesses and may encourage them to leave the state.

Besides pledging not to raise taxes, he wants to offer business a tax credit for hiring new workers. Quinn pitched a similar plan for small businesses, which is currently in effect. Any business with fewer than 50 employees that hires a new employee between July 1, 2010 and June 30, 2011 is eligible for a $2,500 tax credit. The total number of credits that can be doled out is capped at $50 million, enough for 20,000 new jobs.

Brady would offer $3,750 tax credit to all businesses for each new hire; $2,500 in the first year and $1,250 in the second year.

He would also create several panels to help him “engage in long-term strategic planning.” This second part of Brady’s plan includes naming a council of economic advisers and a task force to investigate the economic challenges facing communities on the state’s borders, which would be headed by Jason Plummer, Brady’s running mate.

Brady’s third goal is to make Illinois more competitive with other states. He says he wants to do that by making “significant changes” to the worker’s compensation system in Illinois and capping damages awarded for pain and suffering in medical malpractice cases at $500,000. Although the Illinois Supreme Court has struck down similar caps three times, Brady said he doesn’t think Democrats made a “sincere effort” to draft a bill that would hold up to a constitutional challenge. However, he could not describe what aspects of former bills he would change.

Finally, Brady says he wants to bring “transparency and accountability” to the budgeting process. He has said he cannot provide a detailed budget until after he is governor and can audit the state’s finances. Brady blamed his absence of details on a lack of transparency from the Quinn administration. He said he would appoint a jobs ombudsman to help businesses navigate state regulations. He also wants to prohibit new spending or programs without dedicated funding sources and “measurable” outcomes.

But Quinn said later that there is no money for Brady’s cuts. He said that businesses looking to set up shop in Illinois are most concerned with the quality of the state’s infrastructure and workforce. “I think he’s not being honest with the people running around the state saying he’s going to cut all these taxes. Well, how’s he going to pay for education, health care, public safety and helping our veterans?” Quinn has proposed property tax cuts if his plan for an income tax increases is approved.

Brady said that as a small business owner, he knows what businesses are looking for in Illinois. “I understand the importance of education. I understand the importance of infrastructure. I understand the importance of deregulation.”

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GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips - August 31, 2010

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, Capitol Fax, etc. Since January 1, 2005, GOPUSA ILLINOIS has brought 71,873 such articles and information on many upcoming events to its subscribers' attention each morning, free of charge, and without any advertising. To view the August 31, 2010 GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips, please visit www.gopillinois.com or www.gopusa.com/state-news/IL/. Thanks

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Monday, August 30, 2010

Illinois' race for education funds spurred reforms

By Jamey Dunn


Losing both rounds in the Race to the Top federal grant competition was a frustrating experience, but Illinois is better for having tried, according to state schools Superintendent Christopher Koch.

In the first round of the competition, the U.S. Department of Education doled out $4.35 billion to two states. Illinois placed fifth with a score of 423.8 out of 500. In phase two, 10 states got $3.4 billion, and Illinois was 15th with a score of 426.6.

Koch said the Illinois State Board of Education worked hard to get more school districts and unions to sign on for phase two. The state’s participation levels were criticized in the first phase. (For more on this effort, see Illinois Issues, September 2010, page 13.)

He said some local officials were concerned about allowing the federal government to have too much control over education. Expanding programs based on federal grants that expire was also an issue. Schools were concerned about where the money would come from when the grants ran out.

Koch added it is difficult for Illinois to compete with states that have fewer districts. In some of the winning states, each county is a school district. By comparison, Illinois has 102 counties and 869 school districts. Two of the winners, the District of Columbia and Hawaii, each have just one district. “We have to just sell it to local boards and local school districts and local unions again and again and again. It just requires an awful lot of selling.”

Koch said the schools participating represent 82 percent of students in Illinois.

ISBE officials focused on the areas that lost points on the first round while doing little to change parts of the application that scored well. However, a completely new panel scored the second round. Koch said some of the areas of the application that impressed the judges in the first round failed to do so in the second. “It makes it hard because we were responding to the first application.” He added that because the judges do not compare the states and not all the same judges scored every state, some states had lower participation levels than Illinois but scored higher on that section of the application. “My take on this is that it depends on the team [of judges] you’ve got. … It sort if makes it more like a Race to the Top lottery.”

While the loss was disappointing, Koch said, competing in Race to the Top did spur important reforms that he said would have not happened as quickly on their own, such legislation that requires higher standards for principal certification. “I think that overall, that we are better for having gone through this process. … These are the right reforms.”

Funding for education jobs

Chicago Mayor Richard Daley and U.S. Sen. Richard Durbin announced in Chicago today that the federal government has released $415 million to help save education jobs in Illinois. Officials can begin allocating the money today. Koch called for the General Assembly to appropriate the funds in a special session, but Gov. Pat Quinn has said a special session is unnecessary, so it likely will not happen. Durbin estimates it will save 5,700 education jobs in the state.

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Alexi Giannoulias Fires Up the Vols



On September 28th, volunteers from all over the nation got together to knock on doors on behalf of Democratic candidates. Alexi Giannoulias, Illinois' Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate seat once held by Barack Obama, came to Chicago Heights to talk to its volunteers before heading out the door.

He was introduced by Sen. Toi Hutchinson. Cook County Board of Review Commissioner Brendan Houlihan also joined us.

Volunteers from this location ended up knocking on 1500 doors on Saturday. The enthusiastic send-off by Alexi Giannoulias didn't hurt. It is amazing how well Alexi connects with the volunteers and voters of Illinois. We received a terrific response from voters in reaction to Alexi's candidacy and his focus on jobs for Illinois!

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GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips - August 30, 2010

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, Capitol Fax, etc. Since January 1, 2005, GOPUSA ILLINOIS has brought 71,825 such articles and information on many upcoming events to its subscribers' attention each morning, free of charge, and without any advertising. To view the August 30, 2010 GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips, please visit www.gopillinois.com or www.gopusa.com/state-news/IL/. Thanks

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Sunday, August 29, 2010

GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips - August 29, 2010

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, Capitol Fax, etc. Since January 1, 2005, GOPUSA ILLINOIS has brought 71,768 such articles and information on many upcoming events to its subscribers' attention each morning, free of charge, and without any advertising. To view the August 29, 2010 GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips, please visit www.gopillinois.com or www.gopusa.com/state-news/IL/. Thanks

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Saturday, August 28, 2010

PBS debates and more pics from that Scholz/Hare fundraiser

According to QuincyNews.org, Hare wants two debates. Neither in Quincy, big surprise, and both hosted by PBS. The first picture above is of Dr Jerold Gruebel, the president and CEO of Network Knowledge, at Hare's now famous Quincy fundraiser. The second from Gruebel's bio page.
Network Knowledge a not-for-profit organization headquartered in Springfield, Illinois, and is the community licensee of public television stations WSEC/PBS Springfield, WQEC/PBS Quincy and WMEC/PBS Macomb.
I wonder why Hare chose PBS.

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Sen Hutchinson Speaks on the Passing of Chicago Hghts Mayor Lopez

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GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips - August 28, 2010

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, Capitol Fax, etc. Since January 1, 2005, GOPUSA ILLINOIS has brought 71,696 such articles and information on many upcoming events to its subscribers' attention each morning, free of charge, and without any advertising. To view the August 28, 2010 GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips, please visit www.gopillinois.com or www.gopusa.com/state-news/IL/. Thanks

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Friday, August 27, 2010

Throw the Bums Out

Newsflash: voters are angry. Democrats will try to knock on 200,000 doors tomorrow and I'm betting some of them will be surprised.

I got a glimpse of that today. I was out running errands in my "League of Conservation Voters" shirt -- which almost everyone misreads as "League of Conservative Voters" -- and the check-out lady asks me, "so who do you vote for?"

Now I have to say that I was taken aback. I mean, I don't usually have checkers try to engage me in political discussions and I almost never know what shirt I'm wearing (guy, so who cares what clothes I have on -- I figure I'm lucky when they "match"). But after a momentary pause, I say, "I'm voting Democrat."

And she replies, "I usually vote Democrat, too, but I'm just so frustrated this year."

In one sentence, a nice elderly woman has captured the mood of the electorate here in Illinois.

"when are they going to tell you how they're going to solve all these problems?" she asks.

YES! Now we're on my ground!

"Well," I respond, and then give a brief version of my 'we live in a complex world' speech which always begins the same way: "We've tried all the simple answers, and when those didn't work, we're left with the difficult ones." But what politician is going to tell you that the problems that remain are the ones that earlier politicians couldn't solve because they demand more difficult, and probably more complex, solutions?

Because, you know, politicians avoid telling hard truths like children avoid brushing their teeth or taking their medicine.

Probably for the same reasons.

Now, you want to give away Ice Cream? That always gets a crowd.

Politicians tend to want to be liked. It's part of their genome. So the expectation that a group of people who mostly need to be liked could solve some of the country's most difficult problems -- like unemployment, a sour economy, health care, racism, etc etc -- might be a bit far fetched. You know, if you really think about it.

Which I suspect most people don't.

Don't get me wrong. There are really smart people thinking about solving the challenges we face. One of them, right here in Illinois, ran for an open seat in the Illinois House recently. He talked a lot about issues and how we could go about dealing with some of the greater challenges faced in the state.

And he lost. Which didn't surprise me.

I know of another one who decided to leave the Illinois House this year and run for a different office. When I saw him down in Springfield, I asked if he'd be coming back in the future. "There are other offices where we need your help," mentioning one specifically.

But I'm pretty sure that he got the hell out of Dodge because he was frustrated by the actual pace of change in Illinois' capital. Molasses moves faster. And I know that he's interested in real solutions, in helping real people, not just perpetuating the same ole, same ole down there.

And then there's Toi Hutchinson and Robin Kelly. I'll feign no pretense of objectivity here. I know them both personally, they are very smart women from my little part of the South Suburbs (South of I-80) who care deeply about their jobs in government and how government can help people. Sometimes I wonder if this isn't a novel concept in Illinois.

For their belief that government can and should be used to help people who need its help, both are endangered in the upcoming elections. Here you have two accomplished black women who really believe in government as a force for helping people and they are swimming against the tide of anger that is out there. It's a lot easier to sell a message of fear right now than it is to hype Hope and Change.

Robin Kelly is proud of the work that the Illinois Treasurer's office has done under her leadership (she's Chief of Staff to Illinois Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias). They returned the office to professionals, which meant that they kept the competent Republicans who were brought in by the previous (GOP) Treasurer. But this little bit of professionalism means that Robin's opponent has almost a direct line into what they've accomplished and what her campaign's message would be.

You know, as long as she keeps it positive.

Ah, the moral dilemma of being one of the good guys. Her opponent faces no such qualms. He works for a company that has numerous contracts with state government, and will do very well with one of its own in the Illinois cabinet. Which, no doubt, means that he'll personally profit from his election. Power and money, to boot! Who could want more?

To an outsider, that's what is wrong with Illinois. I used to think that Illinois was just a *lot* more tolerant of corruption, but in the last year or so, it seems to me that Illinois actually prefers the corrupt. Maybe it's just that corrupt politicians are more predictable, leading to that all-important "stable" economic environment. I'm clueless why the electorate would go along with it, but that's Illinois. And we're different!

I know I'm supposed to be proud of that. If I could just wrap my brain around it.

Toi Hutchinson is an appointed state senator, replacing Debbie Halvorson, which means she's facing the voters in her district for the first time. In a normal election cycle, we'd say that Toi had the same odds as a non-incumbent, 50-50. You'd be forgiven if you concluded that they are a little worse this year, given the state of the economy. All the challenges of being an incumbent in a "throw the bums out" election cycle with none of the advantages.

Toi is proud of what she's been able to accomplish in her short term. The Illiana Expressway, which will bring jobs to her district. The re-writing of the law to insure that rape kits actually get tested.

But these women stand for election not only in a piss-poor economic environment, but also standing up against the prevailing winds. You see, they believe in government, that government can be a force in our society FOR GOOD, and that government should act as a check and balance against the free market that isn't exactly particular about who profits from the invisible hand or why. Ok, I'm projecting on that last one. I *think* that they agree with me that government should serve as a greater check against the free market, but you'd have to ask them.

Some people think I have radical views. Wouldn't want to project those on politicians I like.

The thing is that they are pretty much standing alone. Oh, sure, there's Barack Obama, but that's not what I mean. What politicians are out there defending government, acting as if they believe that it can be a force for positive change in people's lives, not "the problem?"

More to the point, who among us is arguing the same thing?

Yep, people are angry, and they can't really count on too many people because we've been deceived into the idiom that "government is the problem, not the solution."

The fact is that the free market won't start producing the "small business" jobs that everyone seems to be waiting for because banks are not really inclined to lend them money. Consumers are being more careful with their money, paying down their debts instead of starting up another widespread spending spree. Would-be entrepreneurs -- at least those who can't start off in their garages -- are thinking about if they want to risk exposure to such a crappy economy.

And the one place that could be creating jobs right now? Oh, we don't want no damn government jobs, because that's just wrong. No one knows why (government salaries get spent, too, and spread far and wide into the economy). They just believe that it does.

Now I'm interested in power. I don't worry too much about the wonky stuff, even in the areas I have some expertise in, because it's not nearly as interesting as *power.* I might be one of the few, because it seems to me that we Americans have no problem ceding power to the invisible hand, but we're almost paranoid about governments exercising power, even when it would make us all better off. That's just silly ideology deceiving us.

As a student of power, I don't want the government to have too much, just as I don't want the market to have too much. But there doesn't seem much chance for the government to gain too much power, because of the knee-jerk response the electorate seems to have when even a little bit of power gets exercise. Like bailing out a crashing market. Or the housing bubble. Etc etc.

But we don't have any trouble with the market exercising too much power. Bernie Madoff? Just an aberration (yeah, right). It's ok because every American wants to get rich. And if a few people (*gag*) get ripped off along the way, well, we take great comfort that the bastard's in jail. The fact that the market doesn't adjust itself -- let alone regulate itself -- is far too easy to ignore when everybody is doing it.

Plus, what are drugs and alcohol for?

Nope, better to be suspicious of the only country-wide institution that could actually help us out of this depression-like economy. Just because.

This is a very powerful country and that power is based extensively on the massive free market economy that serves as its foundation. I understand that nothing that powerful ever wants to be checked, let alone balanced, but it's better for all of us if it is. Power should never be concentrated in one set of hands (no matter how many hands they actually are). No, power should be dispersed, not concentrated, and a powerful free market economy *demands* a powerful government that can regulate and right it. If an amoral force like our free market economy is left unfettered, than the Bernie Madoffs of the world have an open season on all of us. But that's not the point.

The point is that voters are angry, and part of their anger is that they feel abandoned. The economy stinks and they think that there is no one there to help them out. Keynesians would argue that this is exactly when the government should be going all out to right the economic ship of state. But Keynesians soiled their argument by overspending during the years of plenty and not paying down the debts incurred during the years of want.

Yep, voters are angry and we're just not taking their concerns seriously. I mean, COME ON! Tell me a single politician's plan for reviving the economy and creating jobs that is not only credible (seems like it could work) AND gets paid for at some point in time? Maybe I missed one.

I have to say that I do get a kick, though, out of the people that keep demanding that Barack Obama get a backbone because at least he's making an effort at the argument. Yes, the president thinks government can be a force for Hope and Change in our country, he really does. But, in the end, he might be one of the few who does. And like Robin Kelly and Toi Hutchinson, he's standing against hurricane-force winds. The only way to withstand that force is to stand together. There aren't enough people, it seems to me, willing to join 'em.

Voters have every reason to be angry at all of us. The easy answers have been tried. The one's that remain are real bitches. Just like FDR in the great depression, we got to start trying things and, when those fail, try some more. Except that FDR didn't have a sceptical electorate who had been "trained" to think of government as the problem. And that's where we got to start. Change starts by changing minds. It's really the only hope that good government types like Robin Kelly and Toi Hutchinson have.

Tomorrow, Democrats want to knock on 200,000 doors across the country. Some of the canvassers are going to be in for a rude awakening. But, then, some people who open their doors to us will be, as well. But it's a conversation that we have to have. This is our moment. This is our time. And we *are* the change we've been waiting for. I heard that somewhere...

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GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips - August 27, 2010

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, Capitol Fax, etc. Since January 1, 2005, GOPUSA ILLINOIS has brought 71,635 such articles and information on many upcoming events to its subscribers' attention each morning, free of charge, and without any advertising. To view the August 27, 2010 GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips, please visit www.gopillinois.com or www.gopusa.com/state-news/IL/. Thanks

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Thursday, August 26, 2010

Tax cuts don't add up

By Jamey Dunn

Gov. Pat Quinn has incorporated a new component to his proposal for the state budget: property tax relief.

Quinn’s original budget proposal included a 1-percentage-point income tax increase, which he said would go wholly to fund education. At the time, the governor was proposing a $1.3 billion cut to education as the only alternative to the tax, which he said would be necessary to replace federal stimulus funds that will not be coming this fiscal year. Quinn’s budget office estimated the tax increase would bring in $2.8 billion. Some of the money was also meant to go toward paying down the millions in overdue bills the state owes schools.

Quinn has been bringing up the point for months that cutting school funding could lead to higher property taxes. “If you don’t have the state fully supporting education the way it should, local property taxes go up. That’s a[n] iron law. That happens. If the state doesn’t pay for schools, then local property taxes end up paying for schools,” Quinn said at a Chicago news conference.

When pressed by reporters on the issue yesterday, Quinn said he would require local school districts to cut property taxes if his so-called “surcharge for education” income tax increase passed.

Today, Quinn emphasized a concept that is not new. “I think, from my viewpoint, we’ve got to reduce reliance on property taxes to fund education in Illinois. That is an imperative if we want to have a stronger economy and have better education. The state of Illinois, according to our Constitution, has the primary responsibility for funding schools.”

The idea that education should be funded predominately by state dollars and not local property taxes has long been a topic of debate. It was the thrust of the Senate Bill 750 plan, which the tax increase that passed in the Senate last year was based upon. However, that plan, which stalled in the House, includes a 2-percentage-point income tax increase and broadening sales tax to include some services.

Here is how Quinn explains his plan: “What I would envision is, the amount of money that the school districts get, additional new money from the state, a portion of that would be abated in property tax abatements — reductions — to the families and businesses and farmers of Illinois. … If you get additional new money from Springfield, from the state government, then I think part of the bargain has to be that the local school districts at least roll back a portion of their property taxes. … They end up getting more money. … They’ll get more money for education, and the taxpayers will get lower property taxes.”

But Quinn’s plan is scaled back on the revenue side. Promising more funding for education and a cut in taxes during an unprecedented budget deficit while facing a huge stack of unpaid bills may be unrealistic. Quinn’s proposed income tax increase would barely make a dent in the estimated $13 billion budget deficit.

Quinn’s Republican opponent in the governor’s race, Sen. Bill Brady, has claimed that he can balance the budget in one year, while avoiding mass teacher layoffs and property tax hikes. His plan also includes a billion dollars in tax cuts.

Kent Redfield, an emeritus professor at the University of Illinois Springfield and director of the Sunshine Project, a nonprofit campaign contribution database connected to the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform, doubts that large tax reductions will come if Brady is elected. “We’re not going to have a huge tax cut because we will have a Democratic Senate. And we can’t afford it anyway.”

Requests to Quinn’s budget office for more specifics on his proposal were met with referral back to tape of the news conference that Quinn held in Chicago earlier today, where he took questions on the plan but did not get into the numbers.

While proposals to cut taxes may play well on the campaign trails for both candidates, it appears that the money for such plans is just not there — even with an income tax increase. The state’s budget gap is just too big.

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Blagojevich retrial expected in January

Gov. Rod Blagojevich will not face a retrial on corruption charges until January. His brother, Robert Blagojevich, will not face another trial at all.

Federal prosecutors dropped the four corruption counts against Robert that stemmed from four months he spent heading up his brother’s fundraising efforts in 2008.

Robert testified during the first trial, but the former governor did not. The jury was unable to reach agreement on any of the counts against Robert. Members of the jury have since told reporters they think he got caught up in an ongoing scheme and may not have intended to break the law.

Judge James Zagel said he plans to set a trial date for the former governor to begin no earlier than January 4. Blagojevich was convicted on one count of lying to federal agents, but the jury was unable to reach a unanimous decision on 23 other charges.

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GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips - August 26, 2010

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, Capitol Fax, etc. Since January 1, 2005, GOPUSA ILLINOIS has brought 71,586 such articles and information on many upcoming events to its subscribers' attention each morning, free of charge, and without any advertising. To view the August 26, 2010 GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips, please visit www.gopillinois.com or www.gopusa.com/state-news/IL/. Thanks

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Wednesday, August 25, 2010

GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips - August 25, 2010

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, Capitol Fax, etc. Since January 1, 2005, GOPUSA ILLINOIS has brought 71,463 such articles and information on many upcoming events to its subscribers' attention each morning, free of charge, and without any advertising. To view the August 25, 2010 GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips, please visit www.gopillinois.com or www.gopusa.com/state-news/IL/. Thanks

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Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Illinois loses out on Race to the Top funds

By Jamey Dunn

Illinois has lost its bid for a potential $400 million in federal education funding.

The U.S. Department of Education announced the 10 winners in the final round of the competitive grant program Race to the Top, and Illinois was not on the list. The District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, and Rhode Island will split $3.4 billion.

Illinois went on to compete in the second round of the program after failing to win any funding in the first phase. In that round, Illinois ranked fifth out of 41 applicants, but only the top two states, Tennessee and Delaware, received grants.

State Superintendent Chris Koch said that Illinois made improvements to its application for phase two based on the phase one review process. He said one of the biggest hurdles the state faced was getting districts and teachers' unions to sign on. “It is hard for Illinois, given the number of districts that we have.” (For more on the phase two application process, see the upcoming September issue of Illinois Issues.)

Koch said the competition did spur some important changes in Illinois, such as legislation to increase the number of charter schools in the state, revamp teacher assessments and update administrator training programs. “We do feel the state of Illinois is better for having gone though this process,” he said.

When the Department of Education releases Illinois' reviewed application tomorrow, the State Board of Education will get a better idea of why its bid did not win.

Koch said the state education budget was not planned around getting the grant, and he still hopes to implement many of the ideas included in the state’s Race to the Top application. But some programs may be scaled back and will take much longer to roll out, since there are few education dollars to go around.

However, there is hope for Illinois that another phase of federal grants could be on the horizon.

"We had many more competitive applications than money to fund them in this round,” U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said in a written release. “We're very hopeful there will be a Phase Three of Race to the Top and have requested $1.35 billion in next year's budget. In the meantime, we will partner with each and every state that applied to help them find ways to carry out the bold reforms they've proposed in their applications.”

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Quinn names new chief of staff

By Jamey Dunn

Amid continuing controversy over the circumstances surrounding the resignation of his former top aide, Gov. Pat Quinn named a new chief of staff today.

Quinn tapped Michelle Saddler, who has been secretary of the Department of Human Services since last October. Prior to then, she served as director of policy for Quinn. Grace Hou, who was the Department of Human Services assistant secretary, now serves as the agency’s acting secretary.

Quinn's former chief of staff Jerry Stermer resigned unexpectedly on Sunday. He said he was stepping down after the Chicago Sun-Times reported on an internal probe into campaign-related emails sent from Stermer's state account. Stermer sent three such emails and later reported himself to Quinn’s inspector general, James Wright. Wright issued a report recommending that Attorney General Lisa Madigan file a complaint against Stermer before the state Executive Ethics Commission. A member of Quinn’s staff notified Wright that he was being replaced on the same day he turned in his report.

At the Chicago news conference held to announce Saddler’s appointment, Quinn adamantly denied allegations that there was a connection between the report and the decision to replace Wright. “It is false. It has not a shred of truth.” He said Wright was given notice in the morning on August 13, and that he was not aware that Wright’s report had been issued until that evening.

Quinn said his office had been looking for a new inspector general since March and had interviewed Wright’s replacement, Ricardo Meza, in late June.

“I don’t think [Wright] labored under any assumption that I was going to reappoint him. I, for more than a year, was looking for a replacement,” Quinn said. Wright told the Sun-Times that he did not know Quinn’s reasons for replacing him.

Quinn said he does not interfere with his inspector general’s work and had only met Wright once. “I keep total distance from that office. … I do not interfere in any way shape or form with the office of inspector general. Never have. Never will.”

Stermer likely faced a suspension for his relatively minor ethics violations, according to Quinn. But instead, he opted to resign after the report was leaked to the press. “I feel very badly for Jerry because he is an exemplary public servant. He made a couple of mistakes. … He was willing to take whatever discipline would be administered.”

Quinn called Saddler a “committed idealistic person” who is “hard working” and “honest.”

“I am me,” said Saddler, who also worked for Quinn when he was state treasurer. “I bring all the strengths and shortcomings that a person might have, but I work hard. I believe in honesty all the way. And I believe in partnership. So I look forward to a continued partnership with our legislators, our employees, our providers and our advocacy groups. And of course with all our state agencies and Gov. Quinn.”

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GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips - August 24, 2010

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, Capitol Fax, etc. Since January 1, 2005, GOPUSA ILLINOIS has brought 71,396 such articles and information on many upcoming events to its subscribers' attention each morning, free of charge, and without any advertising. To view the August 24, 2010 GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips, please visit www.gopillinois.com or www.gopusa.com/state-news/IL/. Thanks

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Monday, August 23, 2010

Quinn takes hits on exit of top staff member

By Jamey Dunn

State Sen. Bill Brady, the Republican candidate for governor, took a shot today at Gov. Pat Quinn over the exit of one of his top staff members.

The Chicago Sun-Times reported Quinn’s chief of staff, Jerry Stermer, resigned after the newspaper posed questions about Stermer sending campaign related emails from his government email account.

It is illegal for public employees in Illinois to handle political tasks on the job or use state resources for campaigning.

Stermer, the former president of the advocacy group Voices for Illinois Children, said in a written statement: “Last year, I inadvertently used my state email account to send three emails that the Office of Executive Inspector General (OEIG) later found to be prohibited under the state's Ethics Act. While my intention was not to do anything wrong, I recognized that a mistake was made and quickly disclosed this information to the Governor's Ethics Officer -- a former Assistant U.S. Attorney -- who recommended that I provide the information to the OEIG for appropriate investigation. I voluntarily provided the information to the OEIG for investigation, and made it clear that I was prepared to accept the consequences for my mistakes.”

According to the Sun-Times, the governor removed Inspector General James Wright on August 13, the same day he was briefed on a report from Wright recommending that Attorney General Lisa Madigan file a complaint against Stermer before the state Executive Ethics Commission.

Brady responded with a statement today. “This is yet another stunning report involving the administration of Governor Pat Quinn. Today’s revelation suggests that on the very day Pat Quinn was confronted with evidence by the Inspector General of an ethics violation, Pat Quinn put his political interests before citizens yet again and fired the Inspector General himself.

But the Quinn administration claims the report and the replacement of Wright, who was appointed by Former Gov. Rod Blagojevich, were not linked. “Ricardo Meza was appointed by Governor Quinn to head the Office of the Executive Inspector General on August 15, 2010 after a lengthy search process, which began in the Summer of 2009. Ricardo Meza replaced an Inspector General appointed by the previous administration whose term expired in 2008. The replacement was not in response to this or any other specific OEIG report, and these events are in no way connected,” a statement from the governor’s office said.

Kent Redfield,an emeritus professor at the University of Illinois Springfield and director of the Sunshine Project, a nonprofit campaign contribution database connected to the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform, said it would be more useful to Brady’s campaign to frame it as an issue with Quinn’s managerial skills than his ethics. “It’s much easier to make the case that Quinn is incompetent [than corrupt.] … That Quinn’s a nice person but he isn’t up to the job is an easier sell.”

Redfield said Stermer’s offense seemed “minor,” and he was surprised that Quinn thought they warranted a resignation. However, he said: “In this day in age, because everybody believes that everybody is corrupt, you have to bend over backwards not to create this situation.”

Stermer’s departure, along with the losses of other key staff members, might make voters consider whether Quinn’s employees have confidence in their boss’ ability to win the general election, Redfield said. “It certainly is curious, and it is just one more thing that the governor doesn’t need at this point. … At some point, people are going to ask whether this is a rats-deserting-the-sinking-ship sort of thing.”

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GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips - August 23, 2010

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, Capitol Fax, etc. Since January 1, 2005, GOPUSA ILLINOIS has brought 71,343 such articles and information on many upcoming events to its subscribers' attention each morning, free of charge, and without any advertising. To view the August 23, 2010 GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips, please visit www.gopillinois.com or www.gopusa.com/state-news/IL/. Thanks

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Sunday, August 22, 2010

GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips - August 22, 2010

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, Capitol Fax, etc. Since January 1, 2005, GOPUSA ILLINOIS has brought71,271 such articles and information on many upcoming events to its subscribers' attention each morning, free of charge, and without any advertising. To view the August 22, 2010 GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips, please visit www.gopillinois.com or www.gopusa.com/state-news/IL/. Thanks

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Saturday, August 21, 2010

GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips - August 21, 2010

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, Capitol Fax, etc. Since January 1, 2005, GOPUSA ILLINOIS has brought 71,204 such articles and information on many upcoming events to its subscribers' attention each morning, free of charge, and without any advertising. To view the August 21, 2010 GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips, please visit www.gopillinois.com or www.gopusa.com/state-news/IL/. Thanks

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Friday, August 20, 2010

GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips - August 20, 2010

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, Capitol Fax, etc. Since January 1, 2005, GOPUSA ILLINOIS has brought 71,114 such articles and information on many upcoming events to its subscribers' attention each morning, free of charge, and without any advertising. To view the August 20, 2010 GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips, please visit www.gopillinois.com or www.gopusa.com/state-news/IL/. Thanks

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Thursday, August 19, 2010

GOPUSA ILINOIS Daily Clips - August 19, 2010

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, Capitol Fax, etc. Since January 1, 2005, GOPUSA ILLINOIS has brought 71,042 such articles and information on many upcoming events to its subscribers' attention each morning, free of charge, and without any advertising. To view the August 19, 2010 GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips, please visit www.gopillinois.com or www.gopusa.com/state-news/IL/. Thanks

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Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Quinn and Brady vague on the budget

By Jamey Dunn

Both Gov. Pat Quinn and his Republican opponent, state Sen. Bill Brady, have yet to publicly spell out all the details of their plans for the state budget.

Quinn claims he has made about $3 billion in cuts during his time in office, and Brady said he plans to cut a “dime on every dollar of government spending.

“We’ve cut the budget this fiscal year by $1.4 billion. We have laid out the exact blueprint,” Quinn said.

Republicans have called on Quinn
in the past to produce a list of his cuts, but he has not obliged. When Quinn laid out agency cuts at the beginning of the 2011 fiscal year, he said the budget was a moving target. He issued new budget numbers for agencies this month.

David Comerford, a spokesman for the Illinois Federation of Teachers, describes Quinn’s plan as “built on quicksand.” He says Quinn must do more to reassure school superintendents that the $415 million that Illinois is set to receive from the federal government to help save education jobs will be spent to bring back teachers who got pink slips in the spring.

Quinn said of the federal funding: “Primarily it is for our K-12. However our education budget in Illinois, it’s somewhat seamless. … In a lot of ways, when we get help from Washington [D.C.] for our grammar schools and high schools, that does help us in other parts of our education budget.”

Comerford said there is still uncertainty surrounding the governor’s budget, and administrators will not know what their budgets will look like until Quinn makes his intentions clear. “We’d like to see people hired back. That’s why this was passed. Certainly a comment like that doesn’t help that situation,” he said in response to Quinn’s statement.

State Superintendent Christopher Koch says a special legislative session will be needed to dole out the money, but Quinn disagrees.

“I think people have a choice. They have a governor who tells the truth before the election. ... The other guy just wants to tell a bunch of fairy tales and raise your taxes, especially your property taxes after the election.”

Meanwhile, Brady has done next to nothing to inform voters of his specific intentions for the budget. He said he can’t build his plan unless he is in the governor’s office with the access to fiscal information and staff that the position entails. “I know we’re going to cut a dime on every dollar. … I don’t have the professionals in place to fully analyze the highest priorities.”

Brady said Quinn has limited access to budget information. “The lack of transparency from this insider government is creating an environment that — you can’t give specifics to those details.”
He has claimed to be able to balance the budget in a year without a tax increase while avoiding massive layoffs in education. That task could prove difficult, since education costs make up about a quarter of all state spending. He said he would consider cutting entire programs and that every state program is on the table for such cuts. “I will demand of every agency to come back with a budget of 90 percent. Show us what your priorities are within that 90 percent,” he said.

While neither candidate has presented a specific plan, that doesn’t stop them from taking jabs at each other's stance on the budget.

Brady said Quinn’s proposal to increase the state income tax from 3 percent to 4 percent would seriously damage the state’s economy and that the governor’s policies have chased jobs and tax revenues out of the state. “The Quinn government has been spending money we don’t have. We need a fiscal conservative to step into state government and live within our means.”

Quinn said failing to pass an income tax increase and making the kind of cuts to education that he says would be necessary under Brady’s plan would result in increased property taxes on the local level. “He doesn’t want to tell people what his budget plan is. We know what it is. It’s to wreck education, wreck health care, wreck public safety and harm the people of Illinois.”

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GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips - August 18, 2010

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, Capitol Fax, etc. Since January 1, 2005, GOPUSA ILLINOIS has brought 70,920 such articles and information on many upcoming events to its subscribers' attention each morning, free of charge, and without any advertising. To view the August 18, 2010 GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips, please visit www.gopillinois.com or www.gopusa.com/state-news/IL/. Thanks

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Tuesday, August 17, 2010

As Blagojevich celebrates, prosecutors plan

By Jamey Dunn

While Rod Blagojevich and his legal team seemed to celebrate a victory almost akin to an acquittal, federal prosecutors did not hesitate in getting the ball rolling on another corruption trial for the former governor. U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald said a hearing to set a new trial date is scheduled for Aug. 26.

The jury did find Blagojevich guilty on the charge of lying to federal agents. The count alleges he made a false statement to FBI agents in 2005 ,when he told them that he kept his role as governor and his fundraising enterprises completely separate, saying he kept a “firewall” between the two.

However, jurors did not come to a conclusion on the 23 other counts, including those connected to Blagojevich allegedly attempting to sell Barack Obama’s former U.S. Senate seat and holding up funding for a children's hospital and a school to gain personal benefit.

Jurors also couldn’t agree on the four corruption charges that Blagojevich’s brother, Robert, faced stemming from his time heading the former governor’s fundraising efforts.

I didn’t let you down. The jury has shown that the government couldn’t prove that I did anything wrong,” Rod Blagojevich said at a courthouse news conference. Blagojevich accused the prosecution of persecuting him since his arrest last December and called the felony charge he was convicted on “nebulous.” He said he plans to appeal the convictions.

Blagojevich’s father-and-son legal team, Sam Adam and Sam Adam Jr., both took personal responsibility for the single conviction ,saying it was a result of their showings as lawyers, not Blagojevich’s guilt.

Sam Adam Jr. said that the verdict proved a claim he had made early in the trial. “You are going to find out that he is a fundamentally non-corrupt individual. He is not corruptible.”

Adam went on to say that a retrial would be a waste of taxpayers' money and that prosecutors should instead give “the money that [they] would spend on a retrial … back to the people of Illinois.”

Republicans — who will likely revisit the trial and verdict throughout their campaigns for the November general election — were quick to respond by issuing a flurry of statements.

“While we hoped this decision would mark the end of an unfortunate chapter and put this embarrassing episode behind us, today’s conviction of Rod Blagojevich for lying to federal law enforcement officials will likely result in further action in the pursuit of justice. But one thing is clear: The people of Illinois are rightly frustrated about the unchecked power of politicians like Rod Blagojevich who put the special interests before taxpayers. This important election in November marks the single best opportunity in our lifetime to finally clean house in Springfield,” Sen. Bill Brady, Republican candidate for governor said in a written statement.

However, Gov. Pat Quinn was a little slower to give his thoughts. After canceling two public events at the Illinois State Fair, he held a news conference late in the evening and called for unity.

“Whatever your party, whatever you region, whatever your beliefs, we are Illinoisans and we are all Americans.”

Quinn added: “Clearly today is a sad day for our state. Another former governor was convicted of a felony by a jury of 12 men and women, good and true.”

He declined to discuss the other counts against Blagojevich, saying they still had to be decided by a jury. After giving his statement, Quinn started to walk toward his office as reporters shouted questions. He then seemed to reconsider and returned to the lectern.

When asked if he had any culpability in Blagojevich’s alleged corruption because he ran for reelection with Blagojevich after rumors of wrongdoing had surfaced, Quinn said: “When I saw something that wasn’t right, I decided to go for the power of recall. … I think that is the best way to deal with an issue that we saw in government. If there is a situation where the voters feel an incumbent is not keeping true to the public, then there ought to be a way for the public to act.”

Political scientists and Statehouse watchers took a long view, saying Blagojevich should not be treating the verdict as a victory and that the system worked — at least to some degree.

“It is serious. It’s a felony. … He’ll probably lose his law license. He’s going to jail,” said Kent Redfield, an emeritus professor at the University of Illinois Springfield and director of the Sunshine Project, a nonprofit campaign contribution database connected to the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform.

Charlie Wheeler, longtime Statehouse reporter for the Chicago Sun-Times and current director of the Public Affairs Reporting program at the University of Illinois at Springfield, said until the jury talks to the media, it is too early to speculate on what the outcome may mean or on the odds of conviction in a retrial. “The only thing on which there is any clarity is the fact that 12 people decided that he did lie to federal agents. … It’s only a [Blagojevich] victory in the sense that [he hasn’t] lost yet.”

(Note: Juror's reportedly left the courthouse today without making statements. For some insight on the jurors' deliberation, see the Chicago News Cooperative, Chicago Tribune and the Chicago Sun-Times' Blago Blog, which are reporting on jurors' early statements. )

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GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips - August 17, 2010

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, Capitol Fax, etc. Since January 1, 2005, GOPUSA ILLINOIS has brought 70,844 such articles and information on many upcoming events to its subscribers' attention each morning, free of charge, and without any advertising. To view the August 17, 2010 GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips, please visit www.gopillinois.com or www.gopusa.com/state-news/IL/. Thanks

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Monday, August 16, 2010

Quinn approves tax amnesty

By Jamey Dunn

Gov. Pat Quinn signed Senate Bill 377, which creates a so-called tax amnesty period (at the bottom of the linked post) from October 1 to November 8. Anyone owing the state back taxes from 2002 to 2009 can pay them during that period without penalties or interest.

Quinn came around to the plan after voicing some reservations during the early days of spring legislative session.

State agencies would also be allowed to enter into deferred payment agreements to settle debts at no less than 80 percent of the amount due and use private debt collection agencies to obtain owed money. The plan could bring in an estimated $250 million.

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'MGT Push' report may spur legislation

By Jamey Dunn

After a scathing report from a panel he appointed to look into the controversial “Meritorious Good Time Push (MGT Push) program,” Gov. Pat Quinn faces renewed prompting to clean up early prison release initiatives.

The Associated Press reported in December that the Illinois Department of Corrections (DoC) was applying “good time” credit to prisoners’ sentences as soon as they began serving them, allowing some to walk free after as few as 11 days. The department previously had a longstanding policy that required prisoners to serve at least 61 days before they could receive discretionary early release credit.

Once the escalated version of the program made news, Quinn put an end to it and asked Judge David Erickson to work with his staff to present recommendations for reform. Quinn said he would not reinstate the longstanding Meritorious Good Time program, with its 61-day waiting period, until changes are put in place. “I have suspended all of the meritorious good time until everything is corrected along the lines of what the judge has recommended,” Quinn said at a Chicago news conference.

The panel’s report, which charges the DoC with taking a flawed program and making it worse, will likely affect the governor’s race, as well as spur legislation during the General Assembly's November veto session. “These problems at the Department of Corrections are systemic, they’re longstanding, there’s lots of flaws, they need to be corrected. And I’m going to do that,” Quinn said.

The report first lays out all the factors that should be considered in an early release program:

Statutory early-release programs — such as the Illinois program that awards good conduct
credit for meritorious service — represent an effort on the part of the legislative and executive branches to balance a multitude of objectives, including: (1) ensuring that offenders are adequately punished for their offenses; (2) effectively deterring offenders and would-be offenders from committing offenses; (3) respecting the rights of crime victims; (4) incentivizing incarcerated offenders toward good conduct in prison and rehabilitation; and (5) enabling prison officials to manage inmate populations by addressing legal, operational, and financial concerns associated with prison overcrowding.


It then goes on to describe how the “MGT Push” plan was only geared toward saving money and failed to address some of the most important considerations associated with early release. “The MGT Push program was a mistake. Although focused on reducing costs during a fiscal crisis, it failed to accomplish the overriding goals of the State’s Code of Corrections: protecting the public’s safety and restoring inmates to useful citizenship.”

“MGT Push” resulted in 1,745 inmates being released before the usual 61 days. On average, they served 36 fewer days than they would have under 61-day policy. The DoC estimated that “MGT Push” could save $3.4 million annually.

The report made several recommendations:

  • The legislature should give the DoC the power to revoke “Meritorious Good Time” credit, so it would become a stronger incentive for good behavior. If a prisoner caused problems, the DoC could reduce or take away his or her early release time.
  • The legislature should further restrict which offenses make a prisoner ineligible for good time credit.
  • Prisoners should have more access to education and rehabilitation programs that “facilitate their reentry into society and restore them to useful citizenship.”
  • The DoC should create a consistent method to award good prisoners credit for their sentences and determine what education and reentry help they need.
  • The DoC should release an annual report on the program and streamline communication with local law enforcement jurisdictions to more easily notify them of early releases and get information about prisoners.
  • The DoC should update its computer and database system.
Upgrading the computer system and Quinn’s backing of DoC Director Michael Randle have become points of contention in the governor's race between the Democrat Quinn, who is seeking election to a full term, and state Sen. Bill Brady, the Republican nominee.

Quinn said he wants to direct capital funding to a new DoC computer system and accuses Brady of blocking such efforts. Quinn blamed the aging computer system when the Associated Press uncovered documents showing the state had lost track of more than 50 parolees who were let out of prison early under “MGT Push.”

Brady spokesperson Patty Schuh said Quinn has the power to fund such a project without legislative approval. “He has more money in discretionary (capital) funding than any governor in the history of the state of Illinois and has more (budgeting) power than any governor in the history of Illinois.” Schuh said it was irresponsible of Quinn to release inmates early if he knew the computer system was out of date.

Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno, a Lemont Republican, released a statement saying that Quinn never proposed upgrades to the DoC computers during negotiations with legislative leaders over a capital spending bill. "To suggest that legislators of either party have somehow prevented him from upgrading the prisoner tracking system at the Department of Corrections is just not true.”

Brady has also renewed calls for Quinn to fire Randle, who Quinn said released violent offenders early without his knowledge.

Quinn acknowledged that he considered letting Randle go but has decided that he is the best choice to spearhead the new reforms. “The man made a mistake. He is a nationally recognized expert, and he’s done a number of good things with respect to running our prisons. This is not any easy job.”

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GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips - August 16, 2010

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, Capitol Fax, etc. Since January 1, 2005, GOPUSA ILLINOIS has brought 70,769 such articles and information on many upcoming events to its subscribers' attention each morning, free of charge, and without any advertising. To view the August 16, 2010 GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips, please visit www.gopillinois.com or www.gopusa.com/state-news/IL/. Thanks

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Sunday, August 15, 2010

GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips - August 15, 2010

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, Capitol Fax, etc. Since January 1, 2005, GOPUSA ILLINOIS has brought 70,719 such articles and information on many upcoming events to its subscribers' attention each morning, free of charge, and without any advertising. To view the August 15, 2010 GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips, please visit www.gopillinois.com or www.gopusa.com/state-news/IL/. Thanks

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Saturday, August 14, 2010

GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips - August 14, 2010

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, Capitol Fax, etc. Since January 1, 2005, GOPUSA ILLINOIS has brought 70,671 such articles and information on many upcoming events to its subscribers' attention each morning, free of charge, and without any advertising. To view the August 14, 2010 GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips, please visit www.gopillinois.com or www.gopusa.com/state-news/IL/. Thanks

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Friday, August 13, 2010

GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips - August 13, 2010

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, Capitol Fax, etc. Since January 1, 2005, GOPUSA ILLINOIS has brought 70,590 such articles and information on many upcoming events to its subscribers' attention each morning, free of charge, and without any advertising. To view the August 13, 2010 GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips, please visit www.gopillinois.com or www.gopusa.com/state-news/IL/. Thanks

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Thursday, August 12, 2010

GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips - August 12, 2010

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, Capitol Fax, etc. Since January 1, 2005, GOPUSA ILLINOIS has brought 70,505 such articles and information on many upcoming events to its subscribers' attention each morning, free of charge, and without any advertising. To view the August 12, 2010 GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips, please visit www.gopillinois.com or www.gopusa.com/state-news/IL/. Thanks

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Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Blagojevich jury deadlocked

Federal jurors in former Gov. Rod Blagojevich's corruption trial have reached an impasse and sent a note to Judge James Zagel asking for instruction. The jury reportedly cannot come to a unanimous conclusion on some or all counts. Zagel instructed them to determine if they can reach a decision on any of the counts. The judge said the jury has left for the evening and will not respond to his instruction until tomorrow.

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Mattoon drops out of FutureGen 2.0

By Jamey Dunn

Mattoon has dropped out of the revamped FutureGen 2.0 carbon capture project, which is intended to trap greenhouse gases from coal-fired electrical generation underground to slow global warming.

Mattoon was chosen in 2007 as the site for a first-of-it-kind “clean coal" power plant, which would sequester its carbon emissions underground and theoretically become a proving ground for a relatively untested technology. But politics and rising construction costs stalled the project, and many in the area had grown skeptical about whether the plant would ever be built.

Their skepticism was confirmed last Thursday, when U.S. Sen. Richard Durbin unveiled a new plan, dubbed FutureGen 2.0, which does not include the plant. Instead, the plan calls for an out-of-commission Ameren plant in Meredosia to be retrofitted for a new technology known as “oxy-burn,” which involves burning coal in pure oxygen. Carbon emissions from that plant would have been pumped through a subterranean pipeline and stored underground in Mattoon.

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act allocated about $1 billion for coal research, which many assumed would go toward construction of the Mattoon plant. However, the U.S. Department of Energy estimated the construction costs could be as high as $2.3 billion.

Durbin said that during the time the plan has been on hold, private industry has started to test the technology that would have been studied there. So, he said there was no longer a strong enough justification for a new plant with such a high pricetag.

Durbin added, “So we had to find another way to create this opportunity for Coles County and Illinois, … one that fit into the existing budget.”

The new plan would have constructed a training center on or near the site where the Mattoon plant would have been built. Workers there would learn how to retrofit power plants for “oxy-burn” and build pipelines to transport carbon.

Angela Griffin, president of Coles Together — a county economic development group that has worked closely on the project —said that she first heard of the new plan when Durbin announced it on Thursday. She said an outpouring of public sentiment against the town’s potential involvement in the plan came soon after. The DOE gave Mattoon until Friday as the deadline for a decision.

Griffin sent a letter to Durbin today to inform him that the town would not be a part of the new plan. From the letter:

While I have nothing but the highest level of regard for the time and effort that you and the FutureGen Alliance expended to make this project viable, our challenges with FutureGen 2.0, as proposed by the Department of Energy, are too big to overcome.

I want to emphasize that the concept of carbon capture and sequestration has nothing whatsoever to do with the reasons we have chosen not to pursue what is known as FutureGen 2.0. As a citizenry, we embraced that technology and believe it to be a safe and practical approach to removing CO2 from the atmosphere.

The simple fact remains that we agreed to host what was presented as the world’s first near-zero emissions research and demonstration facility – the latest in power generation technology paired with underground storage for the facility’s greenhouse gas emissions. Hosting the original FutureGen was something this community embraced with great pride. Ours would be a distinct and honorable mission in an emerging scientific field. Mattoon was to be a focal point for smart, forward-looking solutions in a carbon constrained world.

Unfortunately, our role in FutureGen 2.0 does not support that effort. If FutureGen 2.0 moves ahead with the revised structure described today, it must be without Coles County.


Sen. Dale Righter, a Mattoon Republican, said that the people of the area have been disappointed by developments in the project before, so they are suspicious of the new proposal. “What [the DOE and Durbin] underestimated is that the local officials and their constituents, they have a memory.”

Righter said that promises of potential benefits to the area, such as job creation and the construction of training facility, seemed to be shaky, and residents were concerned that they would not pan out.

He said he would have preferred to have a public hearing on the issue, but the accelerated timeline and lack on a detailed plan made it difficult to bring the issue directly to the people of the area. “A public hearing means that you present what you know, and then you get the public’s input on it. It was tough to know what is real and what was fiction.”

However, Griffin said that no matter how much explanation was given, the town would not have signed on. “Not in this format. Time would not have changed the decision here. This project is not right for this community. … There is a feeling of betrayal, I think, from the residents. They had sacrificed a lot to partner on this project, and we felt we weren’t being taken seriously as a partner.”

Durbin said in a written statement that the plan will move ahead without Mattoon: “This week, I will ask the Department of Energy to solicit other Illinois communities to take on the role envisioned for Mattoon. Both my office and the Department of Energy have heard from a number of communities throughout the state expressing their interest. I wish cost overruns, project delays and rapid advances in science in other parts of the country had not necessitated a change in the FutureGen project. But we must face reality.”

Tuscola officials have voiced interest in taking Mattoon's place in the project. Tuscola was a runner-up for the original FutureGen plant.

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Federal funds may require a special session

By Jamey Dunn

As Gov. Pat Quinn tries to piece together a budget with billions in unpaid bills piling up, the federal government will be chipping in to help cover Medicaid and education costs. This new revelation could mean the General Assembly will have to hold a special session to dole out the education funds.

President Barack Obama signed a $26.1 billion spending package intended to preserve public sector and education jobs. The measure also extends an elevated Medicaid match — which works out to 62 cents on the dollar for Illinois instead of the usual 50 cents — that was set to expire at the end of the year. Illinois would likely get about $400 million for education and $550 million for Medicaid.

Officials at the Illinois State Board of Education believe that the General Assembly will have to return to Springfield to appropriate the federal dollars for education. From a newsletter written by State Superintendent Christopher Koch:

Illinois stands to receive an additional $400 million in federal education funding. We believe that if the spending measure becomes law, the Illinois General Assembly would have to come back to Springfield to pass a supplemental appropriation, and these funds would likely be distributed through General State Aid.

Quinn’s Office of Management and Budget and the legislative leaders are all reviewing the bill to determine if a special session is needed. Kelly Kraft, a spokeswoman for the governor’s budget office, said a decision could come by next week.

ISBE spokesperson Mary Fergus said the federal government estimated the money could save up to 5,600 education jobs in Illinois. She added that applications for the funds should be available to states in about a week.

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GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips - August 11, 2010

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, Capitol Fax, etc. Since January 1, 2005, GOPUSA ILLINOIS has brought 70,444 such articles and information on many upcoming events to its subscribers' attention each morning, free of charge, and without any advertising. To view the August 11, 2010 GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips, please visit www.gopillinois.com or www.gopusa.com/state-news/IL/. Thanks

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Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Most employers cannot check credit scores

By Jamey Dunn

Those who have been having trouble making ends meet and are looking for work in the down economy may have one obstacle cleared from their paths.

Gov. Pat Quinn signed a bill today that prevents employers from looking at credit histories when deciding whom to hire, promote or fire. The law makes exceptions for certain jobs and industries.

At a Chicago news conference, Quinn acknowledged that the recent economic collapse has caused many people to fall behind on their bills. “We cannot allow folks who are doing their level best to be discriminated against with respect to getting a job or keeping a job. And unfortunately, some employers are using the credit score of an individual person to decide whether someone gets hired or someone gets retained on a job or someone gets a promotion on that job. And I don’t think that’s fair.”

Oak Park Democratic Sen. Don Harmon, a sponsor of House Bill 4658, said that if employers use credit histories when making hiring choices, people who are down on their luck face a much tougher climb to get their finances back in order. “If you lose your job and your credit is damaged as a result, and if employers use your credit to prevent you from getting a job, this is a vicious cycle that folks will never get out of. … At the same time, it provides to employers that have a legitimate need to look at an applicants credit history the ability to do so.”

Karen Kent, executive vice president of the hospitality industry union UNITE HERE Local 1, said that credit history is not relevant to job performance for most jobs. “Bad credit is often the result of life circumstances not poor character. … We don’t believe that a bartender that has been through a divorce is less likely to serve a good cocktail or that a hotel housekeeper who has medical bills is less likely to present a clean room to the guests.”

Kent said the bill would especially help out minorities who have been disproportionately impacted by foreclosure, unemployment and predatory lending. Harmon said he hopes the bill would stop some employers from “using credit scores as a convenient way to discriminate against applicants.”

The bill exempts entire industries, such as banks and insurance providers, which Harmon said “traditionally and almost universally deal with people’s confidential financial information.” The bill also makes exemptions for specific positions that might require an applicant to handle cash or have access to credit information.

Mary Lynn Fayuomi, president and chief executive officer of The Management Association of Illinois, said the legislation would not change much. “For a lot of employers, there won’t be any major changes because they were only using credit reports for people who had access to cash or where financial decisions where being made. She said her organization only recommends credit checks in such cases, and those are exempted by the bill.

Lisa Callaway, vice president and general counsel for The Management Association of Illinois, said some employers that are not included in the exceptions may have run credit checks when they found a “red flag” in a potential employee’s resume, work history or interview. However, she said that practice was not the norm.

Laura Minzer, director of policy for the Illinois Chamber of Commerce, agrees. She said that businesses are not regularly pulling credit reports on potential employees who do not handle large amounts of money or sensitive information. Minzer said many states are considering similar laws during the recession, hoping to people find jobs, but she doubts the move will make much of a difference. “I don’t think that this law speaks to that. In all fairness, it is probably not going to get more jobs on the table.”

The law takes effect January 1.

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