Saturday, February 28, 2009

Quinn taps key Democratic negotiator

By Jamey Dunn
Gov. Pat Quinn named Rep. Gary Hannig, a Litchfield Democrat and a deputy majority leader for House Speaker Michael Madigan, as director of the Illinois Department of Transportation. He replaces former Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s appointee, Milton Sees, who served in the position since 2007.

Hannig, an accountant, had been a state representative since 1979 and served as the chief budget negotiator for the Democratic Caucus. Quinn said Hannig has the experience, expertise and integrity to lead the department.

Kent Redfield, a political scientist at the University of Illinois at Springfield, described the move as a positive step for the Quinn administration, potentially improving rather strained relations between the executive and legislative branches as they prepare to negotiate a long-awaited capital plan and a spending plan for federal stimulus funds. As Madigan’s second in command, Hannig is well-known and well-liked in both houses and on both sides of the aisle, Redfield said. “He knows the issues. He’s widely respected, and very, very experienced.”

Hannig said this morning that communication suffered under the Blagojevich administration because promises repeatedly were made and broken. He said he thinks that a little trust could go a long way. “I know them [members of the General Assembly] by name, and they know me, and I am not going to lie to them,” Hannig said.

Hannig said he has been meeting with Christine Reed, chief engineer and director of the department’s Highway Division, to prepare for the job and for handling federal stimulus funds. Hannig said that he thinks they make a good team because while he has budgeting experience, she has the engineering expertise.


Return of Planetarium Pork

by Cal Skinner

Remember during the presidential campaign when John McCain picked a member earmark for the Adler Planetarium to criticize?

Well, it's back.

I've been doing a pork look-up for Illinois congress critters and it showed up in the Commerce, Justice and Science bill.

And Adler wasn't the only Illinois planetarium to get money.

The other earmarker listed isn't even in Congress anymore.

This information was published on McHenry County Blog first.


GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips - February 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 42,455 such articles and information on many upcoming events to its subscribers' attention each morning, free of charge, and without any advertising. To view the February 28, 2009 GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips, please visit or Thanks


Friday, February 27, 2009

IL-05 Primary Roundup #5

For most campaigns, today (Friday) marks the end of the persuasion/identification phase of the campaign and begins the mobilization phase. All the indicators available to me suggest that this race ends pretty much where it began. There has been very little movement in the race, in part because no campaign seems to have broken out of the mold, and the short time frame was diminished by the major media's virtual black-out on the race. (The New York Times has given more coverage of the special election in Buffalo than the local papers combined.) So I won't be at all surprised if this race concludes just as it began where the first benchmark polls had it.

But this special election tests some prominent theories about what is effective in campaigns and elections. Each of the major campaigns (and more than one of the second tier campaigns) have pursued a different emphasis among the basket of tactics available to campaigns. The Feigenholtz campaign has gambled on television driving turnout (or lack thereof). The Quigley campaign has put all it's eggs in the direct mail basket. The Fritchey campaign has blanketed the district with signs -- and I've seen more large signs than yard signs on his behalf. The Geoghegan campaign is counting on the netroots. The Forys campaign is betting that microtargeting ethnics will prove decisive. O'Connor seems to be betting that he has tight control over his ward (and a neighboring one), and that his ward organization is sufficient to pull out victory.

Because everyone has been knocking on doors and running their phone banks, these tactics seem to be what separates the campaigns in this special election. One of them will win on Tuesday (although I'm not counting on that fact necessarily being known on Tuesday -- or even Wednesday). What I do think is that we are going to be surprised. I have severe doubts that the most obvious choice will wind up the winner. That may depend on who you think is the obvious choice.

I have long argued that Sara Feigenholtz was running a Hillary Clintonesque campaign. From the beginning, she has run as if she were the front runner, as if her election was inevitable. She had the most money, the biggest staff, etc. What she did not start with was the most name recognition. And both she and her supporters have been remarkably sensitive to any suggestion that didn't favor their point of view.

There have been two knocks against Feigenholtz from the beginning: the first was that she was running a negative campaign, and the second was that she was the most isolated candidate in the race. The Chicago Tribune tried to make something of her failure to talk to their reporters, but David Ormsby showed that Feigenholtz would talk to the press. She just wouldn't talk to the critical media (apparently, myself included). Her campaign has surrounded her with a protective bubble -- and given the criticism she received after the IVI/NDFA forum, there may be a reason why. She may be the weakest element in her campaign.

Unfortunately, the decision to go negative by the Feigenholtz campaign (given her association with Emily's List and her campaign manager, I assume it was part of her campaign plan all along) failed to understand the political environment in which this race would be fought. Going negative is an effective campaign tactic -- if used carefully *and* correctly. Feigenholtz has done neither.

Given the wide reports of message testing early on by the Feigenholtz campaign, we have to assume that linking Mike Quigley to Todd Stroger was the most effective message to move the electorate they found in their polling. As Going Dirty notes:

The linkage tactic, perfected by President Bill Clinton's 1996 reelection team, remains a tried and true method of negative campaigning, particularly when the opponent is a divisive political figure. It is likely to only increase as advances in digital technology have made it easier for ads to morph photographs and to employ other visual gimmicks. The strategy has proved among the toughest for candidates to combat, because they are tacitly forced to answer for the actions of others.

Going Dirty: The Art of Negative Campaigning. David Mark. Rowman & Littlefield Pub. Lanham, MD. (p. 123)

The problem with Feigenholtz's attempt at linkage is that they started too late and Mike Quigley effectively anticipated the strategy, and probably effectively innoculated himself from the charge (given the short time frame it would be made). Feigenholtz needed weeks of making and reinforcing this charge for it to be effective in driving votes away from Quigley (who, presumably, must be seen as the front-runner by the Feigenholtz camp). The reason for this is simple -- she was making a charge that contrasted drastically with Quigley's reputation and the prevailing impression about him with voters. Negative campaigning has been most effective when it reinforces voters' preconceived notions about candidates:

Negative campaigning has worked most effectively when a candidate's attacks, charges, and accusations play into preconceived notions about the opposition. In effect it has ratified in voters' minds doubts they already had about the candidate. Negative campaigning has often failed when those seeking office have hurled out charges that did not square with the opposition's voting record or stands on issues.

(Going Dirty: p. 169)

The other problem here is that there doesn't appear to be a large pool of voters who are undecided or willing to move from new charges (especially ones that are contrary to voters' preconceptions). In every single campaign office I've visited, canvassers and phone banks report overwhelmingly positive results from the people they talk to. What this tells me is that the campaigns are still successful with personal contacts among the unaware electorate. I simply do not see any sign that turnout will be large enough for there to be a large undecided pool, people who will vote who may change their minds. Feigenholtz's negative campaign needed to start earlier to dampen enthusiasm for Quigley among his supporters. 5 days out isn't long enough.

It is also possible that this particular Congressional district is too dense for this tactic to work on an apparently beloved political figure in the district:

Negative campaigning works least effectively in small population states or districts. There voters can often feel a personal connection to their elected leader and an attack on a candidate is viewed almost like a slap in the face to a family member.

(Going Dirty: p. 177)

Mike Quigley's campaign is also gambling, but in this case, on the belief that mail can pull him over the top. Get Out the Vote! argues that six pieces of mail is the optimum number (p. 59), but they've already sent out ten pieces. I'm betting there is more, to boot. Quigley's advantage remains that he started the race as the best known candidate in the district *and* the fact that he was on the 5th district primary ballot a year ago. He benefits from the other candidate's inability to break out. But, if Quigley wins, I'd bet that his mail house argues that they were the reason he won.

Quigley's problem is that he didn't raise enough money to break out himself. Had he brought in another 100k to 150k, he probably wouldn't be facing the onslaught of negative ads from Sara Feigenholtz because they would know that he had the resources to respond. The knock on Quigley continues to be his fund-raising -- something that probably won't matter as much if he wins the primary. Only Rahm's return could seriously challenge him.

John Fritchey's campaign is bringing two things to the table (that differentiate him from the others): signs and technology. Normally, I would argue that the campaign that excels in introducing new technology to the race wins. I don't know if the use of an automated townhall this late in the campaign is enough to be decisive. Getting into 5500 households, though, this late in the campaign is an impressive feat. Since we have little indication what kind of followup the campaign did with participants (did they ID supporters among listeners?), it's difficult to judge whether this could vault Fritchey to the front of the pack. It has the potential to do so.

More conventionally, the Fritchey campaign used conventional tactics in Chicago elections to increase his visibility. No one could go around the 5th without seeing one of his signs. Other than that, Fritchey has a fairly balanced campaign plan. His indecision in getting in the race has prevented his campaign from getting the number of IDs it would have if he had started sooner.

Victor Forys has been running a guerrilla campaign -- unless you are in the Polish community. In that case, you would probably think that you are overexposed to his candidacy. The Polish-speaking media has been good to Forys and his campaign, and there hasn't been a week since these roundups began where I wasn't seeing new items in a language I can't read. Forys' advantage is not simply that he is Polish, but that the Polish community exhibits a great deal of pride in his candidacy and (as yet) no one has been able to plant a wedge between Forys and the rest of the electorate.

In fact, it appears that SEIU (which is supporting Feigenholtz, presumably because of her emphasis on health care) has a number of Polish-speaking members in the district. One of them told me, in my ventures into the 5th cd, that she was telling the union that she'd support Feigenholtz, but that she and her family had already voted for Forys. Ethnic pride trumped union loyalty, I suppose. She got real quiet (and the conversation ended) when I asked her her name.

What no one knows is who's got 6,000 IDs. All the campaigns are out there, drumming up votes. The 2008 (Democratic) primary universe is quite large (94,406 voters), and most of the campaigns have focused on them. So far as I know, no one has employed Catalist or Strategic Telemetry to model the electorate for rapidly expanding their GOTV universe. Of course, this could be because none of the campaigns probably have the ability to knock-and-drag 6,000 voters to the polls, let alone an enhanced (or modeled) voter universe.

Who wins this election will undoubtedly be the campaign with the best election day. I'm counting on Quigley and Fritchey to have solid election days, given the past experience of their campaign managers. Feigenholtz' campaign manager had a less than stellar election day in Will County with Debbie Halvorson -- but Halvorson still won. They know that they have to do better in the 5th and if SEIU takes over their operations, they clearly have a chance. I don't know what to expect from the rest of the campaigns.

I *expect* Mike Quigley to win this seat, but I won't be shocked if another candidate comes out ahead. I honestly can't see Sara Feigenholtz -- the presumed front-runner -- pulling it out because I think their campaign has been indecisive (eg, going negative too late when it was obvious from the beginning that this is what they would do) and been a bit too quick to act outraged at the smallest slight. Something about that feels wrong, like they are not firing on all cylinders yet. Now is the time that it matters. If the district sends a Chicago pol (O'Connor) or a Polish-American (Forys) to Congress, it will be because the race is a lot tighter than the candidate's polls suggested. Which would be par for the course in a special election. Everyone thinks that turnout will be larger than I do (I think we are looking at a low 30k turnout), but that's because they assume more normalcy than I do. I didn't think anyone would go to the polls undecided or without a strong candidate affiliation. This assumption has proven to be wrong to a slight degree. The question is, by how much? If there is a low turnout, I'm blaming the newspapers, who couldn't be bothered to cover this race. The New York Times has spent more ink on the special election hundreds of miles from its readership than has our local papers. They couldn't really be bothered.

In news, the Chicago Tribune had a single article that wasn't candidate-specific in nature. Of course, the New York Times also had a much more thorough article in print (and they don't even have two reporters supposedly covering the race!). The Sun Times notes that Candidates crowd into 5th District while the Pioneer Press covered another candidate forum. The Tribune did run run this article from the AP. But for *real* coverage of the race, you had to look elsewhere.

Congressional Quarterly thinks Every Vote Counts in Crowded Primary. Chicago Public Radio is more engaged (perhaps it should buy the Chicago Tribune): ramping up its coverage Wednesday and Thursday. The local ABC affiliate profiled the Democrats in the race here and here. Medill News Service wrote about about Big fundraising -- and spending -- in the race for Emanuel's seat

Once again, the blogs really are covering this race to an extraordinary degree. No, they don't have the Tribune's readership -- but that really only mattered if the Tribune was actually trying to cover the race. So the Trib's reaction to the blogs is really irrelevant; they've made themselves irrelevant in the race. Nate Silver revised his estimate of who would win. Rich Miller continues to break news (as he reminded me last weekend) in his roundups on Monday (with this breaking coverage), Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday (with this breaking coverage). Progress Illinois continued its daily coverage on Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday. On Thursday, PI had this assessment of the candidates.

Jesse Greenberg continues to focus on the race, including this post about national coverage of the race, this one on Windy City's Twitter aggregator and a piece on how Advertisements Reflect the Candidate. David Ormsby tells about election day weather. AOL's Political Machine an poorly attended forum.

Paul Bryer

Paul Bryer wants you to know that his "priorities in Congress include: health care reform, fixing America’s damaged economy, expanding education opportunities for working families, energy independence and protecting American jobs." I asked them, What is your closing message to voters?

Paul ran in this race because these are tough times. We are in a crisis: a crisis of the economy, crisis of health care, and a crisis of government. It is time for solving these problems; not politics as usual.

Do you feel like you implemented your initial campaign plan? Did you have to change it significantly? (If so,) Why?

Yes, our initial campaign was successfully implemented. No changes we needed. We were the first on TV and the first in the mailboxes.

What is your campaign's prediction for turnout on Tuesday?

Turnout is predicted to be in the mid to upper 40s

Any new endorsements?

OMSPAC - American Association of Oral & Maxillofacial Surgeons

What volunteer activities are scheduled for the four days?

Saturday Canvassing from 10-2 and 2-5, Phonebanking 10-7pm
Sunday Canvassing from 11-2 and 2-5, Phonebanking 11am-9pm
Monday Canvassing from 10-2 and 2-5, Phonebanking 10am to 9pm
Tuesday All day election day activities from 7am to 7pm

Brendan -- -- is their primary contact for people interested in volunteering.

Where will you be holding your victory party?

When: Tuesday, March 3rd at 7pm
Where: Cullen's Bar and Grille, 3741 N. Southport Ave
Join us for appetizers and drinks while waiting for the election results!

All are invited.

Press Contacts: Joe Woodward (708)-526-3581
and Carrie Romano (773) 715-4866

Anything else you'd like for readers to know about your candidate and/or campaign?

Paul was joined with Charlotte Howard from The Economist on Thursday to document his campaign and efforts running as a non-politician.

The interview can be found here. Contributions to the campaign online should be made here.

John Fritchey

John Fritchey remains a formidible presence in the race. His "tele-townhall meeting" was probably the most innovative thing in the campaign, and his connection to 5,500 homes in the district is to be envied. After blowing his stack over Rich Miller posting Fritchey's second commercial first, Tribune reporter Dan Mihalopoulos was true to his word in writing a critical biography piece. Blogger David Ormsby (who, I believe is supporting Sara Feigenholtz) responds by noting that Fritchey is the Real Deal on Reform. Elsewhere, he's more critical negative party invites and his Paczki Day offerings.

What is your closing message to voters?

We hope that everyone who votes on Tuesday has taken the time to learn about John’s record in Illinois politics and his leadership on the issues that are important to the people of our state. For the past 12 years as a State Representative, John Fritchey stood up to government corruption and was one of the most outspoken critics of former Governor Blagojevich. He faithfully led the charge to cap property taxes and continues to fight for the working men and women of Illinois. In these unprecedented times, people are worried about keeping their jobs and staying in their homes. As a member of the United States Congress, John will continue his fight for the people of Illinois on a national level.

We would like to thank everyone who has come out and supported the campaign. The encouragement and assistance you have provided means the world to us, and we believe that your hard work dedication will pay off by sending John to Washington!

Do you feel like you implemented your initial campaign plan? Did you have to change it significantly? Why?

We have not only met, but exceeded all of the goals we set forth at the beginning of the campaign. During the past eight weeks, we have blown our fundraising goals out of the water, surpassed our voter contact numbers, and received more endorsements than any other candidate in the race. We have also integrated new media innovative voter outreach methods, including an announcement of John’s candidacy over Facebook and a Telephone Townhall held on Wednesday, February 26th. On this call, John interacted directly and took questions from over 5,608 voters in the 5th Congressional District who might have been unable to attend a public forum.

What is your campaign's prediction for turnout on Tuesday?

We are going into Election Day with strong support from volunteers and voters, and we are excited to hear the results on Tuesday night!

What endorsements have you collected since my last Roundup post?

We are happy to announce that we have received the endorsements of numerous local elected officials, including those listed below.

Northlake Mayor Jeff Sherwin
River Grove Mayor Marilynn May
Schiller Park President Anna Montana
State Rep. Luis Arroyo (D-Chicago)
State Rep. Lyons (D-Chicago)
Alderman Vi Daley
Alderman Manny Flores
Alderman Ariel Rebroyas
Alderman Gene Schulter
Alderman Patrick Levar
Water Reclamation Commissioner Frank Avila

What volunteer activities are scheduled for the four days?

We have scheduled phone banking every day until Tuesday, along with GOTV Canvassing Friday through Tuesday, with Saturday door knocking starting at 10AM and Sunday starting at 11AM.

Their Deputy Field Director, Brian Gorman, can be reached at 773.472.8683 or if you want to help.

Where will you be holding your victory party?

Our Volunteer Appreciation Party will be held Tuesday at 8PM until 11PM at Paddy O’Splaines in Lincoln Square.

Anything else you'd like for readers to know about your candidate and/or campaign?

Over the past 12 years, John has tirelessly fought of the people of Illinois. He is determined to bring that same dedication to Washington.

“These are unprecedented times right now. Things are hard. People are scared. People are worried about staying in their jobs. Everywhere people are worried about staying in their homes. People expect and deserve more than just rhetoric. They expect action and they deserve action. They want someone who is going to be honest with them. Someone who is going to work hard and someone who is going to do what they say they’re going to do. But I do the job because I believe in it, and if you ever stop believing that you can make a difference, then you shouldn’t be here anymore. I’m still her because I believe that I can make a difference.” – John Fritchey

Fritchey's interview can be found here. You can donate to his campaign here.

Tom Geoghegan

Tom Geoghegan continues to light up the blogosphere. Laura Washington warns the rest of the pack to Beware of the G-man.. The Washington Post's Harold Meyerson compares Geoghegan to Obama and Reagan and gets endorsements from Michael Barone, Slate's Mickey Kaus and Salon's Joe Conason. If the liberal elite could vote in this race, Geoghegan would win in a landslide. Elsewhere, there has been a steady drumbeat on the blogs: Down with Tyranny, D-Day, on the hill, MyDD, http://techPresident and the G spot. Locally, Progress Illinois writes that Geoghegan Files Lawsuit To Force Senate Special Election and additional endorsements.

What is your closing message to voters?

Tom’s messages of universal health care, increasing social security and putting an end to the bank bailouts continues to resonate with fifth district voters. On the phone and at the doorsteps, people are telling Tom that these issues are important to them. Tom’s message of progressive change is also resonating in the blogosphere.

What endorsements have you collected since my last Roundup post?

Legendary Chicago progressives Hon. Marty Oberman, Hon. Abner Mikva, Dr. Quentin Young, and Hon. Leon Despres endorsed Tom Geoghegan for Congress this week. Democracy for America and Progressive Democrats of America are rallying volunteers and donors with hundreds of volunteers utilizing our virtual phone bank system.

What volunteer activities are scheduled for the four days?

We are canvassing this Saturday, Sunday and Monday and have phone banks scheduled right up until the polls close on Tuesday. Contact Jacob to volunteer:

Jacob Dusseau
Tom Geoghegan For Congress
4419 W. Irving Park
Chicago, IL 60641
(773) 853-0687

Where will you be holding your victory party?

Tom and his supporters will be watching the returns at Paddy Mac’s, 4157 N. Pulaski Road.

Geoghegan's interview can be seen here. You can donate online here.

Victor Forys

Victor Forys is still sailing under the radar of most people. He writes his own blog post, Shame on Sara Feigenholtz, and continues to get coverage in the Polish News (here and here). Progress Illinois noticed this and reacted.

What is your closing message to voters?

Dr. Forys’ closing message to voters is the same message he has been delivering throughout this campaign. Everyone deserves decent health care. We must fix our health care system because it is right and because it is the only way to secure our economy in the long-term. We can make sure that everyone has health insurance and Dr. Forys' plan will reduce costs to businesses and help them compete in the global market place.

Do you feel like you implemented your initial campaign plan? Did you have to change it significantly? Why?

Yes. We wrote our final plan in early January and have stuck to it with very little deviation.

What is your campaign's prediction for turnout on Tuesday?

30,000 to 35,000

What volunteer activities are scheduled for the four days?

We have a free GOTV/Pulaski Day Rally on Sunday, March 1st at the White Eagle, 6839 N Milwaukee Ave in Niles, from 1pm to 4pm.

We are making phone calls and canvassing all the time. We will be meeting at 9am at our Belmont office (6115 W Belmont) to canvas on Saturday, Sunday and Monday morning. We will have phone banks running throughout the district over the weekend and on Monday and Tuesday. Email us at or call 773-685-1210 or 773-322-8608 to let us know if you will be coming.

On Pulaski Day (Monday), every one of our supporters will receive a knock at their door or a door hanger to remind them to vote on Tuesday. This is our biggest day of canvassing, starting at our Belmont office at 9am. It is Pulaski day, so if you have the day off, come help us at our Belmont office.

For Election Day, we will be meeting very early to open polls, post signs, canvas and make calls. We need additional volunteers to fill all of our shifts throughout the day. If you have a car or a van and can provide rides to the polls, please let us know. We have had 5 vans taking people to vote all day during early voting and we expect a very high demand from our supporters on Election Day. Email us at or call 773-685-1210 or 773-322-8608 to let us know if you can help provide rides to the polls.

Katie or Langston are their primary contacts for volunteers and can be reach by calling their Lawrence Ave office at 773-685-1210 or their Belmont Ave office at 773-322-8608.

Where will you be holding your victory party?

Martini Club
3124 N. Central Ave

Doors open after the polls close at 7pm.

The Forys interview can be seen here. You can donate online here.

Mike Quigley

Mike Quigley wants you to know that yesterday was a nightmare.

I woke up Thursday morning with one of my opponents comparing me to Nazi propagandists. By dinner time, I saw an advertisement from Sara Feigenholtz that flat out lies about my relationship with Cook County Board President Todd Stroger.

These folks have gone off the rails.

Welcome to front-runner status. When everyone in the race is attacking you, they've decided your the one to beat. Mike Quigley finds himself in that position.

The Phoenix, Loyola's student newspaper, points with pride: Loyola professor runs for Congress. The Chicago Tribune biography on Wednesday notes that he is running on a reform platform. For attacking him:

Congressional candidate Mike Quigley today compared opponent Sara Feigenholtz to Richard Nixon as he responded to her TV campaign ad attacking his reformer credentials just days before the Democratic primary to replace Rahm Emanuel.

“This is Sara Nixon,” he said. “In the 11th hour, when it’s much harder to combat an unfair charge, that’s when you do this, because you know that there’s limited ability [to respond].”

Quigley, a Cook County commissioner, was mad about a new ad that tells viewers he supported County Board President Todd Stroger's first budget and backed his election a few months earlier.

More naively, blogger (and, apparently, political newbie) David Ormsby wonders if Quigley was Fundraising off Feigenholtz’s Donor List.

Several of the candidates (not Sara, of course, because she apparently doesn't talk to bloggers who might be critical of her) have commented about how they all seem to be talking to the same pool of contributors. Charlie Wheelan made this very point to me yesterday, but he was by no means the first.

Ormsby continued his attacks here.

What is your closing message to voters?

There's only one candidate who's been endorsed by the Tribune and Sun-Times for his 10 years of fighting for reform and real change. Mike Quigley.

Do you feel like you implemented your initial campaign plan? Did you have to change it significantly? Why?

We had to be smarter about some things because of resources, but I don't feel like we undershot any of our goals.

What is your campaign's prediction for turnout on Tuesday?

Low. 35K-45K

What volunteer activities are scheduled for the four days?

all day, every day.

Where will you be holding your victory party?

call the campaign office.

What media attention have you received that you'd like people to know about?

progress Illinois had a great writeup of the policy differences. The tribune profiles of all the four major candidates show a stark difference, recommend any undecided voters read all of them.

Anything else you'd like for readers to know about your candidate and/or campaign?

When a campaign goes negative, they're not in the lead. If I'm one of Sara's donors/volunteers/backers, I'd be really nervous about the next 4 days.

Quigley's interview can be found here. Contributions to his campaign can be done here.

Charlie Wheelan

Charlie Wheelan wants to be known as the "Bright Knight." TimeOut Chicago noticed the web short, too. Wheelan talked with Nate Silver this week and convinced Nate to revise his election forecast in this race.

What is your closing message to voters?

After all that's been said and done, no other candidate has demonstrated as much know-how on the national issues that really matter, namely the economy and foreign policy.

Do you feel like you implemented your initial campaign plan? Did you have to change it significantly? Why?

We've made over 80,000 contacts and recruited hundreds of volunteers. No one knows what's going to happen on Tuesday, but we're going in feeling strong.

What endorsements have you collected since my last Roundup post?

77 economists from universities and financial institutions around the country have signed a petition saying they support Charlie's economic platform, including his carbon tax plan, his approach to the foreclosure crisis, and his support for a broader safety net for workers of all industries.

What volunteer activities are scheduled for the four days?

We're splitting our organizers and volunteers into two teams and that will be taking turns working on the phones and in the field to turn our voters out. A little competition never hurt anybody.

Contact Erik at (773) 472-9400 to volunteer.

Where will you be holding your victory party?

TBA -- our favorite bar Grand Central is closed on Tuesdays.

Wheelan's interview can be found here. You can contribute to his campaign online here.


Patrick O'Connor got serious in the last two weeks, which is pretty standard for machine pols. The Tribune's bio writes:

O'Connor argues he would be a good congressman precisely because of his deep roots among Chicago's powers-that-be, reflected in his golf buddies as well as his virtual total obedience to Mayor Richard Daley for whom he serves as unofficial council floor leader.

"We all think we would like an independent voice in Congress, but I think we all want somebody that can accomplish things for the people they represent and can work with the elected officials" of the district, O'Connor said.

The Sun Times writes about O'Connor's denials that he's claiming endorsements from Rahm Emanuel and Sen. Dick Durbin. Otoh, Michael Daley has donated $1,000 to Patrick O’Connor and Dick Devine joins a list of O'Connor supporters that includes Democratic state Reps. Greg Harris and John D'Amico, state Sen. Ira Silverstein, and Alds. Bernard Stone (50th) and Margaret Laurino (39th).

Sara Feigenholtz continues to make waves. She launches the first attack ad of the campaign, which got lots of coverage. The Tribune's Clout Street blog notes the irony:

Feigenholtz was listed on Todd Stroger’s fall 2006 campaign materials as endorsing him, but she recently told the Tribune that she did not make that endorsement.

Politico stated the obvious:

The late attack ad suggests that Feigenholtz views Quigley as her biggest rival in next week’s Democratic primary. Both candidates are competing for the same constituency in the affluent part of the district near the lakefront.

In more "Chicago Way" tactics, a sign for Sara showed up in front of Rahm's house. But after a day of much consternation about how this came to be, I hear from a source in the White House that Rahm suggests that someone from the Feigenholtz campaign put it there. I'm sure the O'Connor campaign is sad they didn't think of it first!

Feigenholtz did get some sweet support this week. Dan Hynes came out for her, and SEIU went all in for her.

John Fritchey notes the irony here in this Tribune article:

Democratic opponent state Rep. John Fritchey said there is "no question" the union's ad money will affect the race.

"SEIU spent millions of dollars to get Rod Blagojevich elected twice, and they are going to try to use the same technique now," Fritchey said.

If Sara Feigenholtz wins the race, there will be no doubt why. SEIU will have dragged her over the finish line. She will owe them. We will know that the union covered her campaign's strategic mistakes and put her over the top.


Free Speech Making a Comeback at U of I

Wednesday marked a small yet significant victory for political activists and supporters of the 1st Amendment.

The 2008 political season was an exciting time for the U.S., and the epicenter of this enthusiasm was college campuses across the nation. Students and professors alike were swept up in the most exciting election it at least the last quarter century.

Unfortunately, this enthusiasm did have its opponents, some of whom attempted to stifle it at the University of Illinois.

I am refereeing to a University policy that prohibited university employees from expressing political views or wearing campaign gear. From the Chicago Tribune:

The University of Illinois has sparked outrage by telling faculty, staff and graduate students that a 5-year-old state law designed to prevent state workers from campaigning for candidates on state time or with state resources meant they could not express support for candidates or parties through pins, T-shirts or bumper stickers while on campus. Nor could they attend any political rally or event on campus, the administration said.

The governor’s Office of Executive Inspector General, which investigates ethical violations, has gone one step further, saying state law meant that university students, not just employees, were prohibited from participating in political rallies on campus–an assertion at odds with the university’s interpretation.

On Friday, the state attorney general’s office said the ethics law did not apply to students. The office did not answer whether the law prohibited university employees from wearing political buttons while at work, attending political rallies on campus on non-work time or some of the other specific interpretations made by the university.

As a U of I Champaign-Urban alum and current grad student, I have a firsthand knowledge of the malarkey the university tried to pull. It was beyond ridiculous and was grossly unconstitutional.

It should be noted that this draconian policy was only in force for the first few months of the fall semester as U of I did reverse their policy on October 6 due to public outrage both on and off campus. From the Tribune:

The University of Illinois said Monday that it would allow employees to display political bumper stickers, wear political buttons and attend political rallies on campus, reversing an earlier interpretation of state ethics law that has drawn sharp criticism.

“We, the leadership of the University of Illinois, will preserve, protect and defend the constitutionally guaranteed rights of every member of our university community,” university President Joseph White said in a public advisory. Certain activities barred under the earlier interpretation, he wrote, “conflict, or appear to conflict, with fundamental freedoms.”

Of course, I am happy the University realized the error if its ways. The state law upon which U of I based its initial claim, however, is still on the books. Thus, the door remains open for U of I, or any other IL public university for that matter, to trample on the 1st amendment if they so choose.

Now it is my belief that any such attempt will eventually be shot down by the Supreme Court. Thankfully, state Rep. Naomi Jakobsson (D 103 district, Champaign) has taken the initiative to ensure that it will never come to that.

Rep. Jakobsson is the sponsor of HB 898 and HB 899 which (respectively)protects the rights of university employees in regards to political speech and the right to display campaign materials.

On Wednesday, HB 898 and 899 were both released from the Higher Education Committee. I talked to Rep. Jakobsson later that night and she was very optimistic, with good cause of course, that these bills will easily pass on the floor of the GA and become law.

Great news for college students, employees, and the 1st Amendment. As a constituent of Rep. Jakobsson, just like to say keep up the good work.


GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips - February 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 42,385 such articles and information on many upcoming events to its subscribers' attention each morning, free of charge, and without any advertising. To view the February 27, 2009 GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips, please visit or Thanks


IL-05: The (Charlie) Wheelan Interview

Charlie Wheelan was the last candidate to participate in this series. After a little bit of confusion about schedule, I went into a very wet Chicago to talk to the author of "Naked Economics."

When I walked into their headquarters at noon, they had 15-20 young people -- I'd guess college age -- at their computers entering data into the VAN. Other people were on the phones. An interesting environment, a serious, almost professional. People busy doing their work. Here was a campaign office with volunteers almost entirely in their 20s (perhaps a few teens) and there was none of the chatter, none of the good-natured conversation going on that I could hear. They were serious about why they were there.

Again, I would compliment the candidates I interviewed in this race. Bright, ambitious, serious people who've given a lot of thought about why they were running for Congress and what they wanted to do if they were elected. It's hard for me not to think that those who didn't choose to participate in this series were less so. Everyone had the questions in advance. They weren't difficult questions. But I've seen in the past that there are a lot of candidates running for Congress who can't answer even these basic questions. I look at these interviews as an opportunity for campaigns to get their message out. But they may not all see it that way.

I ask the same questions of every candidate. The questions I ask are derived from prior cycle's interviews, as well as my request for input. They split about half and half, half from prior election years and half the questions from the other area bloggers who posed questions for the candidates.

Candidates are provided the questions in advance. I tell every campaign that this isn't "Hardball" and I don't pretend to be Tim Russert. Rather, the point is to give voters the opportunity to compare the candidates side-by-side, to see how they answer the same questions, and to give them the opportunity to get their message out.

Other interviews in this series are:

Mike Quigley

Tom Geoghegan

Paul Bryar

Victor Forys

John Fritchey

Jan Donatelli


Thursday, February 26, 2009

The (Jan) Donatelli Interview

One of the most interesting facets of this particular race is all the talent in the room, so to speak. One of the female candidates, Jan Donatelli, is impressing the people she meets and when you listen to her, you can see why.

I visited campaign offices for all the candidates I've been in contact with this week (except for Paul Bryar), and they all showed signs of increased activity. The Donatelli campaign was no different. In fact, their office was changed around considerably, to allow more volunteers to participate in the campaign. They have added staff, too. What you'd expect for a campaign a week away from election day.

While doing the interview, the thing that stood out was Donatelli's passion for veterans issues. Progressives are veterans, too, Donatelli reminds us. "As an aside, I think veterans in Congress is a positive way to put a new face on progressive politics."

I ask the same questions of every candidate. The questions I ask are derived from prior cycle's interviews, as well as my request for input. They split about half and half, half from prior election years and half the questions from the other area bloggers who posed questions for the candidates.

Candidates are provided the questions in advance. I tell every campaign that this isn't "Hardball" and I don't pretend to be Tim Russert. Rather, the point is to give voters the opportunity to compare the candidates side-by-side, to see how they answer the same questions, and to give them the opportunity to get their message out.

Other interviews in this series are:

Mike Quigley

Tom Geoghegan

Paul Bryar

Victor Forys

John Fritchey


State parks reopen, special election debate rekindles and Scully resigns

By Jamey Dunn and Bethany Jaeger
Gov. Pat Quinn announced the reopening of seven state parks today, although they’re not yet fully staffed. And Quinn said that he will soon make an announcement about reopening closed historic sites.

As of this morning, Castle Rock State Park and Lowden State Park in Oregon, Illini State Park in Marseilles, Hidden Springs State Forest in Strasburg, Moraine View State Park in Leroy, Weldon Springs State Park in Clinton and Wolf Creek State Park in Windsor are all open to visitors.

According to Marc Miller, Head of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, it will take $1.1 million to keep these parks open for the rest of the fiscal year. He said that the department would pay for the reopening of the parks by tapping into special dedicated funds as part of a plan approved by the General Assembly in October. He said the agency won’t need to take funding from any other state operations.

Quinn said state parks generate an estimated $500 million in tourism dollars that “far outweigh” the money spent on keeping them open. Miller said more than 43 million people go to Illinois state parks every year, with 230,000 visiting the seven state parks last year before they were closed.

“We’ve got to get our economy out of the ditch. Part of doing that is making sure our parks are open,” Quinn said.

Quinn called the move both a public health and economic initiative targeted at getting people to exercise outdoors and to help create jobs by spurring local economies. He called upon Illinoisans to “pack our parks” as a frugal vacation option.

Special election update
While Republicans used Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s opinion as support for their wish to call for a special election to replace U.S. Sen. Roland Burris — regardless of whether he’s still in office — House and Senate Democrats are floating their own plans about calling special elections to fill vacancies. However, none are agreed upon bills.

Senate Democrats held two special election proposals and assigned them to subcommittees, which have served as legislative graveyards in the past. Executive Committee Chairman Ira Silverstein said they are to be working committees intended to give more time to debate such controversial measures.

Republican Sen. Matt Murphy, the Palatine Republican sponsoring one measure kicked out to subcommittee, said he was disappointed that the bill wasn’t called for debate today but that he doesn’t think it’s dead. “We’ve been embarrassed at least twice in this process now, and I’m going to continue to try and see that it doesn’t happen again.” We wrote about what the bill would do this morning.

A Democratic version is sponsored by Sen. Rickey Hendon of Chicago, who supports the idea to hold a special election to fill all vacancies, from county commissioners to state and U.S. senators. “People should have a right to vote in every case.”

The last time Hendon sponsored a bill that took such a broad approach was when he expanded the idea of allowing voters to recall elected officials from state legislators to local government officials. That bill died in committee, although Hendon said he did not intend for the special election bill to suffer the same fate.

He also took issue with a House bill, sponsored by Rep. Jack Franks and backed by the governor. “The House bill is another game, in my opinion, because they still just want to concentrate on Roland Burris, Roland Burris.”

Senate President John Cullerton said he’s waiting to see what the House does before the Senate acts. “This is a different, cooperative procedure that we’re geared to this year while we work together with both chambers. So I don’t want to just send messages over to the House without having an idea about what they’re going to do.”

Franks, a Woodstock Democrat, said he is waiting for a meeting with House Speaker Michael Madigan to discuss the status of his two special election bills. “The opinion indicates that it’s in our hands now and we have the power if want to set this election. I’m going to impress upon him the necessity to do so,” Franks said.

Franks said he is worried that if Burris files a lawsuit questioning the legality of holding an election, a long legal battle could ensue that makes the whole issue moot. “We could be stuck in court for months. I’m sure we’d be in court longer then when the next election would be in February of 2010,” he said.

Rep. Lou Lang, an assistant majority leader from Skokie, said the Democratic Caucus is divided on the issue. “This is not about Mr. Burris. It’s about what we do with the laws in the state of Illinois. Rod Blagojevich, as unfortunate as it was, made a legal appointment of Mr. Burris while he was still governor,” he said.

Judge Scully
Democrats and Republicans bid farewell, thank you and good luck to Rep. George Scully, who retired today to serve an appointment to the Cook County circuit court bench.

He was elected in 1996 to represent the south suburban Chicago House District 80. He has since dissected complex regulation and legal issues, including managing the heated and lengthy debate about regulating the electric utility industry after rates skyrocketed in 2005. He also reached out to numerous legislators to help them think through legislation, regardless of whether he agreed with them.

“He would see all sides, and for that, he was a very judicious legislator,” said Rep. Kevin Joyce, a Chicago Democrat and family friend.

A marathon runner, including the Boston Marathon, the “sergeant,” as he was called, often led a group of legislators and political insiders on four-mile runs around Springfield before session days. The nickname refers to his very serious but polite and professional manner in which he conducts himself.

“Tender, laid back, relaxed, easy going, soft. These are not words I would use to describe George Scully,” said Rep. John Bradley, a Marion Democrat, joking before adding that Scully has a “keen mind and a true heart.”

Several Republicans also said their thanks. “I think many of us would like Rep. Scully to stay. He’s going to be a loss to this process, a loss to this chamber,” said Rep. Bill Black, a Danville Republican.

Scully said he’s leaving the legislature with a confidence in the state’s Constitution. “It has survived tremendous assault, and it came out very strong,” he said of the consecutive corruption allegations staining the state.

He ended by reciting insight he’d received 12 years ago: Trust the voters. People can accept that you disagree with them. They will never accept the fact that they’re being ignored.


Coverage of Ethics Reform Lacks Depth and Scope

Ethics reform is not an issue that excites the public. So, I understand why media outlets short-change their coverage of the issue - when they have coverage at all.

The result of course is a sparse amount of context and important aspects of ethics reform are often go uncovered.

Now no story can provide total or even a majority of the needed context. The same is not –or at least should not be- true about the cumulative product of the media’s coverage.

As a case study, let’s look at media coverage spawning from the Joint Committee on Government Reform that was held in Springfield on Tuesday Morning.

As I said above, no one story could provide full context without qualifying as a novella and that certainly applies to this article. Before I get hit with the charge of being a hypocrite, I will rescue myself via to the wonders of the internet. Here are my copious notes from the hearing. They are a little rough, but they cover all the untold details.

The most striking aspect of the media coverage of this hearing was the absence of coverage in general.

Only 3 articles were published in IL papers that dealt with the Joint Committee on Government Reform’s hearing.

Unfortunately, the products of these papers did not cover all the issues, and the context of most issues was sub-par.

* First, the Associated Press actually does a great job giving the meat and potatoes of the story considering the length of the story.

Investigators who sniff out misconduct in state government say lawmakers should release their findings to the public.

The law now requires the results of most investigations be kept private. But the inspectors for several constitutional officers say telling the public would discourage secrecy and corruption.

They asked a joint ethics committee on Tuesday to change the privacy law. They also want permission to investigate anonymous tips and initiate their own probes.

Jim Burns is an inspector for the secretary of state. He says, "It’s one thing to knock out corruption, but you also have to change the culture of the institution."

There is a whole bunch of missing context regarding the issues they covered.

Just as an example, the releasing of Inspector General (IG) reports, the AP fails to add that majority of witnesses called for privacy protections for individuals that have been victims of unfounded allegations as well as other measures that effectively make it so all reports will not be made public, or at the very least they will be published as incomplete.

The most glaring omission of context, however, was that there was no mention of a root cause of the current transparency problem in the IG reports. The Executive Ethics Commission does not have oversight authority on allegations and reports that deal with violations to the 2003 State Official and Employees Ethics Act. As a result, many IG reports are stuck in limbo because only the Executive Ethics Commission can make a report public.

While the bulk of witness testimony centered on the need to reform the IG reporting process to increase transparency, it certainly was not the only issue.

For example, Rep. Tyron testified about the new IL Portal website for government transparency and openness. This website puts all state expenditures on the internet for easy public viewing and that allows citizens to search state expenditures by agency, contract, vendor, district, representative. This website will be a cost saving for the state by reducing Freedom of Information Act requests by 90%.

Additionally, a representative of AFSCME testified in opposition to the new state transparency website placing the salaries of all rank and file government employees online. AFSCME was also opposed to the publication of reports from IGs that have found no wrong doing, but that contain allegations of wrong doing.

Finally, the AP did not mention testimony that called campaign finance reform as essential. Scott Turow, Commissioner of Executive Ethics Commission, testified that ethics reform must be accompanied by campaign finance reform to promote state employee morale as well as general public perception of corruption. This is a large issue I will return to later.

* The State-Journal Register had very narrow coverage that focused solely on the merits of putting all state employee salaries on line for public viewing. To be fair it is an editorial, so I can’t really complain about the fact that they failed to discuss any other issue covered in the hearing. As an editorial, that is their prerogative. But it does not really add much to the total product.

* The Tribune omitted all same issues as the AP with the exception of Campaign Finance Reform, but context was extremely lacking.

Scott Turow, a member of the Executive Ethics Commission, backed opening up investigative reports, but said lawmakers should couple the proposed changes with campaign finance reform. Illinois has no limits on campaign contributions.

This should have been the lead story for all coverage of this hearing. Scott Turow chaired the Executive Ethics Commission from 2005-2008 and is now the Commissioner of Executive Ethics Commission. The Commission is in charge of oversight of ethics legislation, and as such Mr. Turow is in a uniquely qualified position to comment on what IL reform efforts will require to be successful. As such, the more weight should have been given to his testimony that he has a “strong view that ethics reform must be accompanied by campaign finance reform”.

To paraphrase Mr. Turow's rationale behind his position:

There is of course the notion of public perception, and politicians allowed to take unlimited funds from sate contractors and vendors just does not appear Kosher to most citizens. More important is the expectations of state employees, who express doubts over whether the administration and their bosses really care about ethics reform. It is impossible to have rank and file workers live by rules when state leaders do not live by same code. Cynicism and disappointment is the result when an employee can’t take a free meal but their boss can take unlimited campaign contributions. Thus, unlimited campaign contributions undermine the culture of ethics reform among those who have the most impact upon ethics implementation. Without a proper culture embedded in its implementation, ethics reform will fail.

When this testimony is contrasted with Senate President’s Cullerton’s stance on campaign finance reform, a clear conflict exists in the movement to reform IL government.

From the Daily Herald:

If the public is hoping the latest confounding scandals in Illinois politics will prod major campaign finance reform, they are likely going to be disappointed.

That is if Senate President John Cullerton, a Chicago Democrat, has anything to say about. And he does.

Cullerton told the Daily Herald editorial board Monday he thinks Illinois' wide-open campaign finance system is just fine and repeated the mantra of lawmakers who have long refused contribution limits: disclosure, disclosure, disclosure.

The real story regarding ethics reform is that Cullerton’s public stance contradicts the testimony of an expert whose oversight authority is the product of legislative delegation. However, most of the testimony focused upon IGs and the transparency of their reporting process, so this became the lead. The focus was clearly misplaced and the media did not see the forest through the trees.

The notion that journalism and mainstream media is shallow in depth and scope of the coverage of most issues of coverage in hardly original, and I have provided a recent example with ethics reform. But it can’t hurt to point out the obvious.


The (John) Fritchey Interview

John Fritchey is one of us. He's been blogging for at least four years now, and has been at the forefront of ethics reform in Springfield for as long as I've been in the state. Smart, determined, he's figured out how to get things done -- without having to succumb to the seductions of the Daley political machine. While Mayor Daley may not be endorsing anyone in the race, I am told by friends in City Hall that there is one person he doesn't want to see win. That is John Fritchey.

I can't tell you what that means in this race -- the mayor has ample support on the northside of Chicago -- but I do know what it means to me. Anyone the machine wants to defeat is okay in my book. Anyone who can divide machine pols (or what we call "Regular Dems" in this part of the planet) from Mayor Daley is even better. In the post-Harold Washington world, where the machine has learned to consolidate support among blacks and whites, reformers have to learn how to take voters from the machine in order to be successful. Fritchey is one of the few reformers in Chicago who have been successful at doing that.

I ask the same questions of every candidate. The questions I ask are derived from prior cycle's interviews, as well as my request for input. They split about half and half, half from prior election years and half the questions from the other area bloggers who posed questions for the candidates.

Candidates are provided the questions in advance. I tell every campaign that this isn't "Hardball" and I don't pretend to be Tim Russert. Rather, the point is to give voters the opportunity to compare the candidates side-by-side, to see how they answer the same questions, and to give them the opportunity to get their message out.

Other interviews in this series are:

Mike Quigley

Tom Geoghegan

Paul Bryar

Victor Forys


AG: Burris' appointment "temporary"

By Bethany Jaeger
Attorney General Lisa Madigan issued a legal opinion late last night that confirms the Illinois Republicans’ interpretation of the 17th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution: An appointment to fill a vacant U.S. Senate seat is considered temporary, and the state legislature can set up an election to fill the seat currently held by U.S. Sen. Roland Burris.

According to her reading of the 17th Amendment, “although a state legislature may permit the state executive to fill a vacancy by appointment, that appointment is only ‘temporary.’” She said the General Assembly could reduce the U.S. Senate term without violating the senator’s right to due process of removal based on “cause.”

“A temporary appointee to the U.S. Senate has no right that prevents the General Assembly from passing legislation to enable the people to elect their U.S. senator.” In short, the opinion says nothing in the state or federal Constitution prohibits the General Assembly from changing the date of an election to choose a new U.S. senator.

Illinois House and Senate Republicans took that as a cue to call for another special election. “We do, in fact, have an opportunity legally and legitimately to have a special election and let people fill the Senate seat and stop the embarrassment that is the Roland Burris appointment,” said Sen. Matt Murphy, a Palatine Republican sponsoring a measure, SB 285, to move the primary election date to April 7 and the general election to May 26.

Senate Democrats also are sponsoring their own version of a special election bill, SB 1271, which is scheduled to be heard in a committee this afternoon.

If the Republican version were approved, the election to replace now U.S. Sen. Roland Burris would be on the same dates as local elections and, therefore, save money, Murphy said. Democrats also cited those two dates in December, when the party initially supported the idea of holding a special election to fill the seat vacated by President Barack Obama.

Murphy said Democrats, which have estimated the cost of a special election at more than $40 million, are motivated by politics, not financial concerns. “I think it’s a little ironic that the people who spent us into a $9 billion hole are now going to get a little worried about $15 [million] to $25 million on an issue as important as this.”

He said the state budget still allots more than $15 million for member initiatives this fiscal year. If the General Assembly zeroed out those lines, he said the money could be used to help local governments with the cost of holding a special election. “So sure, it’s a concern but one that we can address if our priorities are right.”

Rep. Bill Black, a Danville Republican, also said the price tag of a special election doesn’t cost as much as public cynicism. “What’s been the cost of the loss of confidence in this state? What’s the cost of people saying, ‘Why bother to vote? It doesn’t make any difference.’ Haven’t we learned anything from the last two or three years?”

The timing, however, would condense the process of finding candidates, circulating petitions and educating voters. Murphy said he’s less concerned about the timing than he is about Burris remaining in office until 2011. “Every time we think we can’t possibly get embarrassed one more time, we do.”

Today’s Chicago Sun-Times reports that Burris’ son received a job with the Blagojevich Administration in September, the month before the governor’s brother called Roland Burris for fundraising help, according to Burris’ February affidavit to the special House committee that recommended Blagojevich’s impeachment.


GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips - February 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 42,357 such articles and information on many upcoming events to its subscribers' attention each morning, free of charge, and without any advertising. To view the February 26, 2009 GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips, please visit or Thanks


Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Change is inevitable

Illinois' budget deficit looks worse, but the cooperation and transparency within state government looks better.

Gov. Pat Quinn has said in the past and confirmed again today that the state’s budget deficit could exceed the previously projected $9 billion next fiscal year. And the federal stimulus funds won’t come close to helping the state close the gap between the amount the state spends versus the amount the state collects in revenue. Jack Lavin, the governor’s chief operating officer, said last week that the current projection is that stimulus funds could help knock off $2 billion of the deficit. That means a lot more changes are in order, and those changes could be painful.

The Senate is gearing up for a series of public hearings to discuss where to cut and how to bring in more revenue. Senate President John Cullerton and Minority Leader Christine Radogno are setting up a special committee, with an even number of Democrats and Republicans, to talk about where to scrutinize spending, including public employee pension systems, health and human services, education and state government operations. The committee is slated to produce a report with potential recommendations by March 25, one week after Quinn proposes his first state budget to the General Assembly.

While Cullerton said everything is on the table, he previously said that there wasn’t much room to cut from state employee payroll and that he couldn’t imagine cutting health care programs when so many people already lack health insurance. Republicans could have a completely different approach. So the creation of this new bipartisan committee gives Democrats and Republicans equal credit — or blame — for the product. It also means Republicans can’t sit back and say it’s a Democratic-controlled plan to which they can only voice opposition. Now they have to come up with some ideas, too.

Word of the day = transparency
Quinn also initiated another effort to change the climate within executive agencies and offices. Consistent with last week’s recommendations of public access advocates, including Attorney General Lisa Madigan, Quinn urged agency directors to err on the side of disclosure. “The people of Illinois demand an open, honest and transparent government,” Quinn said in a statement. “State government must take all steps necessary to make information as accessible as possible.”

In his memo to agency directors, he said, “No decision to withhold information sought [through the Freedom of Information Act] shall be made to avoid embarrassment or for any speculative or other improper purpose.”

Quinn also required that each agency submit a report within 45 days detailing the type of information that could be available online.

State parks to reopen
Quinn also will announce Thursday morning at the Springfield State Fairgrounds that the state will reopen several state parks previously shut by former Gov. Rod Blagojevich.


GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips - February 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 42,314 such articles and information on many upcoming events to its subscribers' attention each morning, free of charge, and without any advertising. To view the February 25, 2009 GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips, please visit or Thanks


Building Support for the EFCA

Last fall, conservatives partnered with business to spend $100 million in Senate elections "zeroing in on the labor-backed legislation that easily passed the House last year but was blocked in the Senate because its allies couldn't get the 60 votes needed for cloture." While Democrats won most of the targeted races (only Maine's Susan Collins survived from the original list), their efforts sent a shiver down the Senate's spine.

The Employee Free Choice Act remains sidelined today. During the recent District work period, unions all over the country kicked off a new effort to bring EFCA back to the forefront. The press conference in these videos was held in Chicago, a preshow, as it were, for the big event at Plumbers Hall.

The Chicago Federation of Labor says:

The bill [EFCA] would stimulate economic recovery by giving workers a chance to join the middle class through union membership. Union members on average earn 30 percent higher wages than their non-union counterparts, are 59 percent more likely to have employee-provided health coverage and four times more like[ly] to have pensions.

The fact that conservatives and business dumped $100 million to prevent this legislation from getting out of the Senate only serves to underscore the ongoing attempts to prevent workers from organizing themselves to gain a little power in their relationships with their bosses. The CFL tells us:

Workers interested in forming a union are routinely intimidated, coerced and illegally fired trying to prevent them from bargaining collectively.

Accusations of coercion are common for both sides. The Center for Union Facts, an anti-Union group, writes [PDF]:

Current law dictates that an employer can either choose to recognize a union
when the employer believes there is significant support from employees or call for an election to make certain that the employees’ true feelings are recognized.

Why would a business deny its employees the opportunity to conduct an anonymous, government-supervised vote? In those relatively rare instances in which an employer has agreed to card check, the employer itself has often been under union pressure—which includes threats of a negative public relations campaign intended to injure a company’s reputation until the company capitulates.

The CFL counters (in their accompanying press kit):

Under the current system, workers sign cards indicating their desire to form a union and then must wait several weeks before the NRLB election, during which time employers often wage anti-union campaigns. When workers request a union election, 91 percent of employers force employees to attend one-on-one anti-union meetings with their supervisors.

The whole point of unionization is to provide a more equitable balance of power between workers and their employers. Business accusations of coercion by the unions seem a bit strange. Anti-union advocates accuse unions of pestering workers. Union organizers accuses businesses of threatening people's jobs. If coercion is in the eye of the beholder, the balance of power here is not. Business has it; unions merely attempt to seek a balance.

The Employee Free Choice Act would level the playing field for employees and employers by strengthening penalties for companies that illegally coerce or intimidate employees in an effort to prevent them from forming a union, bringing in a neutral third party to settle a contract when a company and a newly certified union cannot agree after three months, and putting the choice of how to form a union in the hands of the workers through either majority sign-up or secret ballot election.

Our "free market" economy is not free of bias nor manipulation. Instead of trusting some mythical invisible hand to correct inequities in the marketplace, it is much better to give economic actors of all kinds the power to pursue their own selfish interests. Businesses start with that power. Employees have to fight for it. If the Bernie Madoff scandal has taught us anything, it is that even the smartest, most vigilant person in the "free market" can be fooled. An elegant theory is not a good reason to trust one's employer to do the right thing for everyone. It is much better to trust yourself, and unions have positioned themselves to help employees look out for *their* best interests. Building a balance of power in the workplace. What could be wrong with that?


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