Sunday, March 27, 2005

Forest Park Park District Commissioner

On Tuesday, April 5, 2005, Forest Park will elect two of the following five people to be FP Park District commissioners for six-year terms.
Michael A. Espinosa
Roy J. Sansone
Mary P. Buckley
Cathleen McDermott
Marcella "Marcy" Wozniak
I do know a little about this race, since I covered a candidate forum (with Melissa Lou) for the Forest Park Review. However, only McDermott and Wozniak participated. Part of me says that's enough to decide who to vote for. If the other candidates won't participate in the one all-candidate forum, fuck 'em.

However, Melissa--the FPR editor and my boss--speaks highly of Espinosa. She endorsed Espinosa and McDermott.

I created an online poll to gage the support of Blogging Blagojevich's Blunders readers. It uses Condorcet voting, which has the voters rank the candidates.

If anybody has a good reason to vote for or against any of these candidates, please post the reasons in the comments section.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

who should be Oak Park's Village Prez?

Please only vote in this poll if you are an Oak Park registered voter.

Oak Park has three candidates for village president. I'm curious how the voters would rank the candidates.
Diana Carpenter
Robert Milstein
David Pope
The poll linked above uses Condorcet voting. The Condorcet system has voters rank candidates and then compares each candidate against every other candidate in a matrix. Under Condorcet candidates A & C might get more first place votes than B, but B may still win if she gets enough second place votes.

I thought it would be useful to see which of the two candidates are the strongest so Oak Parkers can vote strategically on April 5th. I will close voting at midnight the day before the election.

Click here for more information about the Condorcet Internet Voting Service.

"Same as it ever was..."

The News-Gazette (Kate Clements):
SPRINGFIELD – Gov. Rod Blagojevich on Friday appointed a new University of Illinois trustee who donated more than $83,000 to the governor's campaign....
Dear Governor Blagojevich, you created some goodwill with your appointments to the Gambling Board. But people suspect you're a "quid pro quo" guy. So you need to keep appointing squeaky clean people to the various governing bodies if you want to capitalize on the goodwill from the Gambling Board appointments.

Your father-in-law accused you of selling appointments for $50,000, right? I'm just a guy that runs a blog, and I lost my only campaign running for elected office, so you can dismiss what I'm about to say. With that caveat in mind, I'd recommend not appointing anybody that's given your campaign over $50,000. It looks bad.


Carl Nyberg
creator, Blogging Blagojevich's Blunders

Friday, March 25, 2005

What would you ask the B-Team?

It's Friday, so it's time for audience questions for Blagojevich and his administration.
What vision of ethics and competence does Blagojevich give to his department heads?

Under what circumstances should the state of Illinois subsidize large corporations? Small businesses?

Can the governor explain why some are concerned about ethanol consuming too much energy to produce? What technical developments does Blagojevich see as having promise to address this issue?

A number of Blagojevich advisors and fundraisers have been involved in profitable business arrangements with the government in Illinois. Does Blagojevich give his advisors and fundraisers guidelines about how they can and can’t use their connections to make money? Or does the governor try to stay ignorant of their financial dealings?

In his most optimistic vision of the future, what does Blagojevich hope to accomplish by making certain video games illegal for minors?

Approximately how many sex workers are working under slavery conditions in Illinois? If the law enforcement community wanted to make detecting and closing these brothels a priority, what keeps them from doing it? Are these brothels being run by organized crime that has bribed public officials to look the other way?

How would Blagojevich like to improve his working relationship with members of the legislature?

The Chicago Tribune ridiculed Blagojevich for blaming Mayor Daley’s lobbyists for the failure to advance gun control legislation. “[Gov. Blagojevich] might as well have criticized Daley for not telling the governor the state legislature was in session that day.” Does Blagojevich stand by his criticism? Does Blagojevich’s staff have any responsibilities to keep track of what’s happening in the legislature? Did any member of Blagojevich’s staff “screw-up” on this legislation?
Here's a link to the last set of questions.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

First Amendment question

Blagojevich says he wants to "[s]top private agencies like A Cherished Child Adoption Agency from advertising in Illinois", as in make it illegal.

Does this violate the First Amendment?

it's not the corruption (only); it's the incompetence

Peoria Journal Star (Molly Parker):
PEORIA - Funding for the state's five crisis nurseries, which provide temporary care for young children in danger of beig abused, was accidentally eliminated from Gov. Rod Blagojevich's proposed budget and will be restored, the governor's budget office said Wednesday.

Jennie Armstrong of the Crittenton Centers in Peoria testified at a budget hearing in Peoria on Tuesday that the Department of Human Services had committed to help restore the funding, but that the organization had not heard from Blagojevich's office.
Someone, I think in a Capitol Fax discussion, said ethics was the achilles heel of Blagojevich. I disagree partially.

Blagojevich might be able to survive the appearance of impropriety that swirls around him, if he was doing a good job and people liked him.

But the evidence of incompetence and people not liking him is gonna cause him to lose in 2006.

two-party system favors big business

Blagojevich is giving money away to Chrysler and he's proud of it.

If the "free market" is so great, how come government has to subsidize business so much?

But what about big business vs. small business in the two-party system?

The Republicans like big business because Republicans like consolidating wealth and power.

Democrats like big business because big businesses offer more opportunities to unionize workers and it's easier to collect taxes from big businesses.

Is there a bi-partisan consensus that small business is undesirable, inefficient and should be discouraged through government policy?

ethanol futures begin trading

WQAD has the story about listing ethanol futures at the Board of Trade.

On Down Left I got into a discussion about ethanol.

The criticism of ethanol that resonates with me is that it takes most of a BTU of energy to produce a BTU of ethanol energy.

Are there any methods of producing ethanol that promise to make ethanol production more efficient?

Proviso Township (& Forest Park)

I'd like to know more about my local elections before I vote on April 5, 2005.

According to the Cook County Clerk these will be the positions and people on my ballot.

Proviso Township Supervisor
Vote for 1 (Full 4-year Term)
Anthony M. Luciano
Mari Herrell
Kathy M. Ryan

Proviso Township Clerk
Vote for 1 (Full 4-year Term)
Michael A. McDermott
Grady Rivers, Jr.
Joyce Ann Eaker

Proviso Township Assessor
Vote for 1 (Full 4-year Term)
Jeanne A. Connelly
Michael A. Corrigan
Ralph W. Conner

Proviso Township Collector
Vote for 1 (Full 4-year Term)
Harriet Jackson
F. Joyce Lewis
Donna M. Contraveos

Proviso Township Trustee
Vote for 4 (Full 4-year Term)
James O. Bishop
Richard P. Rius
Imoni T. Baxter
Linda D. Stevanovich
Timothy Gillian
Jesus "Jesse" Martinez
Don Sloan
Anthony "Tony" Williams
Catherine A. Colgrass-Edwards
Steven R. Johnsen
Michael L. Sheehan
William J. Daugherty, Jr.

Forest Park Park District Commissioner
Vote for 2 (Full 6-year Term)
Michael A. Espinosa
Roy J. Sansone
Mary P. Buckley
Cathleen McDermott
Marcella "Marcy" Wozniak

Forest Park School District 91
Member of the Board of Education
Vote for 4 (Full 4-year Term)
Charles E. Marinier
Lawrence P. Buckley, Jr.
Marilyn Garapolo
Lois L. Bugajsky

Proviso Township High School District 209
Member of the Board of Education
Vote for 4 (Full 4-year Term)
Arbdella "Della" Patterson
Emanuel "Chris" Welch
Daniel J. Adams
Reatha "Sue" Henry
Guillermina "Tina" Alcaraz
Johnny Perryman
Gwendolyn Crayton
Tucker J. Ramos
Katherine Ryan
Thomas D. Dunne, Jr.
Kenneth J. Leggin
Charles A. Flowers

Triton Community College District 504
Members of the Board of Trustees
Vote for 2 (Full 6-year Term)
Donna Leoni Peluso
Merrill M. Becker
Alfonza Al McKinnor

Proviso Township Trustees of Schools, Township 39N, Range 12E
Township School Trustee
Vote for 1 (Full 6-year Term)
Jeanne A. Connelly
Brian Cross
Georgiann "GiGi" Callaway
What should I know about these people and races?

Terry Schiavo, read corndog, discuss elsewhere

Here's the rules of this thread.

This is not to become a discussion of the Terry Schaivo case. However, I encourage people to start discussions at their own blogs. Or if you don't have your own blog, use one of the many blogs that want to discuss the Schaivo case.

I've left the comments thread open so you can post a link to the discussion on your site (or the site where you post your comments).

I read corndog's research and analysis of the Schiavo case and found it quite useful in debunking the lies being told about Michael Schiavo, Terry's husband and guardian.

For those of you that think Michael Schiavo, the Florida courts and the federal courts are wrong on this, I would like you to read what corndog wrote and respond in your own blogs. If Michael Schiavo is on the up-and-up, should he be allowed to fulfill his wife's desires?

Here is a list of Blogging Blagojevich's Blunders linked blogs that have come down against Terry Schaivo's desires and the court system.
* Ace of Trump
* annoyinglittletwerp
* Discursive Recursions
* IlliniPundit
* Making tomorrows Military today
* Peoria Pundit
* The TPS Report

"I hate Illinois Nazis"

From the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy:
The laden phrase “identity politics” has come to signify a wide range of political activity and theorizing founded in the shared experiences of injustice of members of certain social groups. Rather than organizing solely around ideology or party affiliation, identity politics typically concerns the liberation of a specific constituency marginalized within its larger context. Members of that constituency assert or reclaim ways of understanding their distinctiveness that challenge dominant oppressive characterizations, with the goal of greater self-determination.
Yesterday while listening to NPR I heard a piece on Jeffrey Weise killing people on the Red Lake Reservation.

One of the "experts" commented on Weise being Native American and being attracted to Nazi ideology. He claimed some individuals from the "oppressed" identify with the "oppressor" because they covet the power and acceptance.

I'm pretty sure that's not what was going on in this case.

Does Matthew Hale, his movement or other neo-Nazi organizations have any meaningful power? They are angry and critics of the larger society. They invoke the threat of violence and "talk trash" about overthrowing the existing social order and replacing it with something pure.

These are the aspects of the neo-Nazi movement Weise identified with. He hated mainstream culture. He fantasized about using violence to change it. And he wanted to establish something pure.

To suggest he was seeking acceptance by society's privileged and powerful misses the mark. Weise hated society's privileged and powerful. It wasn't like he was trying to become a jock, a businessman or a Republican.

challenge to Right-Left dichotomy

I have always believed that the ultimate maturity of a democratic polity is the eradication of right-and-left dichotomy. The American people will eventually become open-mindedly selective, reasonable, and flexible in an eclectic manner when it comes to their ideological leanings, political affiliations, and social voices. The government can't do anything but respond to the people's hodgepodge clamor. Thus, it will change also and adopt an inclusive, heterogenous, and generic policy and platform. It is a good thing. We will then have a developmental politics instead of a political one- politics for the sake of politicking. Elections will no longer be about Jesus but justice.
Like Ms. Deja Vu, I favor dumping the Left-Right linear spectrum as a model for politics.

Please, visit her blog and say "hi", but be forewarned it has sexual content and adult language.

Congrats endorsed candidates in Oak Park

The Wednesday Journal endorsed Robert Milstein for Village President and Sandra Sokol for Village Clerk in Oak Park. Sokol was also endorsed by the Oak Park Journal, although David Pope got the nod for Village President there.

In the interestest of full disclosure, I am a columnist and freelance contributor to the Forest Park Review which is owned by Wednesday Journal, Inc. I am also personal friends with Sandra Sokol and her family. Milstein and I share activist buddies.

And I think all the Oak Park media outlets, including the Oak Leaves, supported Bill Sullivan for Cicero Township Trustees of Schools. Bill's a good guy and I'm sure he'll do a good job at whatever the township trustee of schools does.

Dean organizer Eric Davis is running for Oak Park Township trustee as an independent. The Oak Leaves and Oak Park Journal endorsed him. I didn't see the WJ endorsement on this race. For info on Davis see the Cook County Clerk website or the Democracy for Illinois website. I know Davis less well than Sokol, Milstein and Sullivan, but he seems like a stand-up guy.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Cook County budget


At 6:30 tonight IVI-IPO will have five Cook County commissioners to talk about the budget at Chicago Temple, 77 W. Washington.

See this post for more info.

John Wyma's profile raised

Chicago Tribune (Virginia Groark; John Chase contributing):
Tollway bond firm in spotlight

The New York financial firm picked to manage a $700 million Illinois tollway bond sale this spring hired one of Gov. Rod Blagojevich's oldest and most trusted political advisers as a consultant on the deal, records show.

John Wyma, who was the chief of staff for Blagojevich when he served in Congress and was the political director of his campaign for governor, has been paid $400,000 by Lehman Brothers since Blagojevich became governor to consult on business with the tollway and other agencies connected to the state.
Joe Birkett is keeping after Blagojevich's people on this. Go Joe!

state gets $135 M from tax scofflaws

State press release:
CHICAGO - The State of Illinois collected $135 million from close to 700 taxpayers and businesses who participated in the Voluntary Compliance Program (VCP) initiated by Gov. Rod Blagojevich in last year’s legislative session. The Voluntary Compliance Program allowed taxpayers who underreported their taxable income because they were using tax shelters to come forward and pay the associated Illinois Income Tax liability without incurring any new penalties. The Illinois Department of Revenue anticipated a $100 million return on the program at its inception in October 2004. One hundred million dollars goes to the state and the remaining thirty-five million will be distributed among local municipalities.

“This program not only helped the state get money it was owed but sends a clear signal to tax payers that we take evasion seriously,” said the Governor. “We are not going to raise income taxes and we are not going to balance the budget on the backs of working families. But we’re also not going to sit back and let businesses and individuals use unfair accounting techniques to avoid paying their share for education, health care, public safety and other important services.”

Does this kind of program help on a long-term basis? Or is it just a one-time shot in the arm?

Does Blagojevich have a realistic chance of passing a budget without a tax increase?

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Naval Air Station Glenview Museum

According to today's Chicago Tribune the Naval Air Station Glenview Museum has six months or less at it's current location.

The museum is only open on the weekends. I want to organize a trip or trips to go visit. Hopefully, more visitors will lead to more fundraising and allow the Glenview Hanger One Foundation to afford to move the museum to an appropriate permanent location.

Who wants to go this weekend?

who should be included in governor poll?

I've created a couple polls for governor.

In the first round there were twelve Republicans and thirteen candidates listed in the Democratic polls.

In the second round the fields were split into subgroups that I thought would be more digestible.

As of right now I intend to create a poll to simulate the general election with various Republicans, Blagojevich and perhaps other candidates. The point is to see which Republicans are really stronger and weaker in the general election.

I'm not going to call any candidate out by name, but a certain Republican candidate seems to have a loyal (fanatical?) following, and I don't think this candidate will do well in the general election against Blagojevich. But maybe I'm not reading the tea leaves correctly, so the poll will be a chance for me to learn too.

My question for you is, who should be included in this poll? What candidates will likely be on the ballot?

* Should there be a Libertarian candidate? Why or why not?
* Should there be a Green candidate? Why or why not?
* Should there be an independent candidate? Why or why not?
* What other parties should be included? Why?

For those of you that are new to Blogging Blagojevich's Blunders I use Condorcet voting which allows voters to rank candidates.

new Gaming Board members: pro or anti gambling?

The Illinois Leader:
CHICAGO - Perhaps trying to recoup support lost when he broke his promise not to accept contributions from gambling interests, Governor Rod Blagojevich has appointed a majority of non-gamblers to the five-member Illinois Gaming Board.

While none of the appointees can be pointed to as a conservative, on gambling, liberals and social conservatives then to agree: they’re “against” it.
Later in the article there's a quote from Sheila Simon:
I'm not a fan of gambling, In fact I told the governor's people I've never been to a riverboat casino. But they told me that might make me even more qualified. Certainly gambling is a tax on the people who can least afford to be taxed. It’s not the greatest idea.
I was curious where the new members came down on gambling and this article answered the question for me.

Feel free to speculate on what Blagojevich seeks to accomplish with these appointments.

Schaivo vs. Narc

Sun-Times (Maureen O'Donnell):
Gov. Blagojevich is using the roll-out of "Narc,'' a new video game set in the drug underworld, to promote legislation that would ban the sale of violent and sexually explicit games to minors.
Is Blagojevich's opposition to violent video games rooted in political opportunism? Is Blagojevich more or less opportunistic than DeLay, Frist, Bush, et al are being on the case of Terry Schaivo?

read the polling at Capitol Fax

I feel lame when I merely send you to someone else's blog, but Rich Miller has detailed polling on the governor's race. The top thread is generic re-elect/someone new polling, but broken down by demographics.

The next thread is polling on abortion. Once again we see that not only are the majority of Americans in favor of abortion rights, the majority of Republicans favor abortion rights. However, the Republicans that oppose abortion rights feel much more strongly abour the issue.

Monday, March 21, 2005

Topinka for governor?

Sun-Times (Lynn Sweet):
GOP state Treasurer Judy Baar Topinka is preparing to run for governor -- raising money, polling and reaching out to key state and national Republicans.

Chamber of Commerce vs. Blagojevich

The lower court ruled for the Chamber of Commerce. Will the Illinois Supreme Court back Blagojevich? Or the Chamber of Commerce and the lower court?

See the Sun-Times (Eric Herman).

fire marshal does real inspection of race track

Should I be giving Blagojevich credit for reforming the practice of state inspectors going easy on racetrack and casino owners that give generously to the governor?

Sun-Times (David McKinney):
Balmoral Park Race Track has been slapped with more than 300 state fire-code violations after going years without being cited once by the state fire marshal's office, an agency under federal investigation.

Before Gov. Blagojevich's administration, fire marshal brass suggested that inspectors "accommodate" racetracks and casinos "any way you can" because they have been generous campaign donors to a long line of governors, veteran fire marshal sources said.

South Dakota is #1

But it's in good company with Hawaii, Illinois, Louisiana, Maine, Montana, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Virginia and Washington.

What do these states have in common? See this list of blogs.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

how many people were at M19 Demo?

The Chicago Tribune (Aamer Madhani; with Gary Gibula, Jody Paige & Sean D. Hamill contributing) makes the convoluted statement:
With protest and prayer, hundreds of Chicago-area residents marked the second anniversary of the invasion of Iraq and called on the White House to quickly find an endgame to the war.

In the city, about 1,000 peace activists gathered in Federal Plaza for an afternoon rally sponsored by the Chicago Coalition Against War and Racism. A scheduled march before the rally, which put anti-war demonstrators and police at loggerheads, went off without serious incident.
Let's leave aside the clumsy wording where the group described in the first paragraph (everyone in the Chicago area) is described as "hundreds" and a subset group described in the second paragraph (the Chicago area people that were at the Federal Plaza) were described as about 1,000. (Is it a pre-requisite for mainstream journalism that people be bad with numbers?)

I was at the Federal Plaza. My friend, Barry Romo, a national coordinator of Vietnam Veterans Against the War, asked me to help with security. So I was in front of the stage and got all the privileges that go along with that (getting my ears blasted by the speakers, sorting out who's camera was in front of whom's, keeping radicals from pushing their way on stage, etc.)

There was not just over 1,000 people in the Federal Plaza. There was way over 1,000 people there. There were so many over the 1,000 figure warrants a correction.

So I propose a little online activism. To show that there were way over 1,000 people at the demostration, people should email George de Lama, Deputy Managing Editor, News, and Don Wycliff, the public editor, In your email provide the names of at least one person who can verify you were at the demostration and a phone number for the person if you know it.

BTW, the Sun-Times used the 1,000 figure too. What are the appropriate email addresses to contact at the Sun-Times?

just for fun polls

Both these polls are modeled on the NCAA 64-team bracket system, but you get to vote.

Ralph pointed me to the Ultimate Chicagoan poll sponsored by the Chicago Tribune's Redeye.

And a St. Louis Republican outfit created this poll of potential GOP presidential candidates.

He ain't nothing but a hound dog--a publicity hound

The Chicago Tribune (Patrick Rucker) has an article on the top of page 3 of the Metro section about Governor Blagojevich supporting a statewide effort to assist immigrants working as slave laborers, including those tricked and forced to be sex workers.

Sounds good, right? Who could be for slavery in the Land of Lincoln in the 21st Century?

Guess how much money Blagojevich is putting into the program? Up to $200,000.

To put this in perspective Blagojevich found $500,000 to help gas stations switch to E85, a blend of gasoline that contains more ethanol.

$200,000? Consider the coverage Blagojevich is getting in the media, in print, on radio and TV. If Blagojevich had to buy the space in the newspapers and buy the time on the radio and TV for "rah-rah Rod" ads, he would probably spend most or all of the $200K. Of the hundreds of slave laborers in Illinois, how many will be helped by this spending? Is the goal of this spending to detect and prevent human rights abuses or to score Blagojevich some positive publicity?

In a way you've got to admire Blagojevich's PR team. They can squeeze little stuff--either single cases, feel good legislation or pittance level spending--for the maximum positive press coverage.

If Blagojevich was able to stretch state money for the public interest as well as he does for his own interests, we'd have a great governor.

Saturday, March 19, 2005

'I don't care where the governor stands'

Not the most respectful way for Emil Jones to express his differences with Governor Blagojevich.

But if Blagojevich isn't respectful toward other pols, it creates a "reap what you sow" situation.

Jones was disagreeing with Blagojevich on school funding. See the Daily Southtown (Kristen McQueary).

political violence is gonna increase

In the modern world people feel insecure. This makes them more prone to lash out in a violent manner.

Our politics are increasing debated with the clear inclusion of threats of violence. "If the opposition disagrees they will lead to Americans being killed by 'bad people'." (The Dems do this too. The clearest example at the national level was the NAACP's ad linking Bush to the dragging death of James Byrd. This ad used the threat of violence to influence Black voters.)

American political rhetoric has become shrill. And the Neo Con movement which controls the federal government is ideologically opposed to compromise, which the movement sees as weakness. Interest groups opposed to the Neo Cons see themselves getting steam-rolled. What they say or do doesn't matter. If one's voice is excluded from the political process with the threat of violence, he may seek other channels--outside traditional politics--to express himself.

These factors combine to produce a volatile situation that will lead to increased political violence in the next decade.

Media figures (Michael Moore, Al Franken, Ann Coulter, Michael Savage, etc.) will be targeted along with politicians and organizers (people like King and Malcolm X). And bloggers are media figures and organizers. Apparently The Inside Dope received a threatening email.

Rich Miller has a post on a man arrested for threatening Lisa Madigan.

Friday, March 18, 2005

how many ways to ridicule Rod's cynicism?

Chicago Tribune (editorial):
In about the time it takes for a bullet to find its target, Gov. Rod Blagojevich moved from the bizarre to the ridiculous on gun-control legislation. It's tempting to make a case that he would do less damage if he simply went back to being silent on the matter. Gun violence was a defining issue for him when he was in Congress, but since he entered the governor's mansion, he has allowed important gun legislation to die without lifting a finger....

Blagojevich launched into an inexplicable rap on the hard-working lobbyists for Mayor Richard Daley. Blagojevich called them lethargic and criticized them for not keeping his people in the loop about various pieces of upcoming legislation.

He might as well have criticized Daley for not telling the governor the state legislature was in session that day. Lobbyists, including the governor's lobbyists, are paid to know what's going on in the House and Senate at all times. It was silly of him to shift blame....

Trying to dig out from a mountain of deserved criticism in recent weeks for being absent from the gun debate, Blagojevich has dispatched a handful of lobbyists to make it look like he's suddenly committed on guns.
As I pointed out earlier Blagojevich is gonna get hammered in the media for this type of thing over-and-over-and-over again. The Dems would be better off to euthanize him in the primary.

Casino Board

Yeah, I know it's technically called the "Gaming Board", but let's cut the bullshit.

I thought the board was suposed to nix the Rosemont deal, but couldn't because it didn't have a quorum. In an earlier post I quoted a Chicago Tribune editorial:
The most important job awaiting those new members is to undo the decision of previous board members to steer the state's 10th casino license to Rosemont, in spite of lingering charges from the Gaming Board and from Atty. Gen. Lisa Madigan that the suburb has ties to organized crime.
The Sun-Times (Chris Fusco) makes it clear the new board will be voting to give a Rosemont license. The story starts with:
The Illinois Gaming Board is back in business and could be ready to consider a controversial plan to give Rosemont the state's last available casino license by mid-summer.
The Chicago Tribune (John Chase and Christi Parsons) has a more detailed story. It included this paragraph:
In Springfield, the House State Government Administration Committee voted 8-1 to send to the floor a bill that would force all Illinois casinos to close. It is highly unlikely such a measure would become law, but the action paves the way for the first wide-ranging legislative discussion of the merits of riverboat gambling since it was legalized in 1990.
The Inside Dope has more detail.

BTW, Dope had a puzzler yesterday that took me most of the day to figure out. I was kinda humiliated that a former math team guy couldn't solve it quicker.

blogger hiccups; Rezko's minority contracting

Apparently I can start a thread but have trouble commenting in threads.

If I could comment I'd comment in the thread Blago's minority contracting.

It seems that the specific unlawful actions connect to the city. See Chicago Tribune (Dan Mihalopoulos & Laurie Cohen; Hal Dardick, Mickey Ciokajlo & Gary Washburn contributing). Crain's is covering the story from the perspective the issue may spread to the Cook County government. On WBEZ's Eight Forty-Eight (Antics of the County Board) they have a clip of Stroger painting himself as a Harold Washington figure besieged by disrespectful "White" board members. Stroger was a "regular Democrat" in the '80s and not part of the Harold Washington insurgency. It would be delicious payback for Stroger's righteousness if he got hammered for sending minority contracts to businesses with fraudulent ownership arrangements.

But back to Blagojevich. Even if Blagojevich and the state gov't did nothing for Rezko on these particular contracts, it's fair to ask, what kind of people does Blagojevich surround himself with.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

St. Patty's Day question

Last Sunday I went to the Southside St. Patrick's Day Parade.

There were a bunch of pols with entries, including Mayor Daley, Jon Daley, the Hynes', Sheahan, Lipinski and probably some others that slip my mind.

I didn't see an entry for either Madigan.

I arrived late so it's possible the Madigans were in the front of the parade. But the pols seemed to be all bunched together and there was no Madigans.

Any insights?

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Blago's minority contracting

Chicago Tribune (Dan Mihalopoulos & John Chase; Virginia Groark contributing):
O'Hare vendor called minority front
Top Blagojevich aide owns Panda Express outlets, city charges

City officials alleged Tuesday that a minority contractor at O'Hare International Airport acted as a front for a firm run by Antoin "Tony" Rezko, a top adviser and fundraiser for Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

The Daley administration moved to revoke the minority-business certification of Crucial Inc. City records indicate that Crucial operates two Panda Express Asian fast-food restaurants at the airport.

City officials identified Jabir Herbert Muhammad, the son of Nation of Islam founder Elijah Muhammad, as the president of Crucial. But a statement from the city's Department of Procurement Services said the firm actually is "under the management and control of Panda Express, a majority firm."
Where to go with this....

Blagojevich leveraged potential contracts for campaign contributions. I'm shocked!

Does anybody want to discuss set-asides and affirmative action in government contracting?

BTW, Jesse Jackson, Jr. got all righteous when mayor was linked to this type of problem in Chicago. Will he demostrate the same public righteousness about Blagojevich?

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

immature punk

Remember when Mayor Daley was asked about Blagojevich? He played down the idea that there was feud or a rift between the two.

Now Rod's punk ass is publicly turfing Daley. What's Blagojevich trying to accomplish with these statements?

Chicago Tribune (Maura Kelly Lannan)
Blagojevich says Daley not well-served by his lobbyists on gun control bills

Gov. Rod Blagojevich on Monday said Chicago Mayor Richard Daley is not well-served by his lobbyists in Springfield on gun control bills because they have not asked the governor's office for help or kept it informed when such measures come up for a vote.

"I would recommend maybe the mayor needs to look and see whether or not he may want to hire some new lobbyists because they need to show a little more energy and a lot less lethargy," Blagojevich said. "They don't contact us. We only hear from them after they fail with their bills and then they call and start blaming."
If there's a failure to coordinate, how's it on Daley's side any more than Blagojevich's?

Nominally Blagojevich is working for "good" gun control too. Why aren't the Blagojevich people reaching out to their potential allies? They know who's working the issue in Springfield, right? They know how to get ahold of them right?

Does Blagojevich think anybody is gonna fall for blaming Daley's lobbyists? And how should Daley react to this public insult? Run for governor?

Monday, March 14, 2005

Cook County wonks & activists

Dan Johnson-Weinberger pointed me to an upcoming IVI-IPO discussion on Cook County government's budget process.
March 23rd 6:30-8:30pm.
Chicago Temple
77 West Washington @ Clark

Cook County Commissioners Quigley, Claypool, Peraica,
Simms, Suffredin will be there discussing the Cook
County budget process and reforming Cook County
Cook County government is a cesspool of patronage and low quality services.

If anybody is interested in creating a watchdog blog for Cook County government or a specific officials ("Sheahan's Shennanigans" anyone?) contact me. It seems like something that should exist.


Rich Miller reports, Illinois [is] one of only two states, along with Maine, that is still actively expanding its Medicaid rolls. [...]

My analysis is that health care costs are choking state and local government. Expanding the state's obligation seems particularly short-sighted.

selecting judges

What you think of how Illinois selects judges?

The Rockford Register Star has an editorial urging Blagojevich to veto a bill creating judicial sub-circuits, ostensibly to increase the number of Blak and Latino judges.

I don't like electing judges. It makes it too easy for organized crime to cut deals with political bosses to get judges on the bench that are sympathetic to criminal organizations. And, more importantly, it allows a number of dufuses on the bench.

The argument I hear from liberals usually centers around elections getting woman and "people of color" elected. But when you get into the specifics, the women and "people of color" elected have something in common with the "White" guys elected. They're mostly political hacks, not people of encyclopedic legal knowledge or the wisdom and temperment of Solomon.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

online polls, next round

These polls will close at noon next Sunday.

You are invited to vote in either the Democratic polls or the Republican polls. The polls use Condorcet voting. Under Condorcet voters rank candidates. You can't hurt your number one choice by ranking candidates below him/her. (This is unlike ranking systems used in sports that give points.)

The Democratic subgroups:
Dem Field A
* Dick Devine
* John Fritchey
* David Orr
* John Schmidt

Dem Field B
* Jack Franks
* Jay Hoffman
* Glenn Poshard

Dem Field C
* Dorothy Brown
* Lauren Beth Gash
* Corrinne Wood
* Karen Yarbrough

Dem Field D
* Rod Blagojevich
* Dan Hynes
* Lisa Madigan
The Republican subgroups:
GOP Field 1
* Joe Birkett
* Ray LaHood
* Tom McCracken
* Jim Oberweis
* Steve Rauschenberger
* Corrinne Wood

GOP Field 2
* Bill Brady
* Peter Fitzgerald
* Ron Gidwitz
* Peter O'Malley
* Dan Rutherford
* Judy Baar Topinka

Rod inspires cynicism in journalists

Democrats that feel they should back Blagojevich out of loyalty or because the incumbent is the most likely way for the party to retain control should read Doug Finke's column in the Peoria Journal Star.

On a temperment level it shows how cynical journalists are about Blagojevich. If you need other reminders:

Southtown editorial
about firing tax reform advocate

The Chicago Tribune hammered Blago's hypocrisy on guns and his duplicity on the gaming board

Rich Miller is cynical about his CFR plan

And Aaron Chamber of the Rockford Register Star made the B-Team look like fools in this column
The problem for Blagojevich has become that all his actions are going to get interpretted through a highly cynical lens. Some people may debate whether this is fair, but even if you think it's unfair you can see that it's happening.

The Democrats are more likely to retain the governorship with a fresh face than with Blagojevich. And at this point the money shouldn't be scaring everyone off. There's a 10-35% chance Blagojevich is gonna have to give most of it back (or to charity) anyway.

Rod shoots the messenger

Daily Southtown:
Southlander dumped from school panel

THE ISSUE: South Holland businessman loses post on funding advisory board.
WE SAY: Blagojevich is telling advisers not to give advice he doesn't want to hear.

What does a governor do when one of his advisers gives him advice he doesn't want to hear?

If the governor is Rod Blagojevich, he gets rid of the adviser. That's what the governor did last week when he dumped a south suburban business leader from the state's advisory board on school funding issues.

South Holland businessman Bert Docter in recent years has become one of the Southland's leading advocates for school funding reform and property tax relief.
This editorial says darn close to everything you need to know about Blagojevich. It's got boards, intrasigence on taxes, duplicity and Blagojevich generally behaving badly.

Madigan (Michael's wife, Lisa's mom)

Ralph has an informative post on Shirley Madigan.

Saturday, March 12, 2005

ILPundit predicts Topinka will run

ILPundit wrote:
[Challenging Blagojevich over the special purpose funds] is a heck of a fight to pick, and one that makes no sense if she is running for re-election. She opens herself up to attack for blocking state funding for any number of state needs – including education and day care.

But if she’s running against the Governor, the move makes more sense, because it allows Topinka to define the clear dividing line between herself and Blagojevich on what is probably her greatest strengths – a public reputation for straight talk and responsible management of state government finances.
I disagree with the esteemed blogger's logic.

The funds have their own constituencies. The people that care about the details of state budgeting realize Blagojevich raiding the funds is no long-term solution. With Blagojevich neither supporting HB 750 nor an alternative tax swap plan he's already antagonized the constituencies that ILPundit thinks JBT is offending with her move.

JBT may or may not run, but I don't see JBT standing against Rod the raider as proof one way or the other.


Chicago Tribune (Steve L. Kent):
"I think that is disgusting," Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich said when told about the use of drugs in Midway's new game. "When the companies that make these games compete in the marketplace, what starts to happen is that they have a marketing arms race where in order to top the competition, your game has to be even more filled with violence and sex and drugs and criminal behavior."
Does anyone else detect synergy between Blagojevich and the game makers? They give him a foil to establish his "values" and he gives them cheap publicity.

Judge Zappa blocks raiding dedicated funds

Chicago Tribune (Rick Pearson):
Judge blocks governor's money plan
Day-to-day state bills can't be paid from special funds, he says

A Downstate judge Friday issued a preliminary injunction blocking Gov. Rod Blagojevich from paying day-to-day state bills with money siphoned from special state accounts earmarked for the regulation of financial institutions.

The state has hundreds of such funds, filled by special assessments and fees, that were set up to bankroll conservation programs, scholarships, financial regulation and a variety of other narrow missions.

But Blagojevich, with legislative backing, has drawn more than $400 million out of the special accounts over the last 18 months to pay day-to-day bills of government, ease the state's cash crunch and avoid a general tax increase. In his budget for the coming fiscal year, Blagojevich proposes to tie all increases in spending for schools to the so-called fund sweeps.

The ruling by Sangamon County Circuit Judge Leo Zappa affected only three of the special funds, from which Blagojevich has taken $5 million. But it raised new questions about whether any of Blagojevich's fund diversions could pass legal muster.
The law involves some interpretation. Borrowing a little money judges could probably live with. But raiding the funds without having a plan to fix the underlying problem probably concerned the judge.

Friday, March 11, 2005

FEC regulation of blogs

The Online Coalition has a petition asking the FEC to continue to treat blogs as media outlets and not try to impose regulation beyond normal disclosure of advertising.

People that publish ("maintain" or whatever the appropriate verb is) political blogs should all read the petition and sign-on if they agree.

What would you ask the B-Team?

On Fridays I ask people to brainstorm questions for the Blagojevich administration.
Of Blagojevich's top transportation advisors, what is the longest any of them has gone without a car and depending on public transportation as her/his primary means of transportation?

What are the top five causes of violent crime? Where do video games rank on the list of causes?

If taking campaign contributions from contractors is wrong, why shouldn't Blagojevich return--or donate to charity--the money he's raised from contractors?

Does Blagojevich's budget continue to increase money spent on people over 50 while decreasing the money spent on people under 30?

How well does Blagojevich understand the energy efficiency argument against ethanol?

Does Blagojevich distinguish between "good gun control" and "bad gun control"? Which is the best proposal in the legislature? Which is the worst? Why?

Why is Blagojevich having so much trouble appointing people to boards?

Last week's questions

Have a good weekend!

getting testy about raiding funds

Chicago Tribune (Rick Pearson):
Budget director lashes back
Filan says Topinka endangering lives

Gov. Rod Blagojevich's budget director on Thursday accused Treasurer Judy Baar Topinka of endangering "the lives of real people" by blocking a budget maneuver used by the governor to keep the state out of the red and help pay bills for social and other programs.

The attack from John Filan followed Topinka's decision to stop Blagojevich from siphoning any more funds from special state accounts earmarked for environmental cleanup, open-space acquisition and other special purposes.
Endangering the lives of real people? Wow! Thems strong words for bean counters!

And here's what the auditor general says, KWQC (AP):
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. Governor Rod Blagojevich's handling of the state budget came under fire today from both the state treasurer and the auditor general....

Auditor General William Holland says the administration did not give agencies any documentation to show where their budgets should be trimmed.

He says the agencies ended up trimming areas that had no connection to any real savings.
And for analysis you might want to read The Pantagraph (Kurt Erickson & Phil Davidson):
SPRINGFIELD -- Gov. Rod Blagojevich has made it a point to be more conciliatory in recent months, but an observer wouldn't have known it was working Wednesday....

Analysts and potential challengers say the latest round of Blagojevich bashing centers on the continuing struggle between the governor and state lawmakers over the state's budget.

"The governor has to lead that charge, and it is clear that he doesn't have very many allies. All of that is coming home to roost," said political scientist John Jackson of the Public Policy Institute at Southern Illinois University. "Until it gets sorted out, it is going to be massive conflict from here until the end of the legislative session."
So Rod's "I'm better than you icky politicians" schtick wasn't the most effective way to govern, eh?

Thursday, March 10, 2005

CTA threatens huge cuts

Sun-Times (Mark J. Konkol):
With no guarantee of more state transit cash, CTA officials are set to pick from a grim menu of scenarios that could increase train fares to as much as $3.40, or cut bus and rail service severely enough to put 3,500 employees out of work.

CTA staff Wednesday outlined five choices -- all of them bad news for riders -- to fill the agency's growing $55 million budget gap if state lawmakers don't find a new way to fund transit in the Chicago area....

Gov. Blagojevich has pitched a CTA bailout that would be linked to ending a $65 million tax break given to businesses on computer software purchases.
What's this shortfall mean for Blagojevich?

blogosphere consensus "bankruptcy bill sucks!"

Politology is tracking an emerging story about the Right Wing and Left Wing of the blogosphere agreeing that the bankruptcy bill is bad for consumers and a give-away to the credit card industry.

Obama and Durbin voted against the bankruptcy bill. How did Illinois House members vote?

U.S. blocks drugs sent from Canada

Chicago Tribune (John Chase & Christi Parsons):
The Bush administration has begun selectively seizing prescription drugs imported under a program created by Gov. Rod Blagojevich, ratcheting up pressure to stop a practice that the governor says will save money for consumers but regulators contend is unsafe and illegal.
Did the Bush administration and federal government issue warnings about shoddy health practices in Canada before this?

The Bush administration is merely acting as a thug enforcer for the pharmaceutical industry. Is there anything more to this?

"House panel votes to let prostitutes sue pimps"

Sun-Times (Ben Fischer):
"Homer X," a former pimp who got rich by selling hookers on Chicago's North Side for nearly 25 years, now believes prostitutes need help from the General Assembly.

Using a fake name to protect his identity, Homer X, 46, spoke to the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday in support of a measure that would allow prostitutes to sue their pimps. A former Chicago prostitute, Olivia Howard, also testified in favor of the bill.

Is this a step toward legalization?

Will the prostitutes sue for the bling-bling or the girls remaining in the stable?

Will pols be able to sue lobbyists that got them hooked on junkets are campaign contributions?

JBT: "getyo hand outa my pocket!"

Chicago Tribune (Rick Pearson):
Topinka won't let governor tap state's cookie jar

In a move that could aggravate Illinois' budget crunch, Treasurer Judy Baar Topinka said Wednesday she will no longer let Gov. Rod Blagojevich pay day-to-day state expenses with money earmarked for environmental cleanup, open-space acquisition and other special purposes.
I got an email from my dad that's circulating among environment/ecology activists. They're not buying the idea that Blagojevich's proposal nets the state money without cutting into the purpose of the fund.

See this post for a link to a useful editorial.

Raiding these funds seems like a way to antagonize numerous organized constituencies all at once.

Video killed... the radio star? Kenny? somebody?

Chicago Tribune (Erika Slife):

Blagojevich pulls out the stops on video game bill

SPRINGFIELD -- In an effort to pass one of his pet initiatives, Gov. Rod Blagojevich on Wednesday dispatched top aides and supporters to an Illinois House committee hearing to testify on behalf of his proposal to ban the sale of violent video games to children.
Does Blagojevich believe this bill will reduce crime? Or is this just cheap showboating?

what's good for the goose...

Madigan calls out Blagojevich...

Sun-Times (Ben Fischer):
After Gov. Blagojevich promised to "rock" Springfield with a campaign finance reform package, one of his chief Democratic rivals rocked right back Wednesday by telling him to get his own house in order first.

House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago) blindsided the governor in a closed-door meeting by urging him to return campaign cash from contractors, a move that would quell the growing fuss over how the governor's donors have scored big-money contracts with his administration.
What do you say, Guvernor? Willing to give it back?

Forest Park Review online

The Forest Park Review, my hometown paper, is available online. Yeah!

Now I can link to my columns. The first one online happens to be about Rod Blagojevich.
Who should pay for the mistakes of the past?

The State of Illinois created a flawed pension system that promised too much and collected too little. Who should pay to fix it?...

If it’s up to Blagojevich, he’s not going to be the one to pay for the mistakes of the past.
I promise not to make this blog about me, but the Forest Park St. Patrick's Day Parade was a strange experience for me.

I finally got around to buying a second copy of the paper to give to my parents and now its available online. Go figure.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Madigan's secret plan?

Ralph and Archpundit praised this post by ILPundit.

ILPundit suggests Madigan may quietly assemble support for a veto-proof budget that includes a tax swap.

Won't that require Republicans?

ILPundit theorizes Republicans might join the effort.
First, their constituents would probably welcome property tax relief; and

Second, it would deprive the Governor of his signature issue in 2006.
Why would Madigan bail out the governor? As long as there's a problem it's Blagojevich's problem. Why not let Rod twist in the wind on cutting services and raising taxes?

The best reason for Madigan to pre-empt Blagojevich this way is that Blagojevich has a budget that's somehow unacceptable to Madigan and the Republicans.

9.5% tuition increase at Western

Chicago Sun-Times (AP):
Western Illinois proposes 9.5 percent increase

MACOMB -- Western Illinois University has proposed a 9.5 percent tuition increase for new students beginning this summer, following double-digit increases each of the last three years, the university said.
Failure to address pension costs and health care costs are killing state universities.

Do voters clearly understand the tradeoffs? Students?

gas station give away (Diana Thorn-Roemer):
Governor offering grants to gas stations

As gas prices creep higher and higher, prospects improve for alternative fuels. In an effort to further tap into that potential, the governor announced Tuesday that Illinois is offering grants to station owners who want to add ethanol fuel to their lineups, saying there isn't enough of the cheaper, homegrown fuel available for sale in the state.

The $500,000 in "Opportunity Returns" funding is being offered to individuals or companies that want to construct a new refueling station or convert an existing facility so its operators can sell E85, a blend of ethanol and gasoline. A total of $2,000 is offered for conversions per existing station and $40,000 is offered for new stations, through the grant funds. Also in support of the fuel, Blagojevich signed legislation in 2003 that eliminated the state sales tax for E85 fuel, pricing it competitively with unleaded gasoline.
I'm an ethanol skeptic.

Is it weird to be handing out money during a financial crunch?

Herald & Review on pooling funds

This seems like a good place to begin the discussion of Blagojevich's proposal.

Herald & Review editorial
Governor's education 'pooling' requires care

One of the more questionable aspects of Gov. Rod Blagojevich's proposed budget is the pooling of several state funds to finance an increase in education spending.

As with many of the intricacies involving the state budget, the concerns about this proposal are in the details, and not all of the details have been released by the governor's office. But still, there is plenty of reason to keep a watchful eye on this process.
This editorial explains how Blagojevich plans to save money.

In general I'm skeptical of "money for nothing" proposals, but it seems like there could be some savings from combining the funds by reducing the need for total reserves by spreading the risk. However, if the economy does poorly they will all want to dip into the fund at the same time, right?

Also, the Blagojevich team uses some "optimistic" accounting assumptions. We should be watchful that he's not just passing the problem to the future.

conceal carry

KWQC reports:
Two bills up for consideration on the Illinois House floor would allow average citizens to carry concealed weapons.

The measures were approved overwhelmingly in a House committee yesterday. The bills are similar, except one gives Illinois State Police authority to issue permits and the other would put county sheriffs in charge....

An aide to Governor Rod Blagojevich says any concealed weapon measures sent to the governor would be vetoed.
When in doubt stand for the status quo.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Rod "rocks"?

Blagojevich has created quite a buzz by making big claims about bold political "reform" legislation.

Rich Miller of Capitol Fax has thoughtful commentary.

I got a kick out of the Jack Franks quote Miller got from The Peoria Journal Star (Mike Ramsey):
"[Blagojevich is] the kind of politician who would cut down a redwood tree so that he could stand on the stump to talk about conservation," Franks said. "His rhetoric doesn't match his reality when it comes to campaign finance."
Here's the meat Miller's analyis:
The [Blagojevich] proposal, as I understand it now, is designed to give himself political cover so he can veto a real reform bill while posturing as a reformer. That way, nothing changes. He scares everyone off with a way-over-the-top reform bill that nobody can vote for and never has to alter his own behavior....

Same old, same old. Blame the bad, bad Legislature while painting himself as a reformer.
And Miller quotes the State Journal-Register approvingly:
But our concern is that he not stymie important reform by demanding only his reforms.

This is a case where the perfect could be the enemy of the good.
Here's my contribution to the discussion.

Dr. Ron Faucheux
once told me the history of campaign finance reform is the history of incumbents passing rules to make it harder for challengers to unseat incumbents. Think about it. What goo-goo reform was ever enacted that didn't help the incumbents?

So what if Blagojevich is perfectly sincere about wanting to "clean-up" Illinois politics?

Doesn't he have a $10 million head start in the race? (More if you count Blagojevich having superior name recognition to his likely opponents.)

My analysis is slightly different than Miller's. I agree Blagojevich is probably being cynical. Miller thinks Blago's not willing to enact rules that limit contractor contributions. I suspect Blagojevich may be willing to enact this kind of limits, but he's motivated by keeping his potential GOP opponent from raising money from contractors in the general election.

Blago and boards

Does Blagojevich oppose using these boards to govern?

Chicago Tribune (Diane Rado):
After the threat of a lawsuit by the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Blagojevich on Monday appointed new members to the Education Funding Advisory Board that recommends per-student funding levels for schoolchildren.
Alton Telegraph (AP):
A new economic development board cannot conduct business because Gov. Rod Blagojevich has failed to appoint members, despite his praise for the board when it was created six months ago.
And of course the Gambling, err, "Gaming" Board has gotten more attention.

What gives? Blagojevich creates a board and then doesn't use it.

Is he trying to get credit for creating the board but avoiding the accountability of actually doing something on the issue? Does he think this is a viable political strategy?

fair to rap Rod on gun control?

Chicago Tribune editorial:
To the extent that Blagojevich made any name for himself in Washington, he did so on gun-control issues.... Blagojevich apparently made a simple calculation: What had played well at home in Ravenswood wouldn't play well down in Rantoul....

He criticized his own Democratic leaders, including then-House Minority Leader Richard Gephardt, for not seeming "enthralled" about passing gun legislation and said they might be more concerned about winning the next election.

Blagojevich complained, in 2000, that the real problem in passing gun bills was the "old-school members, the old bulls" in his Democratic Party who stood in the way of such measures. He was so bold as to name names.

Who looks now to be worried about the next election?...

Earlier this month an aide to the governor said the public could expect Blagojevich to "enthusiastically support" that package of anti-gun measures. So far, he's done nothing. He's done no lobbying. His lobbyists have done no lobbying. He's even registered opposition to several gun measures....

Blagojevich is in perfect position to explain why these measures would fight crime without restricting the rights of hunters and others who wish to own firearms.

Instead, he's become the old bull.

So much for deeply held convictions.
If one were to defend Blagojevich against the Trib's charges one could argue that the Dem Party has moved away from gun control substantially during this period.

However, Rod has made himself vulnerable.

1. If he had accomplished more in Congress, he could point to his work in other areas.
2. If he didn't project cynicism in other policy areas, he could sell the idea of principled evolution instead opportunism. The fact that he's still trying to have it both ways kinda makes one think he's just being cynical.

Monday, March 07, 2005

what's it take to beat Rod in Dem Primary?

Presuming Madigan or Hynes doesn't challenge Blagojevich...

Theory: To beat Blagojevich in the Dem Primary the candidate will have to present a clear contrast with the incumbent.

Gash, Yarbrough, Poshard, Wood and Hoffman more obviously contrast with Blagojevich.

Devine, Orr, Schmidt and Fritchey contrast much less.

Franks is sorta in between.

The challenger has to sell the idea quickly that s/he is substantially different from Blagojevich, not just a different version of vanilla.

Of course if Madigan or Hynes run it will be Dem Machine "A" vs. Dem Machine "B".

Sunday, March 06, 2005

online polls for governor

I created two online polls for governor: one Democrat, one Republican.

You are invited to vote. The polls require voters rank candidates. The voting method is called Condorcet.

Please vote in only one primary, the Dems or the GOP. Don't vote in both please.

Vote in the Democratic Primary

Vote in the Republican Primary.

See the results of the Democratic Primary

See the results of the Republican Primary.

This poll closes at noon, Sunday, March 13, 2005.

Hynes to gov: "Great idea, Rod, only it's illegal"

Chicago Tribune (Rick Pearson):
State Comptroller Dan Hynes has told the Blagojevich administration its plan to ask for upfront cash from vendors bidding on a three-year, multimillion-dollar office supply contract is illegal, and he will block payments if the deal goes through.
Rich Miller has a discussion on Capitol Fax.

Busted! quid pro quo too obvious

Chicago Tribune (John Chase & Virginia Groark):
Firm tied to state officials loses pact
Illinois backs out of energy effort

The administration of Gov. Rod Blagojevich has backed out of an energy-conservation initiative for several state buildings that would have benefited a firm run by the governor's handpicked chairman of the Illinois State Toll Highway Authority.

The action came days after the Tribune began inquiring about details of the plan, which would have allowed Electric City Corp. of Elk Grove Village to install energy-saving equipment in as many as 30 state facilities in northern Illinois.

Tollway Chairman John Mitola is the chief executive officer of the publicly traded firm and Christopher Kelly, Blagojevich's chief political fundraiser, is an investor.

RB vulnerable to GOP criticism on contributions?

Northwest Herald (Christopher Wills):
Republicans sense a chink in the governor's armor: Blagojevich, who was elected on a promise to clean up state government, continues to take money from contractors and award contracts to donors as he raises astonishing amounts of campaign cash.

"I think it's going to be a huge issue," said Sen. Christine Radogno, R-Lemont.
How vulnerable is Blagojevich on these issues? Don't the Republicans have to make a proposal to limit or ban contributions by contractors?

Without the Republicans proposing something better, doesn't this sorta seem like sour grapes? "I want to be the one shaking down contractors! I want mine!"

milking one case for maximum publicity

Daily Southtown (Kati Phillips):
Let undocumented children into preschool: Blagojevich

Staff writerThe 4-year-old Mexican girl who was turned away from a Frankfort school this fall was not named in Gov. Rod Blagojevich's speech Thursday, but she is the reason other undocumented immigrant children will have access to state-funded preschool.
OK, Rod, we get it. You oppose discriminating against undocumented children in pre-school admissions.

It was one case. That's it. Nobody has even alleged this is a widespread problem. But the B-Team is milking it for all the PR they can.

no "M" video games at MSI exhibit

Chicago Sun-Times (Andrew Herrmann):
A new video game exhibit from Europe opened Friday at the Museum of Science and Industry. But, for its stop in Illinois, where Gov. Blagojevich has complained about video violence, all of the games rated "M" -- Mature -- have been removed.

Museum official John Beckman said a handful of original exhibits that allowed sampling of M-rated games such as "Grand Theft Auto" and "Doom" were rejected.
What would be analogous "exhibit modification" at an art museum?

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Dick Mell offers $1 million to potential challenger

Jeff at Public Affairs says:
Rich Miller, in today’s [Friday, March 4th] Capitol Fax reports the rumor that State Rep. Jack Franks (Jack!) is being offered a million dollars by Ald. Mell to run against Mell’s Hot Rod son-in-law, Gov. Blagojevich. That is, Mell is alleged to have said he would raise that much for Jack!
Franks sorta makes sense as a Dem gubernatorial because he's a hard-nosed campaigner from a GOP-leaning part of the state. He's also a competent legislator.

I assumed Madigan wouldn't want him to do this because the Dems would have a hard time keeping the seat.

But if Mell enticed Franks into the race Dick could stick it to his son-in-law and Madigan at the same time.

I don't want to make too much of my brief encounters with the governor's father-in-law, but I got the impression he really intensely dislikes Michael Madigan.

sidebar links and brainstorming

Since March is basketball month, I'm going to add links to basketball blogs on the sidebar. If you know of a basketball blog covering an Illinois team or a college team from the region, let me know.

Generally, I'd appreciate knowing about any good blog in Illinois. My current thinking is that I should create a thread with the time 12:01 AM on first of the month and have an extensive list of local blogs in all categories. The sidebar would have a few representative blogs and then a link to the thread with the larger list. Does this make sense? Feedback? Suggestions?

In the past I've made reference to the Koufax Awards sponsored by Wampum (see the left side bar). I'd like to have an Illinois blog awards program, but I'm thinking of focusing on high school, college and university blogs in Illinois. Feedback?

Birkett FOIAs tollway documents

Chicago Tribune (John Chase and Virginia Groark):
DuPage to probe toll pacts
Scores of documents sought by Birkett

DuPage County State's Atty. Joseph Birkett on Thursday filed a wide-ranging request with the Illinois State Toll Highway Authority seeking scores of documents pertaining to the renovation of the tollway's sleek new oases.

While stressing the investigation is a civil probe and not a criminal one, Birkett said his office wants to review the tollway's contract with the private developer in charge of the oases project, Los Angeles-based Wilton Partners, as well as how Wilton picked businesses to lease space at the rest stops.

Birkett's office is seeking the information under the state Freedom of Information Act.
I'm glad someone is doing the "heavy lifting" on these FOIA requests. And I'm glad the media is covering it. But if I were to FOIA the documents would it constitute a "civil probe"? Or is it more like "research" or a "fishing expedition" at this point?

(Sorry if I'm grinding my own axe. I filed scores of FOIA requests about corruption in Navy Recruiting Command and it was always difficult to get the media interested. The journalists never considered my requests "civil probes" even though I had much more specific information of specific crimes. Again, I apologize if I've moved the discussion from Blagojevich to me and the media.)

secrecy and incompetence

This is from Aaron Chamber's column for the Rockford Register Star:
I called Gerardo Cardenas, one of the governor's press people, and asked if I could attend the afternoon meeting [between Blagojevich and Rockford elected officials]. Much to my surprise, he called back and said that would be fine.

"It's just a meet and greet," he said.

Then Rebecca Rausch, another Blagojevich press person, contradicted Cardenas. She said the delegation asked for a private meeting with the governor, and the governor would respect that wish.

That Blagojevich would deflect responsibility for a decision was no surprise. This is the same man who invoked his child when announcing two years ago that he wouldn't move to Springfield; he said his daughter, who was 6, had friends in Chicago and he wouldn't disrupt the bond.

Rausch said I couldn't attend. When I talked to Cardenas again, he stood corrected: "I messed up, I guess."

That Blagojevich would throw one of his own people under a bus also was no surprise. Recently, the governor's top aides vilified his Natural Resources and Veterans' Affairs directors when, in the course of doing their jobs, they stirred negative publicity for the governor.

YOU PROBABLY GUESSED what happened next. I polled the members of the Rockford delegation, including Mayor Doug Scott, Republican Sen. Dave Syverson and Democratic Rep. Chuck Jefferson. Naturally, they said they didn't care whether I covered the meeting.

And they couldn't say who requested a private exchange.
Blagojevich's people seem almost paranoid in excluding the press. I guess they figure Blago's warchest can buy the image he wants when he runs for re-election.

But they can't even get it straight and just say, "no, the Governor wants to meet with these officials privately." How hard is it to behave reasonably professionally on a day-to-day basis?

highway safety proposal

From The St. Louis Business Journal:
IDOT to develop statewide highway safety plan

The Illinois Department of Transportation will develop the state's first statewide safety initiative with a goal to reduce highway deaths, said Gov. Rod Blagojevich Thursday.

IDOT's Division of Traffic Safety and Bureau of Safety Engineering will develop and implement the comprehensive plan, along with public and private transportation professionals, state and local law enforcement officials and others. They plan two meetings this month, with approval of the plan expected for later this year.

The safety effort is expected to focus on engineering, enforcement, education and emergency services.
The biggest cause of highway deaths is drinking and driving, right? Is there something the state can do to reduce drinking and driving it's not already doing?

And speed kills. If Blagojevich wanted to reduce highway fatalities he could push to reduce speed limits.

But it seems possible that this program is designed to appeal to police and firefighter unions and provide political cover for new road construction/maintenance money while he's cutting the state's education contribution. But maybe I'm just being cynical.

Friday, March 04, 2005

What would you ask the B-Team?

On Fridays I create a thread to propose questions that should be asked of Blagojevich and his administration.

At the request of Roy this week's Qs start with the cigarette tax.
How is the cigarette tax collected for cigarettes purchased online?
How effective is this?
How will increasing the tax affect the market? How much will consumers switch to purchasing online?
How will the increased volume of Internet purchases affect collecting these taxes?
Here's last week's questions.

what names should be in online polls?

Yesterday Rich Miller asked for names of possible Dem challengers to Blagojevich.

I am going to create two Condorcet polls for potential gubernatorial candidates: one Dem, one Republican. Who should be included in the polls?

Here's the names that got mentioned in the Capitol Fax discussion of Dems:
Dorothy Brown
Dick Devine
Jack Franks
John Fritchey
Lauren Beth Gash
Dan Hynes
Lisa Madigan
David Orr
Glenn Poshard
Corrinne Wood
Karen Yarbrough
Who shouldn't be included in the poll? If you have a persuasive reason please explain it.

Who isn't on this list, but should be included? Roland Burris? Luis Gutierrez? Again, please explain.

Same deal for the GOP. Here's the starting point list:
Bill Brady
Joe Birkett
Peter Fitzgerald
Ron Gidwitz
Ray LaHood
Tom McCracken
Jim Oberweis
Pat O'Malley
Steve Rauschenberger
Dan Rutherford
Judy Baar Topinka
Who should be added? Corrinne Wood? Mark Kirk? Who should be removed?

Thursday, March 03, 2005

should Blago push a redistricting?

Acccording to The Hill (Hans Nichols) Blagojevich is going to get pressure from Jan Schakowsky to redraw the Illinois Congressional map.

Should Blagojevich push for a new map?

"but I had good intentions when I blew the $2.5 million"

From the Chicago Tribune (Mary Tallon, AP):
Gov. Rod Blagojevich's plan to buy flu vaccine overseas amounted to a $2.5 million publicity stunt that may have violated state law, some lawmakers charged Thursday.

Rep. Jack Franks, chairman of the House State Government Administration Committee, said he wants an audit of the program because the governor's aides acted as though taxpayer money was "theirs to spend without any oversight or accountability."

Testifying before Franks' committee, administration officials acknowledged that the deal leaves taxpayers on the hook for 250,000 vaccine doses at a cost of $2.5 million, even if the state never receives them.

But they defended it as an attempt to avert a potential health crisis.

"The governor's office took immediate action to ... vaccinate residents who are at the greatest risk of contracting the disease," said Ram Kamath, special advocate for prescription drugs.
Does this sound sorta familiar? Is buying vaccine that can't be used "just in case" sound like invading Iraq "just in case" it had WMD?

Should this kind of defense have a catchy nickname? The "it's unfair to hold us accountable for our actions because our intentions were good even if ever so slightly self-serving" defense....

open thread

I did the Google News search on Blagojevich and the storis don't seem to break new ground, except for maybe Rockford officials going to ask for a riverboat (WIFR).

Clean blackboard: what do you have to say about Blagojevich?

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

join me for a drink?

I'll be at the Beacon Pub, 101 Circle, Forest Park, starting at 7 PM. You are invited to attend and chat about politics.

is ethanol a rathole?

From the Chester Sun Times:
Expanding on his commitment to Illinois’ emerging biofuel industry, Gov. Rod Blagojevich today announced nearly $1 million in Opportunity Returns funding for upgrades at the National Corn-To-Ethanol Research Center (NCERC) on the Southern Illinois University Edwardsville campus.
Everybody wants ethanol to emerge as alternative to fossil fuels. Environmentalists, farmers, agri-business and people that want to reduce reliance on foreign oil (especially from the Middle East) all want ethanol to work.

But just wanting something for Christmas doesn't mean that Santa's gonna bring it.

This is from page 51 of an analysis of ethanol by Tadeusz W. Patchek (pdf) at University of California Berkeley (2003).
So What Have We Achieved?

We have
* Burned more fossil fuels than the energy content of the ethanol from corn
* Degraded and eroded the soil on millions of acres
* Polluted surface and groundwater with nitrates, herbicides, pesticides and ethanol waste
* Polluted air with CO, NOx, SO2, VOC, etc.
* Wasted $ billions of taxpayers’ money
* Devised a terrible solution to air quality problems
The feds are still giving matching money ($2 million to match $1 million by the state), but at some point we need to be realistic and acknowledge ethanol is not going to solve the world's energy problems.

state fair admission

The Pantagraph (Kurt Erickson) has an article on the possibility of the admission to Illinois State Fair could be increased from $3.
The moves could bring up the fair's bottom line. Although Gov. Rod Blagojevich insists the fair operates in the black, records provided to the state Auditor General's office by the fair show it loses money.
Who do you trust? The Auditor General? Or the Governor?

RB says he supports gun control bill; fails to follow through

File under "Blagojevich's word worthless".

The Chicago Tribune (Christi Parsons and Erika Slife) has an article about Blagojevich trying to finesse gun control legislation.
Although he has promised to back Daley's package, on Tuesday some gun control advocates were questioning Blagojevich's sincerity.
Does Blagojevich support limiting the number of handguns purchased per month? If he does, why isn't he pushing to make it law?

Does Blagojevich believe licensing firearm dealers will help reduce or detect the firearms flowing to criminals? How expensive would it be to implement such a system? If it's effective at reducing firearm violent crime, is this price too high?

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

is software leased or sold?

In the Sun-Times Michael Krauss criticized Gov. B's proposal to tax software bought/leased by big business. Right now such software is exempted from sales tax because it is considered "leased".

Of course, when you buy software from Microsoft it's more like a lease than a purchase too, but consumers and small businesses do pay sales tax on their software.

Krauss pitches the idea of exempting all software from sales tax. But he's not trying to make the budget work.
Becky Carroll, spokeswoman for the governor's budget, says, "There are 45 states in the nation that have a sales tax. There's only one of those states that actually has this loophole on the books. It's Illinois. In no other state in this country with a sales tax does any business get this break."

Mark Nebergall, president of the Washington, D.C.-based Software Finance and Tax Executives Council, which represents the software industry on tax issues, disagrees. Nebergall claims he's identified "16 states that exempt software from their sales tax."
If I could get off the topic of Blagojevich for a second....

This kind of journalism pisses me off, especially from a guy who's supposed to be a specialist. Krauss presents Carroll saying one thing and Nebergall saying another and the reader is left to sort out who is telling the truth. My natural inclination is to split the difference, but both sources have a conflict-of-interest and they both could be lying. Of course, one of them could be full of shit and the other one is actually telling the truth.

Does it make sense to tax software? I'm leaning toward the Blagojevich position. The argument that it would stimulate business to exempt software applies to any tax exemption.

how would you evade the cigarette tax?

From WIFR-Rockford(AP):
Mike Klemens of the Illinois Department of Revenue says Internet retailers are required by law to give states a list of their customers.

Illinois then periodically bills Illinois taxpayers who bought online and didn't pay the state cigarette tax which is currently 98 cents a pack.

Since the Revenue Department began such efforts in 1999, it's billed more than 4,600 taxpayers about $232,000.

Klemens says billing people is a lot of work, so the department doesn't do it often, but he says he expects the Revenue Department will step up its efforts if Gov. Rod Blagojevich's proposal to increase the cigarette tax by 75 cents a pack is passed.
So what percentage of cigarettes sold to Illinoisans get overlooked? What percent of the taxes billed does the state collect?

Readers, what's the best way you can design to evade the Blagojevich tax on buying cigarettes online?

Sen. Brady (R-Bloomington) forms exploratory committee

From The Pantagraph (Kurt Erickson):
SPRINGFIELD ­ State Sen. Bill Brady of Bloomington today will take a step toward fulfilling his dream of becoming governor.

The 43-year-old real estate developer plans to announce he's forming an exploratory committee to run for the GOP gubernatorial nomination in 2006. A formal decision could come this summer. lists the following Republican candidates:
Joe Birkett (R) - DuPage County State's Attorney & '02 Attorney General Nominee
Bill Brady (R) - State Sen., Developer & GOP Activist
Ron Gidwitz (R) - Businessman, Philanthropist & Ex-State Board of Education Chair
Ray LaHood (R) - Congressman, Ex-State Rep., Ex-Congressional Aide & Ex-Teacher
Steve Rauschenberger (R) - State Sen., Ex-Furniture Retailer & '04 US Senate Candidate
Judy Baar Topinka (R) - State Treasurer, Ex-State Sen., Ex-State Rep. & Ex-State GOP Chair
With the following being maybes:
Peter Fitzgerald (R) - Ex-US Senator, Ex-State Sen., Attorney & Banker
Tom McCracken (R) - Ex-Regional Transit Authority Chair
Pat O'Malley (R) - Ex-State Sen., Attorney. '02 Candidate & '98 Lt. Governor Candidate
Anybody care to handicap the field?

I have the most warmth in my heart for Rauschenberger, who was a gracious and thoughtful guest on Collective Interest (Seb and I interviewed U.S. Senate candidates during the primary), and LaHood. Topinka would be my next choice. Birkett has the most negatives with me.

Blago impersonating Lieberman on video games

From CNET (David Becker), not "Chief of Naval Education and Training":
Two Illinois legislators introduced a proposal on Monday to ban sales of violent and sexually explicit games to children, the latest in a series of efforts to crack down on gory games.

State Rep. Linda Chapa LaVia and Sen. Deanna Demuzio, both Democrats, sponsored legislation authored by Gov. Rod Blagojevich that would subject retailers to a fine of up to $5,000 and a year in prison if they sell a restricted game to anyone under 18.
Is this the best way to use the Governor's office to reduce crime? Or is this about political grandstanding?

$1.5 M to veterans or not?

From The Alton Telegraph (Mary Tallon, AP):
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. -- Gov. Rod Blagojevich said in his State of the State address that he would increase field staff at the Department of Veterans’ Affairs by 50 percent, but his budget proposal shows no increase in the number of employees.

The agency’s director told lawmakers there was no money for more workers. The budget book also does not list additional employees. News releases about the budget say nothing about adding staff.

Yet when questioned about the issue, the Blagojevich administration insisted the money is there.

Veterans’ Affairs Director Roy Dolgos, after speaking to the governor’s office, said his legislative testimony was wrong. The budget actually contains $1.5 million for new employees that he had not known about, he said.
Can the B-team get it straight? Is the money in the budget or not?