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Wednesday, March 29

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The Mechanics

State Politics Wed Dec 03 2014

Madigan Moves to Eliminate Slating, Burn Republicans

In an unexpected, under-the-radar move, Speaker of the House Michael Madigan has taken action to eliminate the long-standing practice of slating in Illinois.

The word "slating" has a lot of meanings in Illinois politics, but the practice described here is the one whereby an established political party can fill a vacancy in nomination after a primary election for which no candidate filed.

This appears to be the latest in a long series of moves over time to help ensure that incumbents -- especially incumbent state legislators -- need not face any opposition on the general election ballot.

Continue reading this entry »

Phil Huckelberry / Comments (3)

Elections Tue Feb 04 2014

The Elephants for a Day Are Coming. Are You One of Them?

An Ethernet cable. Carrie Underwood's career. What Derrick Rose does to people at the top of the key. That Nissan with the really stupid commercials. They're all crossovers. And the next big crossover is coming our way.

They'll go by a lot of different names. You can call them Grand Old Party Crashers, or One Trick Pachyderms, or maybe just Those Meddling, Conniving Democrats.

They're the Elephants for a Day. And they're diabolically plotting to pull Republican primary ballots this March even though they're not really Republicans.

And maybe you're one of them.

Continue reading this entry »

Phil Huckelberry / Comments (2)

IL-GOV Wed Jan 08 2014

Will the Term Limits Amendment Get Bruce Rauner Elected Governor?

illinois state capitol - photo by Matt TurnerIt was Friday night, around 6, at the Washington Blue Line stop. A man -- let's call him Fred -- approached me with a clipboard and asked if I would like to sign a petition to place a proposed amendment to the state constitution on the ballot.

The people around us didn't seem too familiar when Fred launched into his spiel. They will be. Fred was their first contact with what may well become the hottest issue of the 2014 election. Not only might this question have huge effects on Illinois government over the long term, it could also lead to the election of a conservative multimillionare Republican as our next governor.

The entity behind the proposed amendment is The Committee for Legislative Reform and Term Limits, and its chair is Republican gubernatorial hopeful Bruce Rauner. Rauner has already put up $250,000 of his own money to push the amendment, plus $749,000 of his own money to his campaign committee. Both the committee formed to support the amendment and Rauner's committee have also racked up numerous donations of $100,000 or more, including several from out of state donors.

Much has been said and written about Rauner trying to buy the gubernatorial election. Some people have also written about how the term limits push may greatly benefit Rauner's campaign. What's been harder to find is a more detailed evaluation of the proposed amendment itself, precisely how the amendment can help Rauner get elected, and how Rauner's opponents might effectively try to hold off his multifaceted strategy.

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Phil Huckelberry / Comments (4)

Op-Ed Wed Oct 02 2013

Chicago's Forgotten End Up at Cook County Jail

Cook County Jail has drawn attention to itself lately for collecting large amounts of Chicago's mentally ill, so much so that it has become the largest mental health facility in Illinois.

The story is particularly inflammatory given Gov. Pat Quinn's corresponding funding cuts to Illinois mental health facilities, and the closing of six Chicago mental health clinics last year.

Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart has been vocal in condemning the incarceration of Chicago's mentally ill, who he says are regularly falling through the cracks of an at-capacity (and underfunded) prison system despite his best efforts to provide therapy and medication to those in need.

"This is a population that people don't care about and so as a result of that there are not the resources out there to care for them," Dart said in an interview on CBS 60 Minutes Sunday night.

In saying this, Dart touches on an even larger issue with the U.S. criminal justice system -- it has become a place for unwanted members of society to collect. Of course, those suffering from mental illnesses are but one group who, as we regretfully phrase it, "fall through the cracks." One could easily add to this list the poor, those with drug or alcohol addictions and a heartily disproportionate number of African-Americans and Hispanics.

Continue reading this entry »

Taylor Long

Privatization Tue Jul 16 2013

Proposed Bill Paves Way for Water Privatization Boom in Illinois

Water resource management, with impacts sweeping across public health, food production, security, energy, industry, and environmental sustainability, is one of the most consequential economic and societal drivers today.

Legislation currently on Governor Quinn's desk could dramatically alter the way Illinois manages its own water resources. House Bill 1379 would allow Illinois American Water and Aqua Illinois, two of the state's largest private water companies, to expedite acquisitions of municipal water systems and increase customer rates to fund their expansion.

Continue reading this entry »

Emily Brosious

IL-GOV Wed Jul 03 2013

Quinn Demands Stricter Provisions to Concealed-Carry Bill

At a press conference Tuesday, Governor Pat Quinn announced what he called "common sense changes" to the General Assembly's concealed-carry bill. The governor vetoed several specific measures in the proposed legislation, citing "serious safety problems" and too many provisions "inspired by the National Rifle Association, not the common good."

Quinn's revisions include a move to ban concealed weapons inside places that serve alcohol, and to limit permitted gun owners only one concealed weapon, holding a maximum of 10 rounds of ammunition, to be carried at a time. The governor also nixed a provision to prevent home-rule towns from passing assault weapon bans, tightened a partial-conceal provision to complete-conceal, and moved to give employers more regulatory discretion over guns in their businesses.

Continue reading this entry »

Emily Brosious

State Politics Wed May 22 2013

Saying Hello to Medicinal Marijuana in Illinois

medical_marijuana.jpgHouse Bill 1 may not be the top priority for the General Assembly when it comes to passing legislation before the summer recess, but it's on its way to Gov. Pat Quinn's desk and, with it, medicinal marijuana appears to be on its way to legalization in Illinois.

Here's a quick overview of the bill and some context in medicinal marijuana laws across the United States.

• It's gonna happen.

Illinois has been working toward legalization of medicinal marijuana for the better part of the last decade, and it's going to pass this year, barring a big surprise from Gov. Quinn.

The big move came last Friday, when the State Senate passed the legislation by a 35-21 margin. The bill becomes law when Gov. Quinn signs it, although he is expected to sit on it for a bit before giving it the green light. Still, a conversation he had with the Chicago Tribune this week indicated he'll almost certainly give it the go-ahead in the coming weeks.

Illinois will become the 20th state to approve medicinal marijuana, and there's little question that this is the right thing to do, both from a democratic standpoint and in observation of studies on the issue. Various polls show that more than 60 percent of Illinois voters approve, and the bill has support from a wide variety of groups in the medical community. Additionally, studies show that the concerns of critics (such as increased usage among youths) have not materialized in other states with similar laws.

Continue reading this entry »

Jake Grubman

Democrats Tue Jul 12 2011

Is Pat Quinn Worse Than Scott Walker?

Is it worse to get elected as a candidate who says he is going to jerk over public employee unions or get elected with union support and then jerk over public employee unions?

Pat Quinn, who spent a decent amount of time giving Governor Walker flack over what Wisconsin did to public employees under the guise of budget issues. Governor Quinn has not even paid off his bet with Governor Walker over the Bears/Packers NFC Championship Game.

Governor Quinn, who cut a concession deal with AFSCME shortly before getting their endorsement, has since the election turned around and decided that due to budgetary reasons, the union's members should not get the raises specified in their contract.

It seems to me that in many ways, going back on a union contract with a union that endorsed you and worked hard to get you elected in a close election would be worse than having a governor who you knew was going after you from the start.

Suffice to say, AFSCME does not seem real happy about all this and I got to talk to AFSCME Council 31 Executive Director Henry Bayer about Governor Quinn's move and next steps.


Elections Sun Oct 31 2010

Moving America Forward Rally with President Barack Obama Photo Essay

Democrats rallied on the Midway Plaisance in Hyde Park on Saturday evening for the "Moving America Forward Rally with President Barack Obama." The estimated 35,000 attendees heard performances by Chicago rockers Dot Dot Dot and hip-hop artist Common, as well as speeches by a variety of officials and citizens, including Mayor Richard M. Daley, Senator Richard Durbin, State Treasurer and US Senate Candidate Alexi Giannoulias, Governor Pat Quinn, Alderman and Cook County President Candidate Toni Preckwinkle and -- of course -- President Barack Obama.

A photo essay of the event by David Schalliol is below.

David Schalliol / Comments (2)

Election 2011 Tue Oct 26 2010

Quinn Campaign Ad: A Very Brady Recap

The latest ad from the Quinn campaign takes a page from "Glee."

Andrew Huff

Chicago Tue Sep 07 2010

How Mayor Daley and Senator Meeks May Kill Pat Quinn's Chances.

As you are well aware Mayor Daley has decided not to run for re-election and the first round of elections to figure out who is going to be the next mayor of Chicago is only 168 days away.

This may seem like plenty of time but in fact it isn't much time at all and the timing of this election is going to potentially have a significant impact on the statewide races, in particular Pat Quinn's race in November for several reasons.

Continue reading this entry »

OneMan / Comments (2)

Springfield Mon Jul 12 2010

Change in Selection of Lt. Governor Candidates

While this was a law that was recently signed isn't a constitutional amendment necessary to change this?

Gov. Pat Quinn signed legislation on Saturday that requires candidates of the same party to be nominated jointly instead of letting voters pick each nominee separately.

Under the new law, a gubernatorial candidate would select a running mate for the primary election. Voters would either support the pair or reject them over a different team.

The change comes after Illinois Democrats were embarrassed in this year's primary election. Scott Lee Cohen was the nominee for lieutenant governor who had been arrested previously for domestic violence. He was soon pressured into dropping out of the race.

The new law will go into effect on Jan. 1.

I wonder how it even came to be that voters individually selected both the gubernatorial nominee and lieutenant governor nominee? If I recall correctly, once upon a time the governor and lieutenant governor candidates were elected separately in a general election. Then at some point the the candidates were nominated separately in a primary, then forced to run as a ticket in the general election. I'm sure the point of this was to insure that both the top two executive officers of Illinois were of the same party, but I'll bet money that this wasn't thought out very well for some reason.

I wonder how that legislation (or amendment) to eliminate the lieutenant governor position is going. To be sure, I still don't support its elimination.

Continue reading this entry »


Quinn Fri May 28 2010

Just Dance, It'll Be Okay

That amendatory veto Gov. Pat Quinn issued against the McCormick Place legislation on Wednesday? Republican gubernatorial nominee Bill Brady thinks there might be something unethical afoot there, and has asked Attorney General Lisa Madigan to investigate.

Citing Quinn's receipt of $75,000 in campaign contribution dollars from the local Teamsters Union just two weeks before the legislation passed through Congress, Brady said this "appears to be another shameful example of pay-to-play politics." The Teamsters have expressed opposition to the bill, which they say could take away jobs from union members and potentially harm their safety.

No big deal, it's Dance Friday! After defending his veto on WLS this morning, Quinn went to NBC Channel 5 Chicago to dance his heart out with Jarrett Payton and Sue the Dinosaur in honor of the Blackhawks making the Stanley Cup. As Edward McClelland points out at the Ward Room, pay-for-play politics are nothing new for Quinn or Brady.

Perhaps that's why Quinn had no problems dancing his troubles away this morning. Video after the jump.

Continue reading this entry »

Alex Jaffe

Quinn Wed May 26 2010

Quinn Vetos, the Illinois House Revises the McCormick Place Legislation

Gov. Quinn finally did put pen to paper on the McCormick Place overhaul legislation--but only to veto parts of it. In a move seen by many as politically driven, Quinn issued an amendatory veto striking down a tax increase on ground transportation and criticizing the law for "ambiguous" wording. He also cited the autonomy of the trusteeship position to be created by the law as a provision that "places our taxpayers at great risk."

In response, the Senate put forth a press release emphasizing their commitment to overriding the veto and stating that Quinn's veto "has the potential to destabilize one of the most productive economic engines in the State of Illinois." The House has since passed a revised bill out of committee, having cleared up the ambiguous wording and added new provisions allowing for the removal of the trustee in certain situations. This bill is expected to be passed this afternoon, but will Quinn give it the run-around yet again?

Alex Jaffe

IL-GOV Tue May 25 2010

Quinn Inaction on McCormick Place Legislation Scaring Exhibitors Away

Although action was expected Monday, Gov. Pat Quinn has not yet put pen to paper on the McCormick Place overhaul legislation recently approved by the general assembly, and his hesitation has begun to make exhibitors skittish. Both the National Restaurant Association and the International Home and Housewares Show have threatened to withdraw their business from the convention center if the legislation is not signed soon.

Exhibitors have frequently complained about how costly and complicated it can be to hold conferences at the McCormick center, and the overhaul legislation aims to correct some of these issues. It cuts profits made by McPier, the agency that runs McCormick Place, from foodservice, reworks the laws governing floor workers to make conventions run more efficiently and at lower cost, and eliminates McPier's chief executive position in favor of a more autonomous trustee position.

Continue reading this entry »

Alex Jaffe

Republicans Thu Mar 11 2010

IL GOP Attempting to Form Patronage Army?

I stumbled across this website, a few days ago, and was pretty stunned.

Republicans often criticize Illinois Democrats for running a patronage army of loyal state employees. However this website is encouraging loyal republicans to be given state jobs as well.

Of course new administrations are able to appoint people to implement their vision for the state, to implement the policies that they campaigned on and were elected to enact. What is odd about this website is its tone, a confidence that the GOP will win Springfield back, and a gleeful lust for 6 figure jobs. In particular the site exhibits a tendency towards the corrupt and a disdain for "the awshucks-we're-sorry-for-having-principles-types."

When you click on the Jobs List, it lists different state departments that the Governor is able to appoint heads of. What is disturbing is the partisan descriptions for the jobs. Is the head of the Historic Preservation Society a partisan position?

The site implies that Republicans would only be interested in jobs enforcing Human Rights because, "Check out the pay scale here!"

It describes Homeland Security as "the new patronage place to be." A scary thought that our security and safety be entrusted to partisan hacks instead of trained and specialized experts.

It describes positions on the Illinois Gaming Board as though it were a casino, "Great spot to meet people and make money, come to work every once and a while, too!"

In what should be a scary comment to organized labor, the site claims that the GOP will, "rebuild [the Department of Labor] and remake it so that it is more efficient. Get on board and help."

The site is run by a woman named Jenifer Sims. It is unclear if she has any connections to the Brady campaign, the state GOP, or if she is just a crank writer. Attempts to gain quotes from the Brady for Governor campaign and the Tea Party Patriots were made. Neither gave any quotes.

Matt Muchowski

Health Care Tue Mar 09 2010

On International Womens Day, Group Rallies for Mammogram Funding


Sheila Rogers addresses a crowd of activists.

The Metropolitan Chicago Breast Cancer Task Force protested and demanded better funding for the Illinois Breast and Cervical Cancer Program on March 8, International Women's day.

The IBCCP provides free screenings and treatment for breast and cervical cancer, however over 4500 women are on a wait list because of lack of funding for the program. While over 300,000 women are eligible for mammograms through the program, there is only funding for 33,000 women.

The Metropolitan Chicago Breast Cancer Task Force attempts to end the racial disparities in health care and was applying pressure before the governor announces his budget. An extra $8 million for the IBCCP would eliminate the waiting lists. Another $31 million would double the number of women served by the program.

While 20 activists rallied outside the Thompson Center shouting, "pay for screenings now or pay more later!" Shelia Rogers attempted to gain a meeting with Governor Quinn. Rogers was able to obtain the governor's scheduler's phone number and the group will continue to apply pressure.

Breast Cancer surviver Dorothy Warren works for the support line of the Breast Cancer Network of Strength, "we have a database where we recommend women to get free mammograms because they cannot afford it. without this resource [the IBCCP] we would be lost."

Warren said that the program "saves lives" and described it as a last line of defense for women. "Some women have lost their jobs, they can't afford it but they need screenings. This program is their only resource."

Matt Muchowski / Comments (1)

Democrats Wed Mar 03 2010

The Problem with Democratic Lt. Governor Applicants

In case you haven't noticed yet, you can now submit your resume to be considered by the Illinois State Democratic Central Committee to be slated and become the nominee for Lt. Governor. You can find detailed instructions at

Perhaps more entertaining than applying yourself, is sorting through the resumes and applications of those who think that they can achieve what Scott Lee Cohen could not. Over 40 applications have been submitted so far and are posted on the Illinois state Democrats website. What seems to jump out to me is that many of these candidates, with little experience with elected office, seem to think they can play in the big leagues without going to training camp.

Continue reading this entry »

Matt Muchowski

IL-GOV Thu Feb 04 2010

Scott Lee Cohen and Reality

As most folks are likely now aware there are a host of allegations surounding the Democratic nominee for Lt. Governor...

Just a bit from the Trib

Cohen did not deny choking his wife, as she alleged in the divorce, but said he had no recollection of it, and it actually took place before they were married.

His ex-wife, Debra York-Cohen, was with him today and said she stood by the allegations in the divorce but said his philandering and volatile behavior took place during a brief period time when he was using steroids. The allegations included him frightening their four children and threatening her verbally and physically.

His response to all of this and the calls to step down also from the Trib...

"I'm going to respond that my honesty and integrity in putting it out there is the best thing that could happen to the party,"

Yeah, the best thing that could happen for the Republican party. For the Democratic party the best thing that could happen is that you quickly go away.

I am a Republican but still, this is beyond messed up. This isn't embarrassing, it's sad. Perhaps this is a lesson on not having the primary so early or even having a Lt. Governor's office. But this is bad for everyone. Instead of people focusing on the state's budget issues (or even the closeness of the GOP Governor's race) folks are going to focus on the Lt. Governor candidate who seems to have come from a Springer episode.

I don't know what is worse (besides the things he allegedly did) , the idea that he thought this wouldn't be a big political s--- storm? That you may have been told by folks around you that this wasn't going to be a big deal and agreed with them? That you spent that kind of money to get the Lt. Governor nomination? You think this is somehow a positive for the Democratic ticket and the Democratic party?

Each of those in my mind show someone who isn't in touch with reality.

The `roid stuff, yeah that could have been a teary moment on the local news programs and you could have recovered from it.

But everything else? As Mike Flannery put it on the news on CBS 2 today..


OneMan / Comments (2)

Democrats Thu Jan 21 2010

So you are Pat Quinn, what do you do now?

First thing accept the fact that the gloves are totally and completely off now and you can't put them back on. It has gone in the words of CBS 2, nuclear.

The Washington ad is huge for Hynes, he has gotten free media off of the ad. Any rational ad that gets free media play is something you have to reply to and address.

Remember one of the lessons from the Kerry campaign, you can't let this stuff go. You have to hit back and hit back hard. Yes, it's the primary and you are all supposed to be loving Democrats and negative campaigning is bad, yadda, yadda, yadda...

Remember, you have to win the primary to make it to the general and at this point your only focus needs to be on winning the primary, it's a long time between Feb and November, wounds will heal, losing the primary lasts forever.

So time to start making some TV ads.

Continue reading this entry »


Quinn Wed Jan 13 2010

Responsible Budget Coalition Response to State of the State

The Responsible Budget Coalition wins the rapid response rodeo (TM):

"The governor spoke today about the Illinois budget, what we believe is the most urgent issue facing our state. That broken budget is now a full-blown crisis. Each day we hear of new, devastating cuts to schools, health care, human services and public safety in every part of the state. Basic services for every Illinois resident are on the brink of collapse, more than 100,000 jobs providing those services in the public and private sectors are threatened, and lawmakers will return to Springfield in February to an even bleaker picture. We have to confront this crisis--not with more painful cuts and payment delays, but with a balanced approach that includes responsible tax reform. Responsible reform like House Bill 174 will raise adequate revenue and make taxes fairer. It is essential to protecting public services, jobs and our economy, and it has to be Job One."

Ramsin Canon

Elections Thu Nov 05 2009

Turning in Petitions

Understanding that the period for petition signatures and filing has passed as of this past Monday, I wanted to show two videos of candidates running for state offices making their filings in Springfield .

This video from the Quinn campaign is a bit more "glamorous." The production values are very nice, although it doesn't seem to convey how long they've stood in line to turn in the petitions. Found this via Capitol Fax in discussing an asset the Quinn campaign doesn't utilize or even publicize enough.

This video may not score much as far as production values, but it sure does convey how serious the petition filing process is at the state level! This video was by Syron Smith running for state representative in the 32nd District. I posted another video featuring him earlier.

Well, hopefully the candidate of your choice has put in all the hard work to file his/her petitions, whether on the federal, state, or even county levels. Hopefully the candidate of your choice will have solid petitions to remain on the ballot in 2010. I think we'll have some interesting elections to watch next year!


State Politics Mon Sep 14 2009

The Big Purple Dog Barks

SEIU's Illinois State Council--representing some 170,000 workers and a sophisticated political operation--endorsed Pat Quinn for Governor. Good news for Pat Quinn.

allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true"

Will the other big labor growler--AFSCME's Council 31--jump in on Hynes' side? Quinn made a pitch to the Council today.

QUINN: I want to say a word about the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. They're my good friends. They've been my friends since 1972, when I helped them organize the union and get recognized by the state of Illinois. ... I like all the leaders and members of AFSCME. I want to work with them on solving a tough problem. As Tom said, we need to have more revenue in our state government to balance the budget and pay for fundamental things like education and public safety.

Ramsin Canon / Comments (1)

IL-GOV Sat Sep 05 2009

The Worn-Out "Flip-Flop" Charge

In the 1972 election between Richard Nixon and George McGovern, the Committee to Re-Elect the President - or "CREEP" as some of us fondly remember it - ran an extremely effective attack ad against McGovern. The ad, internally titled "McGovern Turnaround," paraphrased McGovern's, stands on issues with his face facing one way, then would flip the visual around to show him facing the other way, while accusing him of taking a position more recently that seemingly stated the opposite. This was repeated for a number of issues.

Continue reading this entry »

Jeff Smith / Comments (1)

Illinois Mon Aug 31 2009

What Elections Are Actually Good For

You know, I don't really believe the idea that a competitive electoral race is a good idea because it can make the candidates more liberal or conservative depending on their challenger. I mean at best it's only a temporary shift. Once the politician gets elected (especially in the Senate), there's no more pressure to appeal to a liberal or conservative base and there's plenty of time to work toward the actual agenda, not the agenda that won the election.

But I do think that elections do have their value, as Rich Miller of The Capitol Fax Blog argues today in The SouthtownStar. Miller argues that Illinois State Comptroller Dan Hynes' challenge to Governor Patrick Quinn is a good thing because it will at least sharpen Quinn's campaign skills. I think Miller is making too big a leap of how popular Quinn is but that's beside the point, he's on to something with the campaigns. The difference between learning to campaign better and moving farther on the political spectrum during the campaign season is that the result is only actually real with campaigns, not with policy stances. The better campaigning can't be faked, the becoming more liberal or conservative can be.


Daniel Strauss

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Parents Still Steaming, but About More Than Just Boilers

By Phil Huckelberry / 2 Comments

It's now been 11 days since the carbon monoxide leak which sent over 80 Prussing Elementary School students and staff to the hospital. While officials from Chicago Public Schools have partially answered some questions, and CPS CEO Forrest Claypool has informed that he will be visiting the school to field more questions on Nov. 16, many parents remain irate at the CPS response to date. More...


Substance, Not Style, the Source of Rahm's Woes

By Ramsin Canon / 2 Comments

It's not surprising that some of Mayor Emanuel's sympathizers and supporters are confusing people's substantive disputes with the mayor as the effect of poor marketing on his part. It's exactly this insular worldview that has gotten the mayor in hot... More...

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