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GOP Might Finally Break “My Turn” Cycle PDF Print E-mail
Illinois Politics
Written by Rich Miller   
Sunday, 22 December 2013 05:24

It’s no secret that Republican-primary voters in Illinois have been almost rigidly hierarchical when it comes to choosing gubernatorial candidates. They pretty much always choose the candidate who can best demonstrate that it’s his or her “turn.”

In 1990, after eight years as secretary of state, Jim Edgar was the clear choice. Indeed, he barely had opposition. The same went for two-term Secretary of State George Ryan eight years later. In 2002, it was clearly Attorney General Jim Ryan’s turn, and he bested two other high-profile candidates in the primary. In 2006, Treasurer Judy Baar Topinka beat three lesser-known opponents to win her primary race, although it wasn’t as easy.

Why Madigan Suddenly Wants Credit PDF Print E-mail
Illinois Politics
Written by Rich Miller   
Monday, 16 December 2013 13:22

House Speaker Michael Madigan’s spokesperson said last week that his boss’ statement opposing further corporate “handouts” basically “speaks for itself.” But does it?

Madigan invoked the populist gods last week as he called for an end to the “case-by-case system of introducing and debating legislation whenever a corporation is looking for free money from Illinois taxpayers.” Companies requesting the tax breaks, Madigan said, “pay little to no corporate income tax to the state, contributing little or nothing to help fund the very services from which they benefit significantly.”

It would be much easier to believe Madigan had he not just last month pushed a bill over to the Illinois Senate that would give Univar a tax break to help the West Coast corporation move its headquarters to Illinois. Not coincidentally, Univar has an existing facility just next door to Madigan’s House district.

Taking Back the Maps: Campaign Aims to Stop Gerrymandering in Illinois PDF Print E-mail
Illinois Politics
Written by Jeff Ignatius   
Thursday, 12 December 2013 06:01

Practically speaking, there are two ways party leaders draw state-legislative districts in Illinois: domination and dumb luck.

A key phrase in that sentence is “party leaders,” because regardless of whether redistricting is accomplished through one-party rule or a name literally being drawn from a hat, it’s controlled by those with a vested interest in remaining in power – and it’s controlled by one party. Functionally, Illinois’ system is institutionalized gerrymandering.

“Republicans and Democrats want to draw the maps to protect incumbents and punish their political foes,” said Michael Kolenc, campaign director for Yes for Independent Maps ( “We’ve seen them do it in this state. We’ve seen them do it in other states. They do it at any level that they can. And right now they have the data and the technology where they can do it very, very well – where they can slice and dice neighborhoods” to craft maps that benefit them.

Kolenc’s campaign aims to put a constitutional amendment on the November 2014 ballot that would change the way Illinois draws its state-legislative maps. (The process of drawing districts for the U.S. House of Representatives would not be affected.)

Big Money Pushes GOP Hopefuls Away from Pension Reform PDF Print E-mail
Illinois Politics
Written by Rich Miller   
Sunday, 08 December 2013 11:23

By now, it should be self-evident that Bruce Rauner has locked up pretty much all the big money in the Republican-primary race for governor. Last week’s pension-reform vote provides even more evidence.

Rauner has built an impenetrable fortress of high-dollar campaign contributors. Ron Gidwitz, long known in GOP circles for being the gateway to big-time cash from the wealthy, has fully joined in, as has Ken Griffin, the richest man in Illinois.

Gidwitz was with Senator Kirk Dillard in the 2010 gubernatorial primary, but Gidwitz and Rauner have sucked up so many dollars – including more than $250,000 from campaign fundraising committee member Griffin and lots more from Griffin’s friends – that Dillard hasn’t been able to raise any cash from rich people he’s known for years, even decades. Dillard’s financial predicament has become so desperate that he voted against last week’s pension-reform bill in the obvious hope that he can now raise some dough from public-employee unions.

Dillard’s vote is even more bizarre when you realize that he voted against a union-negotiated pension bill back in May and twice voted in favor of House Speaker Michael Madigan’s pension-reform bill in May and June.

But he really had no choice last week; it was sink-or-swim time.

Iran: It’s Not About Nuclear Weapons PDF Print E-mail
Guest Commentaries
Written by Sheldon Richman   
Monday, 02 December 2013 11:24

If you want to understand the U.S.-Iran controversy, know this: It is not about nuclear weapons.

You’re thinking: Of course it’s about nuclear weapons. Everyone says so.

Well, not everyone does. But it isn’t a numbers game. As William O. Beeman points out in the Huffington Post:

“There is a strange irony in President Obama’s announcement of the temporary agreement. He mentioned the term ‘nuclear weapon’ multiple times in his announcement, implying that Iran was on a path to develop such a weapon. One wonders if he actually believes this or if his repeated implied accusation was a rhetorical device designed to placate his hard-line critics.

“The president must know by this time that there is no evidence that Iran has or ever had a nuclear-weapons program. Every relevant intelligence agency in the world has verified this fact for more than a decade. U.S. National Intelligence Estimates that were made public in 2007 and 2011 underscored this. The International Atomic Energy Agency has also consistently asserted that Iran has not diverted any nuclear material for any military purpose.

“Even Israeli intelligence analysts agree that Iran is ‘not a danger’ to Israel.”

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