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Pulling Back the Curtain on Secret Working Groups PDF Print E-mail
Illinois Politics
Written by Rich Miller   
Sunday, 10 May 2015 05:04

I recently obtained a document distributed by the governor’s office detailing the membership list and meeting times and locations of the secret state legislative “working groups.”

The governor’s office has insisted that not only should legislators dummy up about what goes on at the groups’ meetings – which are designed to forge compromises on the governor’s “Turnaround Agenda” – but also that outsiders should not even know the membership of the groups or when and where they’re getting together.

That’s pretty ridiculous. Many moons ago, I began writing about private legislative caucus meetings. That didn’t endear me to the powers that be, but I thought the meetings were too important to the Statehouse process to ignore. I still think that, although caucus meetings are somewhat less important these days.

So I exerted a bit of effort and eventually scored the governor’s document.

The working group tasked with hammering out a potential tax hike is so secret that its very existence would not be confirmed by members I contacted. Legislators were reportedly warned by the governor’s office that if any word leaked about the group, Governor Bruce Rauner would refuse to increase taxes.

Yep, he’s a control freak.

Few Recourses for Real Change PDF Print E-mail
Letters to the Editor
Written by Terry Hansen   
Friday, 08 May 2015 12:15

Just a few words to express my enjoyment of Ms. McCarthy’s recent article. I couldn’t agree more with what was said. My only regret is being not sure what to do about it. While Ms. McCarthy has pushed in the past for people being more involved with the political process and learning more about what’s going on, I can also see where time commitments for work and family severely limit many for participating as much as they would like or could like. The economy is not anywhere near as good as some would think. I feel we’re financially suppressed on purpose to make it that much harder to watch over our interests in government. My only suggestion would be to stop watching political ads and the news and start looking for alternative parties and candidates. I know this is not always easy, but I believe the vote is the only real recourse citizens have to promote real change. And that will change when and if they go to an all-digital voting system. Hackers are getting into everywhere. It’s all but impossible to keep them out. Our elections will be become completely meaningless.

I could go on and on, so don’t get me started ... . Or maybe it should be that more people should get started.

Thanks again for being at least one honest source of information.

Terry Hansen

Rauner Playing Hardball on Budget, Term Limits PDF Print E-mail
Illinois Politics
Written by Rich Miller   
Sunday, 03 May 2015 05:31

The new legislative “working groups” designed to hammer out compromises on Governor Bruce Rauner’s “Turnaround Agenda” finally began meeting in secret last week. At least one of them got a bit heated.

A working group tasked with writing ethics legislation hit a brick wall right off the bat when it came time to discuss Rauner’s term-limits constitutional amendment. Two Democrats on the committee reportedly said there was plenty of time to deal with the amendment next year, since it couldn’t be placed on the ballot until November 2016.

Nope, said the administration representative, according to sources. The governor wants that amendment passed by the end of the spring legislative session. When he was met with stiff resistance, the administration official reportedly became agitated and more than implied that if the constitutional amendment isn’t passed by May 31, the governor would not support any revenue increases to patch next fiscal year’s massive $6-billion hole.

The Radical Pragmatist: An Interview with Republican GOP Candidate Mark Everson PDF Print E-mail
National Politics
Written by Jeff Ignatius   
Thursday, 30 April 2015 05:50

Mark Everson on April 9. Photo by Kevin Shafer (

Chances are good you’ve never heard of Republican presidential candidate Mark Everson, and he doesn’t (and likely never will) have the campaign cash to change that.

And if you are aware of him, your impression might not be particularly favorable. He ran the loathed Internal Revenue Service for four years under President George W. Bush. And his tenure as CEO of the American Red Cross lasted less than eight months, with Everson forced to resign because of an inappropriate romantic relationship with a subordinate.

It doesn’t help that for a person running for president, Everson’s electoral-political experience is “pretty thin” by his own admission.

But there are many reasons you should acquaint yourself with Everson and his agenda:

• He’s doing his shoestring campaign in Iowa right, pledging to visit all 99 counties. He sat down April 9 for a 100-minute interview with me, reflecting a willingness to go wherever people will listen.

• He plans to spend between $250,000 and $300,000 of his own money on his candidacy, so even if he’s not conventionally viable, he’s quite literally invested in his campaign.

• The six points of emphasis for his campaign include immigration reform that would include a path to citizenship for law-abiding illegal immigrants already in the country – a hot-button example of Everson not pandering to the more conservative side of the GOP.

• Those six planks also include two elements that don’t pander to any major constituency. He favors reinstating some form of the military draft, and he supports entitlement reform that would, for example, take Social Security benefits away from people who don’t financially need them.

• Despite that, his platform has a populist streak, most notably a major reform of the tax code that would create a 12.9-percent national sales tax and exempt 150 million people from the income tax. (Filing-jointly couples with income less than $100,000 and singles making less than $50,000 would not pay any income tax.)

Why Is Madigan Refusing to Cast Votes? PDF Print E-mail
Illinois Politics
Written by Rich Miller   
Sunday, 26 April 2015 14:39

A couple of weeks ago, I started noticing that House Speaker Michael Madigan wasn’t voting on most legislation during his chamber’s floor debates. Madigan was feeling under the weather that week, and was ill enough that a leadership meeting with the governor couldn’t be scheduled until a few days later, so I let it go.

But the pattern continued the following week. A spot check of roll calls showed Madigan was listed as present and accounted for but hadn’t voted for or against much of anything.

What the heck?

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