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Madigan Moves to the Left with an Eye on Election Day PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Illinois Politics
Written by Rich Miller   
Sunday, 06 April 2014 05:56

Two worries are obviously driving driving much of Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan’s personal legislative agenda this year: low Democratic turnout in an off-year election for an unpopular governor and Republican gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner’s millions in campaign spending.

“If you’re an African American on the South Side, what motivates you to vote for [Governor] Pat Quinn when you wake up election morning?” was the blunt assessment of one longtime Madigan associate last week.

For example, Madigan signaled last week that despite his past reluctance to raise the minimum wage and his longtime alliance with the Illinois Retail Merchants Association (which is leading the charge against it), he’s not opposed. Calling the idea a matter of “fairness” and “equity,” Madigan told reporters last week: “I think you’ll find the opposition to raising the minimum wage comes from people that have done pretty well in America, and for some strange reason they don’t want others in America to participate in prosperity.”

Asked if he was referring to Rauner, Madigan asked: “Who?”

 
Quinn Lines Up His Ducks for Budget Address PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Illinois Politics
Written by Rich Miller   
Sunday, 30 March 2014 06:27

It turns out that Governor Pat Quinn and the two Democratic legislative leaders met privately for at least several days to negotiate details of the governor’s budget address.

The highly unusual move means that most if not all aspects of Quinn’s budget proposals last week have already been agreed to by the Democrats who run the Illinois Statehouse.

House Speaker Michael Madigan tipped his hand after the governor’s address during Jak Tichenor’s invaluable Illinois Lawmakers public-television program when he twice insisted that the governor’s property-tax proposal was actually his idea.

The governor proposed eliminating the state’s property-tax credit, which is currently worth 5 percent of property taxes paid, and replacing it with an automatic $500 tax refund.

That idea was apparently just one of Madigan’s demands in exchange for supporting the governor’s proposal to make the “temporary” income-tax hike permanent, which was the centerpiece of Quinn’s speech.

 
Unions Flex Muscles, Almost Knock Off Rauner PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Illinois Politics
Written by Rich Miller   
Sunday, 23 March 2014 05:27

It didn’t take long for Republican gubernatorial nominee Bruce Rauner to drop the word “unions” from his vocabulary.

After bashing public-employee-union leaders for months as corrupt bosses who buy votes to control Springfield, Rauner and his campaign have assiduously avoided the use of the U word since his victory last Tuesday. Instead, he’s switched to a line about how “our government is run by lobbyists, for special interests, and the career politicians in both parties let it happen.”

Rauner’s campaign manager said on primary night that his boss is “pro-union.” Rauner himself insisted last week that he’s not anti-union and never has been.

The candidate’s record clearly shows otherwise, however. Rauner kicked off his campaign with a widely published op-ed in which he called for legislation to allow individual counties to approve their own “right to work” laws. Rauner has also repeatedly demanded that Illinois follow the lead of states such as Michigan, Indiana, and Wisconsin, all of which have all passed anti-union laws.

 
Newspapers Cross the Line with Rutherford’s Personal Life PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Illinois Politics
Written by Rich Miller   
Sunday, 16 March 2014 05:26

Way back in 1992, I did a story about Dan Rutherford’s first run for the Illinois House of Representatives.

The House Democrats back then were quietly spreading rumors about Rutherford’s private life, hoping that his conservative, rural district would refuse to support someone who they said seemed to be gay. It was a classic “barber shop” play: Go where people hang out and start spreading a rumor. Spread that rumor in enough places and lots of folks will hear it and spread it themselves.

I wrote all those years ago that the Democrats were deluding themselves. Those voters weren’t just conservatives; they were dyed-in-the-wool Republicans. They’d take a Republican over a Democrat any day of the week, pretty much no matter what the grapevine was saying. All the Democrats were doing was embarrassing themselves, I wrote, and they ought to cut it out. Rutherford won, of course. The Democrats’ tactic failed.

I remembered that story when the Sun-Times and the Tribune started publishing “exposés” about how gubernatorial candidate and state Treasurer Rutherford had a habit of staying in the same hotel room or apartment with his male travel aide on some government and political trips. These stories served little purpose outside of trying to gin up that very same rumor mill about the candidate. The pieces were almost adolescently prurient in nature.

As with the Democrats 22 years ago, the newspapers never should’ve done that and should’ve instead risen above such nonsense.

 
Quinn Bought Peace, Not Votes, with Grant Program PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Illinois Politics
Written by Rich Miller   
Sunday, 09 March 2014 05:56

“There was no money allocated at all before the election of 2010,” Governor Pat Quinn told Chicago TV reporter Charles Thomas about allegations that the governor had spent millions in state anti-violence grants to boost his flagging election campaign. Quinn used this to defend himself against growing criticism about a devastating state audit of the anti-violence grants.

But what the governor said was not true.

According to Illinois Auditor General Bill Holland, Quinn’s administration signed contracts with 23 local groups on October 15, 2010 – about three weeks before Election Day. Each of the groups, hand-picked by Chicago aldermen, was promised about $300,000 for a total of about $7 million.

“That is allocating money,” Holland emphatically said last week about the awarding of those state contracts.

 
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