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Taking Back the Maps: Campaign Aims to Stop Gerrymandering in Illinois PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - 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 (IndependentMaps.org). “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
Commentary/Politics - 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.

 
Why Quinn Needs the Pension-Reform Deal to Pass PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Illinois Politics
Written by Rich Miller   
Monday, 02 December 2013 10:16

Last week, the four Illinois legislative leaders announced a deal on a long-awaited and much-anticipated pension-reform bill.

Other than the obvious fact that pension payments are diverting billions of dollars from other state programs such as education and human services, Governor Pat Quinn really wants this proposal passed before the end of the year for a couple of reasons – both political. The House and Senate are expected to vote on the proposal this week.

 
Unions Face Difficult Choice in GOP Primary PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Illinois Politics
Written by Rich Miller   
Sunday, 24 November 2013 13:17

Illinois union leaders are reportedly mulling several options about what to do in the governor’s race. But the only thing the leaders appear to agree on so far is that anti-union Republican gazillionaire Bruce Rauner cannot be allowed to win.

Some union honchos are looking at endorsing a candidate in the Republican primary. State Senator Kirk Dillard, for instance, already has strong support from the Operating Engineers, a union that is now even more opposed to Rauner since the candidate’s endorsement by the strongly anti-union Associated Builders & Contractors group. Other unions have also taken keen notice of that endorsement.

 
Polling Shows Little Change in GOP Gubernatorial Race PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Illinois Politics
Written by Rich Miller   
Sunday, 17 November 2013 05:22

In mid-August, near the end of his summertime TV-advertising blitz, Republican gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner scored 14 percent in a Capitol Fax/We Ask America poll of likely GOP-primary voters. That was up a tick from the 12 percent he got in a June 20 poll by the same firm. His campaign has run some radio ads since then and sent out some direct mail, but Rauner has been mostly absent from TV for a few months.

The absence doesn’t appear to have hurt him much. According to a poll taken November 14, Rauner is at 11 percent. So while he did slide back a bit, he’s still within the same polling range that he’s been trading in for months. That’s not to say this is good news; it isn’t.

 
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