201 Miles to Springfield: Forrest Claypool at Sun-Times

Forrest Claypool at the Chicago Sun-Times Editorial Board.

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201 Miles to Springfield: August 1, 2010

A summary of the week’s political story affecting Ravenswood with some editorial observations thrown in.

You can’t write a better lede than this: “A life-sized statue of Elvis Presley is among a trove of Rod Blagojevich’s belongings in an Arlington Heights storage facility that the warehouse owner says he will sell at auction if the former governor doesn’t settle his debt.”

The Chicago Tribune story says Paul Lombardo of Boyer-Rosene Moving & Storage will put the former governor’s belongings up for auction August 14. Lombardo has indicated he will donate the proceeds from the sale to the Children’s Memorial Hospital.

The donation may seem a political slap at Blagojevich. Blagojevich is accused by the Federal government of trying to shake down an executive of the hospital for a campaign donation. However the Lombardo family lost two children in infancy. Three of Lombardo’s four surviving children have been treated, the story says, by Children’s Memorial Hospital.

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Metra will be holding an Open House to review the $185 million bridge project on the UP North Line. The meeting, August 3, 7 PM, is at the Auditorium, Bethany Retirement Community, 4950 N Ashland Ave.

In the you heard it THERE firstEric Rojas, in his Chicago Real Estate Local blog, said the new Ravenswood Station will be constructed SOUTH of Lawrence Ave. The Tribune said in a story that ran on Friday morning the station will be rebuilt south of Lawrence after community pressure took Metra and Ald. Eugene Schulter by surprise.

The initial plan had been for the station to be located north of Lawrence. Residents objected when the station was extended near residences along Ravenswood and the plans for the station threatened the street’s character.

The Metra project will replace 22 bridges and rebuild and relocate the Ravenswood Station. Starting August 21 both inbound and outbound traffic on the line will be reduced to a single track. Metra recently announced a change in its schedule on the UP North Line which it says will add up to two minutes to the morning commute.

“The schedule changes have been made because currently, trains travelling north and trains travelling south pass each other, or “meet” near the Ravenswood Station,” Metra said in a press release. “There will now be a single track in that area, the schedule has to be adjusted so that they pass each other outside the construction area. Those “meets” will now occur near Rogers Park and the Clybourn area,” the release said.

Phase one of the project, which will start in August, will replace the bridges in the area from Balmoral to Grace. A second phase, which starts in 2014, will replace bridges in the area from Fullerton to Cornelia.

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47th Ward Aldermanic Challenger Ameya Pawar (I-North Center) addressed the Metra Ravenswood Station issue on his Renew Chicago blog, promising to form a ward council to consider development in the city. “When Ameya is elected, he is going to create a Ward Council that lets residents discuss all issues related to the ward so that they don’t have to always file petitions and hire lawyers. The 47th Ward will be the first ward in Chicago to have real participatory democracy,” the blog states.

The Ravenswood Station issue was a matter of dispute between the neighborhood residents and Metra. Several neighborhood meetings were held over a 19 month-long period to discuss the development of the site. Local residents told the Bulldog Ald. Eugene Schulter may have been slow to act, but did work with residents to take their concerns to Metra. Contrast that process to the development of Wilson Yards in a neighboring ward.

In addition, although Schulter does not hold a Ward Council, he has open office hours each week at his office on Lincoln Avenue.

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While the newspapers discussed the pros and cons of the Blagojevich family taking their children to court last week, and Illinois State Representative Deb Mell (D-Avondale) supported her sister Patti Blagojevich, the Chicago Sun-Times noted that it was a family dispute that may have led to the federal investigation of former Governor Rod Blagojevich (D-Ravenswood Manor).

Chris Fusco and Steve Contorno write that a January 2005 order by then Governor Blagojevich to shut down a Will County landfill owned by Frank Schmidt increased tension between 33rd Ward Alderman Richard Mell (D-Irving Park) and Blagojevich. Schmidt is a relative of Patti Blagojevich.

The two writers say the dispute started when Mell felt snubbed following the 2002 Blagojevich gubernatorial victory. They say the feud continued even as Mell’s wife, Margaret, fell ill and died in 2006.

“You know, I should’ve f—–’ looked the other way on the landfill,” Blagojevich says in one tape played in court, “and then my father-in-law would take care of us. I should’ve f——- done that.”

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Alderman Richard Mell is reported by Chicago Sun-Times gossip columnist Michael Sneed to have offered to take his grandchildren by Rod and Patti Blagojevich out of town during the trial.

Mell reacted sharply in a report aired by Fox News to bloggers he says maligned his grandchildren for taking a Coach bag to court.

Lesson: don’t mess with the children.

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Alderman Richard Mell is proposing to remove a long-standing real estate transfer tax exemption from banks and mortgage companies, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. Mell told the Sun-Times forcing the banks to pay the property transfer tax would act as an incentive to the banks to negotiate with home owners attempting to renegotiate the terms of their mortgage.
The measure is backed by Ald. Roberto Maldonado (D-26th Ward) and opposed by Aldermen Bernard Stone (D-50th Ward) and Tom Tunney (D-44th Ward) as well as the banks and the real estate lobby the article says.

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The New York Post writes “the sacred rule at Agudas Achim Temple near Washington, DC, is, don’t talk to Rahm Emanuel (D-Ravenswood).” The short story says talking politics to the White House Chief of Staff is frowned on.

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The Chicago Sun-Times’ Fran Spielman noted that the city plans to explore selling sponsorships to the city’s bridges to corporations. The sponsorships could bring about $1 million per bridge for the 14 crossings with the highest traffic counts, or perhaps $10.5 million net annually.

Spielman says the corporations would be able to decorate the bridge houses for the month period preceeding four major holidays, Halloween, Christmas, Easter and Independence Day.

47th Ward Alderman Eugene Schulter (D-North Center) expressed some hesitation telling the Sun-Times, “the idea is a good one. I’m just kind of concerned about the size” of the logos.

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47th Ward Alderman Eugene Schulter was among just four aldermen to vote against the third Wal-Mart in city council, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. The third Wal-Mart will be built at 83rd Street and Stewart in Chatham. “During last month’s contentious discussion regarding allowing a second Wal-Mart in the Pullman neighborhood, I warned the company that I would be watching how they proceeded.  During that discussion, I said that I did not want to see Chicago become the capital of Wal-Mart in the United States and I still stand by that statement,” Schulter writes in an e-mail blast.

Schulter goes on to note that Wal-Mart plans to build more than two dozen stores in Chicago. “One of my major concerns is with Wal-Mart’s history of undermining local entrepreneurship,” he writes.

The Ravenswood neighborhood represented by Schulter depends on small retail business to sustain its tax base and appeal. The Encyclopedia of Chicago notes there was a long struggleby the Lincoln Square retail district to achieve success in the face of earlier big department store centered retail districts such as the one located at Lincoln, Ashland and Belmont:

“The intersection at Lincoln, Lawrence, and Western Avenues had never been as popular as other regional shopping districts, and the growing number of empty storefronts after World War II made some merchants worry about their ability to attract customers… In 1978 they developed the Lincoln Square mall, a pedestrian plaza that required a controversial rerouting of local traffic. The chamber tried to evoke an Old World flavor with European-style shops and a lantern imported from Hamburg, Germany. Many of the empty storefronts did indeed fill in… “

Schulter was heavily invested in the Lincoln rerouting proposal early in his career.

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Target Corporation CEO Gregg Steinhafel is defending his $150K donation to Minnesota Forward, described by GoPride Chicago, as a right-wing Political Action Committee.

“Steinhafel is telling employees of the Minnesota-based retailer that the company’s support of the gay community remains “unwavering,”” GoPride says. The blog goes on to note Minnesota Forward supports Minnesota Republican candidate for governor Tom Emmer.

“I believe marriage is the union between one man and one woman,” the blog says Emmer says on his website.

The news surprised Illinois 13th State Representative Greg Harris (D-Uptown). Harris had participated in the grand opening of the Uptown Target. “Companies like Target need to understand that they can’t have it both ways when it comes to issues of our basic rights,” Harris told GoPride. “I hope they rethink this contribution and find a way to make it right,” he is quoted as saying.

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The Pontiac Community News is reporting Illinois Governor Pat Quinn (D-Chicago: Galewood) is considering combining the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice into the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services.  The move could increase resources for the efforts of the two departments and allow the IDJJ to seek Federal money through the DCFS, according to the article.

“State Representative Greg Harris, said he would reserve judgment on the merger until he better understood what route would help youths the most,” the article says.

“I think we’ve heard over and over again that there are gaps in mental health assessment, substance abuse assessment, educational assessment. No one has yet demonstrated how those gaps are going to be filled just by shuffling people around,” Harris said in the report.

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Governor Pat Quinn will be joined by Illinois 11th District Legislator John Fritchey (D-DePaul West), 13th District Legislator Greg Harris (D-Uptown), State Senator Terry Link (D-Waukegan) and 47th Ward Alderman Eugene Schulter for a bill signing Sunday afternoon in the 2200 block of West Winona at 1:30 PM, according to the State Journal Register web site. The site says he’ll be signing landmark property tax legislation.

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US Congressman Mike Quigley (D-Lakeview), in an opinion piece published by US News & World Report July 26, criticized the June decision of an advisory committee of the US Department of Health and Human Services to maintain a policy that bans gay and bisexual men from ever donating blood.

Quigley explains the current policy bans any man who has had sex with a man since 1977, even if the male-male sex only happened once, from donating blood for life. Quigley says advances in blood screening technology make the ban “medically and scientifically unwarranted.”

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Illinois Congressmen Mike Quigley and Bill Foster (D-14th District) have sponsored an act prohibiting the Federal government from fighting state pay-to-play laws. The Illinois congressmen noted that Illinois enacted a strong ethics law against pay-to-play, but the law was significantly weakened by the Federal Highway Administration. That created a loophole in the state statute, they claim.

“It’s sadly ironic that when the state of Illinois attempts to curb corruption the federal government stands in its way,” Quigley said in a press release.

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Congressman Mike Quigley and Illinois US Senator Dick Durbin (D-Springfield) wrote an opinion piece published by the Chicago Tribune this week taking on for-profit colleges. “Lawmakers should consider whether it’s appropriate for federal funding to pay for marketing campaigns, scrutinize a system where educators are more beholden to their shareholders than to their students, tackle the problem of schools buying accreditation, and take a hard look at private lending by for-profit colleges,” the lawmakers wrote.

The Senate will be holding hearings shortly on the student debt and other issues associated with for-profit colleges.

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An investigative report by ChicagoTalks.org found that 62 state legislators, including Illinois Senate President John Cullerton (D-Ravenswood Manor),  had broken state law by awarding free tuition to the state’s public universities to 122 college students who didn’t live in the right legislative district.

Cullerton, who offered a scholarship to Jacqu Grossnickle in 2008, was contacted by ChicagoTalks, according to the article, but no response was noted.

Cullerton sponsored legislation earlier this year that would place some restrictions on the scholarships. But in May, Governor Pat Quinn vetoed his proposal, saying the program should be eliminated instead.

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The Illinois Radio Network quotes Senate President John Cullerton as blaming the $5 billion backlog of unpaid bills on Republican reluctance to vote for a tax hike. Cullerton is quoted as expecting lawmakers to take up the income tax hike after the November election.

Cullerton noted he sponsored an income tax bill that passed the Senate, but not the Illinois House.

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The privatization of the state lottery made a final call for contract proposals according to a report in the Associated Press. Legislators pushed for the private management company because lottery revenue had been stagnant for some time and “state bureaucracy is not … in the best position to actively try to remarket the lottery,” said Rikeesha Phelon, spokeswoman for Senate President John Cullerton.

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Senate President John Cullerton appeared with Julie Mann on WBBM-AM’s “At Issue” to discuss the state’s financial mess. You can listen to the audio from WBBM’s archives.

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GOP 7th Illinois Senate District challenger Adam Robinson (R-Edgewater) is pointing to an internal poll of likely voters that shows he is gaining ground on incumbent Heather Steans (D-Lakewood- Balmoral).

55 percent of independent voters surveyed indicated that they would choose Adam Robinson over the incumbent.  “In a sign of voter dissatisfaction with the political status quo, 45 percent of Democrat primary voters surveyed indicated that they will support Robinson in November,” a press release from the Robinson campaign noted.

The campaign asked “in this November’s election for our local state senate seat, will you be voting for Adam Robinson or the incumbent Democrat?”

The results were based on 750 likely 7th district voters and had a sample error of 3.56 percent according to the campaign. The poll was conducted in the period July 18 to 24.

“Democrat” was defined as a voter who voted in one or more Democrat primaries in the ’06, ’08 or ’10 (primary) election.  “Independent” is defined as a voter who voted in the ’06 or ’08 general election but did not vote in either party’s primary according to an e-mail from Robinson.

The major criticism of the survey resides in not stating Steans name in the question, with an alternating order.

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The Adam Robinson campaign is among the most active GOP campaigns on the North Side. Robinson noted this week that he had set a record 37,426 calls in the seven day period ending July 24.

The calls, the campaign notes in a press release, were made by real people, not “robo calls.”

The number of personal contacts is used by political insiders as a measure of the success of a campaign. A challenger campaign typically needs three calls to a person to assume the voter will support them in the election.

“These numbers are confirmation of what we’ve known for months,” Robinson said, “voters in the 7th district are tired of politicians who waste their money, cut programs they care about, and punish taxpayers for their failure to govern effectively.”

“Our message is clearly resonating,” Robinson said.

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America’s Future Foundation held a Chicago roundtable for local candidates supporting limited government. Illinois Republican Senate Challenger Adam Robinson and Libertarian candidate for Lieutenant Governor Ed Rutledge (Ravenswood) attended the July 26th event in Downtown Chicago.

The America’s Future Blog says

“Libertarian Party candidate for Lt. Governor Ed Rutledge spoke about how different campaign messages resonate “downstate” versus in Chicagoland. While discussion about federal government overreach–particularly in regard to the new health insurance mandate–works outside of Chicago, he takes a different approach in and around the city, asking whether swing voters believe government policies are working to improve their lives or hinder them (and whether many policies should be government policies at all).”

“Adam Robinson–whose state Senate district is one of the bluest in Illinois–spoke about asking voters whether they believe they are getting a good product from their state government following eight years of one-party rule. Instead of talking about “conservative” principles, Robinson asks voters whether they approve of policies on which they had little input, like, for example, the plan to pave the lakefront area adjacent to many of their homes. He also chooses to focus on fiscal issues–the most urgently pressing issues in the state–and finds once he neutralizes the notion of Republicans as uniformly socially conservative, voters find a whole new world of political opportunities and candidates available among which they can choose.”

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Illinois Senator Heather Steans (D-Lakewood- Balmoral) is sponsoring a school supply drive for needy students in Uptown. Donors will sign up to sponsor a student and will receive the student’s grade, age, gender, and the school supply list for that particular student according to Steans. The drive ends August 19. Contact jen@heathersteans.com or call (773) 769-1717 for more information.

Jennifer Walling, Sen. Steans Chief of Staff, suggests sponsoring a $75 supply for a student. But ANY contribution is welcome for the drive.

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Republican 5th Congressional Challenger David Ratowitz (R-Avondale) is asking for a $49 donation to his campaign in honor of the 49th birthday of President Barack Obama (D-Hyde Park). A video, apparently called “Money Bomb,” is on Ratowitz’s YouTube channel. According to Ratowitz’s Facebook page, his fundraising event was launched July 20th, a full week before First Lady Michelle Obama announced to USAToday that she would be using her husband’s birthday as a fundraiser. “I’m truly flattered” said Ratowitz. “I welcome a little friendly competition.”

Ratowitz’s web site says he’ll be canvassing the 47th Ward soon.

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Cambodians remain under-represented in American politics due to their community not seeking American citizenship, a weekend conference hosted by the Cambodian Association of Illinois found. The Conference was reported by VOA Khymer. The Lincoln Square-based Cambodian Association of Illinois heard Organizer Van Sar say, “we don’t have representatives within the US leadership. Secondly, we don’t have a strong, joint voice from our civil society organizations to influence US policy.”

Only ten percent of Cambodian-Americans graduate from high school, the conference learned. It also heard that of a US population of 270,000, just 60,000 have full citizenship rights.

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John Fritchey tweet of the week: Time will tell if time is served. Fritchey, the 11th Legislative District Representative, is running for the 12th Cook County Board of Commissioners seat.

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Illinois Minute Man Project spokesman and former Republican candidate for the fifth Congressional District Rosanna Pulido (R-Ravenswood) joined Fox TV’s Good Day Chicago to discuss the Arizona immigration act SB 1070.

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The Chicago News Cooperative wrote a report on the city’s parking meter privatization deal Thursday indicating that although Chicago Mayor Richard Daley had indicated that downtown drivers would bear the brunt of the increased parking fees, it is fees generated from neighborhoods that are driving the cash flow for Chicago Parking Meters LLC.

“Chicago Parking Meters is on track to take in more than $73 million in 2010, according to Standard & Poor’s… That is more than three times the roughly $20 million a year that the city had reaped from its meters before the privatization deal,” the article by Dan Mihalopoulos and Mick Dumke says.

The article created an opportunity for 47th Ward Challenger Ameya Pawar to say “the parking meter deal was and is still bad for Chicago. We need an alderman who will stand up and demand that a full analysis be done before any city services are privatized.”

On the Renew Chicago Facebook page Pawar went further, pinning blame for the parking meter sale on Alderman Eugene Schulter, “It’s also worth noting that when Alderman Schulter was faced with finding solutions to fix the budget problem, he simply voted YES to sell of parking meters. He chose the easy way out. What do you think he is going to do this time?

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Wyman sentenced to 45 years

The Chicago Sun-Times is reporting that Alan Wyman, 56, a North Center resident, has been sentenced to 45 years in jail today.

Wyman was convicted in May of two counts of aggravated criminal sexual assault and one count of aggravated kidnapping.

In a five page victim’s statement the woman called Wyman a “monster.”

According to the Sun-Times the victim said Wyman “robbed me of my sense of safety and security.”

Trial evidence indicated the woman was beaten and raped repeatedly over the four days. She was held in a sound-reducing chamber inside a closet of Wyman’s apartment in the 4300 block of North Western Ave and was fed spoonfuls of sugar and water.

“I live in constant fear. I suffer awful nightmares. I can’t and won’t walk alone at night,” the woman is reported to have written in her statement.

Wyman faces two other charges. He is accused of an August 2005 assault on a then 20 year-old woman and an August 2006 rape. Those cases are pending, the Cook County State’s Attorney told the Bulldog.

201 Miles to Springfield: July 25th

A summary of the week’s political story affecting Ravenswood with some editorial observations thrown in.

The Chicago Tribune’s Clout Street Blog mentioned 32nd Ward Alderman Scott Waguespack (D-) and White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel (D-Ravenswood) among a long list of people who might run for mayor. The entry was tied to a poll, released by the Tribune last week, that indicated weak support for another term for Chicago Mayor Richard M Daley (D-). Earlier in the year Emanuel took himself out of the running if Daley seeks another term.

Daley has been mayor of Chicago since 1989. If he ran again it would be a seventh term. His father, Richard J Daley (D-Bridgeport), served 21 years, from 1955 till his death in office at age 74 in 1976. Daley would pass his father’s longevity record in office if he serves past December 25, 2010.

Other nearby residents mentioned in the entry were Cook County Assessor James Houlihan (D-Lakeview East) and 44th Ward Alderman Tom Tunney (D-Lakeview East). Houlihan did not seek another term as assessor this year. However the blog points out he would probably find a strong challenger backed by Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago: Westlawn) and also by Daley if he chooses to run for mayor.

Waguespack indicated to the Chicago Sun-Times he’s considering a run for mayor whether or not Daley is running. According to the Sun-Times, “he’s fed up with the corruption, waste and mismanagement” of the Daley administration.

Waguespack was among just five aldermen who opposed the Chicago parking meter sale. The Sun-Times reports Waguespack needs $2 million in his campaign chest to realistically make a run for the seat. Daley currently has a campaign chest of $1.9 million, the article said. The entry said that was not enough to guarantee Daley wouldn’t be forced into a difficult campaign and even a runoff. According to the most recent D-2 filing by Waguespack to the Illinois Board of Elections, he maintains just $16,518.55 in his campaign chest.

That’s not even enough to make a serious run for alderman. But there is still time.

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In the WTF department, in a Chicago Tribune editorial titled “Todd’s Pals, Joe’s Pals” the newspaper promises you’ll find a full six-page link to a list of politicians, from Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan (D-St. Bens), to White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel (D-Ravenswood), from ousted Governor Rod Blagojevich (D-Ravenswood Manor) to Illinois Comptroller Daniel Hynes (D-North Center) and also 40th Ward Alderman Dick Mell (D-Irving Park), all of whom, the editorial assures us, backed Todd Stroger (D- Chicago: Marynook Park) for Cook County Board President in 2006.

Mell is singled out for also supporting Berrios in this election round.

“What’s especially galling is that many of those who endorsed Stroger now have endorsed his crony Joe Berrios,” the editorial says. Berrios (D-Cragin), a current Commissioner, Cook County Board of Review, is running on the Democratic ticket for Cook County Assessor. He is opposed by Sharon Strobeck-Eckersall (R-Evanston), Robert C Grota (G-Logan Square) and Forrest Claypool (I-Graceland West).

The editorial describes Berrios as having a “grotesque” conflict of interest representing  Speaker Michael Madigan’s and Illinois Senate President John Cullerton’s (D-Ravenswood Manor) clients before the Cook County Board of Review, and also lobbying Madigan and Cullerton in Springfield on behalf of his clients.

The WTF comes in when you attempt to follow the link to the “six page” list of office holders who supported Stroger or those who have endorsed Berrios. Those links are dead. It would be interesting to compare and contrast those two lists… But if the Tribune can’t get that right…

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Comptroller Daniel Hynes issued a report stating “Illinois ended the year in the worst financial position in its history.” The report, which was widely covered in the media, went on to conclude “it will be extremely challenging to close out fiscal year 2010 and maintain key functions of state government.”

Although $1.3 billion in spending was cut from the state budget at the beginning of the month by Illinois Governor Pat Quinn (D-Chicago: Galewood), the state revenues are an estimated $11-13 billion below expenditures. The total state budget is about $22 billion.

Moody’s downgraded the ratings on state bonds, meaning there will be higher interest costs for borrowing ahead. “The state has not demonstrated the political willingness to take action during the fiscal crisis to restructure its budget to achieve balance,” according to Fitch Ratings which also downgraded Illinois debt obligations late in June.

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Swing State Project predicts Democratic US Congressman Mike Quigley (D-Lakeview) is safe in his run against GOP challenger David Ratowitz (R-Avondale). Not mentioned in the Swing State Project is Green Party challenger Matt Reichel (G-Andersonville South Neighborhood).

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Just in time for the election, Congressman Mike Quigley has opened a satellite office in the district at 1057 W Belmont Ave.

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Congressman Mike Quigley has also pushed through legislation that renames the post office at 1343 W Irving Park Road in honor of singer/songwriter Steve Goodman. Goodman, who died at 36 of leukemia, wrote such songs as “Go, Cubs, Go” and “City of New Orleans.”

Quigley is the co-chair of the “Congressional Hockey Caucus,” which the AP reports is a group of “14 lawmakers who share a passion” for hockey. The group gained attention this week in Canada when it honored a veteran who lost a limb to amputation, but still wanted to play hockey. You may remember a WGN-TV spot aired in June about the hockey playing priest, Bishop Thomas Paprocki, who was assigned to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Peoria. Quietly working the puck in the video was our congressman. Quigley even lists hockey as a passion on his twitter page.

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Depite the predictions of Swing State, Quigley’s Republican opponent, David Ratowitz, has not given up hope. He appeared at a Thompson Center rally to address Second Amendment rights. The embedded video has his two minute speech.

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The Swing State Project also predicts a win for Attorney General Lisa Madigan in her run reelection. “Madigan is the most popular politician in Illinois who will have no trouble against Kim. Had she ran for Governor or Senate, she would have been the overwhelming favorite,” the report says.

Madigan is running against Steve Kim (R- Northbrook) and David F Black (G-Belvidere). Three other candidates for Attorney General have not yet passed objections to their filings: Bill Malan (Libertarian- Chicago: Tri-Taylor), Louis Cotton (Constitution- Sorento) and Christopher Pedersen (Independent Conservative- Joliet).

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The name of Attorney General Lisa Madigan has been floated around Washington, DC as first director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. However, she issued a statement saying that she appreciates being mentioned in light of her work fighting “predatory and often discriminatory mortgage lending.” But Madigan threw her support behind the perceived front-runner for consumer czar, Harvard Law Professor Elizabeth Warren according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

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The Alton Daily News notes Senate President John Cullerton is “not ruling out the idea of calling lawmakers back sometime this summer.” The Daily News noted that the summer session would reconsider a plan to borrow nearly $4 billion to pay the state’s pension obligations. However the President’s office does not believe the plan has enough support to pass. So, why is the Daily News mentioning this if it won’t happen? Why is Cullerton discussing it?

Monday the Illinois Radio Network reported Cullerton told Governor Pat Quinn that there won’t be a vote on borrowing to balance the state budget until after the November election. Quinn responded, “the General Assembly doesn’t have a lot of fortitude when it comes to raising revenue or making cuts.”

Rich Miller, of theCapitolFaxBlog noted that the Illinois Radio Network story incorrectly equates borrowing with balancing the budget. That will be something to watch when listening to the rhetoric this campaign season.

Expect to hear more about November 4. That’s the date Quinn has mentioned for the next legislative meeting. It is after the November elections, meaning decisions by the legislature will be from a lame-duck session. A key question to those running is why the public has to wait till after the election to learn how the state plans to deal with the mess it is in.

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Senate President John Cullerton wrote an opinion piece in the Springfield State Register-Journal defending the Emergency Budget Act. He says $3 billion are available to Governor Pat Quinn to use to pay bills, although he notes the money will need to be paid back. Quinn, he explains, can use the act to tap the $1.2 billion tobacco settlement and to order state agencies, departments and universities to reserve parts of their budgets.

“Armed with an assortment of newfound budgetary authority, it is time for the governor to act,” Cullerton writes. “The governor has been given a lot of responsibility. But the Illinois Senate has acted, too. The same Emergency Budget Act forces lawmakers to take a dozen furlough days, eliminates salary adjustments and lowers travel and housing reimbursements.” Cullerton claims the Senate has reduced spending by $2.5 billion over the last two years.

Cullerton appeared on Fox Chicago Sunday to discuss the Illinois budget mess. You can watch his appearance below.

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Thursday Senate President John Cullerton and House Speaker Michael Madigan issued a press release that raised hopes of advocates of public financing of state elections. The two leaders named committee members to a study, expected to report in 2011, on the affects of capping financial contributions. That bill took affect last year following the removal of former Governor Rod Blagojevich. The full committee is still waiting a final Republican pick and on Governor Pat Quinn to take action.

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47th Ward Alderman Eugene Schulter (D-North Center) joined a number of aldermen at Dvorak Park to propose an ordinance to limit the emissions of two South Side coal-fired power plants. The plan would limit emissions of particulate matter and carbon dioxide.

Opponents of the plants say coal-fired plants produce 180,000 pounds of soot each year which has contributed to a growing number of asthma diagnoses. Watch for this issue to gain interest. Schulter joins a group of 13 aldermen working for the ordinance.

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It’s Bleepin’ Golden, the ring tone, was offered FREE! Yes, no campaign contributions required. The Springfield State Journal Register put together such Rod Blagojevich (D-Ravenswood Manor) favorites as:

The newspaper is offering nine ring tones to the public, with instructions on how to load the Ravenswood Manor defendant’s voice on to a phone.

Former Blagojevich office-mate, 11th Illinois Legislative Representative John Fritchey (D-DePaul West. John Fritchey is also currently running for the 12th Cook County Board of Commissioners District), summarized the attitude of some members of the public with a tweet: “funniest line so far today, Rod has no ‘testifycular virility’. Courtesy of my friend Noel.”

My nominee for best line (not funniest), “I talk too much.” Let’s see that as a ring tone.

However the most thought provoking discussion of the dog that will not bark was offered by James Warren, a former editor of the Chicago Tribune and now a columnist for the Chicago News Cooperative. “Since the indictment of former Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich, little has intrigued me as much as what’s on wiretapped conversations between the profane coosome twosome of Blago and Rahm Emanuel, the president’s chief of staff and Blago’s successor as a North Side congressman,” Warren starts writing in his Saturday column, “Oh, the Loss as the Taped Rod-Rahm Calls Go Unplayed.”

More ring tones! That’s what’s on there. Oh! They would have been golden!

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Patti Blagojevich (Ravenswood Manor) has taken to reading Sherlock Holmes mysteries on her phone during the prosecution of her husband, according to a report by the AP. Her favorite seems to be Arthur Conan Doyle’s “The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes.” “Patti Blagojevich has been seen reading during several less-riveting stretches of the case. She says she’s also fond of Jane Austen,” according to the report.

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Chicago Sun-Times gossip columnist Michael Sneed seems to indicate the former first lady could be the next indicted in the Blagojevich scandal. “Is former first lady Patti Blagojevich still in the line of fire? Is there fear her real estate dealings with Tony Rezko fall within the realm of indictability? Stay tuned.”

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If you haven’t had enough of the Blagojevich family, Second City is presenting “Rod Blagojevich, Superstar” at the Metropolis in Arlington Heights, The spoof originally ran in the Lincoln Park location of the theater group. The play has a limited engagement August 6 – September 18.

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You may have missed State Representative John Fritchey’s appearance on WLS’ Connected to Chicago with Bill Cameron. Cameron and Fritchey discussed the Supreme Court decision on the Second Amendment and safety in Chicago. The broadcast is archived on WLS.

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State Representative John Fritchey was reported by NBC5 to be trying to entice 50th Ward Alderman Bernard Stone‘s (D-West Rogers Park) daughter to run against Alderman Scott Waguespack for 32nd Ward Alderman. Waguespack defeated a Fritchey foe, former 32nd Ward Alderman Ted Matlak (D-Bucktown), to seize the ward in 2007, but the report says Fritchey “thinks he’s done a poor job.”

As noted earlier, Waguespack announced he is interested in running for mayor of the city in 2011.

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Woman falls from 3rd floor porch Friday

A Ravenswood woman was reported in good condition after falling from a third floor porch at 3640 N Ashland Ave. early Friday morning, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. The paper reports the woman fell about 1:45 AM. She was taken to Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center. Alcohol is suspected to be a factor in the accident, the report says.

The Chicago Sun-Times reports a woman fell from the third floor porch of this two-flat at 3640 N Ashland Ave., early Friday morning. The woman was taken to Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center. Her condition is listed as good.

The World of Rod Blagojevich; Updated


View The Blagojevich trial, mapped in a larger map

The places and faces associated with the Federal trial of Ravenswood Manor resident and former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich.

More: Alan Wyman convicted of 2006 sexual assault…

According to the Chicago Breaking News summary of the court proceedings, the victim told the jury she was held by Wyman for four days in September 2006. She told the jury she was bound and gagged by Wyman, only being fed water and two spoonfuls of sugar.

She testified that a friend of Wyman, Joseph Swain, 56, entered the apartment during her captivity, discovering the woman tied to a bed. Swain testified he was asked in a “frantic” voice to call police by the woman. Swain testified he “freaked out,” going home and never called police.

However, the victim was able to use Swain’s intrusion in any case, persuading Wyman that Swain was calling the police. Wyman, she said, got panic-stricken. Wyman drove her to the home of a family friend. She said as he left he asked if he could call her.

Conklin told the Bulldog Wyman built a special closet which Conklin described as a closet within a closet. The space was meant to restrain victims and reduce their noise. News reports from the time of the crime indicate the victim was held in this closet and lost track of time during her kidnapping.

Wyman was known in the neighborhood as a handy man. His designed a rock garden which still stands outside Lee’s Grocery, at the corner of Pensacola where it meets Western Ave. The news of his arrest in 2006 shook the Welles Park neighborhood.

The 2006 arrest was picked up by both the Chicago Sun-Times and the Chicago Tribune. Sun-Times coverage of the arrest earned it a separate media column in the Chicago Reader.

Community activist Julie Peterson told Michael Miner at the time, “When I showed the article to my neighbors they were floored— this man had been in their homes as a handyman… Everybody knew who he was.”

Activists including Peterson and administrative law judge Ann Breen-Greco, protested against what they called spectacular coverage by the Chicago Sun-Times.

In a May 2010 letter on her web site, BeyondToday.com, Peterson calls on neighbors to support the victim:

“The woman who was kidnapped and held in the apartment at Cullom and Western a few years ago by Alex Wyman. He held her for days and did horrible things to her…

This is our job. To stop him. To support (the victim). To do our best…

This man was in our homes. We cannot distance ourselves. We need to make sure they don’t say “it’s her word against his” and let him go free. Like so many rapists and violent criminals before…”

Sentencing of Wyman will be held July 2 in the court room of Judge Porter, at the criminal courts, 26th and California Ave. Chicago Police have not yet responded to requests for more information.

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