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Category Archives: Illinois

Issues that pertain only to the state of Illinois

By Ron Brzoska

1982…sandberg

I was 10 years old.

Ryne Sandberg finished his rookie year with the Chicago Cubs.

I was playing Pac-Man on my Atari 2600.

atariLate Night with David Letterman debuted.

The Dow closed at 1,046.

The #1 movie was E.T. the Extraterrestrial.

The price of gas was 91 cents per gallon.et

The Chicago Cubs were six years away from having lights at Wrigley Field.

Harold Baines, Carlton Fisk, and Greg Luzinski were putting balls on the roof at Comiskey (not Kaminsky) Park.

The first CD player is sold. My son will probably never use one.thriller

There were only two Star Wars Movies.

Speaking of movie franchises, Freddy Kruger and the Nightmare on Elm Street series did not yet exist.

The Bulls and Blackhawks played at the old barn called Chicago Stadium.

There was Astroturf, but no UFO at Soldier Field.mrt

Jane Byrne was Mayor of Chicago. Jim Thompson was Governor of Illinois.

Michael Jackson releases the Thriller Album.

Rocky III introduced Mr. T to the world.knightrider

My future wife started kindergarten.

My favorite TV show was Knight Rider.

A sophomore from the University of North Carolina, Michael Jordan, hits the game winning shot of the NCAA championship.

jordanncWe were all excited with the possibilities of personal computing when the Commodore 64 was introduced.

Punky QB Jim McMahon, and Coach Mike Ditka were rookies for the Chicago Bears.

MTV was one year old and the only programming was a thing called “music videos.”mtv

Dick Durbin was elected to national office for the first time.

Hasn’t he had enough of a chance? Haven’t WE had enough?

Vote for Jim Oberweis.

durbinold

By Ron Brzoska

Most bad news is buried on a Friday. The most famous example is that companies tend to do their layoffs on a Friday. I have noticed that government has taken to this strategy in the last few years. Think back to how many times you have heard about a tax increase, bill, resignation, or report with a negative result on a Friday. The idea is that the public is so focused on the weekend that they won’t be as upset by the news, if they even care at all.

This past Friday, The Illinois General Assembly passed a couple of joint resolutions out of committee hoping we wouldn’t notice.

The first one was HJRCA52. This resolution is about voting rights and was filed by Speaker of the House, and Illinois Democratic Party Chairman, Michael Madigan. If passed, it will be on the ballot in November for adoption to the state constitution. The language is very harmless on its surface and quite admirable.

No person shall be denied the right to register to vote or to cast a ballot in an election based on race, color, ethnicity, status as a member of a language minority, national origin, religion, sex, sexual orientation, or income.

The language is so good that it passed with bi-partisan support… even though no one could understand why it was needed. My state rep, Ron Sandack, voted for this resolution in committee even though he has been quoted asking for an instance where someone was discriminated against, which would call for this resolution. Afterall, the Illinois Constitution already says “All elections shall be free and equal.” Funny though, it is just like government to take a seven word sentence and turn it into a forty word sentence. To answer Representative Sandack’s question, HJRCA52 is not about policy; it’s about agenda. Madigan and the Democrats do not want voter ID legislation to go through. The tactic that they have taken is to equate voter identification with discrimination, particularly racism. Madigan just wrote his resolution to leave no stone unturned. No one is for discrimination, so even the Republicans will vote for it. Madigan wants Republicans on the record for the time when someone tries to introduce a bill for voter identification. Either he will portray the politician as racist, or the legislation as such. Then Madigan will point towards the state constitution and the overwhelming vote that placed his resolution there as reasons to defeat any voter integrity initiative. You don’t get to be king of Illinois for forty years by being dumb.

The second resolution is SJRCA40. This is the latest attempt to introduce a progressive tax system.  A little more than a week ago, the first progressive tax bill was rejected in committee. It was very easy to see that it was a tax increase on every person on Illinois, which isn’t going to be very popular, but that doesn’t mean the Democrats want to stop trying. Speaker Madigan had floated the idea of a “Millionaire Tax” and here, on Friday, Senator Don Harmon (D) got his progressive tax resolution through his committee. How convenient. SJRCA40 reads as follows:

There may be one tax on the income of individuals and corporations. This may be a fair tax where lower rates apply to lower income levels and higher rates apply to higher income levels.

Please note that there is no mention of millionaires. Please note that the language used is “lower” and “higher”. This not only indicates initial subjectivity when the rates are established, but allows for the rates to be changed to satisfy the opinions of higher and lower incomes at a future date. There also is nothing written into this resolution that limits us to two tax brackets. This resolution doesn’t place a limit on the number of tax brackets. This, my fiends, is a progressive tax system by any other name.

So what do we do? We tell the truth in any forum we possess. We tell the truth over and over again. We bring sunshine to the intentions of Illinois Democrats and we wake up the voters. Democrats don’t want to stop election fraud because they thrive on it. If you disagree, you will be labeled a racist. The Democrats want to tax your prosperity. If you disagree, you will be labeled as greedy. The truth, specifically the truth spoken loudly and by many, is the only way out of this.

Being a conservative Republican in Illinois means that from time to time you are going to feel like Charlie Brown. Every once in a while, just as you are starting to feel good and like you are part of the team, Lucy pulls the ball away from you and you land on your butt. That happened today when Senators Mark Kirk and John Cornyn were asked about Jim Oberweis and his bid to unseat Democrat senator Dick Durbin. In one sentence, each senator undermined the candidate and their own party.

First Mark Kirk:

“I’m going to be protecting my relationship with Dick and not launching into a partisan jihad that hurts our partnership [in which we] both pull together for Illinois.”

Then John Cornyn, the head of the Republican Senatorial Committee in charge of promoting Republican senatorial candidates:

“The reason I’m here is for my own reelection, and so I’m not getting involved in the Illinois Senate race at this time.”

So Mark Kirk does not want to hurt his partnership with Dick Durbin. A partnership implies that your goals and strategies are aligned. If this is true, how can he call himself a Republican? You certainly can’t call Dick Durbin a conservative Democrat, let alone a Republican. Mark Kirk is surrendering the battle before the first shot can be fired. Here we are mere days from the several unity events across the state where Republicans are asked to put aside their differences and rally behind the primary winners, and the highest Republican elected official in the land is waving the white flag because it doesn’t help him.

John Cornyn is even worse if you think about it. He has no relationship with Durbin. He has nothing to fear by supporting Oberweis. In fact, he is the head of an organization with the state purpose of electing Republicans to the Senate. To be non-committal to Oberweis is a dereliction of duty.

These two statements by Kirk and Cornyn are not leadership. They are cowardice. We expect more of you. Wake up!

Mark Kirk

Quotes are courtesy of http://www.wlsam.com.

http://www.wlsam.com/common/page.php?pt=Oberweis+shunned+by+fellow+Republicans&id=90473&is_corp=0

 

The following post was in this past Wednesday’s edition of Illinois Review.  http://illinoisreview.typepad.com/illinoisreview/2014/02/ideology-affiliation-and-the-choice-to-intervene.html

The writer, John F. Di Leo, hits it right on the head.

Subtitle: “Bruce Rauner and The Case of the Disturbing Checkbook”

Pennsylvania is a swing state.

Now, when we say this in politics, it can mean a number of different things. It can mean that the people tend to be moderate, or it can mean that the people are evenly split between conservative and liberal, or a number of other possible mixes too. In any case, it means that the state is winnable for either party in most election years (if the polls are kept reasonably free of the Democratic vote fraud that plagues so many of our big cities, anyway).

If you look at the list of Pennsylvania governors over the past century, you’re surprised at how evenly distributed the victories have been. A Republican, then a Democrat. Two Republicans, then two Democrats. Back and forth the state has flipped, from the Philadelphia liberals to the conservative Republicans outstate.

It’s surprisingly similar to Illinois in this regard, in fact, as our little northwest corner’s Chicagoland serves as an unfortunate counterweight to the much wiser Republican area that we call “downstate Illinois.” An evenly balanced electorate means that either party can win statewide elections, if they run the right candidate and campaign well.

In 2002, the state of Pennsylvania was in a challenging, but not bad, position. Republican Dick Thornburgh had held the governor’s mansion for two terms in the 1980s, then Democrat Bob Casey held it for two terms from the late 80s into the 90s, and then Republican Tom Ridge was elected to two terms in the late 90s and into the 2000s.

But then there was a monkey wrench, thrown by the islamofascist attacks of September 11, 2001. The nation’s capital decided to create a new federal Department of Homeland Security… and President George W. Bush decided that Pennsylvania’s incumbent governor, Tom Ridge, would be perfect for the new post of DHS Secretary. This left the governor’s mansion in the hands of the popular – but perhaps not popular enough? – Mark Schweiker.

While the GOP leadership liked Governor Schweiker, the state’s movers and shakers knew that 2002 would be a tough election year, so they decided to run the state’s popular conservative Attorney General, Mike Fisher, for governor. Fisher had won two statewide elections for AG already, and it was a proven launching point in many states, so it made sense. Their own former governor Dick Thornburgh, for example, had served as the nation’s AG under Presidents Reagan and Bush… the role is identified with solid executive authority. It’s a great resume for a gubernatorial candidate.

2002 was a tough year for Republicans nationally, however, and Mike Fisher lost. Ed Rendell, Mayor of Philadelphia, won the Democrat nomination, and early money helped the left-wing Ed Rendell beat him, (the first Philadelphia official to win the office in nearly a century, in fact), 53.4% to 44.4%.

While this is certainly a sizable defeat, it’s not a 70/30 kind of thing, as many races are these days. The magic number was five percent; if the last five percent who ended up deciding on Rendell had voted for Fisher, it would have been Fisher’s night instead.

Early Money

Philadelphia Mayor Ed Rendell won the Democrat primary, and immediately, money started coming in from all over the country. The Democrats naturally wanted to make the most of a midterm election under the opposing party’s president – that’s normal – and the swing states in Republican hands got their focus. By choosing to run an incumbent who had won two statewide elections already, the Republicans had ensured that the Democrats would have to spend money to beat him.

The Democrats were willing to do it. They were running the chairman of the DNC, after all; every likely donor to any Democrat campaign knew who he was. Ed Rendell was the Terry McAuliffe, Howard Dean, Tim Kaine, Debbie Wasserman-Schultz of his time, but even so, flipping a governor’s mansion isn’t easy… especially in a state notorious for punishing the Philadelphia elites at the ballot box. A study of statistics would say that Rendell’s chances were slim, despite all the connections he brought to the table.

Chicago businessman Bruce Rauner, principal with GTCR LLC, a financial management firm, wrote Ed Rendell two checks that we know of – a $200,000 check very early in the race, and another $100,000 nearer the election. This $300,000 total, a windfall from an out-of-state businessman with huge state contracts with Pennsylvania (which doubled during the Rendell administration), certainly helped Ed Rendell win that election.

We have the advantage of hindsight today. We know that Ed Rendell won two terms, and became something of a rock star among Democrats as a result. He’s interviewed on the talk shows, he gives speeches, he’s a mover and shaker still. Knowing that Rendell won, this donation can appear an understandable contribution in a world of pay-to-play government contracting.

At the time, however, it was no such thing.

2002 was not the typical midterm election, in which the president’s party always takes a drubbing. 1996, 1998, and 2000 were not landslide elections, so there was no multitude of lucky Republican winners in Congress to turn out in 2002. President Bush was generally respected for his management of the post-9/11 foreign policy arena, so the November General election was a generally proper one: the better candidates with money who worked hard would win, without much of a national tide on either side to interfere.

In this environment, Attorney General Mike Fisher could be expected to do well.

Unfortunately for Pennsylvania and the country, however, Ed Rendell was able to pull in the kind of early money, spent well, that did damage against the conservative sitting state attorney general. Plenty of Republicans worked hard for Mike Fisher, but he was outspent 3 to 1 in a terribly expensive $50 million election season.

Putting $300,000.00 in context

What does Bruce Rauner’s $300,000 for Ed Rendell mean in this context? As an out-of-state person, Mr. Rauner would not have been expected to give a penny, so the $300,000 was gravy to the Rendell campaign. But we should look at it differently, to get the full impact.

As a big state contractor, Rendell’s campaign was reported to have “hoped for” $50,000 or so. When they got $200,000 at first, and yet another $100,000 later, it was reported to have surprised them. So, even accepting the idea of Rauner being a supporter and donor of left-wing Democrat Rendell, there’s still $250,000 of gravy for the Rendell campaign, unexpected and helpful in their goal of burying AG Fisher.

Radio ads in Pennsylvania, as in every state, run the gamut from cheap to expensive, with pricing ranging from under a hundred dollars per spot to several hundred. Think of what this $300,000 meant to the Rendell campaign. It was (or could have been) a thousand $300 radio ads… or three thousand $100 radio ads. Ads that Ed Rendell could use to bury Mike Fisher in the polls, early on, so that Fisher could never recover. Do you realize the impact of a media onslaught like that?

Or we can look at it another way. Bruce Rauner had no personal reason to be involved in Pennsylvania politics, but if he chose to – and he certainly could – as a Republican (yes, he says he both is and was a Republican), then it would make sense for him to donate to Republican Mike Fisher, not left-wing Democrat Ed Rendell.

Bruce Rauner is telling Illinois conservatives today that he’s one of them, that Bruce Rauner is a conservative, constitutional , small-government guy.

Well, that’s exactly what Mike Fisher is! Bruce Rauner didn’t HAVE to meddle in another state’s gubernatorial election, but if he chose to, why didn’t he help out Mike Fisher, the candidate most like the Illinois conservatives whom Rauner is currently asking for a nomination?

Think back to 2002 in Illinois. The Illinois GOP was stuck with the lackluster moderate Jim Ryan for a nominee; we would have loved to have a more dynamic, popular candidate like Mike Fisher at the top of our ticket. Bruce Rauner’s lack of excitement over the Illinois governor’s race might be understandable; we can see why he’d look for another state with a good Republican candidate worth helping.

Mike Fisher would have made sense. Rauner’s money would have been critical assistance to the outspent Fisher, and might have helped to stanch the bleeding as Rendell’s special interest money and union in-kind contributions started racking up. If Rauner had donated heavily to Mike Fisher, it would have been a logical and helpful act by a real Republican.

But that’s not what happened. Bruce Rauner, the alleged conservative Republican, bankrolled left-winger Ed Rendell against the conservative Republican Mike Fisher. This means that we shouldn’t look at the money as $300,000 at all.

Since he should have donated to Fisher instead, one can argue that this gift was an effective donation of $600,000 to Rendell: the $300,000 he gave Rendell, plus the $300,000 he denied Fisher by doing so.

If he liked Rendell, while really being a conservative at heart as he claims, he could have been justified in staying out of the race entirely. “Look,” he could say, “I like you, but I’m a Republican… so, tell ya what, I just won’t donate to Fisher. I’d be happy with either of you winning.” A peculiar position in a race in which the two candidates disagreed on virtually everything imaginable, but this argument has been given by other big money donors in the past. Rendell probably would even have been grateful.

But Bruce Rauner didn’t say that. He just wrote checks. $300,000 to one of the nation’s most prominent leftists, to help usher the Democrats back into the Pennsylvania governer’s mansion.

That may make Rauner the single most influential person in the distant Pennsylvania election that cost the GOP a critical governorship and did untold damage in the years since. Eight years of Ed Rendell at the helm enabled the Democrat vote machine to make Pennsylvania more winnable for the Democrats in national elections; even though Republican former AG Tom Corbett flipped the governor’s mansion again in 2010 and won it back, Rendell’s machine helped deliver Pennsylvania for Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012. How might those elections have gone if Rendell hadn’t had those two terms in the governor’s mansion, with Bruce Rauner’s help?

Interpreting the story in 2014

Bruce Rauner tells us today that he’s a Republican. In fact, he tells us that he’s a conservative, a populist, the kind of guy whom good Reaganites, good tea partiers, good movement conservatives should support without a question.

But we know better. In the best possible test case in Bruce Rauner’s personal history, one that would be viewed by a scientist as a “double blind test” since his participation was by no means necessary (he didn’t know either candidate personally, and didn’t live in the state) Rauner chose to help the ultra-left-wing Ed Rendell for governor against the platform Republican Mike Fisher, helping to give the Democrats one more huge plum on Election Day.

Illinois Republicans have learned to give candidates the benefit of the doubt, to forgive the occasional wandering off the reservation on controversial issues, even to forgive clumsy statements or painful personal foibles.

But this isn’t the average forgivable flaw. Reaching across state lines to bankroll Ed Rendell over Mike Fisher is like supporting Lawton Chiles over Jeb Bush in Florida in 1994… like supporting Tom Barrett over Scott Walker in Wisconsin in 2010… like supporting Carter against Reagan in 1980.

Giving $300,000 to a progressive big city mayor, a Democrat’s Democrat and the head of their national party… and then mustering up the gall to call yourself a Republican, and to seek the Republican party’s nomination for governor of Illinois? Not even apologizing for it as a mistake, but trying to convince conservatives that he supported Ed Rendell because – get this – he thought that the sitting national shop steward of the union-owned-and-controlled Democratic National Party would “stand up to unions” if he won???

There’s only one word for that. Unforgivable.

Copyright 2014 John F. Di Leo

John F. Di Leo is a Chicago-based Customs broker and international trade compliance trainer. A lifetime Republican, he has served as a precinct captain and minor party leader in both Illinois and Wisconsin, including one term as chairman of the Milwaukee County Republican Party in the mid-1990s. He has never had $300,000 to donate to anybody, but if he did, he sure wouldn’t have given it to Ed Rendell.

Permission is hereby granted to forward freely, provided it is uncut and the IR URL and byline are included. Follow John F. Di Leo on LinkedIn or Facebook, or on Twitter at @johnfdileo.

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!!

… And remember when we told them that it would save $160 Billion? HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!

… Oh, good times! (chuckle)
pension_siging

By Ron Brzoska

I was going to blog about how bad a deal the Obama Administration brokered with Iran, but last night news came out of an even worse deal: the Illinois Pension Reform Deal that Illinois lawmakers are being brought back to Springfield to vote on next week.

The point of pension reform is different depending on who you ask. The public employees receiving the pensions want the current pension rules preserved. The public employee unions want that to go one step further and preserve the pension rules for future generations as well. The tax payers want lower taxes. The legislators want to make everyone happy while keeping the state solvent. As you can see, that is the General Assembly’s problem. They can’t accomplish their goal. They can’t keep everyone happy and pay all of the bills. They have to pick a side, and they are caught in a Catch-22 situation. Whatever they pick is going to upset a lot of people… enough people that they fear for their re-elections. With so many competing interests, the goal should be to satisfy only one master: math. Anyone else that is happy is a bonus. If we don’t satisfy the math, then no one is going to be happy. We will have failed everyone.

For that reason, the General Assembly should reject this latest compromise bill. The key points can be found here in this Illinois Review story. http://illinoisreview.typepad.com/illinoisreview/2013/11/pension-reform-details-released.html#more

The math just isn’t there. This reform will not do anything to keep the pension system solvent or keep Illinoisans from seeing significant tax increases. I don’t pretend to be a pension system expert, nor did I stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night, but I do know that 1 +1 = 2. Without getting tied up in the minutiae, here is why the newest plan is destined to fail and take us all down with it.

  • Our pension obligations are about $100 billion currently.
  • The state will add supplemental payments to the pension systems beginning in 2019 and totaling $1 billion per year starting in 2020 until 2045. For arguments sake, let us say this is $26 billion. $100-$26 billion is still a $74 billion shortfall. Will the grandfathering in of existing benefits coupled with new COLA adjustments close the gap? It’s hard to believe so. Also, where does this extra money come from? Hmmm… TAXES?
  • Employees will contribute one percent less to their pensions. How does paying in less help fund a pension plan?
  • Pensions are put to the front of the line and paid first before all other state bills. It is admirable that we take care of the retirees and make certain that the promise made to them is fulfilled. No one can say this is bad or irresponsible. However, if this means that more and more vendors are going to be subjected to late or non-payment, then this point only serves to rob Peter to pay Paul. If this requirement forced us to take a hard look at what really are essential state services and it forced us to make real cuts in government, then this could turn out to be an excellent point to rally around. Unfortunately, history has proven that the courage to make the tough decisions is lacking in Springfield.

We have not seen the bill yet, so maybe some of my questions are answered. Common sense however tells you that people only let you see what they want you to see. The lack of details where extra funding for the pensions is to come from, and how exactly all of the math adds up gives new credence to the expression “the devil is in the details.”

By Ron Brzoska

In the last week there has been a lot of talk regarding the spending caps being removed on the Illinois gubernatorial candidates. It started last week with Republican candidate Bruce Rauner pumping $500,000 of his own money into his campaign. Good for him, there is nothing wrong with that. In fact, I would refer to this as a non-story because it should never have been a question of would Rauner self-fund his campaign, but when.
Today however, brings us something noteworthy. It was announced that former AllScripts CEO Glen Tullman donated $250,000 to the Rauner campaign. By all accounts, Mr. Tullman is a Democrat. A simple search shows that his history is one of an Obama supporter, Obama-care supporter, frequent visitor to the White House during the Obama administration, health technology advisor to the 2008 Obama campaign, as well as not thought throughout the industry as a person out for himself more than society. Sources are below:

http://www.thedoctorweighsin.com/why-ehrs-really-havent-made-us-healthier-a-response-to-glen-tullman/

http://www.fierceemr.com/story/ex-allscripts-head-glen-tullman-gop-meaningful-use-arguments-incorrect/2013-05-24

http://thehealthcareblog.com/blog/tag/glen-tullman/

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/20/business/a-digital-shift-on-health-data-swells-profits.html?pagewanted=1&_r=0&adxnnl=1&adxnnlx=1384970508-Dt5ZFt/6xYfSlfGHpvbYYQ

0929_glen-tullman2_320x181
Maybe I’m being hard on the man. Maybe, like many wealthy men (Bruce Rauner included), Tullman gives to both sides of the aisle to hedge his bets. Nope. Tullman’s campaign contribution history in the state of Illinois shows that until Bruce Rauner, all of his donations went to Democrats. http://www.elections.il.gov/campaigndisclosure/ContributionsSearchByAllContributions.aspx?ddlContributionType=All+Types&ddlLastOnlyNameSearchType=Matches&txtLastOnlyName=Tullman&ddlFirstNameSearchType=Matches&txtFirstName=Glen&ddlAddressSearchType=Starts+with&txtAddress=&ddlCitySearchType=Starts+with&txtCity=&ddlState=IL&txtZip=&txtZipThru=&ddlOccupationSearchType=Starts+with&txtOccupation=&ddlEmployerSearchType=Starts+with&txtEmployer=&txtAmount=&txtAmountThru=&txtRcvDate=&txtRcvDateThru=&ddlOrderBy=Last+or+Only+Name+-+A+to+Z&ddlVendorLastOnlyName=Starts+with&txtVendorLastOnlyName=&ddlVendorFirstName=Starts+with&txtVendorFirstName=&ddlVendorAddress=Starts+with&txtVendorAddress=&ddlVendorCity=Starts+with&txtVendorCity=&ddlVendorState=&txtVendorZip=&txtVendorZipThru=&ddlPurpose=Starts+with&txtPurpose=
Tullman’s federal campaign contributions total is $253,156.00. All but $500.00, or 0.2%, went to Democrats. Who was the lucky Republican? Mark Kirk. So if you are like me and recognize the truth that Mark Kirk isn’t really a Republican, then every single dollar that Glen Tullman has spent for political purposes has been for Democrats. http://query.nictusa.com/cgi-bin/qind/
Is it possible that Mr. Tullman has been struck by the light that turned Saul into St. Paul, and he is a born-again conservative? Yes, but doubtful. For those of us that are skeptical of Kirk Dillard’s assertion that accepting donations from unions such as the Illinois Education Association won’t influence his votes and policy initiatives, we need to look at Bruce Rauner’s donors with equal scrutiny. A quarter of a million dollars is not just a token handout for a campaign. That kind of money is an investment. What kind of return is Mr. Glen Tullman expecting?

Can the people give a vote of “No Confidence” in their government? I ask because I’d like to give one for the state of Illinois. The latest episode that has me throwing my hands up in the air is the way in which Governor Pat Quinn, Speaker of the House Michael Madigan, and Senate President John Cullerton are handling the General Assembly’s futility in dealing with the pension issue.

For anyone not familiar (what rock have you been hiding under?) the issue is this: The state of Illinois has over $100 billion in unfunded pension obligations. This has led to numerous credit downgrades that has hampered Illinois’ ability to borrow… which it shouldn’t be doing anyway… to pay its other bills. The General Assembly has not been able to figure out a plan for pension reform. They were called back for a special session to address pension reform and other issues that were unresolved after the regular session, and still didn’t figure it out. In response, Governor Quinn has said that he will not pay the legislature until they get pension reform done. After about a week, Speaker Madigan and President Cullerton joined in a suit against the governor for the paychecks of everyone in the General Assembly.

To show you how ridiculous this all is, let’s put it in perspective. Illinois has unfunded pension obligations of $100 BILLION. Revenues taken in by the state were $36 billion. This means that it would take three years of using all of the tax revenue received to fully fund our pension obligations. All tax revenues need to be used… that means paying for NOTHING else. By the way, Illinois still had a $6.1 billion dollar deficit on its operating budget. Illinois is broke. These politicians are arguing over the crumbs of a moldy loaf of bread.

Want more ridiculousness? How about the fact that no one was immediately sure that Governor Quinn’s action to not pay the General Assembly was constitutional or not. State Comptroller Judy Barr Topinka took two days to figure out if it was constitutional or not. Here’s an idea; read the constitution. This is what the Illinois State constitution says about the compensation paid to legislators.

ARTICLE IV, SECTION 11. COMPENSATION AND ALLOWANCES

A member shall receive a salary and allowances as provided by law, but changes in the salary of a member shall not take effect during the term for which he has been elected.

As you can see, it’s not a lot to analyze. It is ONE freakin’ sentence!

Want even more ridiculousness? Quinn’s move was a line-item veto to an appropriations bill. The General Assembly can override it without suing. Quinn’s grandstanding is being countered with more grandstanding. Seeing politicians arguing like this is like when professional athletes go on strike. For the most part, the public no longer takes sides, they just get turned off.

Yesterday, December 8th, I attended the Illinois Republican Party State Central Committee Meeting in Bolingbrook. I figured that it should be interesting given the results this past election, and I always wanted to see how things worked there. I also was curious to see how the calls for Pat Brady’s resignation would play out. Finally, I wanted to make my own plea to the State Central Committee to ask for Pat Brady’s resignation or outright fire him. I didn’t get a chance to speak as the SCC limited comments so they could go into executive session. I will share what I would have said in a future blog. For this one, I want to share my opinions of the goings on at the SCC meeting.

I entered the room pretty early and looked for a sign in sheet to sign to add my name to the list of speakers during the public comments section of the meeting. There was a table with copies of the previous meeting minutes but no sign in sheet. I asked the young man working the door about it and he had no idea. I talked to a few others and asked about a sign up list and no one was aware of one. One did surface later that was a half used notepad, but it did not seem to be used when public comments were made later anyway. It was good to see that they brought in more chairs to supplement the 25 that the room originally held. Despite this, the event was SRO.

Chairman Pat Brady spoke first. First he thanked a number of people, almost everyone he thanked…ok, everyone he thanked was thanked for their generous financial contributions to the IL GOP. He also thanked a number of the candidates that ran in the past cycle. I made special note of Brady’s praise for Rodney Davis. He called Davis “one of their own” and that he “knows what party politics is about.” Chairman Brady, WE ARE ALL YOUR OWN. Your comments about Rodney Davis are telling about your views of inclusion and what makes a “good Republican.” He then talked to a brief Powerpoint presentation showing the year in review. Like another other year in review presentation, it was made to look as positive as it could be. The presentation showed that while every candidate except Rodney Davis lost their congressional bid (Brady loves him so much that Davis got his own slide) the victory center efforts led to fewer Democratic party votes and more Republican votes in their districts. I’m personally skeptical of these graphics. Based on the percentages shown, I don’t understand how it is mathematically possible that many of these Republicans lost. The charts even showed strong numbers for Judy Biggert’s and Joe Walsh’s losses. More importantly, with the map changes, how could they make accurate comparisons between 2008 and 2012. Even precinct boundaries underwent changes.

Chairman Brady then talked about fundraising. He said that 24 million dollars was raised in Illinois for the Romney presidential campaign. and 3.2 million was raised for state races. It was divided up between large donors, small donors, and donations back from the RNC and NRCC. About 20% of the total came from small donors with the share by the other two groups nearly equal. The RNC has set a goal for Illinois that 75% of their money should come from small donors in 2014. That is a tall order.

Chairman Brady also talked about the election itself. He didn’t have anything new to add to the ongoing post mortem analysis. He then said a few things of note that I wrote down for the comedy it evoked even though he was dead serious.

  • He will be working with State Senator Matt Murphy on messaging, and acknowledged that he is not the best at communicating the Republican message. Pat! You are the chairman for Christ’s sake!
  • “I think we can win this governor’s race.” Oh really? I hope so.
  • “If we don’t win this governor’s race in 2014, we are going to have problems.” This is why you are a failure. We have problems already. BIG PROBLEMS.

RNC Secretary and Illinois National Committeewoman Demetra Demonte then spoke. I was very pleased with what she had to say. She seems to get it. She exhibited a sense of urgency when she said that we need to start acting now. She also was the only voice amongst the leadership that sounded like she actually believed it when she said that we cannot compromise our principles. Secretary Demonte said that “if we compromise our principles, it will lead to a third-party and Republicans will become a permanent minority.” She also said that the Republican Party needs to embrace its grass-roots which is made up of 912 groups and tea parties.

There were other speakers as well. Among them were Dan Proft, Rich Wiliamson, Jack Roeser, Michelle Sherman, and someone representing the Illinois Young Republicans. It was sad that he was bragging about there being 1,000 members nation-wide (I hope he misspoke) and that the YRs were expecting 1,500 to 2,000 for the national convention in Chicago for 2015. Maybe they couldn’t find a bar big enough for a larger group.

As I sat there, I was glad to see faces in the seats that did not look like mine. I was even gladder when I heard them speak. Two African-American candidates for the 2nd Congressional District (Dr. Eric Wallace and Lenny McCallister) made their pitches to the committee and the audience. Time will tell who will get their support.

The time for public comments was the main event. I felt a little bit for the young man who was sent to the gallery. He had a look on his face as someone who knew he was venturing into unwelcome territory. While not all of us who wished to speak got the chance (like me), there were many who did get to speak and air their grievances about the way the IL GOP has handled their responsibilities. Sherri Griffith and Lori Yokoyama, who ran on a slate in Cook County with another minority woman, talked about how the party got them to run, but did not provide financial support or even allow the use of the Victory Centers without paying out of their own pockets for their use. They both told the SCC how they could have put their money where their mouths are by supporting their election runs this last time. They warned the SCC that the IL GOP’s inaction in their cases serves as a discouragement to other non-whites who may have right political leanings. The Republican Party needs to engage in more than lip service. It needs to support all of its candidates.

I was very discouraged and saddened by the events at this portion of the meeting. There was a lot of anger and disappointment coming from the crowd, but instead of listening (like Brady said he was going to do when he talked about focus groups and meeting with other leaders) he kept interrupting and defending himself. Brady’s response to Brad Baber about rigging the convention (sorry Chairman, I was there too, and you did lie and call the vote in your favor when it should have been made a roll call vote) escalated that exchange. Chairman Brady, you had a free focus group, and instead of trying to learn from them you argued with them. That is not leadership.

What I took away from my first State Central Committee meeting… what I learned… is that my instincts were right. I want something better. Starting with the chairman…

by Ron Brzoska

In March of 2011 the state of Illinois passed an internet sales tax. The argument was that people were avoiding sales tax by buying on-line, and as a result, the playing field was not level for the traditional store retailers that had to charge sales tax. In the name of “fairness” this new tax was campaigned for and passed. This tax was also passed retroactively. This meant that Illinoisans were expected to bring their internet purchase receipts to the tax man so they could be in compliance. If you didn’t have receipts, then they had a solution. You just had to pay a higher percentage on your income tax to cover what that tax would likely have been.

After more than a year, the State of Illinois (predictably) believes that it is not collecting the revenues that it believes it should have received. These complaint have been heard loud and clear by Senator Dick Durbin (D-Illinois). Durbin, who recently said that entitlement reform and other spending cuts are off the table to avoid the fiscal cliff, found an opportunity that he cannot stop salivating over…

We should have a national internet sales tax.

…and a Merry Christmas to you too Senator Durbin.   Durbin

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