Latest news from The Southtown Star Online en-us Wed, 28 Jul 2010 14:10:16 PDT Southtown Star logo 84 34 30 Copyright 2014 <![CDATA[ Miller: Poll shows Rauner economic plan popular, but ... ]]>

A July 17 poll by Capitol Fax/We Ask America asked 1,063 respondents about Republican governor candidate Bruce Rauner’s economic plan for Illinois. “That plan calls for a freeze on property taxes and rolling back the 2010 income tax increase. It also implements a new tax on services, such as advertising, legal services and mini-storage centers. We’d like to know whether this type of plan would make you more likely or less likely to vote for him.” Rauner had certainly tested his service tax proposal backward and forward before presenting it to the public last week, so I figured it had … ]]> Thu, 24 Jul 2014 02:13:26 -0500 <![CDATA[ Miller: Supreme Court ruling likely spells doom for pension reform ]]> Lead story image

In a sweeping 6-1 decision, the Illinois Supreme Court has struck down an attempt to force state government retirees to pay more for their subsidized health insurance. And while nothing is ever certain when it comes to the judiciary, the justices made it pretty clear that Illinois’ pension reform law faces real trouble in passing constitutional review. The Supreme Court, in an opinion led by Justice Charles Freeman, did not specifically rule on the reform law but declared “it is clear” that all pension benefits, including health insurance, cannot be “diminished or impaired” under the Illinois Constitution. “We may not … ]]> Fri, 18 Jul 2014 18:08:24 -0500 <![CDATA[ Miller: Poll shows why Rauner is trying to not be ‘Trumped’ by Quinn ]]>

It occurred to me when I was in Chicago the other day that the media furor about billionaire mogul Donald Trump placing his last name in 20-foot-high letters on his skyscraper is the same sort of mindset behind Gov. Pat Quinn’s campaign to tag “Billionaire Bruce Rauner” as a rich, out-of-touch, right-wing white guy. So, I commissioned a poll, which shows that while a majority of respondents agree that Trump had the right to put his name on his building, he’s not popular here and voters don’t think that people like him understand regular folks. The June 25 Capitol Fax/We … ]]> Thu, 03 Jul 2014 02:16:15 -0500 <![CDATA[ Miller: Rauner’s $1 billion in cuts a fantasy ]]>

“Today, I laid out more than $1 billion in structural reforms,” Republican gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner boasted to his supporters via a blast email last week. Baloney. Rauner’s news conference to announce $1 billion in alleged budget savings was an almost total farce. Fully half of what he said he could save — $500 million at the Department of Central Management Services — came with absolutely no details. Rauner did provide some annual savings from emergency and sole-source contracts, but he would have to get rid of almost all of those, with all the government services they involve, to hit … ]]> Mon, 21 Jul 2014 14:57:08 -0500 <![CDATA[ Miller: Lower income tax rate would mean budget time bomb ]]> Lead story image

On the bright side, I suppose you could argue that last week’s budget passed by the General Assembly will lead to the largest income tax cut in Illinois history come Jan. 1, when the 2011 tax increase partially expires on schedule. But that’s about the only bright side. And, really, almost nobody expects that some sort of tax hike will be avoided after the Nov. 4 election, no matter who wins the governor’s race. The 2014-15 budget proposal had to be based on the personal income tax rate dropping from 5 percent to 3.75 percent. House Democrats claim that they … ]]> Sun, 06 Jul 2014 09:58:26 -0500 <![CDATA[ Miller: Will Madigan back two who beat his candidates? ]]> Lead story image

There’s an old Statehouse saying that House Speaker Michael Madigan cares mostly about two votes that each Democratic member makes — one to re-elect him as speaker, the other for the House’s operating rules. Some, such as state Rep. Elaine Nekritz, D-Northbrook, have gotten away with voting against Madigan’s rules. Nekritz explained to Madigan why she voted against them, and he was impressed with her thoughtfulness. She has since moved up the ladder to become one of the House’s hardest-working members who carries some major legislation. But nobody ever gets away with voting against Madigan for speaker. There’s no question … ]]> Mon, 30 Jun 2014 12:48:53 -0500 <![CDATA[ Miller: Taxi, ride-sharing feud taints Black Caucus ]]>

Every year, we get at least one “corporate fight” in Springfield. Two or more corporations or industries will duke it out over some proposed law change or another. The cable TV industry, for instance, tried awhile back to persuade the General Assembly to tax satellite TV users. When I first started doing this job many moons ago, banks wanted the right to sell insurance to the public, which the insurance agents’ lobby opposed as did a union that represented some insurance agents. The banks fought for years and eventually won. This year was relatively quiet on this front until a … ]]> Tue, 24 Jun 2014 07:33:22 -0500 <![CDATA[ Miller: Some Springfield winners this spring ]]>

There were lots of losers during the spring legislative session, but there also were a few winners, so let’s take a look at them. First up, Republican gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner. Never before has a political party in Illinois nominated a candidate for governor who had more impact on a legislative session than Rauner did this year. His unlimited supply of personal cash and his constant threats to “shake up Springfield” clearly put legislators of both parties on edge all spring, even before he won the March primary election. The Democrats know in their guts that much of what Rauner … ]]> Sun, 13 Jul 2014 17:08:58 -0500 <![CDATA[ Miller: Poll says $100M for Obama library a bad idea ]]> Lead story image

It has been assumed that Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan’s proposal to spend $100 million to help build Barack Obama’s presidential library was designed to put Republicans on the spot and perhaps provoke an over-the-top, maybe even racial response by the GOP that would boost Democratic turnout a bit in November. Obama has put the library’s location out to bid, so Madigan’s proposal ostensibly is designed to help Chicago attract what likely will be a major tourist destination. But politics is just about everything in Springfield these days. Democrats are hoping to crowd the Nov. 4 ballot with enough referendums … ]]> Tue, 17 Jun 2014 13:59:56 -0500 <![CDATA[ Miller: Quinn not popular, but Madigan even worse ]]> Lead story image

A poll taken for Rasmussen Reports this month found that Gov. Pat Quinn’s unfavorable rating was 55 percent. That’s pretty bad, perhaps the worst in the nation for a governor. But Quinn ain’t got nothing on House Speaker Michael Madigan. A new Capitol Fax/We Ask America poll found Madigan’s unfavorable rating to be an almost mind-boggling 65 percent. Just 20 percent of likely voters had a favorable impression of the longtime speaker, a Chicago Democrat. Years of negative publicity, the state’s many problems, the Republican Party’s decades-long accusations that he’s holding the state back and Madigan’s historically long tenure are … ]]> Sun, 25 May 2014 07:49:18 -0500 <![CDATA[ Miller: Anti-violence grants give GOP ammo vs. Quinn ]]>

“There was no money allocated at all before the election of 2010,” Gov. 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 that year. Quinn used his TV appearance to defend himself against growing criticism about a devastating state audit of the anti-violence grants. But what the governor said in his defense is not true. Illinois Auditor General Bill Holland found that Quinn’s administration signed contracts with 23 groups on Oct. 15, about three weeks before Election Day 2010. Each of the groups, … ]]> Mon, 14 Apr 2014 06:54:11 -0500 <![CDATA[ Miller: Blistering report shows Quinn needs more friends ]]>

Some members of the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus are saying, “I told you so,” in the wake of the stunning report by the state auditor general’s office on its investigation into misspending, waste and possibly even fraud in an anti-violence initiative hastily created by Gov. Pat Quinn. Quinn created the program in August 2010, a few days after meeting with ministers from Chicago’s Roseland community about rising street violence. In early September, several Chicago aldermen gave their lists of preferred local groups that could administer the state program. Quinn’s administration had sent requests for proposals only to those alderman-recommended groups. … ]]> Mon, 07 Apr 2014 06:38:25 -0500 <![CDATA[ Miller: Rauner support may have peaked, but no one’s close ]]> Lead story image

State Sen. Kirk Dillard told Chicago radio station WLS that Republican county chairmen should try to get state Sen. Bill Brady and/or state Treasurer Dan Rutherford out of the primary race for governor so he could have a clear shot at wealthy front-runner Bruce Rauner. Dillard claims that he’s building strong momentum with recent endorsements, including from the powerful Illinois Education Association. But two polls taken last week show Dillard not even winning the DuPage County-based Senate district that he has represented since 1993. A Capitol Fax/We Ask America poll taken Feb. 20 had Rauner leading in Dillard’s 24th Senate … ]]> Fri, 28 Mar 2014 06:59:28 -0500 <![CDATA[ Miller: Wary of Rauner, Mike Madigan moves left ]]>

Worries about low Democratic turnout in an off-year election for an unpopular governor and Republican gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner’s millions in campaign spending are obviously driving much of Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan’s legislative agenda this year. “If you’re an African-American on the South Side, what motivates you to vote for Pat Quinn when you wake up election morning?” was the blunt assessment of a longtime Madigan associate last week. For example, Madigan, D-Chicago, signaled last week that despite his past reluctance to raise the minimum wage and longtime alliance with the Illinois Retail Merchants Association (which is leading the … ]]> Sun, 11 May 2014 07:45:55 -0500 <![CDATA[ Miller: Rauner trying hard to pretend he’s not anti-union ]]> Lead story image

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 March 18. 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 … ]]> Mon, 28 Apr 2014 07:38:19 -0500 <![CDATA[ Miller: Rutherford credibility, candidacy fading fast ]]>

Illinois Treasurer Dan Rutherford delivered a forceful, even believable, defense of himself last week during a news conference hours after he was hit with a federal lawsuit alleging sexual harassment and coerced campaign work. Rutherford made a strong case that at least some of the accusations are untrue. There were some holes in his argument, some bigger than others, but it seems obvious that some of the charges are overblown. For instance, the accuser, Ed Michalowski, claims in his lawsuit that all the campaign and sexual pressure from Rutherford directly resulted in a “leakage of cerebral spinal fluid” in his … ]]> Thu, 20 Mar 2014 06:10:20 -0500 <![CDATA[ Miller: Rauner’s TV blitz also hurting views of Quinn ]]> Lead story image

Without a doubt, the most overlooked aspect of Bruce Rauner’s multimillion-dollar spending on TV commercials has been his advertising campaign’s repeated attacks on Gov. Pat Quinn. “Career politicians are running our state into the ground, and Pat Quinn, he’s at the top of the heap,” Rauner says in one of his ads that have permeated the airwaves since November. “Pat Quinn, a career politician who failed to deliver term limits,” a Rauner TV announcer declares in another spot. The commercials are supposedly aimed at Republican primary election voters, but obviously everybody else in the state is seeing them as well. … ]]> Thu, 06 Mar 2014 06:19:50 -0500 <![CDATA[ Miller: Topinka worked hard to get key labor support ]]> Lead story image

I don’t think I’ve seen a Republican or just about any candidate of any stripe work as hard for an AFL-CIO endorsement than state Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka did. She assiduously courted the unions that represent workers in her office, worked to help the Teamsters pass a bill important to them that jabbed at a non-union cemetery owner (the comptroller’s office regulates some cemeteries), built strong relationships with some union leaders and attended tons of their events and even endorsed the union-backed pension reform bill. In other words, Topinka went above and beyond her Democratic rival Sheila Simon on pretty … ]]> Mon, 03 Mar 2014 11:31:26 -0500