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: 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 … ]]> Thu, 10 Apr 2014 02:09:56 -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 … ]]> Thu, 27 Mar 2014 02:13:18 -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 <![CDATA[ Miller: Poll shows Rauner pulling away in GOP race ]]> Lead story image

A solid week of horribly negative media coverage of Bruce Rauner was apparently outweighed by lots and lots of television commercials because his numbers are still rising. A new Capitol Fax/We Ask America poll found that Rauner’s lead has increased in the Republican gubernatorial primary race since late November. The Jan. 14 poll of 1,139 likely Republican primary voters found Rauner getting 34 percent of the vote, with state Sen. Bill Brady at 17 percent, state Treasurer Dan Rutherford at 15 percent and state Sen. Kirk Dillard at 9 percent. A similar poll Nov. 26, after Rauner launched his holiday … ]]> Sun, 23 Feb 2014 06:09:45 -0500 <![CDATA[ Miller: Rauner tries to overcome stumble on minimum wage ]]> Lead story image

If Bruce Rauner manages to successfully back away from his recently unearthed statement in December that he favored reducing the state’s minimum wage by $1 an hour, he will have dodged a serious political bullet. A new Capitol Fax/We Ask America poll indicates that lowering the minimum wage is strongly opposed in Illinois. Asked if they would be “more likely or less likely to vote for a gubernatorial candidate who supports lowering the state’s minimum wage to the national rate of $7.25 an hour,” a whopping 79 percent of respondents said they’d be less likely. That’s a result that could … ]]> Sun, 16 Feb 2014 06:12:17 -0500 <![CDATA[ Miller: Unions gear up to try to stop Rauner in GOP primary ]]>

It’s no secret that Republican primary election voters in Illinois have been almost rigidly hierarchical when it comes to choosing gubernatorial candidates. They pretty much always choose the candidate who can best demonstrate that it’s his or her “turn.” In 1990, after eight years as secretary of state, Jim Edgar was the clear choice and barely had opposition. The same went for two-term Secretary of State George Ryan eight years later. In 2002, it was clearly Attorney General Jim Ryan’s turn, and he bested two other high-profile candidates in the primary. In 2006, Treasurer Judy Baar Topinka beat three lesser-known … ]]> Mon, 03 Feb 2014 11:56:34 -0500 <![CDATA[ Miller: Too late for Madigan to change his image ]]>

House Speaker Michael Madigan’s spokesman said last week that his boss’ statement opposing further corporate “handouts” basically “speaks for itself.” But does it? Madigan invoked the populist gods last week as he called for an end to the “case-by-case system of introducing and debating legislation whenever a corporation is looking for free money from Illinois taxpayers.” Companies requesting the tax breaks, Madigan said, “pay little to no corporate income tax to the state, contributing little or nothing to help fund the very services from which they benefit significantly.” It would be much easier to believe Madigan, D-Chicago, had he not … ]]> Sun, 19 Jan 2014 11:44:19 -0500 <![CDATA[ Miller: Big money pours into Rauner campaign, thanks to rich pals ]]>

By now, it should be self-evident that Bruce Rauner has locked up pretty much all the big money in the Republican primary election for governor. The Dec. 3 pension reform vote in the Legislature provides even more evidence. Rauner has built an impenetrable fortress of high-dollar campaign contributors. Ron Gidwitz, long known in GOP circles for being the gateway to big-time cash from the wealthy, has fully joined in with Rauner, as has the richest man in Illinois, Ken Griffin. Gidwitz was with state Sen. Kirk Dillard, R-Hinsdale, in the 2010 gubernatorial primary, but Gidwitz and Rauner have sucked up … ]]> Thu, 16 Jan 2014 06:09:42 -0500 <![CDATA[ Miller: Pension reform a boost for Quinn in two ways ]]>

The Legislature’s long-awaited and much-anticipated approval of a pension reform bill this week, narrowly passing despite the support of the four legislative leaders, is designed to do away with the state’s roughly $100 billion pension debt over 30 years — mainly by raising the retirement age for many state employees and teachers outside Chicago and trimming cost-of-living raises for retirees Other than the obvious fact that pension payments are diverting billions of dollars from other state programs such as education and human services, Gov. Pat Quinn really wanted the bill passed before the end of the year for a couple … ]]> Tue, 07 Jan 2014 06:09:30 -0500 <![CDATA[ Miller: For Illinois unions, it’s anyone but Rauner in GOP governor race ]]> Lead story image

Illinois union leaders are reportedly mulling several options about what to do in the governor’s race. But the only thing they appear to agree on so far is that anti-union multimillionaire Bruce Rauner cannot be allowed to win. Some union honchos are looking at endorsing a candidate in the Republican primary election in March. State Sen. Kirk Dillard, R-Hinsdale, already has strong support from the Operating Engineers, a union that’s even more opposed to Rauner since the his endorsement by the strongly anti-union Associated Builders and Contractors. Other unions have also taken keen notice of that endorsement. Surprisingly enough, Dillard … ]]> Fri, 27 Dec 2013 06:10:14 -0500 <![CDATA[ Miller: Rauner digs into his deep pockets as poll shows he’s running last ]]> Lead story image

Back in mid-August, near the end of his summertime TV advertising blitz, Republican gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner scored 14 percent in a Capitol Fax/We Ask America poll of likely GOP primary voters. That was up a tick from the 12 percent he got in a June 20 poll by the same firm. His campaign has run some radio commercials since then and sent out some direct mail, but Rauner has been mostly absent from television for a few months. The absence doesn’t appear to have hurt him much. According to a Nov. 14 poll by the same firm, Rauner is … ]]> Sat, 21 Dec 2013 06:18:12 -0500 <![CDATA[ Miller: Expensive effort by anti-gay marriage group fails in Illinois ]]>

Perhaps the biggest loser in last Tuesday’s historic passage of a gay marriage bill in the Legislature was the National Organization for Marriage. The group, based in Washington, D.C., has been at the forefront of attempts to stop gay marriage in states throughout the country. A Maine investigation uncovered alleged internal documents about the group’s strategy that included this passage: “The strategic goal of this project is to drive a wedge between gays and blacks — two key Democratic constituencies. Find, equip, energize and connect African-American spokespeople for marriage, develop a media campaign around their objections to gay marriage as … ]]> Fri, 13 Dec 2013 06:23:35 -0500 <![CDATA[ Miller: Petulant Madigan getting thrown off his game ]]> Lead story image

The rich irony of House Speaker Michael Madigan denouncing somebody else for attempting to be a “kingmaker” is so obvious and laughable that I can’t help but wonder why a guy who’s been a take-no-prisoners kingmaker for so long would ever think of saying such a thing. You may already know the story. The Better Government Association and the Chicago Sun-Times took a look at some of those passing around Madigan’s campaign petitions to see if they had government jobs. What they found wasn’t surprising — 17 of 30 people who passed Madigan’s nominating petitions had public jobs. Another 12 … ]]> Fri, 06 Dec 2013 06:08:45 -0500