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: House Democrats’ early ad blitz aims to bury GOP candidates ]]> Lead story image

The Illinois House Democrats launched their direct mail and TV ad programs weeks earlier than the House Republicans in an attempt to knock the GOP candidates down before they had a chance to stand up. The mail started going out not long after the Illinois State Fair in mid-August. Four years ago, during a national Republican tidal wave, the House Republicans preemptively launched their advertising program in mid-September, catching the Democrats off guard. The Republicans won a few seats they might not have if they had started at the usual time. The Democrats learned a valuable lesson and this year … ]]> Thu, 18 Sep 2014 02:20:07 -0500 <![CDATA[ Miller: IEA surprises by backing conservative GOP lawmaker ]]>

The Illinois Education Association always has leaned more Republican than the Illinois Federation of Teachers, but one of the IEA’s endorsements has raised a few eyebrows this year. The IEA last month endorsed conservative state Rep. Dwight Kay, R-Glen Carbon. The Illinois AFL-CIO assigns the Metro East legislator a rating of just 36 percent so far this year. The IFT, which is affiliated with the AFL-CIO, endorsed Kay’s Democratic opponent, Cullen L. Cullen. The IEA is not an AFL-CIO union. The Kay endorsement is not what you’d call an everyday occurrence. Yes, the IEA endorses some Republicans, but it’s pretty … ]]> Thu, 11 Sep 2014 02:16:07 -0500 <![CDATA[ Miller: Rauner’s spending, revenue plans pure fantasy ]]> Lead story image

“We should have billions of dollars every year as part of our budget process … (to) maintain and expand our infrastructure,” Bruce Rauner said last week. Rauner has been doing his best to woo the road builders all year, and he was speaking to the Illinois Farm Bureau, which has lots of members who rely on roads and bridges to get their goods to market. So I understand the practical politics of his bold promise. But this stuff costs money. Lots and lots of money. And infrastructure is only Rauner’s second priority — his top priority is education funding. He … ]]> Thu, 04 Sep 2014 02:18:14 -0500 <![CDATA[ Miller: Edgar support may aid Rauner with independents ]]> Lead story image

I’m not sure why, but the surprise appearance by former Gov. Jim Edgar at the Illinois State Fair’s Republican Day didn’t generate much media coverage. Despite the fact that Edgar is a Republican, this was not an easy “get” for gubernatorial nominee Bruce Rauner. I’m told it took weeks of careful wooing and negotiations through one of Edgar’s old cronies. Edgar backed state Sen. Kirk Dillard, of Hinsdale, in the GOP primary election against Rauner and has expressed public and private concerns about how Rauner is portraying himself on the stump and about how that confrontational attitude could manifest itself … ]]> Thu, 21 Aug 2014 02:13:05 -0500 <![CDATA[ Miller: Feds deserve credit for reducing case vs. Ford ]]> Lead story image

As you probably know by now, the U.S. attorney’s office in Chicago agreed to drop all felony charges against state Rep. LaShawn Ford and charge him instead with a lone misdemeanor. The original 17 counts of bank fraud and submitting false information to a bank each carried a potential sentence of 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine — meaning Ford, D-Chicago, could have faced life imprisonment for allegedly falsely obtaining a higher credit line than he was eligible for and using some of the proceeds for personal expenses unrelated to the loan’s purpose. Under Ford’s plea agreement … ]]> Mon, 15 Sep 2014 17:09:33 -0500 <![CDATA[ Miller: Quinn dangerously banking on big turnout Nov. 4 ]]> Lead story image

Gov. Pat Quinn’s new TV commercial is 60 seconds of one positive message after another. “Pat Quinn sees problems, takes action and gets the job done,” the ad claims. “Now, Illinois is making a comeback.” But the spot is being slammed by longtime campaign insiders in both parties as “spitting in the wind.” For instance, a Paul Simon Public Policy Institute poll in June found that a mere 30 percent of Illinoisans thought the state was on the right track, while a strong 60 percent majority thought Illinois was headed the wrong way. And an infamous poll taken by Gallup … ]]> Thu, 11 Sep 2014 06:12:59 -0500 <![CDATA[ Miller: Frerichs keeps stumbling in treasurer race ]]>

In January, state Sen. Michael Frerichs formally kicked off his campaign for state treasurer and posted a video online touting the fact the he had ended “free, lifetime health care for state legislators.” Actually, Frerichs voted against that bill in the General Assembly. His campaign had to pull the video and replace it with a new one, even though he had been planning his formal campaign launch for at least a year. In April, Frerichs, D-Champaign, appeared to flip-flop on his long-standing position that the comptroller’s and treasurer’s offices should be merged. “People have said to me,” Frerichs told a … ]]> Mon, 01 Sep 2014 07:46:35 -0500 <![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 … ]]> Mon, 25 Aug 2014 16:55:31 -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 … ]]> Thu, 14 Aug 2014 06:09:49 -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 … ]]> Mon, 04 Aug 2014 07:06:50 -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