OUTRAGE UPDATE Rep. Connie
Howard abruptly retired from her 17-year legislative career in July 2012 for
"personal reasons." She wasn't lying. By retiring while negotiating a
plea bargain with federal officials on fraud charges, she became eligible to
collect her $4,750-a-month legislative pension until her case was completed.
She'll get those checks until her sentencing Nov. 21. Personal reasons indeed.
And then there's the Cook County Commissioner who collected a paycheck as a
lobbyist for the Cubs on an issue near his district. Why bother with the
revolving door when you can be a lobbyist and an office-holder? I could go on but my
colleague Madeleine Doubek does the job much better in her blog
post today. In short, Illinois continues to live down to its image
for corruption (or at least the appearance thereof).
THE DILLARD/TRACY TICKET Republican
candidate for governor Kirk Dillard spent Tuesday flying around the state to
introduce his running mate, Rep. Jil Tracy, R-Quincy. The pair stuck to their
message: jobs, jobs, jobs. The other message, of course, is that Illinois' high
unemployment, high debt and general government dysfunction is the fault of the
Democrats who have been in charge of the executive and legislative branches
since 2003. We've got video highlights from
Dillard and Tracy's stop in Springfield.
LITE GOV? The office of
lieutenant governor historically has not received much respect. Its duties are
limited -- some would say virtually non-existent -- unless and until the
governor can't fulfill an elected term, as happened in 2009. In fact, the
Illinois House voted overwhelmingly in April to abolish the office entirely to
save about $1.75 million. Among those yes votes was Rep. Jil Tracy, who this
week became a candidate for the office she voted to eliminate. As Kirk
Dillard's running mate for the Republican nomination, however, Tracy says
she'll make the office into an arm of the Dillard/Tracy administration's jobs
and business agenda. A member of the General Assembly's conference committee on
pension reform, Tracy also talked Tuesday about the committee's work and Gov.
Pat Quinn's "childish" act of cutting off lawmakers' paychecks until
there is a pension deal. Hear what Tracy has to say here.
THEY SPENT HOW MUCH? Pop quiz:
- Guess which candidate for Illinois governor already has spent nearly $300,000 on consulting fees.
- Candidates for governor have spent how much on Chicago White Sox tickets: (A) $2,732.37, (B) $1,480.22, (C) $7,483.99
- True or false: Dan Rutherford has spent more than $4,000 promoting himself on Facebook
Find the answers on our campaign expenses graphic. Click
REFORM, REMAP In its editorial
today, the Chicago Tribune writes, "Competitive elections are an anomaly
in Illinois. In the last general election, more than half the seats in the
General Assembly were uncontested. One party or the other didn't bother to
field a candidate. Voters had no choice." The Tribune goes on to urge
readers to get involved with an effort that will change that: Yes for Independent Maps.
We could not agree more. For decades, legislative boundaries in Illinois have
been drawn up to the advantage of the party that wins the right -- sometimes,
literally, through the luck of the draw -- to create the legislative district
map following a U.S. census. Competitive elections and fair representation
start with legislative maps that are drawn with the best interests of voters in
mind, not what's convenient for the party drawing the lines. We've teamed with
Yes for Independent Maps to obtain the 300,000 signatures (minimum) it will
take to change the way Illinois draws its legislative districts. We expect
opposition at every turn from the powers that be, and we need your help. Click here to find out what you can
do to enact the biggest reform there is for Illinois government.
TAX FORUM Is it time to scrap the flat-rate income tax system required by the Illinois Constitution and replace it with a graduated rate system in which your tax rate goes up with your income? Some lawmakers believe so and want to give voters a chance to decide on the November 2014 ballot. Progressive tax supporter Ralph Martire of the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability and opponent Ted Dabrowski of the Illinois Policy Institute will debate the issue Sept. 9 in a forum co-sponsored by Reboot Illinois and the Naperville Chamber of Commerce. Please join us if you can. Information and advance registration is here.
TOP 5 Here's what's in the news around Illinois today:
- 5. Just one week into the
school year, there already are problems with the Chicago Public Schools’
Safe Passage program. (CBS Chicago)
4. According to a new study, Illinois is now only the 16th most corrupt state in the country. (Chicago Sun-Times)
3. Republican governor candidate Bruce Rauner rolled out his plan for term limits. (State Journal-Register)
2. Opinion: Hopefully this is the first and last time governor candidates will pick running mates. (Northwest Herald)
1. Opinion: The 2014 election gives Illinois citizens a real chance to take back their state. (Chicago Tribune)