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Something Tells Me Daniel O’Reilly Was Aiming for State Senate

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Madigan says NO!

So yesterday the news broke that Daniel O’Reilly, Village President of Stickney, IL, was busted for improperly claiming tax breaks on two local businesses he owns by the Cook County Assessors Office.

Stickney Village President Daniel O’Reilly improperly claimed property tax breaks on two of his businesses, prompting the Cook County assessor’s office to revoke those exemptions as well as one on his home, an official said Wednesday.

O’Reilly claimed homeowner exemptions on the two businesses since 2003, despite having claimed the exemption on his home in Stickney since 1999, said Kelley Quinn, a spokeswoman for the assessor.

Now if you’re not familiar with the Cook County Assessor’s Office, it’s run by Joe Berrios, noted Mike Madigan crony, chairman of the Cook County Democratic Party and “Mr. Pay-to-Play“.  The entire Illinois machine runs through Madigan and Berrios, and “improper tax breaks” are the currency they use.  So naturally when I saw this story, I got a little curious.

Turns out there’s something else going on down in Stickney (a suburb near Lyons and Berwyn).

It turns out Lou Viverito, State Senator from the 11th district, Stickney Township Supervisor and another Madigan crony, recently resigned from his Senate seat.  Right after he voted for the tax increase and also dicked over the Village of Brookfield.

In addition to his vote on the income tax increase, Viverito was the state legislator who authored a law outlawing any municipality from imposing an amusement tax on a zoo operating on land owned by the Cook County Forest Preserve District.

That law, which passed the Illinois General Assembly on Jan. 7, appears to have thwarted a bid by the Village of Brookfield to impose a 25-cent-per-head tax on admission at Brookfield Zoo. The village imposed the tax in December despite the protests of the Chicago Zoological Society, which operates Brookfield Zoo.

The society lobbied state legislators to pass a law against the tax, which Viverito did in November, a move that blindsided the village.

According to the Tribune, Viverito wants Mayor Steve Landek of Bridgeview to replace him in the Senate.  These appointments are done by area committeemen.  And it just so happens that a fair amount of Brookfield is in the 11th Senate District, meaning their committeemen get to participate in the choosing of Viverito’s replacement.

Bear in mind the only evidence I’m going off of is listed above (plus what we all know about Madigan and Berrios).  What I am almost certain of is someone was lining up votes to challenge Landek in the committeemen vote.  Either O’Reilly was looking to be the replacement or he was an integral vote in one way or another and Madigan was sending a message to anyone considering any funny business.  I’m guessing the message has been received.

Really, you can’t feel too bad for the guy.  Whoever came out of this was going to be a machine crony anyway, and if you’re going to try to take down Madigan’s anointed, you have to be pretty damn stupid to still be suckling at the Berrios’ teet.  What did you think was going to happen?  If you wanted to just stump for votes without preparing for any consequences, go to the model UN.  The Illinois State Senate is probably not the place for you.


Maybe This Whole Thing Was Just What Rahm Needed – Rahm Finally Over 50%

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I don’t know how I missed this, but yesterday there was an interesting poll on CapFax.  It’s a poll from We Ask America, sponsored by the Chicago Retail Merchants Association (so take it for what you will), and it shows not only people overwhelmingly want Rahm on the ballot, but he’s finally crossed over the magic number.  I guess it’s a case of don’t know what you got till it’s gone.

It makes sense, considering Rahm coming off the ballot made people look into the abyss and see there’s no one there they could even imagine wanting as Mayor.  It’s fitting that the number of undecideds gets a significantly bigger bump without Rahm than any of the other candidates.  The upside to this is that if Rahm stays on the ballot, this thing should be over with the primary, which means we won’t have an additional month and a half of this nonsense.

Written by updowndownup

January 27, 2011 at 8:47 am

Quick Thought on the State of the Union

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Listen, I know you all don’t read this blog to hear me opine about national issues.  God knows how many people are better qualified and present better informed, more interesting perspectives on these issues, but we all know there are plenty.  Still, for a moment, please indulge me.

I nearly threw up I was so disgusted during the portion of the State of the Union where President Obama spoke about how the shooting of Congresswoman Giffords showed people in Washington the value of bipartisanship.  The reason this bugged me so much was that the speech itself was a testament to how this is not the case, which means instead of paying homage to this woman and talking about how we have all changed because of what happened to her, her tragedy was, once again, being blatantly exploited to score political points.

I know this might seem counterintuitive, considering how milquetoast the whole speech was, but the issue is much more what he wound up not saying than what he said.

The single biggest issue facing us right now is our unfunded pension liabilities.  It’s just a matter of simple math.  Social Security keeps 57% of seniors out of poverty, and it’s going to be out of money in 14 years.  Right now unfunded liabilities (meaning the amount we’d need to have right now, invested and bearing returns) are about the same amount as all of the money in the world.  Every day it goes unaddressed those liabilities increase by millions of dollars.

To his credit, President Obama seems to recognize this.  He has on multiple occasions praised Paul Ryan for his work on the subject, and his deficit commission was surprisingly substantive.  On January 16th, just over a week before the State of the Union, he was pledging to reform entitlements.

Then partisanship got to work.  It started with a letter from 33 members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus begging Obama not to touch entitlement reform.  Why, you ask?  Because Democrats want to be able to beat up Republicans for trying to work with Democrats to make Social Security sustainable.  They value the issue more than keeping entitlements working.

Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), the master political strategist for Senate Democrats, wants to turn Ryan into a bogeyman that voters think about whenever they hear about a Republican proposal to cut federal spending…

“This is an initial volley in a three-day effort — 72-hour window — to try to muddle Paul Ryan’s foray onto the national scene,” said a senior Senate Democratic aide. “We want to make the House Republicans or Republicans at large own his roadmap and what it would entail for Social Security.”

The letter was sent on Monday.  And guess what Dear Leader was going on Tuesday!

President Obama has decided not to endorse his deficit commission’s recommendation to raise the retirement age, and otherwise reduce Social Security benefits, in Tuesday’s State of the Union address, cheering liberals and drawing a stark line between the White House and key Republicans in Congress.

Over the weekend, the White House informed Democratic lawmakers and advocates for seniors that Obama will emphasize the need to reduce record deficits in the speech, but that he will not call for reducing spending on Social Security – the single largest federal program – as part of that effort…

So that’s how the worst kind of partisanship led to the creation of the speech you heard last night.  And yet somehow the President was still able to bring himself to talk about how the shooting of Rep. Giffords showed them how they are part of something bigger than party.

I’m a pretty cynical guy, but last night was a new low.

Illinois’ Own Failed Stimulus Loses Its Funding

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Back in January of 2009, hyped up on stimulus-feva, Illinois passed a $31 billion capital bill called “Illinois Jobs Now”.  Today, thanks to the owner of the Chicago Blackhawks and an Illinois Appellate Court a lot of the funding for it is now going…going…gone.

The Illinois Court of Appeals has ruled the General Assembly acted unconstitutionally when it approved funding sources for the state’s $31 billion capital construction program.

The lawsuit that led to Wednesday’s ruling was filed by W. Rockwell Wirtz, better known as Rocky Wirtz. His family is best known as owners of the Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks. The foundation of their financial fortune, however, is Wirtz Beverage Illinois, a distributor of alcoholic beverages.

Used to getting their way in Springfield, the Wirtz family was infuriated when the legislature ignored their objections to the liquor tax.

A spokesman for Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan estimated that the ruling eliminated at least 40 percent of the funding sources devoted to the state’s giant capital construction program.

The decision is available here.

Ultimately this is going to cause some big problems, largely for the same reason that this was found to be unconstitutional.  For some stupid reason when the package was passed the spending and revenue portions were put in separate bills.  The revenue portion, the part that was found to be unconstitutional, was found to be so as it violates Illinois’ Single Subject Rule.  The standard for this rule is whether there’s a “natural and logical” connection between the different aspects of a bill.  Had the spending and revenue portions been part of the same bill, the funding probably could have been sold as the natural and logical connection of funding the capital bill.  Instead, the only thing that connects the provisions in a stand-alone revenue bill is “revenue”, which has already been ruled to be too broad.

This also means that the spending bill is still law.  If Madigan’s projections of this cutting 40% of the capital bill’s funding, that would mean there is now $12.4 billion is newly unfunded spending.  This would erase all of the benefits to the deficit from the tax hike, and add an additional $5 billion to it.  In other words, there is going to have to be another tax hike.  Like, right now.

Considering the reaction to the last tax hike, good luck with that.

A lot of the problem could be dealt with by a stand-alone video gambling bill, but that’s going to be a tough sell.  Video poker, aka “the crack cocaine of gambling”, was a big issue in the last election in just about every Republican-leaning and centrist area of the state.  Most of the new guys ran against video gambling, and the survivors typically ran away from their vote and would be loathe to immediately show that those tacts were bullshit.  It could probably pass, but it’d be a lot rougher than it was last time (and it wasn’t pretty last time).

On top of that, back then the proponents of the package had the myth of jobs and stimulus and whatnot to help sell the bill.  Now they can’t.  Any stimulative effect has long since been priced in, and just as the conservatives expected, Illinois still sucks.  So instead of buying jobs, growth and stability, now it’s just staving off a budget collapse to pay for annoying road construction.

In short, get your popcorn ready.

Response to “And the Ordinary People Said” on Rahm Residency: I Really Hope “Ordinary People” Aren’t This Dumb

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Over at “And the Ordinary People Said” blog on Chicago Now, Marksallen has attempted to string together an argument entitled “Why the Illinois Supreme Court Must Remove Rahm Emmanuel From the Ballot”.  It’s remarkably trite, but I’d like to go through it piece by piece.  I’ll try to avoid being a snob about the parts that don’t even resemble the english language (e.g. “Even in his response to the ruling and throughout this challenge period Rahm Emanuel has offered no respect for the legal anticipated legal opinion versus political opinions saying that it is the ‘public opinion’ that matters over the legal opinions.”) as I’m sure every blogger could be found guilty of such mistakes at some point.


His first argument:

A ruling in favor of Rahm staying on the ballot does a disservice to the Federal elected officials, and more specifically The White House staffers who like Rahm went to DC to “serve the President,” and without the same financial status of Emanuel paid two sets of rent for their DC apartments as well as maintaining the costs of sustaining their local residences to the point that whenever they decided to visit their home residence, there was never any confusion of where those federal elected officials or White House staffers could lay their heads. Why should these federal officials and White House staffers pay the expense to sustain both residences to keep their home residence and not Rahm.?

So the argument here is that allowing Rahm on ballot wouldn’t be fair to David Axelrod?  Does this even require a rebuttal?  If so, I guess it would be this: it has absolutely nothing to do with law.  If the people who maintain homes both in Chicago and DC do so because they mistakenly thought they’d need to do so in order to vote in Chicago, that’s 100% on them.  The unspoken premise of this argument is “If someone misunderstands the law and acts based on this misunderstanding, the laws must be applied as per the misunderstanding so that everyone is equally constrained by this individual’s mistake.”  This, obviously, is ridiculous.

And how far does “intent” go when considering the clear “residency” requirements that forced city workers, police and firefighters to actually prove where they laid their heads in order to keep their city jobs?

According to the law, it would go very far.  That said, it’s a lot harder to claim you have an intent to return if you move outside of the city while working in the city.  It’s much easier if you’re working in Washington DC, unless you think that a daily commute from Chicago to Washington DC wouldn’t be all that bad.

Aside from that, even if you take intent off of the table, the Supreme Court is responding to the Appellate decision, which hinged on the word “residency” not meaning “residency”.  The only defense of this aspect of the decision offered was this:

over 30 ordinary citizens offered their objections on Emanuel’s qualifications as a “voter” versus that of a “candidate,”

If we’re going on the law, it wouldn’t matter if every single person in the city of Chicago offered their objections on this subject.

If you look over the rest of Marksallen’s posts, what he’s actually trying to argue becomes much clearer.  He’s arguing that Rahm needs to be off the ballot because Rahm takes votes away from Carol Moseley Braun.

Most Blood Chilling Story You’ll Read All Year

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Comes from the Chicago Tribune.  It’s the police interview with Keith Randulich, who at the time was an 18 year old senior at Lincoln-Way East High School in Mokena, IL, right after he slit his 4 year old sister’s throat with a steak knife.

In the video, Randulich, then an 18-year-old senior earning mostly A’s at Lincoln-Way East High School, explained that he decided to kill his sister to protect her from a relative he believed was sexually abusing the girl.

After his parents and brother left for an event on May 22, Randulich told police he washed some dishes in the kitchen and grabbed a steak knife, which he tucked into his hoodie’s front pocket.

Then he and Clement, dressed in blue and pink pajamas, her wavy brown hair tied in a ponytail, went into Randulich’s basement bedroom to watch “SpongeBob SquarePants” while another brother played a video game upstairs.

When Clement told Randulich she wanted to paint with him, her brother said he would, but asked her to lie on the floor first. He then knelt down, apparently straddling her.

“I just said I loved her and I took out the knife and she smiled at me,” Randulich told the detectives. “I made just a little cut in her neck and she screamed and said, ‘Stop!'”

“I knew right then that I had to kill my little sister,” he said later in the recording. “There was no going back at that point … me and her were best friends.”

“I just started doing it again,” he said. “She grabbed her neck, but I just kept going.”

Really, I don’t know where to begin.  Was this a tragedy (I mean, obviously, but in the sense that it’s just one of those things)?  Was this a result of abuse?  Was this a result of mental illness?  It doesn’t seem like the killer’s feigning his love for his sister, so what the hell?  Could this have been prevented?  Was this guy evil?

I’ve got nothing.

Written by updowndownup

January 26, 2011 at 10:28 am

Aaaaaaand He’s BACK! Rahm is Back on the Ballot (For Now)

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Stay Granted

Via NBC Chicago), the Illinois Supreme Court has granted the stay of the appellate decision, which means when the ballots go to press later today, Rahm will be on them.

The Illinois Supreme Court has granted Rahm Emanuel partial stay. Which means he’s back on the ballot for now.

“Emergency motion for stay pending appeal is allowed in part,” the order reads.

And not a moment too soon. Ballots are being printed today.

According to the motion, “Board of Election is directed that if any ballots are printed while this court is considering the case the ballots should include the name of petitioner Rahm Emanuel as a candidate for the mayor of City of Chicago.”

The order is available here.  It’s tempting to see this as proof the Supreme Court intends to overturn the Appellate decision, but not so fast.  Ed at Hot Air makes an astute point that really this is just the move to keep their options open.

The decision does give a hint that the state supreme court sees the possibility of overturning the appellate decision on residency.  Otherwise, they wouldn’t have bothered with the stay.  However, it’s a low-cost decision that leave all options open, and that makes a stay a bit of a no-brainer.  The city can advise its voters that Emanuel has been disqualified if the court later upholds the decision, but without a stay, the city would have to reprint all of the ballots and delay the election if the court overturns it.

Like I was saying yesterday, don’t think for a second that politics has nothing to do with this.  For one, this is Illinois.  Come on.  Next, we elect judges here, which means they are almost as corruptable as any other Illinois politician.  Ed Burke (the most powerful alderman on the Chicago City Council) would obviously prefer a weak mayor, which is why he supports Dishraggy McGee (aka Gery Chico).  That said, he prefers Rahm, who he can work with, significantly over Braun, who would represent a pretty seismic shift in power on the city council (as Braun + the black aldermen > Burke).   Considering the campaign thus far, Burke has to realize how big of a risk he’d be taking having it come down to a runoff between Chico and Braun.  Chico can raise money (which is to say Burke can raise money), Chico can get endorsements (which is to say Burke can get Chico endorsements), but between him and Braun, Braun’s clearly the alpha male.

So what’s probably going on is Rahm and Burke are working out terms so that Burke can be sufficiently comfortable with Mayor Rahm.

As it always is with law, depending on who’s arguing what you can really see things going either way.  And the way it’ll go has everything to do with Rahm getting Burke more comfortable with Mayor Rahm than he would be with a Chico vs. Braun runoff.

Written by updowndownup

January 25, 2011 at 1:16 pm

Posted in Chicago Mayor