6 Two 3 Nine

Expert Unexpert Advice

Posts Tagged ‘Illinois

What Could Possibly Go Wrong? – Quinn to Try to Take Over Healthcare in Illinois

leave a comment »

Enforcement

When you want to make sure you have access to quality health care, there’s only one place you turn.  The Springfield bureaucracy, right?

Unbelievable.

A task force appointed by Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn wants a state law forcing insurers to spend 80 to 85 cents of every premium dollar on providing health care, or pay rebates to customers.In its initial recommendations released Thursday, the Health Care Reform Implementation Council also recommends legislation giving state regulators the authority to approve or deny health insurance rate increases.

The enforcement would be, pardon my french, a motherfucking catastrophe.  Before we even get to the inevitable corruption of the regulatory process, what qualifies as health care?  Inevitably there would be some unaccountable regulatory board where the insurance companies spend god knows how much time and money challenging every line item claiming it qualifies as health care, which will drive prices through the roof and make providing actual healthcare next to impossible.

And like I said, that’s before we get to the inevitable corruption.  This is Illinois politics, and there are quite literally billions at stake.  Does anyone actually think the appointments to these regulatory positions are going to be apolitical?  Sort of like it’s just a coincidence the Chairman of the Cook County Democratic Party is also the Cook County Assessor?  The political and financial power that would fall on this presumably unelected regulatory board would be massive, and when an insurer is faced with either giving $5 million in political donations or giving a $50 million rebate, what do you think it’ll decide?  Considering it’s damn near impossible to prove quid pro quo, it would be idiotic to think this wouldn’t happen.

These ideas were bad when they were included in Obamacare.  They are infinitely worse when it’s suggested to put enforcement in the hands of political appointees accountable to no one but their political bosses in one of the most corrupt political systems in the United States.

Written by updowndownup

February 4, 2011 at 10:35 am

Snowmaggedon – The Fun Part is Over

leave a comment »

VERY cold

Two days ago was all about drinking and watching the snow fall at home.  Yesterday was all about going out and taking all sorts of crazy pictures of the city after the storm.  Today people start dying.

People actually started dying almost immediately, with one in particular catching attention.

At 11:45 p.m. Tuesday, near the height of the third-worst blizzard in the city’s history, Chicago police received a distress call: A man had been blown in, or had fallen into, Diversey Harbor.

The Police Marine Unit launched a rescue, but amid the blowing snow and high winds, it was impossible to enter the water. What’s more, officers couldn’t pinpoint the best location to dive. After several hours, “they spotted a hat near a dock,” said Officer Robert Perez, a spokesman.

The body of Peter Davis, 60, of the 2300 block of North Lincoln Park West, was pulled from the harbor about 4:35 a.m. in the 2800 block of North Lake Shore Drive. Officials don’t know why he was out on the lakefront Tuesday, but by Wednesday, Davis was being called the only known blizzard-related fatality in Chicago.

There were a few deaths yesterday from people who had heart attacks and couldn’t get to the hospital on time (for obvious reasons).  And although the major streets are going to be mostly cleared today, the city is just starting on the side streets, meaning there are still going to be quite a few streets where emergency care can’t get to you (so if you can, put off the shoveling until they plow your street).

ComEd says the places without power should have it soon, which is good, as it’s about to get very cold.

After getting hit with its third-biggest snowstorm on record, the Chicago area is now under a wind chill advisory. Temperatures are expected to drop to 11-15 degrees below zero Wednesday night, with wind chills down to 25 to 35 below zero.

“It will mark the city’s coldest weather since Jan. 15-16, 2009 when the mercury bottomed out at -13 and -18,” the Chicago Weather Center reports.

The arctic freeze comes as the Chicago area is still reeling from the blizzard: motorists are still stranded, the airports are virtually empty, major roads are closed, Metra trains are running on limited schedules.

I can’t reiterate this enough – if you don’t have access to a warm place tonight call 311.  People are going to freeze to death tonight.  Landlords also need to recognize that they are required, by law, to keep the temperature in units they rent at 66 degrees during the night.  If your landlord has a tendency not to fulfill this particular responsibility, now is not the time for faith in his/her ability to rise to the occasion.  Call 311.

Written by updowndownup

February 3, 2011 at 11:31 am

The Decline of Daley?

leave a comment »

The final countdown

If you ever wanted to see a sign of Mayor Daley’s waning influence, it’s in the mayoral candidates’ responses to the drivers getting stranded on Lake Shore Drive during the blizzard. (Hat tip to CapFax)

“If reports that Mayor Daley was not involved in the actual decision making on the city’s response are true, that’s a disappointment, ”Carol Moseley Braun said through a spokeswoman.

Referring to the now internationally-notorious traffic mess along the lakefront, Emanuel said in a written statement: “We need to get to the bottom of what happened last night on Lake Shore Drive — with hundreds of passengers stranded for hours, it’s clear that there were mistakes made that we can never let happen again. And we need a comprehensive review to determine what went wrong and what went right throughout the city.”

Granted, no one running for Mayor was going to say “Listen, if those idiots couldn’t be bothered to recognize that a highway RIGHT NEXT TO THE GODDAMN LAKE might have some problems during the third biggest snow storm in the history of the city of Chicago they should have just been left there to freeze!”, but there was a time no one would consider taking potshots, even as relatively tame as Rahm’s, at Daley.

Seems like those with money in the game are banking on the assumption that Daley just doesn’t have much muscle left.

A top-level City Hall meeting aimed at ending the dispute over financing the stalled O’Hare expansion project was abruptly canceled Thursday by the CEOs of United and American airlines, the  mayor’s press secretary said.

City officials said they initially thought cancellation of the meeting this afternoon between Mayor Richard Daley, United CEO Jeffery Smisek and American CEO Gerald Arpey was due to the blizzard that socked the Chicago region two days ago.

But the airlines appear to be stalling on Daley’s demand that they bring new proposals to the table to jump-start the construction of new runways at O’Hare International Airport.

“At this point, the mayor has begun to wonder about the sincerity of their efforts to meet with him,” said press secretary Jacquelyne Heard. Daley even offered to see them on a Sunday, she said.

Daley has tried to set up alternative dates, offering four or five options, all of which were rejected, leading Daley to believe the delay is intentional, Heard said.

The cold reality is that people know Daley’s not going to be around long enough to get revenge against those who do him wrong now.  That means that even the people who don’t want to do him wrong have to when circumstances call for it (a la Rahm’s statement).  That said, the last arrow in Daley’s quiver is that of public opinion.  Although he may be kind of damaged goods after the more idiotic responses to the blizzard, if Daley’s going to have any clout left it’s going to come from people who appreciate his accomplishments (and how they are indicative of his love of this city and his knowledge of what makes it work).  Might be too late though, we’ll see…

Hunker Down – Snow Storm Thread – Sudan Secession

leave a comment »

 

Snow-nado!

So for those outside of Illinois, you may not of heard but SNOW APOCALYPSE is on its way.  Between this afternoon and Wednesday morning there’s supposed to be something like 2 feet of snow dropped on Chicago.  Not magical Christmas snow-angel, snowman and sledding snow either.  Fucking freezing tornado snow.  The Illinois legislature has already cancelled this week’s sessions in anticipation.

 

Iiiiii just wanna celebraaaate

So to think of something warmer, and slightly more hopeful, yesterday South Sudan voted to secede from North Sudan (over 99% turnout, and over 99% voted in favor of secession).  If it works, it will correct one of the biggest fuck-ups coming out of African colonialism.  It’s not a done deal though.  The current oil revenue sharing agreement (2% to oil producing states, the rest is split 50/50 between the Northern federal government and the Southern federal government) expires in July – right when the South will be splitting off from the North.  Oil is just about the only source of money for Sudan, north or south, so if the South tries to keep the money (which kind of makes sense, as all of the oil is in the South) it’s a recipe for the third civil war.

To make things more difficult, there’s the little issue of the Abyei region.  It’s a tiny little area that is seen as the traditional gateway between the North and South, but the only reason anyone really cares about it is it contains about a quarter of all of the oil in Sudan (!).  They are supposed to have a referendum on whether they join the north or south, but that referendum has been put off indefinitely because the North and South can’t agree on who should count as a resident.  This issue could be made less contentious if the North and South strike a revenue sharing agreement that doesn’t put a lot of stake on which country the oil is actually in, but if not…could be very bad.

Still for a country that’s been in the midst of one of the worst Civil Wars in the world for nearly 4 decades, this is the most hopeful sign since the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in 2005.

Written by updowndownup

January 31, 2011 at 2:48 pm

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

leave a comment »

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%

leave a comment »

50%

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

Illinois’ Own Failed Stimulus Loses Its Funding

leave a comment »

Defunded

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.