Suburban Political Recount

Suburban Political Recount

Former suburban lawmakers to lead good government group

Posted by Mike Riopell on Mon, 08/19/2013 - 16:55

Former north suburban lawmakers Susan Garrett and Beth Coulson will serve as president and vice president of the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform Board.

The group is a top good-government advocacy organization.

Garrett, a Lake Forest Democrat, joined the board earlier this year and was put in charge this month. Coulson is a Northfield Republican.

“I have long appreciated ICPR’s truly bi-partisan agenda for making government more responsive,” Coulson said in a statement.

Coulson was a former member of the Illinois House until losing a 2010 primary bid for Congress to Republican Bob Dold, who went on to win that race.

Garrett is a former member of the Illinois Senate who declined to seek re-election in 2012.

Blackburn steps aside for Simon

Posted by Mike Riopell on Wed, 08/14/2013 - 12:10

At this morning's large county chairman's breakfast in Springfield, Will County Auditor Duffy Blackburn used his speech to announce he'd drop his bid for Illinois comptroller and back Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon in the March 18 primary.

Blackburn announced his candidacy before Simon got in, and his move is a good reminder that no races are yet set in stone.

Blackburn had been touting an endorsement from U.S. Rep. Bill Foster of Naperville, and his move today to avoid a primary fight was widely praised by U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin. So maybe look for Blackburn in future races.

The Illinois State Fair opens

Posted by Mike Riopell on Fri, 08/09/2013 - 10:58

Gov. Pat Quinn cut the ribbon at the Illinois State Fair today, and there wasn't much new to learn from the governor when reporters asked him questions after.

He declined to say whether he'd sign into law legislation that raises the interstate and tollway speed limit to 70 mph, for example.

But we did learn this:

"I had three pork chops on a stick last night," Quinn said.

That is dedication.

Boat safety hearing scheduled

Posted by Mike Riopell on Wed, 08/07/2013 - 11:03

Lawmakers are meeting in the suburbs this month to further talk about boat safety proposals aimed at preventing deaths like that of Libertyville's Tony Borcia last year.

Borcia was killed after the tube he was riding on was hit by a powerboat. His aunt, state Sen. Julie Morrison of Deerfield, shepherded a new law that could take the right to drive a car away from boaters involved in similar tragedies.

Now, a small committee of Lake County lawmakers including Morrison and state Sens. Pamela Althoff, Terry Link, Melinda Bush and Dan Duffy plan to meet Aug. 29 to address other ideas, some of which have been proposed by Morrison already. They'll meet at 1 p.m. at the Lake County Central Permit Facility, 500 W. Winchester in Libertyville.

Local lobbying

Posted by Mike Riopell on Tue, 08/06/2013 - 12:18

Cook County Clerk David Orr today said the first six months of the year have been good ones for lobbyists who work locally. He said lobbyists who try to influence county officials made $1.46 million in that time.

“From the activity reported, we know county officials were lobbied about firearms, taxes and landfills,” Orr said in a statement. “This information sheds some light – although not enough – on who is being paid to influence county decision-makers.”

Over the same time last year, lobbyists made $1.15 million.

The No. 1 firm was All-Circo, Inc., and their top client was Northbrook's CVS Caremark.

At the same time the amount of money paid to lobbyists is up over last year. The number of contacts with officials they reported making is down, from 540 to 517.

The final frontier

Posted by Mike Riopell on Wed, 07/31/2013 - 13:50

U.S. Rep. Peter Roskam has a series of bills set to hit the House floor today dealing with the IRS scandal from earlier this year, including one to try to limit the agency's conference costs.

It's in response, at least partly, to this Star Trek parody video made for a 2010 IRS conference. Appropriately, the legislation is called the SPOCC act. (Stop Playing on Citizen's Cash Act)

Roskam has also proposed legislation that would keep the IRS from asking a group about its politics or religious leanings in response to the news earlier this year the tax-collecting agency had targeted conservative groups for extra scrutiny.

Senger announces for 11th

Posted by Mike Riopell on Mon, 07/29/2013 - 11:57

State. Rep. Darlene Senger today formally announced her campaign for Congress. The Naperville Republican faces a likely primary challenge from either private investigator Ian Bayne of Aurora, Grundy County Board member Chris Balkema from Channahon or both.

"I’ve never shied away from big challenges," Senger said in an announcement on her website. "Whether it was serving as a PTA mom, a Naperville City Council member or a state representative, I didn’t run away from challenges—I ran towards them."

Senger is running in the 11th District, a seat now held by Democratic U.S. Rep. Bill Foster of Naperville.

Lawmaker investigating patronage gets father's job

Posted by Mike Riopell on Wed, 07/24/2013 - 09:50

This blog doesn't dabble in Chicago politics very often, but the ongoing Metra investigations reach pretty far.

Today, Democrat Deb Mell was chosen to take the seat on the Chicago City Council left by her just-retired father, Dick Mell.

Deb Mell was chairman of the Illinois House Mass Transit Committee, one of many groups probing the ongoing Metra scandal, which includes House Speaker Michael Madigan's attempts to get a campaign donor a pay raise.

Mell's new job means she won't be doing the old one anymore, and its unclear to what extent lawmakers will hold more hearings about Metra.

Pressure grows on O'Halloran

Posted by Mike Riopell on Tue, 07/23/2013 - 11:22

A couple more suburban lawmakers have signed onto state Rep. David Harris' call for Metra board Chairman Brad O'Halloran to step down.

So far, Republican state Reps. David McSweeny of Barrington Hills, Jeanne Ives of Wheaton and Barbara Wheeler of Crystal Lake have become official backers of Harris' call.

It wouldn't be surprising to see more people jump on board by the end of the week.

Winners and losers

Posted by Mike Riopell on Fri, 07/19/2013 - 12:07

Six months into the year, the video gambling machines in bars and restaurants across the state now pull in more revenue than all but one Illinois casino, including the mighty Grand Victoria in Elgin that used to be the biggest cash-generator in the state.

In June, the video poker and slot machines in bars beeped and dinged their way to $23.2 million in revenue before taxes statewide. That number is only growing.

In the same month, the Grand Victoria pulled in $16.7 million. Harrah’s in Joliet did $16.9 million.

The Rivers Casino in Des Plaines is still king at $35.2 million in June, but look for bars’ video gambling to keep creeping up, perhaps making it the biggest “casino” in Illinois.