Judy Baar Topinka makes nepotism request to Pat Quinn

If you’ve ever questioned yourself about whether or not corruption and cronyism is rampant in both major political parties in Illinois, well, this video of Republican Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka getting caught on an open microphone asking Democratic Governor Pat Quinn to help Topinka’s son get a state or local government job will leave no doubt in your mind that corruption, cronyism, and nepotism is rampant in both the Democratic Party and the Republican Party in this state.

The clout request (in Illinois political parlance, the concept of a state or local government official giving some sort of favorable treatment to a relative or political crony is known as “clout”) by Topinka began approximately 18 seconds into the video. Topinka said that her son wanted to teach (or something along those lines, I could barely understand what Topinka was saying) and then went on to say that “he’s got the qualifications” (that part of the conversation was clearly audible to me).

This video of Judy Baar Topinka making a clout request to Pat Quinn to help Topinka’s son get hired, is proof that corruption and cronyism is rampant in both major parties in this state, and that corruption and cronyism often crosses party lines. It’s time to put an end to the wrong kind of bipartisanship in Illinois.

Karen Lewis leads Rahm Emanuel in hypothetical Chicago mayoral poll

Looks like corporate shill Rahm Emanuel is going to have an uphill fight on his hands in next spring’s race for Mayor of Chicago should Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis run against Rahm.

For the past couple of weeks, Karen Lewis has been saying she is “seriously” considering running for mayor.

It turns out voters are taking the fiery Chicago Teachers Union president’s potential candidacy seriously as well.

And Mayor Rahm Emanuel probably should, too.

At least that’s what a surprising new Early & Often Poll suggests.

If the mayoral election were held today, the lightning rod union leader who was the architect behind a 2012 teachers’ strike would beat Emanuel by 9 percentage points in a head-to-head contest, the survey found.

Lewis was leading Emanuel 45 percent to 36 percent with 18 percent of the likely voters undecided.

The poll in question was conducted by We Ask America, a Republican polling firm, on behalf of the Chicago Sun-Times. The poll sampled 1,037 likely voters in next year’s Chicago mayoral election, and has a margin of error of +/-3.04 percentage points.

While Toni Preckwinkle, to my knowledge, has shown virtually no interest in running against Rahm Emanuel, Karen Lewis is seriously considering running against Rahm, and she would be a strong, progressive challenger to Rahm. As the head of the Chicago Teachers’ Union, Lewis strongly opposed Rahm’s plan to dismantle public education in Chicago and promote corrupt charter schools that do absolutely nothing to improve the quality public education in Chicago.

While Rahm Emanuel has a multi-million dollar war chest and support from President Obama, the Clintons, and the rest of the corporate Democratic establishment, Karen Lewis has the people of our state’s largest city on her side if she were to run against Rahm. After all, Lewis champions public education, while Rahm wants to destroy public education.

Former U.S. Senator Alan Dixon passes away

Alan Dixon, a moderate Democrat from the Metro-East region of Illinois who served Illinois in the U.S. Senate for two terms from 1981 to 1993, and, prior to that, served two terms as Treasurer and one term as Secretary of State, passed away earlier today. He was 86 years old and would have turned 87 tomorrow.

I was born during Dixon’s second term in the U.S. Senate, and I was only two years old when he left office, so I remember nothing about him, so what I’m writing about Dixon is based on information available about him online.

Dixon was one of the first victims of longtime Republican operative Karl Rove’s dirty tricks. In 1970, while Dixon was running for state treasurer, Rove, who was only 19 years old at the time of the incident, snuck into Dixon’s campaign office by using a false identity and stole 1,000 sheets of paper with the Dixon campaign letterhead printed on them. Rove then printed fake campaign fliers to make it look like Dixon was offering beer and women to attendees at one of his campaign rallies, when, in reality, Dixon never intended to do anything like that. Despite Rove’s dirty tricks, Dixon won his first statewide race.

In 1992, Dixon lost his bid for a third term in the Senate in the Democratic primary to Carol Mosley-Braun, an ultra-liberal black Democrat from Chicago, who went on to win the general election later that year. Two factors contributed to Dixon’s defeat: Dixon’s vote to confirm far-right Supreme Court justice Clarence Thomas despite the fact that Thomas had been accused of sexually harassing Anita Hill, which outraged Illinois progressives, and a spoiler candidate by the name of Albert Holfeld, who ran to Dixon’s right and ran numerous attack ads against Dixon, which pulled enough votes away from Dixon’s moderate/conservative base of support to allow Mosley-Braun to win the Democratic primary with only 38.3% of the vote.

If you’re in Illinois, and you see U.S. flags at half-staff, it is because of the death of former U.S. Senator Alan Dixon.

Bruce Rauner wants to let his far-right running mate, Evelyn Sanguinetti, run Illinois into the ground

For the first time in Illinois history, candidates for lieutenant governor are picked by the gubernatorial candidates, and major-party gubernatorial and lieutenant gubernatorial candidates run as a ticket in both the primary and the general election.

Prior to the Republican primary in March of this year, Bruce Rauner picked right-wing extremist Evelyn Sanguinetti, who is currently a member of the Wheaton City Council, to be his running mate, and she has already embarrassed Illinois. In an interview with Hola America TV, a public television program that airs monthly on PBS affiliate WQPT in Moline, Sanguinetti implied that Rauner would basically let her run the Illinois state government, similar to how Dick Cheney was the mastermind behind much of George W. Bush’s federal policies when Bush 43 was president, if the Rauner-Sanguinetti ticket were to be elected:

Evelyn Sanguinetti is a dangerous far-right extremist who shouldn’t be anywhere near our state’s Governor’s Mansion. She’s staunchly opposed to the idea of women being able to make their own reproductive health care decisions, she’s opposed to the idea of marriage equality, and she holds many other far-right views that are way too extreme for Illinois. Sanguinetti is combining the worst elements of Dick Cheney and Sarah Palin, and she’d run Illinois into the ground if elected lieutenant governor.

Would Illinois be better off if the state actually ran the Illinois Lottery?

Currently, the State of Illinois doesn’t actually run the Illinois Lottery, which helps fund, among other things, our state’s K-12 public schools. Northstar Lottery Group, a private-sector firm set up solely to run the Illinois Lottery under a state contract, currently runs the Illinois Lottery.

However, Northstar has not lived up to their sales promises, and they’re expected to fall short of what they owe the state:

Illinois’ private lottery contract has never reached the lofty sales promises it used to win a bid four years ago and is expected to fall more than $200 million short of what it owes the state when the budget year ends June 30.

But Northstar Lottery Group says it’s been hamstrung by state officials, with whom they have an already frosty relationship and accuse of throwing up road blocks – from canceling games it wanted to launch to prohibiting the sponsorship of Chicago’s Pitchfork Music Festival in 2013 because of headliner R.Kelly.

Regardless, Northstar’s 10-year contract with the state details that falling short of its goals by 10 percent two years in a row is grounds for ending the partnership, no questions asked. It missed targets by almost 20 percent last year, and is on track to do the same this year.

I believe that the people of Illinois would be better served if the Illinois Lottery was actually run by the state and not by a private firm. The Illinois Lottery is becoming a textbook example of why privatizing government agencies usually creates more problems than it solves.

Mitt Romney allegedly had Illinois state employees campaign for him on government time in violation of campaign laws

Mitt Romney, the 2012 Republican presidential nominee who lost to Democratic incumbent and Illinois native Barack Obama, allegedly had employees of Republican Illinois Treasurer Dan Rutherford’s office campaign for Romney on state time, which is illegal:

Mitt Romney’s failed presidential campaign has been drawn into the federal lawsuit that crippled Illinois Treasurer Dan Rutherford’s bid for governor this year.

Former state worker Ed Michalowski named Romney for President Inc. as a defendant Thursday when he broadened the sexual and political harassment complaint he brought against the treasurer in February.

It now accuses Rutherford and Romney’s campaign of racketeering. Michalowski’s attorney, Dana Kurtz, said Rutherford acted “essentially as a mob boss” while using his state office to further his political ambitions.

Kurtz also said Rutherford, a Republican, participated in what amounted to “organized crime” while serving as state chair of Romney’s 2012 campaign for the White House. But she said she doesn’t know of anyone in the Romney camp — beyond Rutherford himself — who knew about it.

Rutherford, for the state of Illinois, was in charge of Mitt Romney’s campaign and forced employees, including Michalowski, to do not only work for Rutherford’s campaign, but also for Mitt Romney’s campaign,” Kurtz said.

(emphasis mine)

Dan Rutherford’s campaign for the Republican gubernatorial nomination in Illinois earlier this year imploded after Ed Michalowski, a former employee in Rutherford’s state treasurer office, alleged that Rutherford had sexually harassed him and forced him to do campaign work for the Rutherford campaign on state government time. Now, it appears that Rutherford forced Michalowski to do campaign work for the Mitt Romney presidential campaign on state government time as well.

I am calling for Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to investigate this matter and, if there is a solid case against Dan Rutherford, Mitt Romney, and/or Rutherford and Romney campaign officials, file charges against them.

Anti-fracking protests across Illinois scheduled for June 16

Brent Ritzel, a fellow Illinoisan who writes at DailyKos, wrote this piece promoting a series of protests in various locations in Illinois, scheduled for 11:00 A.M. on Monday, June 16, against the legislation that opened up Illinois to dangerous fracking operations that imperil our state’s environment and quality of life and increase the risk of earthquakes in Southern Illinois.

The reason why the organizers of the day of action against fracking is because pro-fracking State Representative John Bradley, who claims to be a Democrat but acts like a Republican, refused to meet with opponents of fracking and supporters of renewable energy in Illinois:

On June 16th in 1858 Abraham Lincoln stood in Springfield, Illinois and proclaimed that, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” In 1858, Lincoln’s words addressed the legal enshrinement of second class standing via slavery.

In 2014, these same words echo as a rebuke of Rep. John Bradley’s recently failed effort to hoist second-class status upon all the people of Southern Illinois. He attempted to do this by labeling this region a fracking sacrifice zone, open to unmitigated fracking, while attempting to protect Northern Illinois with a two-year fracking moratorium, thus acknowledging its inherent danger to humans.

Just as Lincoln took a stand against injustice during his historic June 16th speech, the people of Illinois now find themselves at a similar crossroads where we must stand together and be united to demand a renewable energy future while calling for a statewide ban on fracking. From Cairo to Chicago, we need you!

June 16th was the date of an important appointment. Five constituents were promised a meeting with their Illinois Representative John Bradley in Marion, Illinois. The meeting was to discuss the transformational potential of renewable energy and share some concerns over confirmed water contamination and health risks associated with fracking. But Rep. Bradley cancelled, and indicated he would not be taking meetings over the summer.

The appointment was set for June 16th at 11:00am. John Bradley has decided not to keep his appointment with the people he claims to represent. In fact, it sounds like he won’t be available all summer. Doesn’t he work for the people?

John Bradley and other Illinois lawmakers from both sides of the aisle have shown, time and time again, that they are more interested in serving dirty energy interests than the people they represent. It’s time to tell Illinois lawmakers that the risks of fracking, such as environmental damage and greater risk of earthquakes, far outweigh the benefits, and, therefore, a moratorium on fracking must be enacted across the entire state.

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