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Illinois Politics

Late Night: Barack Obama’s Illinois General Assembly Scholarship Awards Probed by BGA… and More


Barack Obama in the Illinois State Senate.

(Chicago, IL) – The Illinois General Assembly Scholarship Gotcha Goes to a New Level – The records relating to legislative scholarships handed out by then-State Senator Barack Obama have landed in the lap of the Better Government Association on March 7.

The BGA has been on a tear to end the program.

Specifically, the BGA, which submitted a Freedom of Information Act Request to the Illinois State Board of Education on February 27, 2012 for records for the records of two students, Brooke Henton and Angela Bennett, records which have been posted on the board’s site for years.

Bennett received an Obama scholarship to Southern Illinois University, starting in 2002 through 2004. Henton got an Obama scholarship in 2004 and the fall of 2005, after Obama entered the U.S. Senate, the award was granted by Obama’s state senate successor, Kwame Raoul.

That the BGA FOIA’d the scholarships is news. But the scholarship story is old news. How often can a mangy horse be beaten?

The President was at the North Korean demilitarized zone over the weekend. He should have stayed there. It’s safer than free-fire zone that is Illinois politics over these goofy legislative scholarships. Ugh.

Enough already.

Follow the Money Part I– For the first-ever “vote by mail” presidential primary permitted in Illinois, Cook County Clerk David Orr’s office signed a $50,000 radio advertising contract on February 24 to promote Cook County’s  “Vote by Mail” program for the 2012 elections.

The contract with Clear Channel Media & Entertainment purchases a total of 531 “sponsorship” spots–435 during Monday through Friday and 96 during the weekend–to cover both the 2012 primary and general election.

Chicago radio stations, such WBBM, WGN, WIND, WLS, WXRT, etc, ran the ads in the primary and are scheduled to do for the general. The advertising is intended to reach 3,855,537 radio listeners.

The 1.28 million registered voters in Chicago represents, however, the lowest number since 1942.

The contract, obtained by THE iLLINOIS OBSERVER, provides an option for a one-year renewal, potentially bringing the County’s radio advertising campaign cost to $100,000.

More than 12,697 suburban Cook County voters requested mail ballots, according to Orr’s office. And mail voting is expected to exceed the 8,835 mail ballots cast in the 2008 primary.

Honk twice if you like “Vote by Mail” radio ads on WXRT. Honk, ok? We can’t hear you.

Follow the Money Part II – If you thought that campaign cash would cease to flow merely because the primary had ended on Tuesday, you would be, well, wrong… The Illinois Republican Party reported on Saturday $5,000 from David Grainger of Lake Forest… State Senator Terry Link (D-Vernon Hills) snagged on Wednesday $2,000 from Titlemax Management of Savannah, Georgia… State Senator Matt Murphy (R-Palatine) found on Saturday $1,000 from Union Pacific Railroad of Omaha… State Rep.-elect Silvana Tabares (D-Chicago) reported on Saturday $3,000, including $1,500 from Ceres Food Group of Chicago.

Finally Ousted – Despite a devastating August 2010 WGN-TV undercover report revealing inhumane, overcrowding conditions at the city’s animal shelter, Chicago Animal Care and Control Cherie Travis lingered in her job until Mayor Rahm Emanuel ousted Travis this weekend. And Emanuel acted only after a Chicago Sun-Times reporter, Ryan Haggerty, filed a FOIA request for Travis’ personnel file in February for a story targeting Travis. THE iLLINOIS OBSERVER reported on March 10, 2012 that there was a Travis story waiting-in-the-wings. Told ‘ya.

Quotable: “This is a mess,” said State Rep. Rosemary Mulligan (R-Des Plaines), referring to the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services at the House Human Services Appropriations Committee hearing on March 16. “Which part of the mess are you talking about? The monitoring mess or the staffing mess?” replied DCFS’ new director Richard Calica.

Calica added that said he was going to meet with the Illinois ACLU’s Ben Wolf last week to outline his plan to get DCFS’ protective services staffing level in-line with the BH consent decree. If the ACLU stays out of court, it will have been a good meeting.

Chicago’s Local School Council Slates and a Sea of Red – The armies of red flags appearing on the Chicago Public Schools city map is not good news. Each red marker means the school doesn’t have a full slate of LSC candidates. CPS delayed the candidate filing date until March 23 because they had 5,000 vacant seats where parents and community members failed to file.

Don’t Quote MeRumor and gossip that’s not quite fit to print, but, what the heck, we’re including it anyway as a public service because we’re sure you’ll find it as titillating as we do… Spinning Turnstile – Cook County Assessor Joseph Berrios has tapped ex-Chief Deputy Cook County Treasurer Michael Shine as a consultant to advise Berrios on union negotiations, to help develop a staff phone manual, and, among other things, to “repackage” the Assessor’s Web site content. Shine will pull in about $36,000 for about 45 days of work throughout the year… Out But Not Down – An ex-Cook County judge is reportedly house hunting in Beverly Hills… What the Puck! –Governor Pat Quinn’s Associate Budget Director

ILLINOIS' FAVORITE SUN: On Sunday, President Barack Obama was gazing at the North Korean demilitarized zone. Last Sunday, on St. Patrick's Day, Obama was gazing at a glass of Guinness at the Dubliner, an Irish pub in Washington, D.C. What a difference a week makes. He was with his Irish cousin, Henry Healy, center, and Ollie Hayes, a pub owner in Moneygall, Ireland. (White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Austin Baidas was spotted at the United Center for the Blackhawk’s game on Sunday. There’s always next year… Can Anybody Stop This Game?… Multitudes of CTA riders are being played daily for suckers on the CTA’s Red Line between Lawrence and Addison during the morning rush hour. A 3-man team of scammers enters the train at Lawrence, like clock-work, to hustle, cheat riders with a sham 3-Card Monte routine. They exit at Addison–with riders’ money. Then they repeat the ride. Irate, regular passengers are now intervening. The CTA is not… 

Tomorrow’s News?… The Chicago Sun-Times’ Dave McKinney is working on another of round legislative scholarship stories, targeting 42 students. A load of records just landed in his lap. Buckle-up, campers.

What’s a Work Day?… Plant Your Veggies – On Monday,  The Mrs. of Illinois’ Favorite Sun, Michelle Obama, welcomes elementary school children from across the country, including Ames, Iowa–close enough to Illinois–to join her for the fourth annual spring vegetable planting kick-off at the White House; 2:15 p.m… Governor Pat Quinn will address the Illinois Association of Realtors’ annual housing conference at the Hilton Hotel in Springfield at 1:00 p.m…. Mayor Emanuel and CPD Superintendent Garry McCarthy will make an announcement Harding Playlot Park, 3917 W. Division Street‪, at 11:00 a.m.

About David Ormsby

David, a public relations consultant and blogger at The Huffington Post, is an ex-Press Secretary of the Illinois Democratic Party.

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