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Illinois Politics

Late Night: Chris Welch Declares Illinois House Primary Victory–Finally… and More

Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Tuesday visited construction crews as they began the relocation of U.S. Route 41 through the former USX steel mill development site on the Southeast Side. The estimated cost of the roadway project is approximately $19 million, with a total project cost of $21 million. The project will consist of building a new road to relocate Route 41 by connecting it at the north end of the USX site at 79th Street and South Shore Drive to the south end at 87th Street and Avenue O.

(Chicago, IL) – With a 36-vote victory margin in his pocket, Emanuel “Chris” Welch finally declared victory on Tuesday over Rory Hoskins in the Democratic primary for 7th District House seat in western Cook County.

Welch was waiting for Cook County Clerk David Orr to finish counting all the mail in and provisional ballots. Orr finished that task Tuesday.

Welch, Hoskins and two other candidates fought for the Illinois House seat being vacated by current State Rep. Karen Yarbrough (D-Maywood) who won the Democratic primary for Cook County Recorder of Deeds.

The race will be officially certified by Orr’s Office on April 10, 2012.

Campaign Sign Caper Goes to Court – Two days before the March 20 primary Welch swore out a complaint against David Alexander of Chicago, claiming Alexander stole 23 campaign yard signs belonging to Welch. The court date is scheduled for April 18, and Welch or his attorney will be there, according to a Welch campaign spokesperson. We’ll see.

Ex-City of Chicago Employee Sentenced in Bribery Scheme –A former City of Chicago employee has been sentenced to one year and one day in prison after having been found guilty of two counts of bribery.

In November 2011, Dominick Owens was found guilty of accepting two separate bribes of $600 in July 2006 while working as a zoning inspector for the City. Owens, 45, had faced a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for each count.

Launched in 2007, Operation Crooked Code convicted 22 people, including 16 current or former City of Chicago employees.

Owens will report to prison on June 13, 2012.

Lost in the Mail – Chicago Inspector General Joe Ferguson on Tuesday dinged the Chicago Department of Family & Support Services for failing to implement a corrective action plan with the Safer Foundation that fell afoul of the city in an audit, because, Safer says, a September 1, 2010 letter from the city asking for the action plan “was lost in the mail.”

And the city fell asleep at the switch. Department management said follow-up action on the “action plan” failed to happen because the agency’s fiscal auditor was going on leave, admitting there was a lack action on the “action plan” oversight.

Once Ferguson’s office poked its nose into the issue, the Safer Foundation whipped together a plan and sent it to the city on January 29, 2012– via Federal Express with overnight delivery.

New CHA Board Member Slated ­– Mayor Rahm Emanuel has tapped long-term Chicago Housing Authority employee Harriet Johnson to serve as a commissioner on the agency’s Board to complete the unexpired term of the late Hallie Amey. The term ends July 7, 2014. Johnson, who has been with the CHA since October 2010, is currently a systems administrator. The Chicago City Council’s Housing and Real Estate Committee, chaired by 31st Ward Alderman Ray Suarez, is scheduled to vote on the nomination on April 10, at 10:00 a.m. Johnson is expected to be approved.

Have Garbage, Will Travel – Only one active landfill remains in Cook County, which is located in Dolton, and it has only seven more years of capacity life until it is full of s@#$.  Meanwhile, Cook taxpayers spend increasing gobs of money to ship their garbage longer and longer distances. So, on Tuesday, the Cook County Board approved President Toni Preckwinkle’s Solid Waste Management Plan for suburban Cook County, the first such plan in 12 years. Preckwinkle wants 100% waste diversion from landfills. Blue bag makers start your engines.

She Earns How Much? – Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka on Tuesday unveiled a comprehensive online. financial database that provides taxpayers with the same, real-time numbers used by Topinka’s staff. The data base, code-named The Ledger, tallies the state’s daily receipts of money dribbling in the door, bill backlog numbers, etc. For example, on Wednesday, Illinois has 205,298 unpaid bills totaling $5,903,334,447.05, while it has  only $167,906,976.06 in the petty cash box to pay them. Oy.

The new data base also has state employee salaries and new employee hires just added to Illinois’ payroll.

Topinka earns $118,635.68 a year.

And former City of Moline Community Development Manager Frankie Atwater has just been hired by the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity at $92,000 a year.

Hey, it works. Thanks, Judy.

Cutting Government Spending is a Good Idea–Until It’s Not – Hundreds jammed the Shawnee Community College in the southern Illinois town of Ullin on Monday afternoon to criticize Gov. Pat Quinn’s proposal to cut state spending.

Quinn wants to close the Tamm’s Supermax prison in Tamms.

The Illinois Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability, chaired by State Senator Jeff Schoenberg (D-Evanston) and State Rep. Patti Bellock (R-Hinsdale), took testimony from AFSCME representatives, Carol Mitchell, Village President, Village of Tamms, area lawmakers State Senator Gary Forby (D-Benton) and State Rep. Brandon Phelps (D-Harrisburg) and others who want to save the 275 state jobs at the Tamms facility.

Quinn was represented by Illinois Department of Corrections Director S.A. Godinez and Governor’s Office of Management of Budget Associate Director Austin Baidas, who provided testimony.

The governor expects to save $21 million this year and $26 million next for the Illinois’ beleaguered budget by closing the Tamms prison.

Of the current 275 employees, the Illinois prison agency would have job openings for 118 of the displaced workers within 90 miles of Tamms. Gas not included.

A Road to Somewhere – Governor Pat Quinn announced on Tuesday a major road project in the Peoria area, totaling $10.2 million. Illinois Route 8 gets 1.2 miles of roadway reconstructed and a second lane in each direction, between Summit Drive and Legion Road. Construction will begin later this spring… Southern Aid – The Peoria announcement follows on the heals of Quinn’s pledge on Monday to provide approximately $13 million of financial aid and construction projects to help families, businesses and local governments recover from the deadly tornado that ravaged several Southern Illinois communities on February 29.

Illinois Concealed Carry Ban Constitutional – In case you missed it, late Friday, an Illinois federal district court ruled in the case Shepard v. Madigan that the total ban on carrying handguns concealed and openly in Illinois is constitutional under the U.S. Second Amendment.

More than 40 other courts have held that the Second Amendment does not extend outside the home, and only 2 courts have ruled that the Amendment mandates public gun carrying.

The National Rifle Association is appealing the decision to the Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals. Naturally.

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… Freedom of Information Act & Political Witch Hunts… State Senator Marty Sandoval (D-Chicago) has stirred a non-profit hornets nest with his legislation, Senate Bill 3773, to extend Illinois’ Freedom of Information Action to cover non-profit agencies that have state contracts. Sandoval claims that his constituents are clamoring for “transparency.” Others think that Sandoval and his political allies have different motives. They have been reportedly examining the federal 990 tax forms of local non-profits because some local non-profit leaders have been supporting Sandoval’s political opponents. Those tax forms, which are publicly available, contain financial information, including top officer salaries, and are submitted by all tax-exempt organizations to the Internal Revenue Service each year. Sources claim that Sandoval’s FOIA bill would be a way to harass local political opponents who work for community non-profit groups. Sandoval’s bill, which is idling in the Illinois Senate Executive Committee, has had its hearing deadline extended until April 26. Executive Committee Chairman Don Harmon (D-Oak Park) has expressed misgivings and concern about Sandoval’s bill in its current form. Harmon’s concern may be well-placed.

What Were They Thinking?… A new national poll shows that 44% of likely U.S. voters hold at least a somewhat favorable view of Tea Party activists, while 49% share an unfavorable opinion of them. This includes 23% with a Very Favorable view and 29% with a Very Unfavorable one.

What’s a Work Day?… Chatting about the Future – For Mayor Emanuel and Governor Quinn, they will participate in Chicago Forward: The State of the City and the State, a policy discussion hosted by the Chicago Tribune at the Field Museum, starting at 6:00 p.m…. You’ve Won! – President Preckwinkle has a press conference at the County Building at 10:15 a.m. to hand over 193 certificates of purchase scavenger sale properties to municipalities…. Easter Prayer with the President – Illinois’ Favorite Sun, President Barack Obama, hosts an Easter Prayer Breakfast in the East Room of the White House at 10:30 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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