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July 31, 2007

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DAILY HERALD
-- Biggert favors Rudy  Giuliani picks up her endorsement - Eric Krol 
(THE ARTICLE: U.S. Rep. Judy Biggert endorsed Rudolph Giuliani for the Republican presidential nomination Monday, saying his strength on security issues and ability to work with Democrats will appeal to suburban voters.  “He showed the whole country that he can lead during difficult times and there is no question that these are difficult times now,” said Biggert, a Hinsdale Republican who represents the 13th Congressional District. Biggert was joined at Giuliani’s Illinois headquarters in downtown Lisle by fellow Republican U.S. Rep. Jerry Weller of Morris, who called the former New York City mayor the “Ronald Reagan of the 2008 election” because of his positive message. Biggert said she liked Giuliani’s moderate views on social issues like abortion and would tell wary conservatives that the party needs to come together in a “big tent” to elect a president next year. Overall, the suburban congressional delegation is divided up among the GOP presidential hopefuls. Reps. Mark Kirk of Highland Park and Peter Roskam of Wheaton are backing Arizona Sen. John McCain. Former House Speaker Dennis Hastert is supporting former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. And Rep. Don Manzullo, whose district includes much of McHenry County, is an early backer of former Sen. Fred Thompson.)
-- Potential candidates Cheryl Axley and Craig Johnson mull over state race - 
-- Kay Hatcher to run for 50th Dist. seat - 
SPRINGFIELD STATE JOURNAL REGISTER
-- Shutdown at least a week away  Temporary budget expires tonight - Doug Finke
-- Governor’s $1 million promise to church unfulfilled - Bernard Schoenburg
-- Historic straw poll set to be taken at state fair - Randy Pollard, president, Illinois Republican County Chairman’s Association, Vandalia
(THE LETTER: Recently, Illinois Republican Party Chairman Andy McKenna announced that an historic straw poll will be conducted at this year’s Illinois State Fair. As president of the Illinois County Chairman’s Association, I am proud to say that all Republican county chairmen are in full support of this straw poll. The significance of this poll is highlighted by the fact that the state is moving its presidential primary up to Feb. 5, 2008. With this move, Illinois Republicans will have a much greater say in who the next Republican presidential nominee will be. The straw poll being conducted at the fair will be an excellent opportunity for the grass-roots leaders of our party to come out and support their favorite candidate. The straw poll is free of charge and open to all eligible Illinois voters. I encourage everyone to come out to this year’s state fair and take part in this old-fashioned straw poll that could very well alter the U.S. presidential landscape.)
ABC7
-- Governor in favor of one-month budget extension - Andy Shaw
CBS2
-- State Budget Deadline, Government Shutdown Loom  State Employees At Risk Of Seeing Paychecks Stop - Dana Kozlov
CHICAGO SUN-TIMES
-- State employees told to show up Wednesday   Despite lack of budget, gov tells them to report for work - Dave McKinney and Whitney Woodward
-- Hynes calls for budget certainty by Aug. 8 - AP
NAPERVILLE SUN
-- Biggert supports Giuliani  Former NYC mayor focusing campaign effort on Illinois - Paige Winfield
HERALD NEWS
-- Weller, Biggert back Rudy - Paige Winfield
CHICAGO TRIBUNE
-- GOP veteran ranks thinning  Krause not running for seat in House -
(FROM THE ARTICLE: GOP sources said that among the Republicans who are considering a run for the party's nomination to replace Krause are Axley, Elk Grove Village Mayor Craig Johnson and Arlington Heights Mayor Arlene Mulder.  Axley, the Elk Grove Township GOP committeeman, was appointed in late 2005 to fill the unexpired term of former state Sen. Dave Sullivan of Park Ridge. She was defeated in November by Democrat Dan Kotowski of Park Ridge, an anti-gun activist. Kotowski's Senate district includes the 66th House District.  In addition to trying to hold onto the seat being vacated by Krause, state GOP leaders are hoping to defeat Froehlich and Crespo next year. "There's not doubt that on Froehlich and Crespo, we will be working hard to see that they are returned to the private sector," said David Dring, spokesman for House Republican Leader Tom Cross of Oswego. While Republican committeemen believe the party will make a push in the northwest suburbs to retain and perhaps regain some seats, House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago) and Senate Democrats are targeting districts that they see as vulnerable.)
-- Biggert, Weller back Giuliani bid - Rick Pearson
ILLINOIS REVIEW
-- Republicans to Initiate Recall Process - Fran Eaton
(THE ARTICLE: For the sake of all Illinoisans who would love to move on from this incessant Ground Hog Day-like  "Nightmare on Second Street" (where the state Capitol is located) of reliving yet another week of phony, Blago-produced so-called "special sessions" to discuss the budget -- word is that while over 2000 have signed a petition for the IL House to "Impeach Blagojevich," another movement is reportedly in motion to adopt the ability to recall the governor. State Senator Dan Cronin told the crowd in Addison Saturday that this year's elongated legislative session demonstrated the Democrats' plan to change Illinois government.  Cronin said this year's overtime session was an effort to turn lawmaking into a fulltime process, one that would keep legislators in Springfield year around. The DuPage lawmaker said that this week there would be a big announcement by Republican lawmakers to re-initiate the process of recall. "We've got legal experts looking into it now, and will soon be making our plans public," Cronin said. In the meantime, hospitals still are waiting for the $$ the state owes them and school boards are holding up hiring new teachers until the state determines how much they will be subsidizing local school districts beginning in September. When will this nightmare end?  Few hold hopes it will be this week.)
FAMILY TAXPAYERS NETWORK
-- VERY SAD: Top State GOP Official Brad Cole pushes for whopping tax increase
(FROM THE ARTICLE: State Party Chairman Andy McKenna, Jr. has recently discovered that the Republican Party is supposed to be the party of lower taxes. He’s been talking about the need for Republicans in Springfield to oppose any new tax increase. That’s all well and good, but frankly it’s a rather obvious position to take given that Governor Rod Blagojevich says he’s committed to keeping his promise not to raise the state income or sales tax. Blagojevich ran on that pledge in 2002, and so far he hasn’t wavered. The Governor did of course push for adoption of a Gross Receipts Tax earlier this year, but his fellow Democrats led on shooting that down. Still, it’s great that McKenna is at least paying lip service these days to a fundamental Republican tenet. In the last Gubernatorial Primary, McKenna backed Judy Baar Topinka from day one, the candidate who refused to rule out an income or sales tax increase. In fact had Topinka won we doubt if the General Assembly would be in overtime session right now. We think it’s likely she would have signed a massive tax increase – with the support of a lot of Republican votes in the General Assembly - and everyone would have gone home long ago. Had that disaster occurred we can just picture McKenna today praising Topinka’s “leadership” in the tradition of Republican Governors Thompson and Edgar – raising taxes to deal with “the tough problems facing Illinois.”)
-- Movement to bring transparency into government spending is gaining steam across the country - John Biver
(FROM THE ARTICLE: At The Champion Foundation we’re constantly hearing from citizens who are being frustrated in their attempt to exercise their rights according to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) by school district personnel. One school district, Wheaton-based district 200, went to court to prevent the public from learning the details of an employee contract.)
PUBLIC AFFAIRS
-- Jim Nalepa, possible Republican U. S. Senate candidate, on warrantless wiretaps and tax cuts, Cable and Streaming - Jeff Berkowitz
CRAIN'S CHICAGO BUSINESS
-- Madigans are plugged in - 
-- Fine mess  As state budget stalemate rolls on, federal judge exacts a price - 
PEORIA JOURNAL STAR
-- Nearly everyone wants to be a U.S. rep - Jennifer Davis & Karen McDonald
(FROM THE ARTICLE: His seat isn't cold yet - he's still sitting in it, for gosh sakes - but the number of people itching to be the next U.S. Rep. Ray LaHood is growing as we speak. State Rep. Aaron Schock? Everyone says the young, popular Peoria Republican is a given to run. Darin LaHood, Ray's son? There's a good chance. Schock's mentor, longtime state Rep. David Leitch? Definitely considering it, he says. Former Peoria Councilman John Morris? Same as Leitch, a definite maybe. Mayor Jim Ardis? Even iffier. State Sen. Larry Bomke? This Springfield Republican says thanks, but no.)
POLITICO
-- LaHood replacements scramble to campaign - John Kraushaar 
(FROM THE ARTICLE: Among Republicans, all eyes will be on 26-year-old state Rep. Aaron Schock, who unseated a Democratic state legislator in 2004 and has been a rising star within the party ever since. He raised over $1 million for his last state legislative campaign, much of it from individual donors in the Peoria area. "Talk about a go-getter," said one state GOP operative. "He worked his tail off to win that seat. He's ambitious."  But Schock's youth could be an obstacle -- if elected, he would most likely become the youngest member of Congress. One of his potential opponents is state Rep. David Leitch, who has served in the state legislature since 1986. Leitch said Monday, however, that it was “very unlikely” he would enter the race if Schock gets in. . . LaHood could be the first of several Republican representatives to retire. Former House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) will need to make a decision soon about his future, with Illinois' filing period beginning next week.)
CONGRESSIONAL QUARTERLY
-- Rep. LaHood to Retire at End of 110th Congress - Jonathan Allen and Gregory L. Giroux
 
GOPUSA ILLINOIS
Giuliani Illinois campaign team is at odds with the Giuliani national campaign team - Dave Diersen
In my roles as your GOPUSA Illinois Editor, as the Chairman of TAPROOT Republicans of Illinois, as an ICRC Steering Committee member, as a Republican Precinct Committeeman, and as a conservative, I was one of the very few from Illinois in the audience when Giuliani gave his outstanding speech earlier this year at CPAC.  Giuliani's national campaign team includes in its "big tent" conservatives, that is, the base of the Republican Party.  However, Giuliani's Illinois campaign team does not.  Sadly, most, if not all of Giuliani's Illinois campaign team either does not know what CPAC, TAPROOT, or ICRC stands for, or, like Jim Thompson, Jim Edgar, George Ryan, Jim Ryan, Judy Baar Topinka, etc., vehemently disapproves of conservatives.  I have repeatedly asked the Giuliani Illinois campaign team to provide me with the same information at the same time that it provides that information to the Daily Herald, to the Chicago Tribune, to the Chicago Sun-Times, to the Chicago Suburban News, and to other news outlets controlled by Democrats and RINOs. I did not receive notification of the Giuliani Illinois campaign's press conference yesterday.  If the Giuliani Illinois campaign does not include your GOPUSA Illinois Editor in its definition of "big tent," it obviously does not include you, a GOPUSA subscriber in its definition of "big tent."  Blaming all problems on conservatives may have gotten Thompson, Edgar, and George Ryan elected, but it did not get Jim Ryan or Topinka elected, and it will not get Giuliani elected.

 

DAILY HERALD
Biggert favors Rudy  Giuliani picks up her endorsement - Eric Krol 
(THE ARTICLE: U.S. Rep. Judy Biggert endorsed Rudolph Giuliani for the Republican presidential nomination Monday, saying his strength on security issues and ability to work with Democrats will appeal to suburban voters.  “He showed the whole country that he can lead during difficult times and there is no question that these are difficult times now,” said Biggert, a Hinsdale Republican who represents the 13th Congressional District. Biggert was joined at Giuliani’s Illinois headquarters in downtown Lisle by fellow Republican U.S. Rep. Jerry Weller of Morris, who called the former New York City mayor the “Ronald Reagan of the 2008 election” because of his positive message. Biggert said she liked Giuliani’s moderate views on social issues like abortion and would tell wary conservatives that the party needs to come together in a “big tent” to elect a president next year. Overall, the suburban congressional delegation is divided up among the GOP presidential hopefuls. Reps. Mark Kirk of Highland Park and Peter Roskam of Wheaton are backing Arizona Sen. John McCain. Former House Speaker Dennis Hastert is supporting former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. And Rep. Don Manzullo, whose district includes much of McHenry County, is an early backer of former Sen. Fred Thompson.)
 
Potential candidates Cheryl Axley and Craig Johnson mull over state race - 
A former state senator and a sitting mayor are among the potential candidates to run for the right to succeed retiring state Rep. Carolyn Krause of Mount Prospect.

One-time appointed state Sen. Cheryl Axley said Monday she’s looking at either a run to replace Krause, a personal friend, or a rematch next year against Democratic state Sen. Dan Kotowski of Park Ridge.

“I’ve already represented the district and walked most of it,” said Axley, a Mount Prospect attorney. “I don’t think either race will be easy.”

Elk Grove Village Mayor Craig Johnson is on House Republican leader Tom Cross’ wish list as an elected official who’d bring a base of support to a campaign. Johnson, a leading voice against the expansion of O’Hare International Airport, offered only a “no comment” Monday when asked if he is thinking about running.

Democrats never mounted much of a challenge to Krause, often leaving the ballot spot vacant since she first won election in 1992. But Kotowski’s upset of Axley last November could lead Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan to try to find a challenger for the 66th House District seat.

One leading Democratic possibility would be Brian McPartlin, the tollway authority’s executive director who unsuccessfully challenged Carl Hansen for a Cook County Board seat in 2002. But McPartlin didn’t sound Monday like a candidate who would make the race.

“I’m flattered to have my name mentioned. I will monitor the situation. I’m sure there will be some fine (Democratic) candidates running,” said McPartlin, adding he has got his hands full running the tollway.

Elk Grove Township Clerk Mike Sweeney also is being mentioned in GOP circles as a possible candidate. Sweeney replaced Axley as clerk when Axley was appointed to the Senate in 2005.

Arlington Heights Mayor Arlene Mulder said she plans to run for re-election instead of the state House.

Krause, who turns 70 next year, told the Daily Herald Sunday she won’t seek another term.

Kay Hatcher to run for 50th Dist. seat - 

http://www.dailyherald.com/news/kanestory.asp?id=336040&cc=k&tc=&t=

A Kendall County Board member and local businesswoman is seeking the 50th District seat held by the retiring State Rep. Patricia Reid Lindner.

Kay Hatcher, a 61-year-old Yorkville Republican, recently announced her candidacy. Lindner said earlier this month she will not seek re-election for the seat she has held since 1993.

“I was very disappointed when Pat announced that she would not re-run because I think she’s done an outstanding job in Springfield,” Hatcher said. “I have worked in the Fox Valley for several decades on business and quality of life issues and felt it was appropriate at this point to offer myself for election.”

The 50th District stretches from western LaSalle County to Aurora and Elburn. Candidates can start circulating petitions for the Feb. 5 primary on Aug. 7.

Hatcher is senior marketing director for Senior Services Associates Inc., a nonprofit Crystal Lake agency that helps McHenry County senior citizens access social services.

Her previous work includes consulting work and positions in communications and media relations.

Hatcher also serves as the Kendall County Forest Preserve District’s board president. She has served on the county board since 2002 and previously was on the board between 1991 and 1996.

Prior to that she served on the Oswego School Board for six years.

Hatcher and her husband, Steve, have four children and several grandchildren.

SPRINGFIELD STATE JOURNAL REGISTER

Shutdown at least a week away  Temporary budget expires tonight - Doug Finke

http://www.sj-r.com/News/stories/13244.asp

Gov. Rod Blagojevich is preparing to implement “contingency plans” for operating state government if neither a permanent nor a temporary budget is in place by midnight.

However, Comptroller Dan Hynes said Monday that state government can continue to operate without disruption until at least Aug. 8, which is a deadline for processing school-aid payments and a payroll for about 5,000 state employees.

During a bill-signing ceremony in Farmersville, Blagojevich said contingency arrangements have been made to keep essential state services running if a temporary budget is allowed to expire at midnight. The governor did not elaborate on those plans.

Later, Blagojevich spokesman Justin DeJong said, “The state has contingency operations plans that are to be used in case of emergency, and on August 1 (Wednesday), we will begin putting those plans into motion.” He, too, declined to elaborate, although he said the plans do not call for the immediate closure of either state parks or historic sites.

Lawmakers were supposed to have passed a new state budget by July 1. Unable to agree on a permanent spending plan, they approved a one-month budget.

Blagojevich wants lawmakers to pass another one-month budget to keep the state operating while negotiations continue. The four legislative leaders, though, aren’t inclined to support another one-month budget and instead are working on a permanent plan.

At a Statehouse news conference Monday, Hynes said there is no need for hasty action even if the state has no budget of any kind in place by Wednesday.

“The reality is that the state can operate and should operate without disruption until August 8,” said Hynes, whose office writes checks for state expenses but will lose that authority without a budget. “At that date, we would miss the first state payroll and we would miss the first state aid payment to our schools. I am calling on all constitutional officers and agency directors to keep their office open until August 8 at least.”

Hynes said he has ordered his employees to report to work Wednesday with or without a budget in place. Spokesmen for Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn, Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias and Attorney General Lisa Madigan all said Monday that employees of those offices are expected to continue working even if no budget is approved. Secretary of State Jesse White previously told his employees they, too, are expected to continue working.

The next critical day in the budget impasse is a week from Wednesday, Hynes said. Without a budget in place by then, the state won’t be able to make a $170 million aid payment to schools and will miss processing a payroll for 4,900 executive office employees with the comptroller, treasurer, lieutenant governor, attorney general and governor’s office.

“We have to focus on August 8 as a deadline because it is real,” Hynes said. “On that day, it won’t be an arbitrary deadline, it will be a deadline that hurts people.”

The four legislative leaders have been meeting without Blagojevich in the room to fashion a full-year spending plan.

Senate President Emil Jones, D-Chicago, said last week that he didn’t view Aug. 1 as a critical date to complete a budget.

The four leaders met for about two hours Monday, and House Minority Leader Tom Cross, R-Oswego, emerged afterward to say that today is not a deadline to act.

“We all believe that the next several days is the important time,” Cross said.

Even without a budget, some state payments will continue, Hynes said. Checks to state retirees, welfare recipients and bond-holders must all be paid even with no budget.

Others, though, will be out of luck.

Hynes said his office would normally write about $100 million a day in checks for Medicaid payments, child care, equipment and other expenses.

Those payments will not be made without a budget.

Governor’s $1 million promise to church unfulfilled - Bernard Schoenburg
Gov. ROD BLAGOJEVICH scored some points and took some heat a year and a half ago when, in the wake of a fire that destroyed a beautiful, historic church in Chicago, he promised a $1 million state donation to help with rebuilding.

Early 2006 was the beginning of an election year, so it was a good time for promises. Blagojevich likes to make promises. It’s his follow-through that sometimes suffers.

And so it is in the case of the Pilgrim Baptist Church.

Newspaper reports said the Jan. 6, 2006, fire gutted the church, which was designed by Louis Sullivan and Dankmar Adler as a synagogue in the late 1890s and has been home to the Baptist congregation since 1922. Thomas A. Dorsey, considered the father of gospel music, was music director at the church in the late 1930s.

Three days after the fire, Blagojevich spoke at another Chicago church and was quoted as saying, “I’m committing a million dollars to the rebuilding of the Pilgrim Baptist Church.”

This generated protests from the Freedom From Religion Foundation and the American Civil Liberties Union, which said state money shouldn’t be used for church purposes.

Blagojevich, not one to shy away from a chance to use taxpayer money to make himself a hero in Chicago, stood firm.

“Consistently, government has partnered with religious institutions when appropriate to provide for social services,” then-Deputy Gov. BRADLEY TUSK said at the time, as reported by ERIC ZORN in the Chicago Tribune. “In this case, this church had a school and provided different services to the community.”

Well, the remains of the church have been razed and money is being collected for the rebuilding. But as the for state money, said Pastor KEITH E. GORDON of the church last week, “We have not received it yet.”

I called the church because, it turns out, Blagojevich has apparently sent some money its way — but from his campaign fund, not state coffers.

The campaign finance report filed by Friends of Blagojevich for the six months ending June 30 showed that the Dallas-based Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation had given $44,846 to the Blagojevich campaign.

That seemed odd. But Blagojevich campaign spokesman DOUG SCOFIELD explained that, after Blagojevich fund-raiser TONY REZKO was indicted on corruption charges, money Rezko had donated to the governor was given to charity. Included was a big chunk to the Komen foundation. But the foundation later decided it didn’t want to take a campaign contribution, Scofield said, and it returned the money.

In turn, Scofield said, the campaign fund gave $10,000 to the American Legion in Chicago and $4,335 to each of eight entities — including Pilgrim Baptist Church.

The other recipients include Waters and Bateman elementary schools in Chicago, Carterville High School, Christo Rey Jesuit and Benito Juarez high schools in Chicago, Skip-A-Long Child Development Center in Rock Island, and Crittenton Center, a family crisis agency in Peoria.

I contacted a few of those places late last week. Also oddly, nearly a month after checks were supposedly written, they apparently hadn’t arrived.

The Rev. Gordon said that if his congregation had received the check, he wasn’t aware of it — though he did say Blagojevich has been “very good to us as a church.” DON SMITH, principal of Carterville High (which was visited by Blagojevich during last year’s DuQuoin State Fair and which has been waiting for 31/2 years for state matching funds to build a new school building) said a $4,300 gift from the campaign was news to him. And LAUREL WALKER , executive director of the Skip-A-Long facilities in the Quad Cities — one of which was visited by Blagojevich early in his governorship — said none of those facilities have received a check. She did call Blagojevich “a champion for children’s programs and children. Her facilities combined received more than $3 million in state funding in 2006.

“The checks have gone out,” Scofield told me of the campaign largess, adding that things may not be moving quickly. “I don’t know that they were mailed June 30th.”

Historic straw poll set to be taken at state fair - Randy Pollard, president, Illinois Republican County Chairman’s Association, Vandalia

http://www.sj-r.com/Opinion/stories/13227.asp

(THE LETTER: Recently, Illinois Republican Party Chairman Andy McKenna announced that an historic straw poll will be conducted at this year’s Illinois State Fair. As president of the Illinois County Chairman’s Association, I am proud to say that all Republican county chairmen are in full support of this straw poll. The significance of this poll is highlighted by the fact that the state is moving its presidential primary up to Feb. 5, 2008. With this move, Illinois Republicans will have a much greater say in who the next Republican presidential nominee will be. The straw poll being conducted at the fair will be an excellent opportunity for the grass-roots leaders of our party to come out and support their favorite candidate. The straw poll is free of charge and open to all eligible Illinois voters. I encourage everyone to come out to this year’s state fair and take part in this old-fashioned straw poll that could very well alter the U.S. presidential landscape.)

ABC7
Governor in favor of one-month budget extension - Andy Shaw
Many Illinois lawmakers ignored the governor's call for a special meeting of the legislature Monday. Both sides are trying to end a budget stalemate that is setting records for longevity and futility. State Comptroller Daniel Hynes warned Monday they could face a budget meltdown next week if there is no agreement.
 
The temporary budget extension that Illinois lawmakers passed in June expires at midnight Tuesday, raising the possibility of a government shutdown a week later. So Governor Blagojevich called a special session for Monday afternoon to consider another one-month extension, but legislative leaders ignored the call because the are making progress toward a full-year budget and because some lawmakers had other plans for their Monday.

The road to a budget deal in Springfield took a detour Monday morning, for a golf outing on the far South Side sponsored by the Legislative Black Caucus, to raise money for college scholarships.

One of the organizers, reverend and state senator James Meeks, says the outing was scheduled months ago when no one anticipated a marathon overtime session, and since they are not due back in Springfield until Monday afternoon, and there is nothing to vote on yet, they decided not to cancel the outing even though the budget extension they passed in June expires at midnight Tuesday.

"If there was legislative business for us to attend to, we would be there in Springfield. But since nobody has planned any meetings that involve us, we're not there," said State Sen. James Meeks, Legislative Black Caucus.

"It makes you wonder that why do we have all these state senators and representatives if they're not really players," said Jay Stewart, Better Government Association.

Legislative leaders are still trying to agree on a new budget, and they are reportedly making progress in negotiations that no longer include Governor Blagojevich, but the governor said Monday after a bill-signing near Springfield that lawmakers should consider adopting another one-month budget extension to eliminate the possibility of a government shutdown in August if they cannot agree on a spending plan for the full year.

"If the legislative leaders can't solve their differences, we are in a position where we have to face the shutdown of Illinois government. We want them to pass a one-month budget so that we can avoid that," said Governor Rod Blagojevich.

"A one-month budget doesn't help anyone. It's not really a budget. All it does is extend the spending authority of the comptroller and just makes sure the bills get paid," said State Rep. Marlow Colvin, Legislative Black Caucus.

The state controller, Dan Hynes, is asking lawmakers to pass a temporary or permanent budget by August 8, so the state can pay its bills. Negotiations on a permanent budget are zeroing in on a cigarette tax and more casinos to expand education funding and pay for road and school construction.

As for health care and a CTA bailout, they are both up in the air right now.

CBS2

State Budget Deadline, Government Shutdown Loom  State Employees At Risk Of Seeing Paychecks Stop - Dana Kozlov

http://cbs2chicago.com/politics/local_story_211231237.html (Includes video clip)

The budget battle has already gone into overtime, and with a new month arriving Tuesday at midnight, the temporary funding for the state government is about to expire. As CBS 2’s Dana Kozlov reports, there are big budget concerns for families in danger of losing their paychecks.

State home care provider Alberta Walker refuses to believe Illinois is headed for a shutdown.

"We don't even want to think that way,” she said.

"Some of us live or work from paycheck to paycheck," she added.

But political watchdogs say if lawmakers don't reach a deal by midnight Tuesday – August 1 – that's exactly what could happen. And eventually, 56,000 state employees like Walker could see their paychecks stop.

"We won't be able to buy food for our families, we won’t be able to go places or do things,” Walker said. “We’ll just have to be a family, I have a very close-knit family so we’ll just have to try to support one another.”

In addition to state paychecks, lawmakers’ failure to pass a second emergency, monthly budget – or, more critically, a permanent one – could also impact state offices, schools, universities and services.

University of Illinois Chicago political science professor Dick Simpson says that could be disastrous.

"You can't close down government for very long without severe repercussions,” Simpson said. “Particularly to those who are least able to afford it, who don’t have savings, who are the poor who are receiving services, who need the health clinics.”

Analysts say it's up to Governor Rod Blagojevich and the legislative leaders to put egos and agendas aside and finally hammer out a budget. But if they don't do it before July is over, a spokesperson for Blagojevich tells CBS 2 that notices about a state shutdown could go out by the end of the week.

"This has never actually happened, where there’s been a shutdown, so I think it’s kind of uncharted territory,” said state employee union representative Michael Newman.

Over the weekend 100 state lawmakers skipped a special session on the matter called by Blagojevich and Monday members of the black caucus went on a golf outing instead of attending a special session in Springfield, but despite that a lot of watchdogs say it remains up to the governor and legislative leaders to hammer out a deal. Until then there is very little for lawmakers to do.

CHICAGO SUN-TIMES

State employees told to show up Wednesday   Despite lack of budget, gov tells them to report for work - Dave McKinney and Whitney Woodward

http://www.suntimes.com/news/politics/490409,CST-NWS-leg31.article

SPRINGFIELD -- Gov. Blagojevich's administration has directed state workers to come to work Wednesday, despite the lack of a state budget and the possibility of not getting paid on time.

With no new progress to report on budget negotiations Monday, the threat of a partial government shutdown looms larger as a temporary budget passed last month lapses on Wednesday.

Without offering specifics, the governor said his administration has had preparations in place for a possible shutdown "for weeks and, in fact, months.

"We're prepared to meet whatever contingency is necessary," said Blagojevich, who has made a continued pitch since the weekend for lawmakers to pass another 30-day budget.

As many as 4,900 state workers employed by the governor and other constitutional officeholders will miss their Aug. 15 payday if a budget deal is not reached by Aug. 8, the date when the first batch of paychecks must be processed, Comptroller Dan Hynes said.

School funding

Also on Aug. 8, Hynes said, his office will be preparing to send out $170 million in state-aid payments to school districts across the state. Under state law, those payments are supposed to be in the school districts' hands by Aug. 10. Chicago's public schools lay claim to $45 million of those funds.

Hynes called on the governor and legislative leaders to commit to keeping government operations running by Aug. 8, either through a full-year budget agreement or another 30-day deal.

"We have to focus on Aug. 8 as a deadline because it's real. On that day, it won't be a legislative deadline. It won't be an arbitrary deadline," Hynes said. "It'll be a deadline that hurts people."

Hynes calls for budget certainty by Aug. 8 - AP

http://www.suntimes.com/news/politics/490036,30budget.article

SPRINGFIELD -- Comptroller Dan Hynes on Monday urged top state leaders to avoid a government shutdown by passing a new budget by Aug. 8, a week after the current spending plan ends.

Legislative leaders, meeting again without the governor, said they are making progress but didn't commit to completing a new budget by any particular date.

And during brief sessions Monday, the House and Senate ignored Gov. Rod Blagojevich's proposal for a one-month budget extension, preferring instead to focus on getting an agreement for the full year.

Lawmakers have been deadlocked for months on a budget for the fiscal year that began July 1. They kept state government going with a one-month budget for July, but that expires Wednesday.

Without a new budget in place, Hynes said, the state would begin facing severe money problems in a week, when 4,900 state employees are scheduled to be paid and schools are in line to receive a $170 million state aid check.

Hynes said he will ask the state's constitutional officers and legislative leaders to sign a promise that they'll keep government operations running and will pass a budget -- either for another month or the full year -- by Aug. 8.

''We cannot have this air of uncertainty, this air of panic out there,'' Hynes said at a news conference.

As comptroller, Hynes' office pays the state's bills. But he can't write checks without a budget authorizing them. The Chicago Democrat called the budget impasse ''perplexing'' and ''embarrassing'' for his party.

Blagojevich wants lawmakers to pass a one-month budget extension so talks can continue on a full budget. But lawmakers took no action on his proposal, and legislative leaders continued their series of budget talks that exclude the Democratic governor.

Blagojevich said he doesn't object to being left out. ''Let the legislative leaders see if they can work out some of their differences and then let's see where they are,'' he said.

House Speaker Michael Madigan has scheduled a special meeting of the entire House to discuss education issues Aug. 8, raising questions of how quickly he expects a budget agreement.

Madigan would not talk to reporters after his meeting with other leaders.

NAPERVILLE SUN

Biggert supports Giuliani  Former NYC mayor focusing campaign effort on Illinois - Paige Winfield

http://www.suburbanchicagonews.com/napervillesun/news/490114,6_1_NA31_GIULIANI_S1.article

Rudy Giuliani's campaign is spreading its roots in the Chicago suburbs, with endorsements announced Monday by U.S. Reps. Judy Biggert of Hinsdale and Jerry Weller of Morris.

As mayor of New York City during Sept. 11, Giuliani faced leadership challenges that Biggert observed first-hand during in-person meetings with him. She says his handling of the attacks heavily weighed in her endorsement decision.

"I was amazed by the immensity of the task he had in the city," Biggert said. "He can lead during difficult times, and there is no question this is a difficult time right now."

Biggert also is impressed by Giuliani's plan to move the country toward energy independence, saying his emphasis on nuclear, bio-fuels and other sources of renewable energy is "absolutely on track."

Biggert shares with Giuliani a blend of fiscal conservatism mixed with more moderate views on social issues - positions that are representative of many voters in Naperville and throughout the rest of her 13th Congressional District.

"Rudy's brand of leadership appeals to suburbanites and to Illinoisans," she said. "His appeal is to all kinds of people. He is somebody able to rise above the political bickering."

Relating to Chicago

Giuliani so far has given Illinois more attention than any of the Republican presidential candidates, and was the first to open a state campaign headquarters.

Spokesperson Jarrod Agen said Giuliani intends to campaign heavily in Illinois. His record as mayor of New York will particularly resonate with residents in and around Chicago, Agen said.

"You have the Chicago area - a major U.S. city - and the suburbs around Chicago ... (residents) can relate to what Mayor Giuliani did in another major city," Agen said. "They can see what Giuliani did in New York and that plays well with them."

Weller, whose district includes LaSalle, Grundy and Kankakee counties and parts of five surrounding counties, compared Giuliani's leadership skills to those shown by Ronald Reagan during the Cold War.

"Rudy Giuliani demonstrated the ability to quickly assume command when his city was under attack," he said. "I believe Rudy Giuliani is the Ronald Reagan of the 2008 presidential campaign."

HERALD NEWS

Weller, Biggert back Rudy - Paige Winfield

http://www.suburbanchicagonews.com/heraldnews/news/490091,4_1_JO31_RUDY_S1.article

Rudy Giuliani's campaign is spreading its roots in the Chicago suburbs, with endorsements announced Monday by U.S. Reps. Jerry Weller of Morris and Judy Biggert of Hinsdale.

As mayor of New York City on Sept. 11, 2001, Giuliani faced leadership challenges that Biggert observed first-hand during in-person meetings with him. She says his handling of the attacks heavily weighed in her endorsement decision.

"I was amazed by the immensity of the task he had in the city," Biggert said. "He can lead during difficult times, and there is no question this is a difficult time right now."

Republican presidential hopeful Rudy Giuliani smiles for a photo Monday during a surprise campaign stop in Moultonborough, N.H.

Weller, whose district includes LaSalle, Grundy and Kankakee counties and parts of five surrounding counties, compared Giuliani's leadership skills to those shown by Ronald Reagan during the Cold War.

"Rudy Giuliani demonstrated the ability to quickly assume command when his city was under attack," he said. "I believe Rudy Giuliani is the Ronald Reagan of the 2008 presidential campaign."

Biggert also is impressed by Giuliani's plan to move the country toward energy independence, saying his emphasis on nuclear, bio-fuels and other sources of renewable energy is "absolutely on track."

Biggert shares with Giuliani a blend of fiscal conservatism mixed with more moderate views on social issues -- positions that are representative of many voters in Naperville and throughout the rest of her 13th Congressional District.

"Rudy's brand of leadership appeals to suburbanites and to Illinoisans," she said. "His appeal is to all kinds of people. He is somebody able to rise above the political bickering."

Focus on Illinois

Giuliani so far has given Illinois more attention than any of the Republican presidential candidates, and was the first to open a state campaign headquarters. Spokesperson Jarrod Agen said Giuliani intends to campaign heavily in Illinois. His record as mayor of New York will particularly resonate with residents in and around Chicago, Agen said.

"You have the Chicago area -- a major U.S. city -- and the suburbs around Chicago ... (residents) can relate to what Mayor Giuliani did in another major city," Agen said.

CHICAGO TRIBUNE

GOP veteran ranks thinning  Krause not running for seat in House -

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/north/chi-krauseout_31jul31,1,1555967.story

(FROM THE ARTICLE: GOP sources said that among the Republicans who are considering a run for the party's nomination to replace Krause are Axley, Elk Grove Village Mayor Craig Johnson and Arlington Heights Mayor Arlene Mulder.  Axley, the Elk Grove Township GOP committeeman, was appointed in late 2005 to fill the unexpired term of former state Sen. Dave Sullivan of Park Ridge. She was defeated in November by Democrat Dan Kotowski of Park Ridge, an anti-gun activist. Kotowski's Senate district includes the 66th House District.  In addition to trying to hold onto the seat being vacated by Krause, state GOP leaders are hoping to defeat Froehlich and Crespo next year. "There's not doubt that on Froehlich and Crespo, we will be working hard to see that they are returned to the private sector," said David Dring, spokesman for House Republican Leader Tom Cross of Oswego. While Republican committeemen believe the party will make a push in the northwest suburbs to retain and perhaps regain some seats, House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago) and Senate Democrats are targeting districts that they see as vulnerable.)

Biggert, Weller back Giuliani bid - Rick Pearson

http://newsblogs.chicagotribune.com/clout_st/2007/07/biggert-weller-.html

Republican presidential contender Rudy Giuliani's campaign rolled out their first Illinois congressional endorsements today-Reps. Judy Biggert and Jerry Weller-a further indication of a suburban push by the former New York mayor in advance of the state's Feb. 5 primary.

Giuliani's campaign said the addition of Biggert and Weller brings to 16 the number of U.S. representatives across the nation that have endorsed him.

While Giuliani's national campaign is focused on national security and preventing terrorism, borne out of his status as mayor following the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, Giuliani's social moderate stance is also viewed by key campaign aides as a major selling point in suburban areas.

Giuliani's state campaign chairman is Illinois House GOP leader Tom Cross from the growing exurb of Oswego.

In a statement, the west suburban Biggert acknowledged Giuliani's social moderation and said his inclusive style of leadership would appeal particularly to "suburbanites and to Illinoisans."

“Right now, the country is divided, and Washington--not to mention Springfield-is polarized by partisanship, and bickering, and people who want to win the issue instead of getting the job done,” Biggert said, calling him a demonstrated "uniter."

Weller, who represents the south and southwest suburbs, said in a statement that he shared Giuliani's "commitment to fiscal discipline and to making American energy independent."

ILLINOIS REVIEW

Republicans to Initiate Recall Process - Fran Eaton
(THE ARTICLE: For the sake of all Illinoisans who would love to move on from this incessant Ground Hog Day-like  "Nightmare on Second Street" (where the state Capitol is located) of reliving yet another week of phony, Blago-produced so-called "special sessions" to discuss the budget -- word is that while over 2000 have signed a petition for the IL House to "Impeach Blagojevich," another movement is reportedly in motion to adopt the ability to recall the governor. State Senator Dan Cronin told the crowd in Addison Saturday that this year's elongated legislative session demonstrated the Democrats' plan to change Illinois government.  Cronin said this year's overtime session was an effort to turn lawmaking into a fulltime process, one that would keep legislators in Springfield year around. The DuPage lawmaker said that this week there would be a big announcement by Republican lawmakers to re-initiate the process of recall. "We've got legal experts looking into it now, and will soon be making our plans public," Cronin said. In the meantime, hospitals still are waiting for the $$ the state owes them and school boards are holding up hiring new teachers until the state determines how much they will be subsidizing local school districts beginning in September. When will this nightmare end?  Few hold hopes it will be this week.)

FAMILY TAXPAYERS NETWORK

VERY SAD: Top State GOP Official Brad Cole pushes for whopping tax increase

http://www.familytaxpayers.net/article.asp?articleNumber=1416

(FROM THE ARTICLE: State Party Chairman Andy McKenna, Jr. has recently discovered that the Republican Party is supposed to be the party of lower taxes. He’s been talking about the need for Republicans in Springfield to oppose any new tax increase. That’s all well and good, but frankly it’s a rather obvious position to take given that Governor Rod Blagojevich says he’s committed to keeping his promise not to raise the state income or sales tax. Blagojevich ran on that pledge in 2002, and so far he hasn’t wavered. The Governor did of course push for adoption of a Gross Receipts Tax earlier this year, but his fellow Democrats led on shooting that down. Still, it’s great that McKenna is at least paying lip service these days to a fundamental Republican tenet. In the last Gubernatorial Primary, McKenna backed Judy Baar Topinka from day one, the candidate who refused to rule out an income or sales tax increase. In fact had Topinka won we doubt if the General Assembly would be in overtime session right now. We think it’s likely she would have signed a massive tax increase – with the support of a lot of Republican votes in the General Assembly - and everyone would have gone home long ago. Had that disaster occurred we can just picture McKenna today praising Topinka’s “leadership” in the tradition of Republican Governors Thompson and Edgar – raising taxes to deal with “the tough problems facing Illinois.”)

State Party Chairman Andy McKenna, Jr. has recently discovered that the Republican Party is supposed to be the party of lower taxes. He’s been talking about the need for Republicans in Springfield to oppose any new tax increase.
 
That’s all well and good, but frankly it’s a rather obvious position to take given that Governor Rod Blagojevich says he’s committed to keeping his promise not to raise the state income or sales tax. Blagojevich ran on that pledge in 2002, and so far he hasn’t wavered. The Governor did of course push for adoption of a Gross Receipts Tax earlier this year, but his fellow Democrats led on shooting that down.
 
Still, it’s great that McKenna is at least paying lip service these days to a fundamental Republican tenet. In the last Gubernatorial Primary, McKenna backed Judy Baar Topinka from day one, the candidate who refused to rule out an income or sales tax increase. In fact had Topinka won we doubt if the General Assembly would be in overtime session right now. We think it’s likely she would have signed a massive tax increase – with the support of a lot of Republican votes in the General Assembly - and everyone would have gone home long ago.
 
Had that disaster occurred we can just picture McKenna today praising Topinka’s “leadership” in the tradition of Republican Governors Thompson and Edgar – raising taxes to deal with “the tough problems facing Illinois.”
 
But with Topinka out of the picture it’s now fallen to another of McKenna’s buddies to keep alive the Republicans’ shameful tradition of being the tax raisers in Illinois.
 
The Mayor of Carbondale, Brad Cole, is right now leading the charge for a 50 basis point increase in that city’s sales tax. The Southern newspaper reports that the proposed hike in the rate from 7.25% to 7.75% would tie Carbondale with Mount Vernon as the second most expensive place in Southern Illinois to shop.
 
Cole is also one of the 19-members of our State Party’s Central Committee – the committee chaired by McKenna.
 
Cole’s advocacy for new taxes is bad enough – especially when it’s a sales tax, the most regressive of all. But Cole’s plan has an even odder element. He wants a big chunk of the city’s new haul to be transferred to Southern Illinois University, for the building of new sports complexes.
 
Cole wants Carbondale’s shoppers to give SIU $1 million a year for 20-years. That would be in addition of course to what residents already pony-up for SIU through tuition and fees – and not to mention through state and federal tax payments.
 
Even SIU President Glenn Poshard recognizes the plan is “unprecedented.” Cole himself acknowledges there is no similar example in any college town in Illinois, and probably not in America.
 
Jackson County’s Chief Assessment Officer, Maureen Berkowitz, seems baffled by the whole thing. As reported in The Southern, Berkowitz notes that Cole had previously fought a proposed sales tax increase that was earmarked for public safety. And at least that proposal was taken to the voters by referendum (it narrowly failed).
 
Cole is now trying to bypass the voters and raise the sales tax directly in City Council – which will vote on the plan at its August 21st meeting. Berkowitz says the proposed 7.75% rate represents “a dangerously high level.”
 
Recollecting Cole’s previous opposition to raising the sales tax, Berkowitz says, "I remember that Mayor Cole took a reporter to Best Buy and pointed out the increase in costs caused by taxes in a big screen TV.”
 
Welcome to the double-talking, double-crossing world of State GOP politics Ms. Berkowitz. We feel your pain.
 
This whole thing is yet another big black eye for our State Party’s old guard. It’s another loss of credibility – if there was any left to lose.
 
Recall the Brad Cole is constantly held up by McKenna and others as the Illinois GOP’s “rising star.” Of the hundreds of municipal races happening around the state this past spring, McKenna’s State Party only helped Cole who was running for reelection as mayor.
 
The fact that the State Party only chose to help a member of its own senior governing board is not something McKenna is ashamed of. In fact McKenna brags about the Cole race at every stop around the state on his so-called “reform tour.” We have yet to spot the reform on that tour, but we have heard McKenna praise Cole’s victory over Sheila Simon as a model of party unity.
 
Yes, it is true that all the old players unified around Cole, the former Deputy Chief of Staff to another Republican tax raiser – George Ryan. Given the undivided attention to Cole (at the expense of the many other Republicans running around the state), it would have been quite embarrassing had the State Party lost its one small contest.
 
Simon may have a legendary last name, but she clearly lacks some of her late father’s campaign skills. Sheila turned out to be a very weak candidate who made the rookie mistake of self-limiting contributions to $50 per donor. She garnered little applause for that unilateral self-regulation, and it only helped her be vastly outspent by Cole. Also, while Cole constantly hammered Simon for alleged ties to “big city” Democrats, Simon barely exploited Cole’s significant past ties to George Ryan’s administration.
 
The State Party poured money and staff into Cole’s campaign, and other GOP officials like John Shimkus and Tom Cross also focused there.
 
With all the old guard uniting around their George Ryan alum, Cole was able to spend nearly 60 Grand – about double what Simon spent. Cole garnered 2,202 votes – 501 more than Simon. (To put that in context, consider that some of the 50 individual Wards in heavily Democrat Chicago will produce more than 2,000 votes for the lowly position of Republican Ward Committeeman in a March election.)
 
Finally, here’s one last insult to injury. Here’s McKenna crowing right after Cole’s victory over Simon back in April:
 
”Democrats are leading Illinois in the wrong direction and Republicans must work together in races like Brad Cole's to stand up for the values that guide our Party. We need to fight for candidates who support lower taxes and responsible spending - fight for candidates who make public safety a priority - and fight for candidates like Brad Cole, who in the face of Democrat opposition the likes of Barack Obama and Dick Durbin, have the courage to stand up and remind voters about who they are and the issues they support.” [Emphasis added.]
 
McKenna is going around the state right now bashing the Democrats for the same tax-and-spend impulses displayed by his own Republican “rising star.” Then McKenna wonders why regular Republicans have lost all confidence in his leadership.
 
Are there any gullible souls left out there who still believe anything McKenna and his pals say anymore?
 
Movement to bring transparency into government spending is gaining steam across the country - John Biver
(FROM THE ARTICLE: At The Champion Foundation we’re constantly hearing from citizens who are being frustrated in their attempt to exercise their rights according to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) by school district personnel. One school district, Wheaton-based district 200, went to court to prevent the public from learning the details of an employee contract.)
 
The Champion Foundation's School Accountability Project includes a call for public school financial trasparency. Government performs best when it is open and accountable. That includes, of course, all levels – federal, state, and local – even the government-run school system.
 
Let’s say you’re a public school board or school administrator and you’re trying to keep the public from finding out the truth about certain school district line item expenditures. Maybe it’s unnecessarily high construction or repair costs. Or administrator contract perks. Or excessive pay increases for certified staff. And then let’s say that you read that even consumer advocate Ralph Nader is calling for full disclosure of all spending at the school district level. That can’t be good news.
 
This kind of thing doesn’t happen you say? Think again. At The Champion Foundation we’re constantly hearing from citizens who are being frustrated in their attempt to exercise their rights according to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) by school district personnel.
 
One school district, Wheaton-based district 200, went to court to prevent the public from learning the details of an employee contract. In another, Huntley-based district 158, an administrator prevented a couple school board members from seeing the details of a forensic audit. I’ve spoken with many school board members who themselves have to FOIA their own districts to get information they need.
 
Most Illinois citizens don’t realize just how bad it is. Most taxpayers would probably be surprised that though the public elects a school board member to oversee a school district, that individual can be denied access to public information.
 
The good news is that the forty year old Freedom of Information Act has paved the way for a new popular movement that is calling for all governmental units to open their books and finally submit to true accountability...
 
PUBLIC AFFAIRS
Jim Nalepa, possible Republican U. S. Senate candidate, on warrantless wiretaps and tax cuts, Cable and Streaming - Jeff Berkowitz
Jeff Berkowitz: Warrantless wiretaps involving foreign-domestic calls?

Possible U. S. Senate Candidate Jim Nalepa: Anything that we can do to insure the safety of the American people must be done....

CRAIN'S CHICAGO BUSINESS

Madigans are plugged in - 

http://chicagobusiness.com/cgi-bin/mag/article.pl?article_id=28165

Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan and his daughter, Attorney General Lisa Madigan, have tethered their political futures to keeping their constituents' electric bills in check.

That will be an uphill battle, even after the Madigans earlier this month helped engineer the state's takeover of electricity purchasing on behalf of utility customers. The new Illinois Power Agency probably won't keep bills from rising after this year, consultants say, as escalating costs for new power plants and tighter anti-pollution regulations push the price of electricity higher.

Keeping electric bills affordable will be crucial to the Madigans' political ambitions, which observers believe is centered on a potential run for governor by Ms. Madigan in 2010.

"There is the potential to have people very angry about the situation and looking to place blame," says Mike Lawrence, director of the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale.

The new power agency, created as part of a settlement struck last week by the Madigans, Senate President Emil Jones and utilities serving the state, will attempt to control electric rate increases by varying contract lengths and terms with power suppliers. The agreement made Illinois the only state to procure electricity this way.

NAVIGATING THE MARKET

For the next two years, the agency already has contracts in place for substantial portions of Commonwealth Edison Co. customer demand. But in 2010, much less of the power is under contract, leaving the agency to negotiate market rates for most of ComEd's needs.

Many are skeptical a state bureaucracy will successfully navigate the complex power markets. "We don't do so well with government agencies involved with this level of procurement," says Jim Bushnell, research director at the University of California Energy Institute in Berkeley, who cites California's disastrous and short-lived state handling of power purchasing earlier this decade.

The Illinois Power Agency faces new power-plant capacity charges that will add at least 9% to electric bills in the next three years, as well as anticipated federal restrictions on carbon dioxide emissions to address global warming. Analysts say the measures being contemplated could raise power costs by 50% or more, particularly in places like Chicago, where wholesale power prices are set much of the time by carbon-spewing coal-fired power plants.

Under last week's agreement, rate increases for ComEd customers this year were trimmed to 13% on average from 24% previously. The average monthly household bill had risen to $75 from $60 last year, and will be reduced to about $68 in the settlement.

Ms. Madigan declined to discuss her political future, but the prospect of steeper rate increases is a risk her office acknowledges. "Public officials know this will be radioactive," says Benjamin Weinberg, public interest division chief in Ms. Madigan's office. "Everyone will be watching."

Fine mess  As state budget stalemate rolls on, federal judge exacts a price - 

http://chicagobusiness.com/cgi-bin/mag/article.pl?article_id=28164&bt=Hinz&arc=n&searchType=all

You can't read the paper or turn on the TV lately without seeing a horror story about what will happen if squabbling Illinois lawmakers don't quickly resolve differences among themselves and Gov. Rod Blagojevich and pass a new budget.

The list of terrors in the making is indeed long and fearsome. From a half-million Chicago Transit Authority commuters who face slashed service and/or higher fares, to hospitals that are owed $1.2 billion, and school districts that will run short of funds unless their state checks arrive on time, the bill for inaction is coming due.

"Millions" and "billions" are kind of hard for most of us to get our heads around. So how about one simple number: $1,500 a day. In a little-noticed but revealing detail of the Great Budget War, $1,500 a day is the amount the state — in other words, we, the taxpayers — is being fined in federal court because the budget stalemate prevents state government from paying its bills.

The story dates to February 2006. That's when U.S. District Court Judge David Coar made a key ruling in a case over whether the 4th Congressional District was properly drawn.

A group of Anglo residents challenged the map on the grounds that it unconstitutionally created a Hispanic supermajority district. To defend the map, the judge allowed Hispanics to hire their own attorneys, headed by Judson Miner, a veteran civil rights lawyer who was the city's chief counsel during the Washington administration.

In the end, Judge Coar upheld the map and awarded Mr. Miner's group $516,000 in fees. The fees were to be paid by the Illinois State Board of Elections, which was represented in the case by Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan's office.

February 2006 happens to have been the same month in which Mr. Blagojevich introduced his proposed fiscal 2007 state budget, including the appropriation for the Elections Board. But legal claims in Illinois traditionally must be approved not by an operating agency like the Elections Board, but by the state's Court of Claims. By the time it ruled in August, the '07 state budget was passed and gone — without any money for the Miner group's fees. So Ms. Madigan sought payment in a supplemental appropriation bill.

Supplemental appropriation bills routinely pass almost every year in Springfield, usually in the fall. Not this time. The '07 supplemental didn't pass in the November veto session, nor did it pass in the brief January session, nor when the new Legislature was sworn in later that month. The General Assembly got caught up in other issues, including a proposed electric rate freeze.

The Miner group went unpaid.

Now, Mr. Miner, who spent last week vacationing in London, needs no tin cup. But federal judges are used to having their orders obeyed. On Nov. 20, Judge Coar sent the state a little hint, fining it $100 a day. On April 17, with the IOU still an IOU, he bumped the fine to $1,000 a day.

In May, the Legislature finally finished up the supplemental and sent it to Mr. Blagojevich. It arrived on his desk June 13. But by that time, the Great Budget War had broken out, and the supplemental bill happened to include not only the Miner group's fees but a nifty weapon: a pay hike for state senators and representatives that Mr. Blagojevich could sign, veto or amend.

The budget war continues, and Mr. Blagojevich still hasn't signed the bill. He has until Aug. 13 to make up his mind. His folks say Ms. Madigan can pay the fees out of funds she controls. Her folks say she can't. The Miner group still hasn't been paid.

So, Judge Coar a few days ago raised the fine to $1,500 a day.

As of last week, the state owed $240,000 in fines — on top of the original $516,000 in fees. Ms. Madigan's office says it can't pay until there's an appropriation. But Mr. Miner isn't happy, and neither is the judge, who has threatened to haul Mr. Blagojevich into court.

Fifteen hundred bucks a day is about what the average Illinoisan — maybe you — pays a year in state income taxes.

Have a nice day.

Ain't democracy grand?

PEORIA JOURNAL STAR

Nearly everyone wants to be a U.S. rep - Jennifer Davis & Karen McDonald

http://www.pjstar.com/stories/073007/WOR_BDTI4KP6.057.php

(FROM THE ARTICLE: His seat isn't cold yet - he's still sitting in it, for gosh sakes - but the number of people itching to be the next U.S. Rep. Ray LaHood is growing as we speak. State Rep. Aaron Schock? Everyone says the young, popular Peoria Republican is a given to run. Darin LaHood, Ray's son? There's a good chance. Schock's mentor, longtime state Rep. David Leitch? Definitely considering it, he says. Former Peoria Councilman John Morris? Same as Leitch, a definite maybe. Mayor Jim Ardis? Even iffier. State Sen. Larry Bomke? This Springfield Republican says thanks, but no.)

His seat isn't cold yet - he's still sitting in it, for gosh sakes - but the number of people itching to be the next U.S. Rep. Ray LaHood is growing as we speak.

State Rep. Aaron Schock? Everyone says the young, popular Peoria Republican is a given to run.

Darin LaHood, Ray's son? There's a good chance.

Schock's mentor, longtime state Rep. David Leitch? Definitely considering it, he says.

Former Peoria Councilman John Morris? Same as Leitch, a definite maybe.

Mayor Jim Ardis? Even iffier.

State Sen. Larry Bomke? This Springfield Republican says thanks, but no.

That takes care of the short list of Republicans. (Read further for other Republicans testing the waters.) But what about the Democrats? After all, this will be an open seat in a year in which the Democrats are riding high nationally.

State Sen. John Sullivan of Rushville is a name oft-repeated and he admits he's "seriously" considering it. He's also already been approached by U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin's people and, we hear, talked to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

State's Attorney Kevin Lyons is another name out there on the national political blogs. While he didn't return our call, several people speculate he would be reluctant to leave his current job.

Freshman State Sen. Dave Koehler's name was floated. He says: "Absolutely, definitely not. I really want to stay focused on representing the 46th (Senate) District. As everyone knows, there are plenty of problems at the state level and, as a freshman, I need to focus and come up to speed and play what role I can to fix them."

And Doug Stephens, a local personal injury lawyer who ran unsuccessfully against LaHood on the Democratic ticket in 1994, says he's not interested anymore.

There may be other names that haven't trickled up here yet, particularly from the more rural parts of LaHood's 20-county district, but the key voting blocs are Peoria, Tazewell and Sangamon counties.

Keep in mind, this seat has been held by either a Peorian or Pekinite since at least World War I. But, as Frank Mackaman, executive director of the Dirksen Congressional Center points out, if there are a lot of Peoria Republicans splitting the vote in a primary, that could help, say, a Sangamon County Republican win.

And there are a lot of local Republicans expressing interest at this point. In addition to the ones named above, we also hear that State Rep. Keith Sommer, a Morton Republican, could be interested. He didn't call us back Friday, however.

Valerie Umholtz, a Pekin attorney and wife of Tazewell County State's Attorney Stewart Umholtz, said she's considering a run.

Jim McConoughey, president of The Heartland Partnership, is also rumored to be interested, but he didn't call us back either.

A couple Republicans are working hard to get their names out of the rumor mill.

Republican Peoria County Sheriff Mike McCoy says don't look at him. And the charming and wealthy local developer Alexis Khazzam, who is connected enough to get a breakfast invite with President George Bush when he was here, is adamant: "I will never, ever run for any political office. I will always remain in the public sector. There are just too many negatives."

As long as we're speculating though, let's consider the trickle-down effect if both Schock and Leitch do decide to run for Congress, because they'd both be giving up their state House seats.

Peoria County Board member Allen Mayer, a Democrat, is a name we've heard for Schock's seat. Says Mayer: "People are talking to me about considering a run for the 92nd, and I'm listening to them."

Mayer obviously has higher political aspirations as, not that long ago, he was lobbying to be appointed Peoria County auditor.

County Board colleagues of Mayer's might also look at it, including Democrats Mike Phelan of Peoria Heights and Tom O'Neill of Bartonville. Even freshman County Board member Jimmy Dillon of West Peoria has been floated.

And maybe City Councilman Bill Spears, who opposed Schock just last year, might want to try again?

As for Republicans, City Councilman Bob Manning might be interested. We didn't ask Morris, but if he doesn't run for Congress, this race might appeal to him. Others have broached his name.

If Leitch's seat is free, everyone speculates that City Councilman Patrick Nichting will run. Some Republican insiders believe County Board member Brian Elsasser of Princeville might also consider it if he opts out of a congressional run.

Guess what we're saying here is that the free-for-all jockeying is just beginning.

It's going to be fun. (J.D. and K.M.)

No. 2 is better than 3?

Newly elected Peoria City Councilman Ryan Spain is the new No. 2.

We called Spain to see whether he thought raising nearly $33,000 in money and in-kind donations helped cinch his third-place finish. Actually, he said he thought he may have come in second, but wasn't sure.

What? You'd think final election results are something a candidate would keep tabs on, though Spain only had to finish in the top five to win an at-large spot.

We can't fault him - we obviously didn't check back. Besides, he said, "It didn't matter a whole lot to me."

Sure enough, after counting a few provisional and handful of absentee ballots, official election results weeks after the April 17 election showed Spain - a no-name newcomer mind you - flipped places with incumbent councilman Eric Turner. Spain gained 34 votes for a total capture of 11,928 to 11,925 for Turner, who only gained 13 extra.

No other candidate placement changed, though some gained a few votes.

The 24-year-old said he actually did check the city election Web site, but was waiting for certified official results. Then, he says he just plain forgot about it.

"You put the election behind you and just get to work and that's what I've done," Spain said.

It's a valuable message that every vote really does count.

What if it came down to a difference between a fifth and sixth-place finish and the votes didn't go his way?

Spain says he'll have to tease Turner about it. He calls him a good friend and great teacher.

Though modest to us, he's gotta admit it's a nice feather in the cap. (K.M.)

Tour de Jubilee

It's "OK to shut down state government, but keep bike trails open," Tazewell State's Attorney Stewart Umholtz said.

He was referring to an article in our newspaper last week detailing the effects a government shutdown could have on the average citizen. Admit it, most people really don't realize what all is government-run or uses state dollars.

We mentioned that if a state budget isn't passed by Wednesday, you may not be able to take a bicycle ride through Jubilee College State Park, which receives state dollars. If you hadn't guessed, Umholtz bikes - a lot.

But what came as a surprise was his comment saying it's "OK" to shut down government. Most of his salary comes from state coffers. So we asked.

"If I do not get paid, I am sure the public will not care and I would still love this work," he said.

Of course, it probably won't be an issue.

We're told it's unlikely another temporary state budget will be approved by Wednesday's deadline, which means the government runs out of spending authority. But the whole world isn't going to stop.

Most agencies have plans to continue providing service expecting a budget will be passed and their workers will be paid. And so will Umholtz, who can put some money into bike gadgets.

POLITICO

LaHood replacements scramble to campaign - John Kraushaar 

http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0707/5157.html

(FROM THE ARTICLE: Among Republicans, all eyes will be on 26-year-old state Rep. Aaron Schock, who unseated a Democratic state legislator in 2004 and has been a rising star within the party ever since. He raised over $1 million for his last state legislative campaign, much of it from individual donors in the Peoria area. "Talk about a go-getter," said one state GOP operative. "He worked his tail off to win that seat. He's ambitious."  But Schock's youth could be an obstacle -- if elected, he would most likely become the youngest member of Congress. One of his potential opponents is state Rep. David Leitch, who has served in the state legislature since 1986. Leitch said Monday, however, that it was “very unlikely” he would enter the race if Schock gets in. . . LaHood could be the first of several Republican representatives to retire. Former House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) will need to make a decision soon about his future, with Illinois' filing period beginning next week.)

Potential replacements for Rep. Ray LaHood (R-Ill.) are scrambling to mount campaigns in the Peoria-based district in the wake of the seven-term incumbent's retirement announcement last week. 

Democrats view the seat as a potential pickup, particularly if Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) emerges as the party's presidential nominee. But a Democratic win would be a distinct challenge: President Bush carried the district handily in 2004 with 58 percent of the vote, and Peoria has been represented by Republicans since 1917. 

Democratic operatives have eyed the GOP-leaning district since LaHood publicly mulled applying for the vacant Bradley University presidency several months ago. Party recruiters have already spoken with one prospective candidate, state Sen. John Sullivan. 

The best opportunity to pick up the seat, Democrats believe, is if Republicans nominate a conservative in a district that has been home to GOP moderates such as former House Minority Leader Bob Michel and LaHood. 

"As Congressman LaHood himself pointed out, Democrats have followed through on their campaign promises and they've made significant progress by governing in a bipartisan way. That's all the more reason why we view this open seat as a real pickup opportunity," said Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee spokesman Ryan Rudominer. 

Republicans, however, are confident that they will be able to hold a district that has deep GOP roots.
"The 18th Congressional District is a Republican stronghold and will remain in the red column," National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Tom Cole (R-Okla.) said in a statement. "The voters of central and western Illinois have elected a Republican representative for almost 75 years; 2008 won't be any different." 

Among Republicans, all eyes will be on 26-year-old state Rep. Aaron Schock, who unseated a Democratic state legislator in 2004 and has been a rising star within the party ever since. He raised over $1 million for his last state legislative campaign, much of it from individual donors in the Peoria area.

"Talk about a go-getter," said one state GOP operative. "He worked his tail off to win that seat. He's ambitious." 

But Schock's youth could be an obstacle -- if elected, he would most likely become the youngest member of Congress. One of his potential opponents is state Rep. David Leitch, who has served in the state legislature since 1986. Leitch said Monday, however, that it was “very unlikely” he would enter the race if Schock gets in. 

On the Democratic side, Sullivan has been mulling a candidacy since LaHood first considered applying for the Bradley post. He said he will be making a final decision in the next several days. As the only full-time farmer in the state Senate, Sullivan has worked primarily on agricultural policy and has a more socially conservative voting record than most state Democrats do. 

Geography could prove to be a liability for him, however: His state Senate seat spans eight counties in the western portion of the district, far from the district's population base of Peoria. 

"Where you're located shouldn't be the determining factor. It's how hard you'll be willing to work to cover the entire district," Sullivan said. 

LaHood, one of the leading GOP centrists in the House, served as chief of staff to Michel before being elected to Congress in the class of 1994. During his tenure, he became a fiercely independent critic of former Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas) when DeLay held an ironclad grip over Republicans in the House. LaHood also clashed with former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) -- he was one of only three Republicans not to sign the Contract With America. 

The Almanac of American Politics described LaHood's "surefooted mastery of parliamentary procedure" and "determination to maintain decorum" when presiding over the House floor. 

LaHood could be the first of several Republican representatives to retire. Former House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) will need to make a decision soon about his future, with Illinois' filing period beginning next week. Most observers expect him to announce his retirement. And Rep. Ralph Regula (R-Ohio), who has spent the past 35 years in Congress, has hinted that this will be his last term.

CONGRESSIONAL QUARTERLY

Rep. LaHood to Retire at End of 110th Congress - Jonathan Allen and Gregory L. Giroux

Illinois Republican Rep. Ray LaHood, an institutionalist and parliamentary expert who was elected to seven terms after a career as a high-ranking GOP aide, will retire at the end of the 110th Congress.

LaHood, first elected in 1994 to succeed his boss, Republican Leader Robert H. Michel, developed a reputation for even-handedness on both sides of the partisan divide. During the 12-year GOP reign that began in 1995, he was often called upon by party leaders to preside over the most contentious House debates. The leadership had faith that LaHood’s quick and confident rulings from the chair would keep order during emotionally charged debates.

“There is still much to be done in the 110th Congress, and I look forward to that work, but I will retire from public life at the conclusion of this term in January of 2009,” LaHood said in a statement distributed by his office Friday morning. “It is hard to express in words what it means to have the opportunity to represent a district which was once represented by such political giants as Abraham Lincoln, Everett Dirksen, and Bob Michel.”

Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla., chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, said in a statement that the 18th District is a “Republican stronghold,” and predicted it “will remain in the red column.”

Earlier this summer LaHood considered applying for the open presidency at Bradley University, his alma mater, but took himself out of the running this month and committed to run for re-election — a decision he has now reversed. Two years ago, LaHood thought about challenging Democratic Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich but ultimately declined to run, saying that his constituents wanted him to continue serving the 18th District.

LaHood, 61, is serving in the minority this year for the first time during his congressional career.

Setbacks, Successes

He was passed over for the chairmanship of the House Intelligence panel in 2004 by then-Speaker J. Dennis Hastert, a fellow Illinois Republican, despite their personal friendship and state ties.

LaHood’s retirement raises the question of whether Hastert will soon follow. Interested candidates are preparing to run for Hastert’s seat should he decide not to seek re-election. Asked this month whether he would run again, the former Speaker said, “I’ll let people know when the time comes.”

Despite the Intelligence Committee snub, LaHood won appointment to the Appropriations Committee, where he became the ranking Republican this year on a new subcommittee that oversees the nation’s intelligence apparatus. He also serves on the Agriculture and Legislative Branch subcommittees. On the latter panel, he brings the experience of a former aide to dealing with the parochial issues that most affect the daily lives of lawmakers and their staffs, and many congressional aides appreciated his efforts on their behalf.

Though LaHood was a member of the groundbreaking Republican class of 1994, he was one of three members of that group who declined to sign Newt Gingrich’s “Contract with America. His voting record reflected his moderate views, and he strayed from the party line a little more often that most of his colleagues throughout his career.

But LaHood was also willing to be the front man for the GOP on certain important party issues. He offered an amendment in 2004 to the Legislative Branch spending bill that would have prevented lame-duck lawmakers from filing ethics complaints -- a response to then-Rep. Chris Bell’s complaint against then-Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas.

The grandson of an immigrant from Lebanon and a one-time junior high school teacher, LaHood watches out for minority rights. He worries about the level of sophistication among his colleagues in their knowledge of the Middle East. “There is a pretty fair understanding about Israel and the Palestinians,” he says, “but there is only a sketchy understanding of other countries in the region, including Syria, Egypt and Lebanon.”

LaHood gave credit to his immigrant grandparents in his retirement announcement.

“That their grandson was able to become a United States Representative is proof that ‘the American dream’ is not just a slogan but a continuing living reality to those who are willing to make it work,” LaHood said. “I know that is true, because my fellow citizens helped me live that dream.”

Rep. Adam Putnam, chairman of the Republican Conference and a Hastert protégé, praised LaHood’s service to the institution Friday morning.

“Ray is a straight shooter who has always played well in Peoria and in Washington. He will certainly be missed by members on both sides of the aisle.”

GOP District

LaHood’s 18th District takes in parts of central and western Illinois and includes all of Peoria, part of Springfield and substantial rural territory. President Bush took 58 percent of the district vote in the 2004 election, and LaHood won a seventh term in 2006 with 67 percent of the vote — typical of the overwhelming percentages the popular lawmaker racked up.

LaHood predicted a “wide-open race” and said there was no heir apparent.

Prospective candidates would compete in a Feb. 5 primary election that is just six months away. Candidates can begin circulating nominating petitions on Aug. 7.

TERRI O'BRIEN

Sweet on Obama

http://teriobrien.webloggin.com/2007/sweet-on-obama/

(FROM THE ARTICLE: I think we were all taken aback last January when we heard Lynn Sweet of the Chicago Sun-Times lament the fact that she couldn’t follow Barack Hussein Obama into the health club locker room for reasons only she could explain (and to my knowledge, hasn’t.) If you don’t remember, here’s part of her report: “Obama’s physique is old news to Chicago Sun-Times readers. I’ve worked out several times next to Obama at the East Bank Club, but alas, could not follow him into the locker room. My colleague Neil Steinberg did and reported on Jan. 6, 2006, that the undressed Obama “doesn’t have enough fat on his body to make a butter pat.””  Neil, be gay on your own time. As for Ms. Sweet, when she saw that “Crush on Obama” video with the hootchie gyrating and pole dancing in subway, I wonder if she thought, “why didn’t I think of that?)

I think we were all taken aback last January when we heard Lynn Sweet of the Chicago Sun-Times lament the fact that she couldn’t follow Barack Hussein Obama into the health club locker room for reasons only she could explain (and to my knowledge, hasn’t.) If you don’t remember, here’s part of her report:

“Obama’s physique is old news to Chicago Sun-Times readers. I’ve worked out several times next to Obama at the East Bank Club, but alas, could not follow him into the locker room. My colleague Neil Steinberg did and reported on Jan. 6, 2006, that the undressed Obama “doesn’t have enough fat on his body to make a butter pat.””

Neil, be gay on your own time. As for Ms. Sweet, when she saw that “Crush on Obama” video with the hootchie gyrating and pole dancing in subway, I wonder if she thought, “why didn’t I think of that?

I hope we aren’t going to see her any time soon wearing a pair of shorts with “Obama” plastered across the keister, but if we do, it will probably be on Chris “the Screamer” Matthews MS-NBC show. (Oh, you didn’t know? Yes, he has an ostensibly serious political show called “Hardball,” where among other things he slobbers all over 20-something actresses and accuses them of flirting with him.)

On July 20, I wrote to Ms. Sweet about that day’s column, which was about Mitt Romney’s criticism of Barack’s endorsement of sex ed for 5 year olds. She wrote

“Where Obama wandered into Romney’s scope was when he recalled to the friendly Planned Parenthood audience how Alan Keyes, the ultra right-wing Republican nominee from Maryland Obama trounced in the 2004 Illinois Senate race, claimed during their campaign that Obama backed sex education for kindergartners. Keyes based his assertion on his extremist interpretation of sex ed legislation Obama backed in the state Senate.”

Oh, the humanity! Thank the good Lord that we have He Who Walks on Water to protect us from those evil pro-life extremists! After that column, here’s what I wrote to Ms. Sweet in part, “I noted with interest that in today’s column you characterize Alan Keyes as “the ultra right-wing Republican nominee from Maryland Obama trounced in the 2004 Illinois Senate race.” If Alan Keyes is “ultra right-wing,” is Barack Obama “ultra left-wing?” If you go through his positions on most issues, I think you can make a very convincing argument that he is as far to the left as Keyes is to the right, yet I never see that adjective attached to his name. Your take?” Cue the crickets. As of this writing, ten days have passed and I’ve received no reply from journalism’s answer to Obamagirl. So I’m not going to bother to write to ask her about the following inaccuracy that appeared in her column yesterday about the kerfuffle between Obama and Clinton over his eagerness to have coffee with Castro, Hugo Chavez and the little Holocaust-denying troll who runs Iran:

“The bottom line is Obama and Clinton, unlike President Bush, would have a diplomatic policy that the United States needs to be talking to enemies as well as friends. At issue in this escalating war of words is the exact process.”

Excuse me? Lynn, dear, I know love is blind, but reality is not optional. Did you miss this report on the recent meeting between the Bush administration and the Iranians? Are you unaware of the talks that have been going on with North Korea? I know it’s not Madelyn Halfbright toasting that Stalinist North Korean version of Pat from “Saturday Night Live” while wearing a goofy cowboy get up, but it is diplomacy on the part of the Bush administration. Where have you been?

Here’s another reality check for you. You guy looked like a clueless high school debater when he answered that question, and even worse, to thoughtful observers with any knowledge of history, frighteningly like the second coming. No, not the one you and your fellow media sycophants have been swooning over for years think. Not Second Coming. The second coming of the king of the useful idiots, James Earl Carter.

I’ll let you know if Lynn ever responds to my note, but I’m not holding my breath.

U.S. NEWS & WORLD REPORT

Coach Hastert at His Fighting Weight - Paul Bedard

 http://www.usnews.com/usnews/politics/whispers/articles/070729/6whisplead.htm

(THE ARTICLE: Denny Hastert's final year as House speaker was a smackdown: Democrats booted him from the top perch, a killer campaign schedule led to worrisome weight gain, and it ended in a hospital for gallbladder removal. But the beefy former Illinois high school wrestling coach isn't crying in his beer as he considers retirement after 22 years in Congress. No, sir. The diabetic lawmaker responded to his surgery with a fitness campaign, cutting his portions and swimming his way to a weight loss that's already at a whopping 85 pounds. "Good for him," says a friend. Ironically, losing his leadership post has helped, says Chief of Staff Mike Stokke. No more speaker's waiting limo; Hastert now gets exercise by walking the halls of Congress. He also paddles in his pool back home in Yorkville, Ill. And he's rarely on the rubber-chicken circuit. As we all know, diet's key too. So he took his doctor's advice and cut his portions and carbs, a hardship for a guy who likes the thick steaks at Smith & Wollensky and bottomless bowls of pasta at the famed A.V. Ristorante Italiano. Lucky for "coach," as he's called on the Hill, the A.V. closed last week, though he made it over there for a last supper of sausage and polenta. What's next: Might we suggest a volunteer coaching job for the Yorkville High School Fighting Foxes wrestling team?)

GIULIANI CAMPAIGN

U.S. Representatives Weller and Biggert Endorse Giuliani for President

http://www.joinrudy2008.com/news/pr/549/

The Rudy Giuliani Presidential Committee today announced U.S. Representatives Jerry Weller and Judy Biggert endorsed Mayor Giuliani for President of the United States. Both Illinois U.S. Representatives join State Representative Tom Cross, State House Republican Leader and Rudy’s Illinois State Chairman, in supporting the Mayor.

“As Mayor of New York, Rudy proved he is the strong leader with the executive experience we need to lead our nation,” said Congressman Weller, who serves on the House Ways and Means Committee. “I share Rudy’s commitment to fiscal discipline and to making America energy independent. Rudy is the one candidate that can accomplish these goals.”

“Rudy showed the whole country that he can lead during difficult times. It will be an honor to campaign for him in Illinois and communicate his optimistic vision for America to voters,” said Congresswoman Biggert.

Weller and Biggert join a growing list of 16 other U.S. Representatives supporting Mayor Giuliani.

Congressman Jerry Weller, Illinois 11th District

Congressman Weller was first elected to Congress in 1994 and is now serving in his seventh term. He currently serves on the House Ways & Means Committee. Weller led the successful effort to eliminate the Marriage Tax Penalty and to reform business depreciation schedules. He holds a long-term commitment to reducing America’s dependence on foreign oil. Weller served as an aide to former U.S. Rep. Tom Corcoran (R-IL) and as an aide to U.S. Secretary of Agriculture John Block in the Reagan Administration. He served three terms in the Illinois General Assembly before being elected to serve in Washington, D.C.

Congresswoman Judy Biggert, Illinois 13th District

Congresswoman Biggert was first elected to Congress in 1998 and is now serving her fifth term. An attorney and former school board president, she served three terms in the Illinois House of Representatives and was named Assistant Republican Leader after serving just one term. She is the ranking member on the House Financial Services Subcommittee on Housing and Community Opportunity, and serves on the Education & Labor and Science & Technology Committees. She is Co-Chair of the Congressional Missing and Exploited Children's Caucus. Biggert authored legislation, now law, to increase America’s investment in basic research and alternative energy sources; increase funding for math and science teachers; and guarantee that homeless children have access to education.

WASHINGTON TIMES

OUTSTANDING: GOP resolution rejects amnesty for illegal aliens - Ralph Z. Hallow

http://www.washingtontimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070731/NATION/107310030/1001

State Republican officials from across the country on Thursday will formally break with the desire of President Bush and other top Republican leaders to include amnesty and other benefits for illegal aliens in immigration-reform legislation.

So far, 47 members of the 168-member Republican National Committee have signed a resolution that unequivocally opposes the Bush-backed policy that would grant legal residency to millions of illegal aliens.

"My signing on to this resolution simply reflects the fact that we in the party around the country fear — and feel that no one in Washington is listening to, or cares about, what we feel about issues and policy," said Terry Strine, chairman of the Delaware Republican Party. "This lets them know."

Legitimization of illegal aliens was a key part of the Senate bill, jointly fashioned by Republican Sens. John McCain and Jon Kyl of Arizona and Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, Massachusetts Democrat, that was defeated earlier this month.

The proposed RNC resolution does not address such issues as a temporary-workers program, the issuance of "green cards" and paths to citizenship — issues that helped derail the Senate bill — but instead calls for using all means necessary to secure the borders, including the regular Army as well as the National Guard.

The RNC's Resolutions Committee is expected to approve the resolution at its Thursday session at the RNC annual summer meeting in Minneapolis-St. Paul, the site of next year's Republican presidential-nominating convention. The resolution would then go to a floor vote on Friday by the full RNC membership, made up of an elected national committeeman and woman and the elected state chairman from each state and territory.

If passed, the resolution — already endorsed by state party chairmen from 14 states in the Northeast, Midwest, South and West — would put the party officially at odds with its national leadership, including a sitting Republican president, as well as the party's Senate leaders and the national party's general chairman, Florida Sen. Mel Martinez, handpicked for the office by Mr. Bush.

While Mr. Martinez had no comment on the resolution, Republican National Chairman Robert M. "Mike" Duncan said the resolution represented no break with the party's Washington leadership.

"The RNC has twice adopted resolutions supporting comprehensive immigration reform that were consistent with the positions of the president," he said in a statement relayed by his spokesman, Tracey Schmitt. "Included in those resolutions was support for securing our borders as a priority. Nothing in this proposed resolution is inconsistent with past RNC positions; rather, it re-emphasizes the need to make border security a top priority."

Those who endorsed the resolution say it expresses the overwhelming view of rank-and-file Republicans.

"In my case," Mr. Strine, the Delaware chairman, told The Washington Times in an e-mail, "this means that our Delaware Republican activists, volunteers, officeholders, etc., have overwhelmingly told me by e-mail, phone calls, and in person that they are opposed to amnesty, and to many other provisions of the McCain/Kennedy/Bush 'comprehensive immigration-reform bill' as Washington insiders have called it."

"This is a common-sense approach that most Republicans support. A comprehensive approach proved to be too divisive," said Saul Anuzis, Michigan Republican chairman.

Alec Poitevint, a longtime national committeeman from Georgia and normally a reliable ally of the president's and the RNC leadership, said that the resolution "is about grass-roots Republicans willing to tell our leaders how we feel about what they should do first on immigration."

"If some see in this that we aren't toeing the line 100 percent, then so be it," he said.

The resolution, fashioned by Arizona Republican Chairman Randy Pullen, asserts that the "ability of millions of unidentified persons to illegally enter and remain in the United States presents a grave risk to the sovereignty" of the nation and the American people.

"Congress has already authorized the construction of 854 miles of border fencing and appropriated $1 billion to construct it, and it is reliably reported that less than 20 miles of such fencing have been completed," the resolution says.

The resolution urges Congress to make it "a matter of the highest priority" to "complete the construction of the border fencing that has been authorized" and to secure the border using "every appropriate additional means, fully equipping and empowering the Border Patrol and using our National Guard and the U.S. military if necessary."

It is rare for committee members to defy the RNC's leadership and a sitting president of their own party. But the immigration resolution is merely "common sense," said Maryland Republican Chairman James Pelura.

"Americans have made it clear that they want the borders secured, respect for the rule of law, and absolutely no amnesty," Mr. Pelura said. "We can do better. We must do better."

TOM ROESER

The Fred Thompson Near-Hoax

http://www.tomroeser.com/blogs/blogview.asp?blogID=24087

(THE ARTICLE: I have come to the tentative conclusion that the “wait for Fred Thompson to come in with a dynamic, charismatic campaign to save us” theme is a hoax. The only thing I can compare it to was the Dwight Eisenhower candidacy that urged the 5-star hero of World War II to return to run for president which lasted for several years. But then Republicans knew what they would get with Eisenhower, a genuine world leader. With Fred Thompson they are getting a so-so former U. S. Senator and a nationally known actor on “Law and Order.” The impact he left as U. S. Senator was very vague and immeasurable; the impact he has left as a television actor was important but not substantive. More than many, I have been waiting for Thompson because I thought he would give a genuinely different delineation. The fact that this hasn’t happened has baffled me… dates for his announcement pushed back from July 4 to August to now September. I wondered what was behind it. Did the Washington, D. C. madam have his telephone number? Was his cancer acting up? I can only conclude that the one who has been acting up is his looker wife who, 24 years younger than he who has had about 18 months as an expert in politics working for the RNC, has been busily firing and hiring people for the campaign and thus stirring the pot. Firing a campaign manager before the campaign has started is ridiculous. Obviously he cannot control her. And when voters really get a look at her and listen to her they won’t be entranced. Nor happy with the fact that this old man seemingly can’t control her. The second thing about Thompson is this. Look at him on “Law and Order” and you see a 6-foot-seven inch icon of conservatism and principled law enforcement. But that’s because the professional lighting and makeup is of the highest caliber that a studio can afford. Look at him as he makes a speech in Cedar Rapids, Iowa and you see an old geezer, looking every bit his wrinkled age with words and thoughts that are commonplace. You also haven’t seen him on a stage with the others: Romney, McCain or Giuliani. He is benefiting by missing the debates which is good for his image but not good for the Republican electorate which deserves to hear and see him react to debate stimuli. Finally, you have to take a look at realistic politics. Start off with the state of Illinois. Giuliani has the benefit of two co-chairs who are skilled at what they do: Ron Gidwitz who has been raising funds statewide for a generation for everyone from Henry J. Hyde to numberless candidates…and Tom Cross, the state Republican leader who is one of the state’s most vigorous Republican political leaders. Who does Fred Thompson have? He has Roger Keats who 20 or 25 years ago was a state senator but who has been earning money and out of the game for many years. The other leaders are either unknown or not known for organizing. McCain has Jim Durkin, a moderately known state legislator and Romney has a well-known state senator, Dan Rutherford. My point is that the Giuliani, Romney and McCain types, whatever you think of them, know the state and can pull the levers. The Fred Thompson team here is distinctly second-rate. And frankly I don’t know anyone across the country who has been identified with them who is well-known.)

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