GOPUSA ILLINOIS
  David John Diersen, GOPUSA Illinois Editor
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Weekly Poll
Welcome to CampaignSiteBuilder
October 30, 2005 News Clips
Posted by Diersen on 15-Mar-2007
NEWS CLIPS AND LINKS: FOR TEXT, VISIT THE "NEWS CLIPS" PAGE of www.gopillinois.com
 
GOPUSA ILLINOIS
Pearson blames all Illinois Republican Party problems on those who support its platform, again - Dave Diersen
In his October 30, 2005 Chicago Tribune editorial (see below) titled "Dark cloud hovers over Blagojevich," Pearson editorializes again that the Illinois Republican Party (IRP) is "struggling to find leadership and a guiding ideology," that it is "still suffering from the scandalous image that shadowed George Ryan's tenure as governor," that it is uncertain that it can nominate a "credible" gubernatorial candidate, that its "long-controlling moderate wing" views Topinka is "a top prospective candidate for governor," but that if she runs, she would have to survive "a primary that is expected to be brutal."
 
Tribune readers can always count on Pearson to a) describe the IRP as being hopeless, b) blame all the IRP's problems on conservatives, that is, people who support the IRP platform, c) argue that only moderate candidates, that is, candidates who reject one or more important plank in the IRP platform, have a chance of winning statewide offices in Illinois, and d) argue that the IRP will remain hopeless until conservatives support moderate candidates or until the IRP succeeds in driving all conservatives out of the party.
 
Outrageously, one or more is true of each leader of the "long-controlling moderate wing" of the IRP -  they reject one or more important plank in the IRP platform, they blame conservatives for all the IRP's problems, they broke many if not all their campaign promises, they are in violation of IRP's ethics rules, they have been charged with serious crimes in one or more civil lawsuits, they are under criminal investigation, they will soon be indicted, they have been indicted, they are standing trial, or they are in prison.  Some of these people claim to be "conservative," but by definition, anyone who does not respect the "rule of law" never was a conservative, let alone a Republican.
 
Outrageously, the IRP is happy to grant official "allied" status to organizations that require their members to be young, a racial minority, female, an ethic minority, or an immigrant or a descendent of an immigrant from a particular country.  But the IRP refuses to grant official "allied" status to organizations that require their members to be "conservative."  Outrageously, because I am a 57 year old white male of 100% German national origin, there is no organization "allied" with the IRP that I can join, let alone seek a leadership role in.  I am the GOPUSA Illinois Editor, the Illinois Center Right Coalition Secretary and webmaster, the TAPROOT Republicans of Illinois 1st Vice Chairman, and a member of the Republican Assembly of Lake County -- that prompts the "long-controlling moderate wing" of the IRP to badmouth me and that prompts people who pander to the "long-controlling moderate wing" of the IRP to badmouth me.  Outrageously, the "moderates" who control the Milton Township Republican Central Committee, the DuPage County Republican Central Committee, and the IRP spend most of their time attributing evil motive and bad judgment to everything I do -- in a way, I should be proud of that.  
 
Any organization led by people who reject important planks in that organization's platform will fail.  Outrageously, in Illinois, if a candidate supports all the planks in the IRP platform, that candidate will not only have the Democrat Party working against him/her, but also the "long-controlling moderate wing" of the IRP.  The "moderate wing" of the IRP is currently led by Bob Kjellander.  Outrageously, as long as the "long-controlling moderate wing" of the IRP remains in power, that is, as long as it controls the IRP State Central Committee, Democrats will continue to ruin the state.  Outrageously, leaders of the "long-controlling moderate wing" of the IRP would much rather have Democrats ruining Illinois who they can "work with" than Republicans who support the IRP platform who they cannot control.
 
What are the real reasons why Topinka is having trouble raising money?  What are the real reasons why she outrageously continues to delay her decision to run or not?
 
llinois Republican Party State Central Committee to hold last of six regional meetings today - Dave Diersen
The Illinois Republican Party (IRP) State Central Committee (SCC) will the last of six regional meetings for party leaders today in DeKalb.  That meeting will be for leaders in Congressional Districts 11, 14, and 16.  The first meeting was held in Chicago on October 26 for districts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 7; the second was held in Bolingbrook on October 27 for districts 6 and 13; the third was held in Northbrook on October 28 for districts 8, 9, and 10; the fourth was held in Edwardsville on October 29 for districts 12 and 19; and the fifth was held in Peoria on October 29 for districts 15, 17, and 18.
 
The SCC's purposes for these meetings with County Chairmen, Cook County Township Committeemen, and Chicago Ward Committeemen are to build communication, discuss the statewide ticket, and discuss victory plans for the 2006 election.  Each meeting included a presentation from IRP Executive Director John Tsarpalas on the IRP's 2006 Victory Plan as well as other useful tools for grassroots organization.
 
CHICAGO TRIBUNE
-- Dark cloud hovers over Blagojevich  Federal investigation into hiring blunts governor's reformer image - Rick Pearson
DAILY SOUTHTOWN
-- Government's 'star witness' leaves court a mysterious and frustrating figure - Mike Robinson 
ROCKFORD REGISTER STAR
-- Manzullo backs U.S. pullout from Iraq  Barack Obama and Dick Durbin echo the Republican’s call but not as forcefully, a Rock Valley prof says
DAILY HERALD
-- Incumbent Froehlich, challenger Giannone gear up for Dist. 56 race - 
-- Earlier, easier voting comes at price for DuPage County  Security, cost debated in possible switch to yet another new system - 
NAPERVILLE SUN
-- DuPage election commission approves purchase of pocket PCs - Kathy Cichon
PUBLIC AFFAIRS
-- Half Full [Kristol] or Half Empty [Lahood] ? - Jeff Berkowitz
CRAIN'S CHICAGO BUSINESS
-- Pat's on track  Prosecutor without an agenda flummoxes the political class - Greg Hinz
http://chicagobusiness.com/cgi-bin/mag/article.pl?article_id=24724&bt=Republican&arc=n&searchType=all
CBS2
-- Effectiveness Of Ryan Trial Star Witness In Doubt
LINCOLN COURIER
-- ‘All Kids’ flies through legislature - Mary Massingale
 
CHICAGO TRIBUNE
Dark cloud hovers over Blagojevich  Federal investigation into hiring blunts governor's reformer image - Rick Pearson
Gov. Rod Blagojevich had been looking forward to promoting a high-profile political victory for his populist plan for child health insurance, but a burgeoning federal probe into his administration's hiring has cast a new cloud over a governor who promised to clean up Springfield.

Even before federal subpoenas were delivered to Blagojevich's office and the Illinois Department of Transportation last week, the Democratic governor was facing what polls showed to be a public skeptical of whether he deserved re-election or had fulfilled his campaign vows of "reform and renewal."

The federal grand jury probe of state hiring, first revealed by the Tribune, adds to the difficult challenge confronting the first-term Blagojevich, who has found his administration subjected to federal and state investigations into allegations ranging from pay-to-play politics to potential political kickbacks involving his appointees.

Blagojevich maintained he was not thrown off stride by the subpoenas on hiring, which took media attention from what had been his administration's all-out public relations push for All Kids, the governor's state-subsidized health insurance proposal for children.

Passage of All Kids could mean "maybe, the most successful week we've had in state government," Blagojevich said before Democrats, who control the legislature, speedily approved the plan last week.

But even as administration officials spread the word this weekend of All Kids' passage, there were more signs the federal investigation was widening.

Blagojevich's child-welfare department late last week received a third federal subpoena, a spokeswoman for the agency said. A state government source who has reviewed the document said it requested all computers and computer files, including e-mails, hard drives and memory cards, used since March 2002 by eight current or former employees involved with hiring at the Department of Children and Family Services.

Although administration officials downplayed the newest subpoena as asking for similar information but in a different form, the request targets those involved in hiring at DCFS rather than those who were considered for or ended up getting jobs with the agency.

Moving to downplay the potential impact of a federal investigation only weeks before his expected formal re-election announcement, Blagojevich said he expected the probe to help vindicate his 2002 campaign reform pledge of no more business as usual in Springfield. He noted that all levels of government--from federal to the City of Chicago--are under more scrutiny from law enforcement.

"This kind of examination isn't a bad thing if you're confident that your systems are working and that you know that you try to do things honestly, ethically and responsibly," he said.

In a state where Republican governors controlled state government jobs for more than a quarter of a century, there was no shortage of curiosity about how the election of a Democrat would affect hiring. Any changes would have to be played out under the rules of a 1990 U.S. Supreme Court decision aimed at keeping political influence out of the hiring process for most state jobs.

Power of jobs `builds parties'

But several months before Blagojevich even won the March 2002 primary, his father-in-law and then-political ally, Chicago Ald. Richard Mell (33rd), made an appearance before Downstate Democratic county chairmen in Springfield to tell them how helpful his then-unknown son-in-law could be when it came to jobs.

Blagojevich is "a firm believer that, if the opportunity is there for a Democrat to have an opportunity to serve in state government, and he can do the job, (and) he's equal to the Republican, why shouldn't it be the Democrat? I mean, Republicans have done that for, I don't know, 20, 26 years," The State Journal-Register of Springfield quoted Mell as saying. Further, it quoted Mell as saying that the power of jobs "is what builds parties. It'll help you with your fundraising. It'll help you build an organization."

Little more than 3 1/2 years later, Blagojevich and Mell became embroiled in a bitter personal dispute. In January, the Northwest Side alderman accused the administration of trading appointments to boards and commissions for campaign contributions. Mell later recanted the allegation under the threat of a lawsuit by a top Blagojevich fundraiser, Christopher Kelly. But Mell's allegations led to an ongoing state investigation.

That investigation, along with others involving state agencies, has taken a toll on Blagojevich, according to polls that find his job-approval rating and the percentage of voters who want to see him win a second term far below the traditional 50 percent threshold incumbents want to have.

"His poll numbers are very bad, but they're not fatal at this point," said Kent Redfield, a political science professor at the University of Illinois at Springfield. "But if you set yourself up with reform and renewal, and a new way of doing business, you set that up as a criterion, and it's an absolute standard people are going to use to judge you against," he said. "If you can't meet that basic level of character, if you can't be trusted on [reform], then how can voters trust you on any other initiative?"

Redfield said that while Chicago Mayor Richard Daley has used the damage-control option of "throwing everybody overboard and bringing in the white hats" to deal with scandals at City Hall, Blagojevich has chosen a strategy of defend-and-divert to promote initiatives such as All Kids.

"They wanted to change the subject with All Kids," Redfield said. "That would have been fine six months ago, but I don't think it's an adequate strategy now, and at some point they are going to have to engage in some serious damage control."

Bipartisan suspicion

A recent Tribune/WGN-TV poll found that voters believe neither party has cornered the market on corruption or reform. The poll, conducted this month prior to the federal subpoenas, found 67 percent of the voters believe both political parties are the most to blame for corruption, and half of them believe it doesn't make any difference which party is elected when it comes to cleaning it up.

The struggling GOP

Another factor that mitigates against Blagojevich's low standing in the polls is the uncertainty of whether the GOP can nominate a credible challenger in the March 21 primary election. There are at least six announced or potential contenders.

The Illinois GOP, struggling to find leadership and a guiding ideology, is promoting itself as anti-corruption, yet it still suffers from the scandalous image that shadowed George Ryan's tenure as governor.

State Treasurer Judy Baar Topinka, viewed by the party's long-controlling moderate wing as a top prospective candidate for governor after former Gov. Jim Edgar bowed out, has spent weeks trying to decide whether she can get enough national Republican money and help to compete against Blagojevich if she survives a primary that is expected to be brutal.

That decision, she said, has become more difficult with each day's newspaper headlines about the Blagojevich administration.

"If people don't tell you outright, you can tell by the look in their eyes that there's this cynicism. They don't trust anybody," Topinka said.

DAILY SOUTHTOWN

Government's 'star witness' leaves court a mysterious and frustrating figure - Mike Robinson 

http://www.dailysouthtown.com/southtown/dsnews/3019nd1.htm

He was supposed to be the government's star witness.

But in five weeks on the stand at George Ryan's racketeering and fraud trial, Scott Fawell may not have done much to help the government, the former governor — or himself.

After wrapping up his testimony last week, the 48-year-old political strategist who engineered Ryan's rise to power walked out the door a mysterious and frustrating figure.

Before he left the stand, prosecutors who had expected him to deliver a major blow against Ryan were urging Judge Rebecca R. Pallmeyer to declare Fawell an adverse witness and to allow them to bring in previously banned evidence to show how he allegedly had misled the jurors.

And Dan K. Webb, Ryan's $750-an-hour lawyer, was crowing that the government had blundered in putting Fawell on the stand first. He called the patchup effort "an unfortunate act of desperation by the prosecutors as they try to rescue a disappearing case."

"I tried to tear it apart limb by limb and show the jury that George Ryan did nothing wrong in these allegations," Webb declared.

Prosecutors retorted that the trial would last four months and no one witness would decide whether the 71-year-old Ryan and his longtime best friend, Larry Warner, were convicted.

But they clearly were hoping Fawell, whose testimony they pursued for years, would lay the groundwork for their case against the former governor.

Fawell hooked up with then-lieutenant governor Ryan in 1988 while working on that year's presidential campaign. He soon became the bright young man always seen by the boss's side.

He engineered Ryan's successful campaigns for secretary of state in 1990 and 1994, served as Ryan's chief of staff and masterminded his boss's victory in the 1998 governor's race.

After that, Ryan rewarded him with the $195,000-a-year job of chief executive officer of Chicago Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority.

Fawell was beside Ryan all the way _ seemingly the perfect witness.

Prosecutors did get Fawell to describe how Ryan lifted the ceiling on fees currency exchanges can charge customers and took a state lease on a property owned by currency exchange owner Harry Klein after repeated free vacations at Klein's luxury oceanfront estate in Jamaica.

He told how Ryan ordered specifications changed in a contract involving the stickers that motorists put on license plates. The change effectively guaranteed the contract to a company that was paying Warner. And he described how consulting payments from the presidential campaign of Sen. Phil Gramm (D-Texas) were laundered by a consulting firm and funneled to Ryan's daughters.

He also told how under Ryan everything from patronage jobs to highly sought-after low-digit license plates were doled out to political friends and entered in a "master list" of favors. He described a free trip to Florida aboard an insurance man's plane. And he told how Ryan haunted riverboat casinos with an inch-thick wad of cash while never seeming to visit an automatic teller machine.

Finally, Fawell described how under Ryan, the secretary of state's office leased two properties partly owned by Warner and how he later heeded the urging of Ryan to hire the governor's old friend, former state Sen. Arthur "Ron" Swanson, for a no-work lobbying job.

But once Webb got to question Fawell, the former governor came out in a more favorable light.

Fawell testified that as secretary of state Ryan often did what he believed was right regardless of the political consequences and was a "big picture" person who left the details to his staff.

He completely dismissed any suggestion that drivers licenses were sold at secretary of state's centers to raise money for the Citizens for Ryan campaign fund.

And he said he didn't think either he or Ryan had done anything wrong.

The government's strongest moment may have come after Webb finished with cross examination and lead prosecutor Patrick M. Collins got another crack at Fawell. Collins led Fawell through a series of short-answer questions. The answer was always the same.

Who personally signed one of the disputed state leases?

"That would be George," Fawell said.

Whose idea was a bogus paper trail designed to hide the free vacations in Jamaica?

"George," Fawell said.

Who told you to work something out with Swanson?

"George," Fawell said.

And who told you to change the specification in the stickers contract?

"George."

But prosecutors all but struck out in efforts to get Fawell to tell much about the bribes paid for drivers licenses that launched the government's seven-year investigation of corruption.

Asked if he knew that an aide to Ryan had blocked investigation of the November 1994 highway tragedy that killed six children and started agents asking questions about bribes, Fawell looked blank and said no. That ended the line of questioning.

Meanwhile, federal prosecutors refuse to comment on how Fawell's testimony will affect the deal he made with the government to become a witness. He currently is serving a 6 1/2-year racketeering sentence for corruption in the secretary of state's office. Under the deal, he would get six months off that term and no additional time for his role in a bid-rigging case.

The deal would also get a sentencing break for his fiancee, who has pleaded guilty to both a bid-rigging offense and perjury when asked about corruption in the secretary of state's office.

ROCKFORD REGISTER STAR
Manzullo backs U.S. pullout from Iraq  Barack Obama and Dick Durbin echo the Republican’s call but not as forcefully, a Rock Valley prof says
As the U.S. military death toll in Iraq reached 2,000 last week, three members of the Illinois congressional delegation said they support bringing troops home.

The most specific proposal came from Rep. Don Manzullo, who said the United States should begin a phased-in withdrawal of troops after the Dec. 15 parliamentary elections in Iraq — provided that enough Iraqi troops have been trained to stabilize the country.

Democratic Sens. Dick Durbin of Springfield and Barack Obama of Chicago were more vague. Both urged the Bush administration to lay out a strategy to achieve stability in Iraq and bring U.S. troops home as soon as possible.

“America cannot stand by as we drift into an open-ended, long-term commitment in Iraq,” Durbin said in a statement Tuesday. “Our responsibility to these soldiers ... is to call on the president to share with our nation a clear path to stability in Iraq and the return of our troops at the earliest possible time.”

Obama said in an interview Friday: “We should start phasing out our military presence in Iraq. We have to have a very credible, specific plan to stabilize the country as soon as we can and get out as soon as we can.”

Manzullo, a Republican from Egan, has supported the war in Iraq from the beginning. The two senators have been consistent critics.

But Rock Valley College political science professor P.S. Ruckman said all the lawmakers’ positions have elements in common with President Bush’s position.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee this month that the administration’s plan is for U.S. troops to train Iraqi troops as fast as possible so they can fight insurgents in their own country.

Rice would not discuss specifics about how stable Iraq’s government must be or how effective its forces need to be before the 152,000 American troops in Iraq can start leaving.

Ruckman said Manzullo is more specific than Durbin and Obama because he mentions December as a possible start for the withdrawal. But the congressman also plays it safe, qualifying his position by saying Iraqi troops must be ready to stabilize the country.

“This may be an attempt to capitalize on ‘The president should have your children home by Christmas,’ ” he said.

Because the senators are more vague when calling for a troop withdrawal, their positions can’t be interpreted as a radical alternative to the president’s position, Ruckman said. “Durbin is attempting to present himself as a national leader, and that’s why his statement is not too much different from the president’s position.”

Durbin is No. 2 in the Senate’s Democratic leadership.

Two nationwide polls conducted this month — before the 2,000th death — show that most Americans want to end U.S. involvement in Iraq.

In a survey by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press, 52 percent of respondents said the United States should set a timetable for withdrawing its troops. In a CBS News poll, 59 percent of respondents said U.S. troops should leave Iraq as soon as possible, even if the country is not completely stable.
 
DAILY HERALD
Incumbent Froehlich, challenger Giannone gear up for Dist. 56 race - 
Schaumburg Township’s first Democratic trustee, Susan Giannone, is hoping to translate her unprecedented success in last spring’s election into a challenge of Republican state Rep. Paul Froehlich next year.

Froehlich, meanwhile, is dealing with anonymous personal attacks on him and his wife from an Internet blog and recent mailing.

Though Giannone, a Roselle resident, knows she has her work cut out for her in the Republican-dominant 56th District, she feels the Republican Party is particularly vulnerable now and that voters today are looking more at individuals than at party affiliations.

Around the same time Giannone started her job on the Schaumburg Township board, she also started a professional job in the local office of U.S. Rep. Melissa Bean, responding to constituent requests.

Giannone said both jobs opened her eyes to the need of local residents to have a different choice in Springfield and the opportunity for her to be that voice.

Her professional background is in health care and law, areas where she said residents may be looking for expertise in their representative. Jobs are a big issue for many now, and there are a number of low-income and senior residents struggling with health care issues, she said.

Giannone will leave her job in Bean’s office in November to spend the next year working on her own campaign. She feels she will need that time to spread her message and get her name recognized, whether she faces a Democratic opponent in the spring primary or not.

If elected state representative, she also would have to give up her township trustee seat. But she and fellow members of the Democratic Party in the township believe her appointed successor would have to be a Democrat as well.

Froehlich, meanwhile, is steeling himself for re-election campaigns for both Schaumburg Township Republican committeeman and state representative.

He isn’t taking lightly either Giannone’s challenge or that of any Republican candidates he may face first.

“I expect a very serious race and it would be foolish of me to underestimate how serious it will be,” Froehlich said.

In the meantime, he is angry and frustrated with the anonymous attacks on his character he’s received recently, which he interprets as a forerunner of the March 21 Republican primary.

He said he hopes voters will realize there are only two possible reasons for his attackers to want to remain anonymous — to keep their own motivation secret or to not be answerable for things they’ve made up.

Froehlich said there’s been something of a Republican civil war in the township since candidates supported by his Schaumburg Township Alliance of Republicans took over most of the township’s elected offices four years ago.

He said, though, that he thinks the differences between the township’s Republicans are still largely personal in nature, rather than ideological.

Earlier, easier voting comes at price for DuPage County  Security, cost debated in possible switch to yet another new system - 

http://www.dailyherald.com/news/dupagestory.asp?id=112540

Security, cost debated in possible switch to yet another new system>

By the spring 2002 primary, all DuPage County voters were using a state-of-the-art optical scan system.

The $4.3 million investment was lauded as a success, producing quick poll results with few glitches.

But the county election commission may soon scrap it for new voting machines that could cost up to $12 million.

New laws that extend early voting and require accessible machines for disabled residents are forcing them to consider switching to a fully electronic system, instead of the optical-scan method that uses paper ballots.

And that puts the commission on the horns of a dilemma.

The cost of the switch is giving budget hawks on the DuPage County Board ulcers. And some election watchdogs warn that electronic voting is vulnerable to tampering.

Voting coming early

Suburban election officials didn’t go looking for change.

It found them.

Thanks to a sweeping set of election reforms, Illinois voters will be able to cast ballots in the upcoming March 21 primary between Feb. 27 and March 16.

To meet that requirement, counties statewide must have at least one early voting site, although suburban election officials plan to have more.

Meanwhile, Illinois is scrambling to meet a federal mandate requiring voting machines equipped to serve people with disabilities. Counties have until Jan. 1 to buy the specialized equipment.

It was the county’s attempt to get ahead of the curve that created the latest problem.

The vote-tallying fiasco in Florida after the 2000 presidential election prompted DuPage election officials to switch from the old-style, punch-card voting to its optical-scan system.

That method allows voters to make their choices using a marker to fill in ovals on the ballot — much like a multiple-choice test. The ballot is fed into a scanner to record the results.

But there is a downside to such paper ballots once early voting starts.

Depending on how many early-voting sites the county adopts, each location will need to be equipped with hundreds of different styles of ballots. And the number of voters able to use each site would be limited, said Election Commission Executive Director Bob Saar.

The law requires early ballots to be set aside until Election Day, then transported to their voters’ precincts and counted when the polls close.

It’s a requirement that could keep election judges on the job longer and significantly delay the presentation of results if DuPage continues using paper ballots, officials say.

As a result, DuPage election officials are “looking seriously” at switching to electronic voting, Saar said.

If the switch is approved, the new machines would make it possible for anyone to vote at any early-voting site, because every ballot configuration can be stored on the machine’s database.

“Elections already have changed,” Saar said. “All we are trying to do is figure out how to give everyone an opportunity to vote early … in a way that doesn’t break the bank.”

Two birds, one stone

One way DuPage could offset the cost of buying 2,500 to 3,000 new electronic voting machines is with an estimated $5.2 million in federal grant money.

DuPage is eligible to receive those federal dollars as long as the funds are used to help the county comply with the Help America Vote Act. All the electronic voting machines officials are reviewing are equipped to serve people with disabilities.

“Had that mandate not been there, we would be faced with buying millions of dollars of equipment on the dime of the DuPage taxpayer,” Saar said.

But even with federal assistance, the county will need to raise an estimated $4.8 million, and $6.8 million if it chooses to swap systems.

And that has at least one county board member skeptical about the necessity for change.

“It seems we just bought a very expensive and state-of-the-art optical scan system,” board member Brien Sheahan said. “I don’t think much of spending millions of dollars more to get a new system when the current one is only a few years old.”

Paper or keypad?

For two neighboring counties, the paper ballot or electronic voting debate already has been decided.

And the results are split.

Last week, Will County signed a $1.95 million contract with a company that makes devices that marks paper ballots for people with disabilities.

Because federal grant money is paying for the equipment, it won’t cost Will County taxpayers a dime. And the county won’t have to replace its optical-scan system.

“I want a system for Will County that voters trust,” County Clerk Nancy Schultz Voots said. “And they still want paper ballots. They want to hold that ballot in their hand so they can see how they voted.”

However, rising paper costs were enough to convince Kane County Clerk John Cunningham that electronic voting is the wave of the future.

“I can’t see spending $2 million in federal funds for a system that is archaic and will cost my county $4.1 million over 10 years in paper costs,” Cunningham said. “It just is not a good business judgment.”

So instead if spending that money on paper ballots, Kane has agreed to spend it on 1,000 electronic voting devices.

It’s a decision Kane officials reached after more than two years of study and discussion.

“Our decision was based on what is the safest, more secure system to get,” Cunningham said. “And what is the most cost effective for our county.”

Kane’s federal grant covers almost half the $4.1 million cost of new voting machines.

Schultz Voots questions whether it’s worth it.

“You know how computers are,” she said. “They are obsolete in a couple of years.”

She also points out that none of the electronic voting devices are certified by the state. They can’t be used in an election until that happens.

Still, Cunningham says he’s “guardedly optimistic” that the devices Kane plans to use will be certified in early December.

Cunningham also has his own theory why counties with optical scanning systems might be reluctant to switch.

“If they put money into it already, it’s hard to justify getting off of it,” he said.

Security qualms

In the upcoming weeks, DuPage Election Commission officials will be visited by several voting machines vendors.

But a commission meeting last week, in which Diebold Election Systems demonstrated its AccuVote-TSX touch-screen voting machine, ended in a confrontation between Saar and residents skeptical about Diebold’s track record.

While Saar accused some residents of twisting the facts about Diebold, they countered the company was woefully unreliable.

Such doubts aren’t restricted to Diebold. Researchers with the Government Accountability Office concluded while electronic voting holds tremendous promise, it’s not tamper-proof.

The GAO report noted there were inadequate system security safeguards, possibilities of system breakdowns during elections and problems with establishing paper audit trails.

“I don’t know how you can read this and not have concerns about electronic voting,” said Glen Ellyn resident Jean Kaczmarek of the report. “It confirms our worst fears.”

Saar, however, faulted the GAO study for vagueness and failing to cite specifics.

“I’m not saying there isn’t security concerns,” he said. “But there’s an awful lot of misinformation out there.

Electronic voting systems have proven safeguards to prevent vote fraud, he added.

Another concern is how reliable are the plastic identification “smart cards” given out to each voter before using Diebold touch-screens.

Computer science experts at Johns Hopkins University studied Diebold computer code that had been released on the Internet and concluded in 2003 that the cards could be duplicated and used to cast multiple ballots.

Diebold countered the study was flawed and based on inadequate information.

Avi Rubin, director of Hopkins Information Security Institute, said there is no way to prove those claims because Diebold will not allow independent experts to examine its system.

“The science to study how to do electronic voting correctly has not been done yet,” Rubin said. “We’re years away from being able to use electronic voting in any kind of secure way.”

While some characterize fears about voting security as paranoia and confined to a few special-interest groups, some see a larger problem.

“It’s not only the problem of cheating, but even if the election department is absolutely honest and scrupulous, there could well be large numbers of people who don’t believe it,” said Scott Peters, a political science professor at Illinois Institute of Technology.

“If they don’t believe the election, then the resulting government isn’t viewed as legitimate.”

But officials report no problems with electronic voting devices in Harris County, Texas, where they’ve been used for years.

In fact, Beverly Kaufman, the clerk in the county that includes Houston, says she believes the electronic system is more secure than traditional paper ballots.

“A vote is a vote,” she said. “No human hands are going to touch your ballot after you cast it and change it.”

NAPERVILLE SUN

DuPage election commission approves purchase of pocket PCs - Kathy Cichon

http://www.suburbanchicagonews.com/sunpub/naper/news/n30election.htm

Election judges in DuPage County will soon have a new source of information on election nights to answer the common — as well as the obscure — important questions to help make the voting process go smoothly.

On Thursday the DuPage County Election Commission approved the purchase of 400 Ask ED pocket PCs at a cost of $286,940. Developed by Wheaton-based Robis Electronics, ED is the Election Decision Support System which offers election judges a hand-held computer to instantly answer any available question or concern they might encounter on election day.

Features of the device, which was used in a pilot at a few DuPage polling places in April, include providing a database of voters to help determine voter eligibility and polling location, copies of sample ballots and a help desk to answer about 100 different questions that could come up during the day.
In the past the election officials would have to call the Election Commission to answer such questions.

"It's a very powerful delivery (of information) to the election judges," said Robert Saar, executive director of the DuPage County Election Commission. "It's very, very positive. It's a much more accurate in determining voter eligibility and answering questions."

David Davoust, president of Robis, said ED takes all of those complex factors and puts it in a hand-held device.

"They're going to give them the right answer and most importantly they'll all get the same answer," Davoust said.

Ask ED can also offer information in up to 20 languages, which can help election judges communicate with voters who are not fluent in English, he said.

Currently ED is being used in King County, Seattle and Citrus County in Florida, Davoust said.

PUBLIC AFFAIRS

Half Full [Kristol] or Half Empty [Lahood] ? - Jeff Berkowitz

http://jeffberkowitz.blogspot.com/

Cong. Ray LaHood [R-Peoria, 18th Dist.], about whom his critics would say, “Finds a cloud in every silver lining,” was portrayed as suffering from clinical depression yesterday after learning of Scooter Libby’s [the VPOTUS’ Chief of Staff] indictment. LaHood said, “There's no good in it for our party. Anyone who says otherwise is blowing smoke. Democrats will be salivating." [See here].

As LaHood suggests, the Libby indictment fits nicely with the Democrats’ plans to nationalize the ’06 Congressional elections around their argument that the national Republican Party suffers from a “Culture of corruption.” See this week’s suburban edition of "Public Affairs," with Cong. Jan Schakowsky [D-Evanston, 9th CD], who is trumpeting that argument, among others, as she campaigns to become Vice Chairman, the No. 4 leadership position in the House Democratic Caucus [a vacancy which will materialize in short order if Senator Corzine [D-NJ] wins the gubernatorial election in New Jersey in 10 days and Cong. Menendez, the current Chairman, is appointed to be New Jersey’s junior Senator, and replaced in the Democratic House Leadership by the current No. 4, See here.]

But, then there is the sunny side of the Republican Party, represented by Bill Kristol’s unflagging enthusiasm and optimism for intelligent, conservative programs, ideals and politicians [although Kristol did support John McCain for President in 2000, and Senator McGain is a quasi-conservative, at best; Kristol is the Editor of the Weekly Standard , a Fox News Channel contributor and one of the leaders of the successful movement to pressure Harriet Miers to withdraw her name as the Supreme Court nominee]:

The larger story on Friday was that [Special Prosecutor and U. S. Attorney Patrick] Fitzgerald indicted no one else…There was no conspiracy, high level or otherwise, at the White House, or involving the Defense Department or the State Department--all scenarios that enemies of the administration had been fantasizing about for months.

This does not mean, of course, that the Bush White House and its supporters should heave a sigh of relief and relax. It does mean that the administration and its allies have a chance now to go on the offensive: to make the tax cuts permanent, to look for occasions to insist on spending restraint, to make progress in restoring constitutional jurisprudence, and above all to make strides toward winning the war in Iraq, and the broader war on terror.[See here].

So, should the Republicans hold their heads in their hands and sob? Or, should they say the worst [a lethargic Presidential Reaction to Katrina, Brownie’s incompetence at FEMA, the indictment of House Majority Leader Tom Delay, Harriet Miers’ misguided nomination to the Supremes and the charges filed against Scooter Libby] is behind them and get ready to take the next hill?

Neo-con and conservative idea man Bill Kristol says, “Let’s go on offense and take that next hill.” Cong. Ray LaHood, who former Senator Peter Fitzgerald [R-IL] was fond of referring to as “Ray who,” doesn’t seem inclined to join Bill, as Bill gets ready to take on the likes of Cong. Schakowsky and her fearless minority leader, Cong. Nancy Pelosi [D-CA].

Will others pick up arms and join Bill Kristol in going on the offensive? Or, will they hang back with Cong. LaHood, who was one of three Republicans in the House to vote against the Contract with America, a document which most would agree was instrumental in bringing about the Republican Revolution in 1994 that allowed the Republicans to pick up 54 seats and gain the House Majority. LaHood was and is still mentored by former long-time House Minority Leader Bob Michel [R-IL], a leader who many Republicans thought had became too comfortable with his role as a minority leader, and who stepped aside when Cong. Newt Gingrich brought the House Republicans to the Promised land and became their Speaker.

So, the question is does Speaker Dennis Hastert have the fire in his belly to take on this fight with Minority Leader Pelosi and her energetic leadership team. First, he needs to try to put together a team that is clued into what Kristol is saying and knows how to take the fight to their loyal opposition. It is clear that Tom “ the Hammer,” Delay is otherwise occupied and new Majority Leader Blunt [R-MO] is not the right person for the job, as I told the Speaker a month ago [See here]. The first thing the Speaker needs to do is is find a good recruiter. Time's a wasting.

CRAIN'S CHICAGO BUSINESS

Pat's on track  Prosecutor without an agenda flummoxes the political class - Greg Hinz
http://chicagobusiness.com/cgi-bin/mag/article.pl?article_id=24724&bt=Republican&arc=n&searchType=all

The Democratic activist, a veteran of the Bill Clinton years, was furious at U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald. But not for making life miserable for Mayor Richard M. Daley, Gov. Rod Blagojevich or other Democrats under investigation.

Instead, this good Democrat was irate at how Mr. Fitzgerald is slapping around the Republican Bush White House.

"Fitzgerald is trying to criminalize politics," griped the activist, his drink nearly sloshing out of his glass at the political fund-raiser we both were attending a couple of weeks ago. "It's just not right."

The complaint is typical of what political insiders have been saying from City Hall to the Beltway — even before Mr. Fitzgerald on Friday indicted the vice-president's chief of staff for perjury and obstruction of justice and suggested he's still eyeing presidential counselor Karl Rove. They can't figure out Mr. Undecipherable. And what they have seen of the Chicago prosecutor and Washington, D.C., special prosecutor, they don't like.

I sympathize with his critics. Mr. Fitzgerald is no more politically deft than a mother-in-law is subtle. But bottom line, he's closer to the truth about what needs to be done than they are.

First, let's stipulate that Mr. Fitzgerald is just as much an odd duck, as much a loner, as the man who got him his job here, former U.S. Sen. Peter Fitzgerald, R-Ill. (no relation).

The independently wealthy senator operated outside the normal rules of politics. He wanted neither money nor fame — at least, not enough to tailor his actions to get them. Like a character in an Ayn Rand novel, he wanted to do what he wanted to do, and did. And if that meant he would tick off nearly everyone and make it impossible to win a new term, well, he'd just go play with his young son.

Mr. Fitzgerald the prosecutor similarly seems immune to the usual rewards and punishments. Unlike a host of predecessors, he's shown no sign of using his post as a launching pad to elective office or a lucrative white-collar criminal-defense practice. His relative lack of money or much of a personal life — recall those stories about the workaholic who dined on take-out pizza because he never connected the stove in his apartment — eventually could hurt him. Meantime, though, he seems driven by an idea: The job of a prosecutor is to enforce the law. Against anyone of any political pedigree. Period.

That stance can be a weakness. Unchecked, it leads to a zealousness that is picayune and extreme rather than just.

The case of Scott Fawell comes to mind. Mr. Fawell, a tough guy known for his loyalty to former Gov. George Ryan, agreed to incriminate his ex-boss because Mr. Fitzgerald threatened to imprison Mr. Fawell's fiancée for perjury if he didn't. That flip may well yield a conviction in Mr. Ryan's corruption trial. But in any other context, such pressure tactics would be considered close to blackmail.

That having been said, Mr. Fitzgerald is right to follow the facts where they lead.

In Chicago, "politics as usual" have entrenched a form of government stacked against those who lack the clout obtained through political contributions or precinct work. The offenses that result have real consequences, be they increased taxes needed to pay hacks or the death of six children because of driver's license bribery. Mayor Daley has almost totally remade his government as a result of Mr. Fitzgerald's probes. History will show that was good for him and us.

In Washington, "politics as usual" — in other words, by leak — have helped entrench an administration that committed arguably the worst offense any administration can commit: It misled the nation into a war that, so far, has led to the deaths of 2,000 Americans and countless Iraqis. Mr. Fitzgerald's probes have led to a renewed national debate on how and why we got where we are. That, too, is good.

There will be much to debate about Mr. Fitzgerald's actions in the months to come. So far, he has earned our trust.

CBS2

Effectiveness Of Ryan Trial Star Witness In Doubt

http://cbs2chicago.com/topstories/local_story_302131458.html

He was supposed to be the government's star witness.

But in five weeks on the stand at George Ryan's racketeering and fraud trial, Scott Fawell may not have done much to help the government, the former governor -- or himself.

After wrapping up his testimony last week, the 48-year-old political strategist who engineered Ryan's rise to power walked out the door a mysterious and frustrating figure.

Before he left the stand, prosecutors who had expected him to deliver a major blow against Ryan were urging Judge Rebecca R. Pallmeyer to declare Fawell an adverse witness and to allow them to bring in previously banned evidence to show how he allegedly had misled the jurors.

And Dan K. Webb, Ryan's $750-an-hour lawyer, was crowing that the government had blundered in putting Fawell on the stand first. He called the patchup effort "an unfortunate act of desperation by the prosecutors as they try to rescue a disappearing case."

"I tried to tear it apart limb by limb and show the jury that George Ryan did nothing wrong in these allegations," Webb declared.

Prosecutors retorted that the trial would last four months and no one witness would decide whether the 71-year-old Ryan and his longtime best friend, Larry Warner, were convicted.

But they clearly were hoping Fawell, whose testimony they pursued for years, would lay the groundwork for their case against the former governor.

Fawell hooked up with then-lieutenant governor Ryan in 1988 while working on that year's presidential campaign. He soon became the bright young man always seen by the boss's side.

He engineered Ryan's successful campaigns for secretary of state in 1990 and 1994, served as Ryan's chief of staff and masterminded his boss's victory in the 1998 governor's race.

After that, Ryan rewarded him with the $195,000-a-year job of chief executive officer of Chicago Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority.

Fawell was beside Ryan all the way -- seemingly the perfect witness.

Prosecutors did get Fawell to describe how Ryan lifted the ceiling on fees currency exchanges can charge customers and took a state lease on a property owned by currency exchange owner Harry Klein after repeated free vacations at Klein's luxury oceanfront estate in Jamaica.

He told how Ryan ordered specifications changed in a contract involving the stickers that motorists put on license plates. The change effectively guaranteed the contract to a company that was paying Warner. And he described how consulting payments from the presidential campaign of Sen. Phil Gramm, D-Texas, were laundered by a consulting firm and funneled to Ryan's daughters.

He also told how under Ryan everything from patronage jobs to highly sought-after low-digit license plates were doled out to political friends and entered in a "master list" of favors. He described a free trip to Florida aboard an insurance man's plane. And he told how Ryan haunted riverboat casinos with an inch-thick wad of cash while never seeming to visit an automatic teller machine.

Finally, Fawell described how under Ryan, the secretary of state's office leased two properties partly owned by Warner and how he later heeded the urging of Ryan to hire the governor's old friend, former state Sen. Arthur "Ron" Swanson, for a no-work lobbying job.

But once Webb got to question Fawell, the former governor came out in a more favorable light.

Fawell testified that as secretary of state Ryan often did what he believed was right regardless of the political consequences and was a "big picture" person who left the details to his staff.

He completely dismissed any suggestion that drivers licenses were sold at secretary of state's centers to raise money for the Citizens for Ryan campaign fund.

And he said he didn't think either he or Ryan had done anything wrong.

The government's strongest moment may have come after Webb finished with cross examination and lead prosecutor Patrick M. Collins got another crack at Fawell. Collins led Fawell through a series of short-answer questions. The answer was always the same.

Who personally signed one of the disputed state leases?

"That would be George," Fawell said.

Whose idea was a bogus paper trail designed to hide the free vacations in Jamaica?

"George," Fawell said.

Who told you to work something out with Swanson?

"George," Fawell said.

And who told you to change the specification in the stickers contract?

"George."

But prosecutors all but struck out in efforts to get Fawell to tell much about the bribes paid for drivers licenses that launched the government's seven-year investigation of corruption.

Asked if he knew that an aide to Ryan had blocked investigation of the November 1994 highway tragedy that killed six children and started agents asking questions about bribes, Fawell looked blank and said no. That ended the line of questioning.

Meanwhile, federal prosecutors refuse to comment on how Fawell's testimony will affect the deal he made with the government to become a witness. He currently is serving a 6 1/2-year racketeering sentence for corruption in the secretary of state's office. Under the deal, he would get six months off that term and no additional time for his role in a bid-rigging case.

The deal would also get a sentencing break for his fiancee, who has pleaded guilty to both a bid-rigging offense and perjury when asked about corruption in the secretary of state's office.

LINCOLN COURIER

‘All Kids’ flies through legislature - Mary Massingale

http://www.lincolncourier.com/news/05/10/28/c.asp

SPRINGFIELD - The "All Kids" health insurance program overwhelmingly passed the Illinois House on Thursday, now needing only the governor’s signature to accelerate its meteoric speed through the legislative process.

Lawmakers approved House Bill 806, 79-29, with 9 voting present.

Backed by House Speaker Michael Madigan and Senate President Emil Jones, both Chicago Democrats, the measure passed the Senate on Wednesday mostly along party lines, although Sen. Cheryl Axley, R-Des Plaines, voted for the measure.

Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who proposed the initiative, called the passage of "All Kids" a "reaffirmation of the promise of the American Dream" and pledged to sign the measure soon.

Focus now turns to how the state will set up the program which is set to begin July 1, 2006. Director Barry Maram of the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services said it was still undecided if the agency would run the program or if the state would hire a third-party administrator. Maram also believes the promised 30-day payment schedule to doctors will recruit enough physicians to participate in the program, which relies on current Medicaid reimbursement rates.

House floor debate of "All Kids" echoed Wednesday’s arguments in the Senate. Although some House Republican members voted for the proposal, they balked at the program’s sketchy details.

Even sponsoring-lawmaker Rep. Gary Hannig, D-Litchfield, appeared to need help in explaining the mechanics of the initiative. Maram and Medicaid director Anne Marie Murphy stood by his side for part of the debate, apparently prompting him.

Critics also cringed at allowing HFS officials to set up and implement "All Kids" and the Medicaid-system changes needed to finance it through a rule-making process that allows them to temporarily bypass a legislative oversight panel.

But the proposal has been on a fast track since being introduced on Tuesday, the first day of the legislature’s six-day veto session.

"It took God six days to create the universe," said Rep. Mark Beaubien of Barrington Hills, a Republican budget expert. "We’re creating the most comprehensive child-care bill in two."

The program offers health insurance to all children younger than 19 whose parents earn too much to qualify for Medicaid or the state’s income-eligible KidCare program. Coverage would be the same as found in the KidCare program, while premiums and co-payments would be determined on a sliding scale based on family income.

The state would finance its part of the program by shifting 1.7 million Medicaid and KidCare enrollees from the current fee-for-service structure into a managed-care system with primary physicians. Administration officials say the move is expected to save the state $57 million in the first year, which would pay for the $45 million price tag for the anticipated 50,000 children who would participate in the first year of "All Kids."

However, a public policy expert who served as press secretary for Gov. Jim Edgar said "All Kids" is most likely a plank in the re-election campaign of all Democrats. Mike Lawrence, director of the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute at Southern Illinois University-Carbondale, noted that only 18 months ago, Madigan was preaching fiscal restraint in the face of Blagojevich’s spending.

"When Madigan agreed to underfund the pension program last spring, he had made the decision to bolster (Blagojevich) for election because all of his members would be running on the same ballot," Lawrence said.

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December 27, 2005 News Clips 27-Dec-2005
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