Only in Illinois (12/4/2015)

from Reboot Illinois

When reporter Kurt Erickson began covering the Illinois Statehouse, Jim Edgar was governor, George Ryan was secretary of state, Rod Blagojevich was a little-known state representative and a civil rights attorney from Chicago named Barack Obama was about to win election to his first term in the Illinois Senate.

In nearly two decades of covering Illinois government and politics for Lee Enterprises newspapers, Erickson saw a transition from an atmosphere of deal-making amid a healthy state economy to the current state of budget gridlock and partisan bickering as leaders argue over the cause of the economic malaise that’s gripped Illinois since the Great Recession. He has covered five governors, including two who would go to prison on corruption charges.

House Speaker Michael Madigan has worked all year to show Gov. Bruce Rauner that he’s still the most powerful person in Springfield, but that wasn’t the scene when Erickson arrived at the Statehouse. Continue reading

Feds allege Redflex conspirator talked to Madigan and Daley

by David Kidwell | Chicago Tribune

The former city transportation manager indicted in a $2 million conspiracy to bring red light cameras to Chicago met with then-Mayor Richard M. Daley and House Speaker Michael Madigan as he championed the agenda of the company that was secretly bribing him, federal prosecutors alleged Wednesday.

It was the first time federal authorities alleged publicly that John Bills, the man at the center of the case, personally reached out to Chicago’s two most powerful politicians in his efforts to steer lucrative contracts to Redflex Traffic Systems Inc…

Open The Books Finds Billions In Wasteful Government Spending

by Ulysses Arn | Illinois Review

Open the Books.com Founder Adam Andrzejewski spoke Tuesday night in Ottawa to the Lasalle county Tea Party about the multiple examples of government waste that he and his small team of government watchdogs have found over the last 5 years.

From the myriad of scandals at the College of DuPage, to the EPA spending millions on military equipment and public relations, to the VA giving out millions in bonuses to the very same people responsible for the lack of care and access to our nations veterans, which cost some of them their lives, to farm subsides going to people living on the island of Manhattan or in downtown Chicago, the waste, fraud, and abuse of our money is everywhere.

How Illinois Democrats hoodwinked the middle class

by Kristen McQueary | Chicago Tribune | 10/22/2015

In 2011, Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan attended a private fundraiser for Republican U.S. House Speaker John Boehner. Madigan was a guest of the host, Terrence Duffy, chairman of CME Group, the parent company of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange and the Chicago Board of Trade.

Four months later, Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton gathered lawmakers in Springfield for a rare special session to approve tax-break legislation that included CME Group, cutting the company’s annual state income taxes nearly in half.

At the time, Illinois was facing the possible shutdown of seven facilities, including mental health institutions and a home for the developmentally disabled. For weeks, parents with adult disabled children were visiting the Capitol trying to save the facility slated for closure. They pushed their loved ones around in wheelchairs or sat outside the House chamber carrying framed pictures of their kids.

Their efforts didn’t work. Jacksonville Developmental Center was eventually closed. But CME Group got its tax break.

CME Group is one of many big-donor firms to benefit from a form of corporate welfare from a Democrat-led state government. From 2010 to 2014, the state handed out tax breaks worth roughly $4.6 billion to Sears and Mitsubishi, Motorola and others, according to a subsidy tracker website.

Remember that the next time you hear Madigan or Cullerton or any Illinois Democrat boast that their party is the one putting the interests of the middle class ahead of big business.

It’s a theme you’ll hear repeatedly as the election cycle takes off.

Mexican Drug Cartels In Chicago?

In parts of Chicago violence and the drug trade are part of the culture. – Allen

Why Mexico’s Sinaloa Cartel Loves Selling Drugs in Chicago
Chicago Magazine

Like the top cartel bosses, the Flores brothers rarely handled the drugs themselves. Rather, they arranged for handoffs to smaller wholesalers who would sell bulk quantities down the drug chain. Nor did the twins personally deal with street-level dealers—a popular misconception reinforced by police and drug enforcement officials, who often link the cartels to the city’s gangs and the deadly violence they perpetrate.

Law enforcement’s logic seems to be that because Mexican cartels supply nearly all of Chicago’s drugs, and because the gang members who peddle the drugs are responsible for 80 percent of the murders and shootings in the city, the cartels are responsible for bringing the violence of the drug wars in Mexico to the streets of Chicago.

But are drug cartels the primary cause of Chicago’s violent crime problem? Some criminologists say—and simple logic suggests—that they’re not. Pressed for a specific example of a direct cartel-to-gang pipeline, Andrew Bryant of the narcotics division of the Cook County state’s attorney’s office concedes: “I can’t give you a chain all the way from the top to the bottom.” The connections between a cartel and street gangs, he says, are very loose.