Pat Quinn

Illinois Attorney General

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan on Monday defended her right to give legal advice to state lawmakers conducting a probe into a troubled
Chicago anti-violence program that was overseen by Gov. Pat Quinn's administration.
 
Madigan's role has been questioned by Paul Schimpf, a Republican attorney running against the three-term Democrat in the November election. His campaign
has argued that she faces a conflict of interest because a member of her staff served as co-chair of the Illinois Violence Prevention Authority Board, which

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Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

This week, gubernatorial candidates Pat Quinn and Bruce Rauner weighed in property taxes and the minimum wage.

Gov. Pat Quinn says he'll ask the Illinois Department of Transportation's secretary for a new review of hiring connected to a position that's been the subject of an investigative report and federal lawsuit.
 
Last month the Office of the Executive Inspector General reported the agency
sidestepped clout-busting regulations and improperly hired 255 ``staff
assistant'' positions in the past decade. Also last month, IDOT announced it
laid off 58 people still holding that position and abolished the title.
 

Bruce Rauner
Brian Mackey/WUIS

Even though your property taxes pay for local services -- not state ones -- they've become an issue in Illinois' race for governor.

Gov. Pat Quinn and his Republican opponent Bruce Rauner don't agree on much, but both clearly see a winning strategy in promising lower property taxes.

Quinn earlier this year proposed offsetting a higher income tax rate by sending homeowners (not renters) a $500 property tax rebate (though his plan didn't materialize).

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Deep and ominous voices sound the attack …sugary and optimistic voices signal support.  

As part of our series on the “dark arts” of the campaign business….we meet the people behind the voices trained to influence the democratic process.

As  Alex Keefe found, some of the most famous political ads in recent American history may have been voiced in a closet near you.

WOODEL: So, when I do voices for political campaigns, or for anybody, I do them out of my closet here in the house.

KEEFE: This is literally a closet.

flickr/Sean MacEntee

Brace yourself, citizens.  September is the unofficial start of campaign season.  You are about to be spun by dueling poll numbers, attack ads and negative messages.   To help decipher it all, we're taking you behind the scenes this week to meet the practitioners of politics' dark arts.

We begin with Reporter Alex Keefe tracking down opposition researchers - the folks whose job it is to dig up dirt on politicians:

Charles N. Wheeler III
WUIS/Illinois Issues

While the fat lady may not yet have sung for the new law slashing pension benefits for public workers, she certainly seems to be warming up in the wings, courtesy of the Illinois Supreme Court.

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Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

This week, more political sparring in the Illinois gubernatorial campaigns.

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It’s expected to be some time before the courts decide whether Illinois can trim retirement benefits for public school teachers, university workers, and state employees. But the uncertainty continues to affect the credit outlook of schools and community colleges across the state.  

Hannah Meisel/WUIS

  Governor Pat Quinn's candidate for lieutenant governor says Republican Bruce Rauner's budget plan would mean bad news for schools in Illinois. Democrat Paul Vallas says Rauner's promises to both put more money into schools while also cutting property taxes is unfeasible.

Vallas says Rauner's plan to roll back the state's income tax to three percent would create a $4 billion hole in Illinois' education budget. Vallas says that translates to nearly 28,000 in teacher layoffs.

flickr/Chris H

Gov. Pat Quinn has signed a law allowing universities and the Illinois Department of Agriculture to study industrial hemp.  

The Chicago Democrat signed the measure Tuesday creating a pilot program.  
Industrial hemp is in the same species as marijuana but has a negligible amount of marijuana's active ingredient. Hemp can be used in the production of plastics, fuel, textiles and food.  

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State parks and historic sites now have to set up an "American Made" section in their gift shops.  

Governor Pat Quinn signed  into law this week a measure that is supposed to increase the number of American and Illinois-made goods state facilities sell.    Illinois has, in recent years, put special emphasis on promoting domestic products, especially those from in-state.

Taxi by Ben Fredericson Ipad wallpaper

Gone are the days of standing outside, in the rain, hoping a taxi will pass by. Ridesharing services allow anyone with a smart-phone to download an app and get setup with a ride ... at least in the Chicago where it's available. It hasn't taken off yet elsewhere in Illinois. Even so, the General Assembly this spring passed a controversial measure that would regulate ridesharing statewide. Monday morning, Governor Pat Quinn vetoed it.  Amanda Vinicky has more on why.

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Rideshare services have scored a win against Chicago's taxi industry in a battle that began in the legislature and moved on to the race for Illinois governor. Gov. Pat Quinn this morning vetoed a plan that would have established statewide regulations for the on-demand driving service, that let passengers call for rides via smart phone apps.

The minimum wage and what to do about Illinois' income tax are big campaign issues in the race between Gov. Pat Quinn and his Republican rival Bruce Rauner.

No surprise: these sorts of policy issues will have a big impact statewide.

Bruce Rauner and Pat Quinn
Brian Mackey/WUIS

Republican gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner says not having a term limits measure on November's ballot is a temporary setback.  

He told reporters Sunday he'll ``campaign very aggressively'' on term limits in both his bid to unseat Gov. Pat Quinn and on behalf of state lawmakers who commit to term limits. A new ad released Sunday focuses on term limits.  

term limits
Brian Mackey/WUIS

  Voters will not have a chance to weigh in on legislative term limits in November.

The Illinois Supreme Court this Friday afternoon issued a brief order saying it will not hear the case.

That leaves in place the decision of two lower courts that ruled the question unconstitutional.

In a statement, Republican gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner said that "Springfield career politicians" — like his Democratic opponent, Governor Pat Quinn — won.

flickr/denniscarr

The state's top ethics investigator says the Illinois Department of Transportation improperly hired more than 250 employees in the past decade.  

Executive Inspector General Ricardo Meza's  report says the practice began in 2003 but continued under Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn. 

IDOT

The Illinois Department of Transportation is eliminating 58
positions that are at the center of a lawsuit alleging questionable hiring
practices.
 
 Acting Secretary Erica Borggren said Thursday the move is designed to boost
``accountability and restore public trust.''
 
In addition to eliminating ``staff assistant'' positions, IDOT is creating a
board to evaluate hiring, and is continuing a freeze on hiring for positions
that can be filled based on political connections.
 

kaiserhealthnews.org

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn has signed two pieces of legislation giving seniors and the disabled greater access to people who can address complaints about their care or their living conditions.  

One of the measures allows people with complaints about nursing homes to submit them electronically to the Illinois Department of Public Health. That takes effect immediately.

methproject.org

Illinois has increased the penalties for some drug offenses.  

Gov. Pat Quinn signed three drug-related pieces of legislation Saturday. They take effect Jan. 1.  

Manufacturing methamphetamine within 1,000 feet of any school property will now be a Class X felony, punishable by a minimum of six years in prison. It was previously considered a Class 1 felony.  

Bruce Rauner
brucerauner.com

Even though Illinois' general election is months away, a controversial ballot question could be answered by the end of this week. Friday is the deadline for a term limits initiative to make it on the ballot.

Republican's nominee for governor, Bruce Rauner, has made instituting term limits for legislators a central plank of his campaign.

That would require a constitutional amendment. Rauner funded an effort to collected a half million signatures, so that the question could go before voters this fall.

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Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

This week, taffy and politics at the Illinois State Fair.

Hannah Meisel

  With summer coming to an end, and the November election getting ever closer, Gov. Pat Quinn and other Illinois Democrats gathered Wednesday in Springfield, for an annual party meeting and rally. But Thursday, Republicans had their day. The GOP hopes it'll be their year.

There's no "normal" way to get to the area on the Illinois State Fairgrounds where Republicans had their gathering.

Hannah Meisel/WUIS

  Republican candidate for governor Bruce Rauner hammered on Democrats at the Illinois State Fair Thursday. The Democrat facing the most criticism is Governor Pat Quinn.

Rauner was greeted almost like a rock star as he rolled into the Republican Day party on his Harley. Every time he mentioned voting Quinn out of office, the crowd erupted in cheers.

Amanda Vinicky

Even as states like Ohio, Iowa and Wisconsin are known as political battlegrounds and bellwethers, Illinois has the reputation for being a solid "blue" state. Illinois sends double as many Democrats to Washington as it does Congressional Republicans. The state legislature tips heavily in favor of Democrats, who hold veto-proof majorities. And it has been more than a decade since a Republican last sat in Illinois' governor's seat.

Hannah Meisel/WUIS

  Governor's Day at the Illinois State Fair brought out Democratic leaders from across the state — including those counties where Democrats seem few and far between.

In these heavily Republican counties, momentum for Democratic candidates can be hard to come by. Compound that with lower Democratic voter turnout in non-presidential election years, and the fight to "keep Illinois blue" gets even more difficult.

One of Illinois' most popular Democrats is expressing doubts about Governor Pat Quinn's chances.  It's an annual event; hundreds of Democrats get together at a Springfield hotel for breakfast and speeches, before heading out to the state fairgrounds.  It's part reunion, part rally.

But as he headed into the event, Secretary of State Jesse White was candid about his fears that November's election may not go well for Democrats ... or at least for the Democrat near the top of the ticket, Gov. Pat Quinn.

Hannah Meisel/WUIS

  The debate over state retiree pensions has been a consistent backdrop for the Illinois gubernatorial election, bringing older voters to the forefront of many debates. It's this senior voting bloc that could make all the difference this election.

The Illinois Building on the State Fairgrounds in Springfield is buzzing with activity. But it's not prized cattle or blue-ribbon pies fair attendees are taking in. Along one wall, it's an array of motor scooters. Along another, it's rows of booths offering different kinds of home care.

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Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

This week, the continuing investigation into patronage hiring at IDOT, questions about Bruce Rauner's companies' tax shelters, and a plea deal agreement involving state Representative LaShawn Ford.

Hannah Meisel/WUIS

  Governor Pat Quinn won't say why his administration contradicted itself when it came to cleaning up hiring at the Illinois Department of Transportation. The administration had previously said the fix was done, but now says it isn't complete.

In facing a lawsuit over political patronage hiring at IDOT, Gov. Quinn characterized it as a non-issue.

His administration said it had already taken care of the problem; that IDOT had reduced the number of jobs in which politics would be taken into consideration.

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