Chicago Sun-Times Latest news from the Chicago Sun-Times Online en-us (Editor) Newspapers Chicago Sun-Times 84 34 30 Copyright 2014 <![CDATA[ Rauner’s regular guy act looks rich ]]> Lead story image

Americans usually prefer it when rich politicians at least try to show that they’re just like everybody else, even if everybody knows it’s just an act. So Bruce Rauner tried his level best, bragging about his hard-scrabble upbringing (on the tony North Shore) and flashing his $18 watch in countless TV ads (paid for by his own gigantic investment accounts). And by December, two polls showed that the previously political unknown Rauner was leading all three of his fellow Republican gubernatorial candidates. But then he really screwed up. For months, he parroted the usual conservative Republican Party line of saying … ]]> Thu, 13 Feb 2014 06:47:00 -0600 <![CDATA[ Gov. Quinn’s remarkable political resurrection ]]> Lead story image

Without a doubt, the biggest Illinois politics story of the year is how Gov. Pat Quinn went from hopelessly lame duck to sitting pretty. I mean, who woulda thunk a year ago that Quinn would not be facing a serious primary challenge? Heck, go back six months to the May 31 end of the spring legislative session, when the Statehouse collectively crashed into a brick wall. The gay marriage bill wasn’t called for a vote in the House, and Quinn looked foolish by claiming (wrongly) that the votes were there to pass it. The pension reform bill went nowhere and … ]]> Thu, 23 Jan 2014 06:37:29 -0600 <![CDATA[ New pension law not in spirit of state constitution ]]> Lead story image

We’re about to find out just what sort of state we really live in. Actually, we already pretty much know. Going back as far as the 1940s, Illinois has neglected to fully fund its public employee pension plans. The problem eventually got so bad the state’s Constitutional Convention delegates inserted an air-tight guarantee that pension benefits could never be “diminished or impaired.” The brand new Constitution was approved by voters in 1970. Illinoisans were officially informed that the pension clause was “self explanatory.” The idea was to scare legislators and the governor into fully funding the pension systems and prevent … ]]> Thu, 09 Jan 2014 06:47:53 -0600 <![CDATA[ Republican Rauner speaks Madigan’s language ]]> Lead story image

Republican gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner has made no bones about his eagerness to take on House Speaker Michael if he’s elected. Rauner constantly claims he is the best man for the job of cutting the entrenched, powerful Democrat down to size. The other three Republican candidates also claim that they are the best people to deal with Madigan. But Rauner has been more forceful than all of them put together, going so far as to say he will “stand up to Madigan, because I know where his special-interest groups are, and I can go after them.” Much of this is … ]]> Wed, 25 Dec 2013 06:36:21 -0600 <![CDATA[ Vallas won’t just be second fiddle to Quinn ]]> Lead story image

Except for his own distinguished six years of service in the job, Gov. Pat Quinn hasn’t had much luck with the lieutenant governor’s office. Back in 2010, Democratic primary voters nominated wealthy pawnshop owner Scott Lee Cohen to the second banana slot on the gubernatorial ticket. Cohen, however, was an unmitigated disaster. His unsavory past, including an arrest for allegedly holding a knife to his girlfriend’s throat, was ignored by everyone in the media except the Sun-Times’ Mark Brown. After he won the primary and became Quinn’s running mate, his history was all of a sudden on full display, and … ]]> Wed, 11 Dec 2013 06:41:44 -0600 <![CDATA[ Just don’t get gay marriage fight ]]> Lead story image

  ‘ Where we go to church on Saturday or Sunday is under attack here,” insisted Rev. Lance Davis, pastor of Dolton’s New Zion Covenant Church, on Wednesday during a Statehouse rally against a gay marriage bill that’s languishing in the Illinois House. Rev. Davis apparently has never read the legislation in question. There are no such threats in the bill, which specifically and unequivocably protects churches and pastors from all legal liability if they refuse to host gay weddings. But, hey, let’s instill fear out there by violating a commandment against bearing false witness. Nicely done, pastor. Jim Finnegan, … ]]> Thu, 28 Nov 2013 06:45:37 -0600 <![CDATA[ There’s a road forward for Illiana Expressway ]]> Lead story image

For years, Illinois leaders have been scolded for not being more like our neighboring states’ leaders. Why can’t our government come up with innovative ideas like theirs? Former Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels was hoisted so high up on a pedestal by some folks here that he was nearly elevated to demi-god status. So, what happened when Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn, who was stung badly when Daniels compared Illinois’ governance to “The Simpsons” TV show, finally teamed up with the Hoosier state’s sainted erstwhile governor on a massive public-private infrastructure project? What happened when Daniels, who signed a union-busting “right to … ]]> Thu, 14 Nov 2013 06:37:24 -0600 <![CDATA[ Copper doors make pension reform hard sell ]]> Lead story image

Bill Daley’s withdrawal from the governor’s race pretty much snuffed out the “Statehouse doors” controversy. The late-summer scandal quickly cranked up to full roar after details emerged that a set of six, custom-made doors on the newly remodeled Western wing of the Illinois Statehouse cost almost $700,000. I was on vacation during much of the uproar, but I figured this would happen years ago when the remodeling began. This kind of thing always happens. The last time the remodelers were turned loose, the press went nuts over some $400 doorknobs. The cost of a new rug for the secretary of … ]]> Wed, 23 Oct 2013 06:24:43 -0600 <![CDATA[ Raoul for governor? He could win ]]> Lead story image

The numbers so far show that Raoul could overcome a somewhat late start and very well win the race. ]]> Thu, 26 Sep 2013 06:36:48 -0600 <![CDATA[ Ty Fahner’s bad fantasy ]]> Lead story image

Last March, the president of the influential and heavily corporate CEO-populated Civic Committee of the Commercial Club of Chicago told a long and involved story. The tale was about how he and some members of his group had tried to browbeat the New York credit ratings agencies into lowering Illinois’ bond ratings. The ratings hadn’t yet plummeted to where they are now, so the idea was to use ratings cuts to put pressure on Illinois to enact a tough pension-reform law that drastically reduced benefits for current and future public employee retirees. There were a “couple” of interactions on the … ]]> Sun, 11 Aug 2013 02:34:39 -0600 <![CDATA[ Tipping the scales against Illinois ]]> Lead story image

While watching White Sox players embarrass themselves yet again this week, my sad eyes turned to a private club behind home plate. The slogan “You got a guy” was plastered all over the front of the club, which is run by a Chicago ticket broker. This being Chicago, everybody wants “a guy” to handle things. It’s who you know, not what you know. That ticket broker sure knows his target audience well, I thought, as yet another Sox player committed yet another moronic error. A Metra employee who couldn’t get a raise last year after his supervisor recommended a pay … ]]> Thu, 25 Jul 2013 16:56:01 -0600 <![CDATA[ Quinn’s payroll stunt dangerous ]]> Lead story image

Pretty much everybody is cheering Gov. Pat Quinn for vetoing state legislators’ salaries out of the Illinois budget this week. Quinn vetoed lawmaker salaries because, he said, he was tired of waiting year after year for legislators to pass a comprehensive pension reform plan. Probably the only state politicians despised more than Quinn himself these days are legislators, so nobody is weeping for legislators’ personal financial troubles. Quinn, down in the polls and desperate for any kind of “win,” knows this is a sure-fire way to appeal to the populist disgust with the no-can-do General Assembly. But man, is this … ]]> Fri, 12 Jul 2013 02:22:14 -0600 <![CDATA[ Whom not to boo at Pride Parade ]]> Lead story image

If you’re heading to the Pride Parade this weekend, you might be tempted to boo some of the state politicians who’ll be marching. If you want to boo them for screwing up the state’s finances, then go right ahead. But don’t jeer because the marriage equality bill failed to pass the General Assembly. First of all, the people who stopped the marriage bill won’t even be at the parade, let alone marching in it. The politicians marching in front of you on Sunday are on your side. They support marriage equality or they wouldn’t be there. The Illinois Senate passed … ]]> Fri, 28 Jun 2013 02:22:48 -0600 <![CDATA[ Travel state, then run for governor ]]> Lead story image

Several months ago, I offered Bill Daley some unsolicited advice. Before you decide whether to run for governor, I suggested to Daley during a phone call, you should take some time off and drive around Illinois. Cairo, in deep Southern Illinois, is 370 miles from Chicago. It’s a whole other world down there. Maybe take a day and head out to Quincy, which is about as far west as you can go in Illinois and where the economy usually thrives even during recessions. Quincy is almost 100 miles closer to Kansas City than it is to Chicago. Tuscola is a … ]]> Fri, 14 Jun 2013 02:23:39 -0600 <![CDATA[ If Gov. Pat Quinn’s a leader, it’s from behind ]]> Lead story image

How can you be a leader if nobody is following you? This week on my blog ( I wrote that Gov. Pat Quinn is honest, but “no leader.” His press secretary fired off an angry retort: “Give me a break. “Real leadership requires honesty and making hard but necessary decisions for the common good. Real leadership requires telling the truth, looking at the big picture and doing what’s best for generations to come. Prior governors got things done like approving big early retirement initiatives, pension holidays and unaffordable contracts that helped create the crisis we’re in now. Gov. Quinn has … ]]> Fri, 24 May 2013 02:23:36 -0600 <![CDATA[ Pension problem began long ago ]]> Lead story image

Lawmakers are human beings, and like most human beings they don’t make any major changes until it’s clear that something absolutely has to be done. Pension reform is a good case in point. It’s been obvious since just after World War II that Illinois’ pension systems were dangerously underfunded. But nothing was done until the problem was discussed at the state constitutional convention in 1969. The delegates came up with a plan that they believed would scare the Illinois General Assembly into finally providing adequate funding for the pension systems. The idea was simple. Legislators were forever barred from cutting … ]]> Fri, 10 May 2013 02:26:55 -0600 <![CDATA[ Illinois GOP is out of step with changing electorate ]]> Lead story image

Not all that long ago, DuPage County was about as reliably Republican and rock-ribbed conservative as they came. Things are changing For one, it’s not nearly as Republican. Back in the 1998 governor’s race, Republican George Ryan defeated Democrat Glenn Poshard by 104,000 votes in DuPage. But in 2010, during the greatest Republican landslide since 1946, Republican Bill Brady managed to beat Gov. Pat Quinn by less than half Ryan’s total: 45,000 votes. Barack Obama carried the county in both of his presidential bids. DuPage used to be dominated by Pate Philip, the no-nonsense conservative former state Senate president. Pate … ]]> Fri, 26 Apr 2013 12:24:54 -0600 <![CDATA[ Black pastors hit gay marriage ]]> Lead story image

There was a time at the Illinois Statehouse when using African-American ministers as political props was all the rage. ComEd touted support from black preachers to pass a bill to raise its rates. AT&T did the same when it passed a major piece of legislation. Before the national real estate and banking crash, the mortgage industry fought a bill to crack down on excessively lenient home loans by putting black ministers up front. And though the ministers were obviously just doing a bit of payroll shilling, their state legislators took them quite seriously. ComEd and AT&T won their fights. The … ]]> Fri, 12 Apr 2013 02:24:20 -0600