Friday, July 30, 2010

President Obama's Statement on the Anniversary of American Hikers Held Capitive in Iran


Tomorrow marks one year since Sarah Shourd, Shane Bauer, and Josh Fattal were detained by the Islamic Republic of Iran. Sarah, Shane and Josh committed absolutely no crime. When they were arrested and detained, they were hiking in the region along the border of Iran and Iraq. Yet for a full year, they have been held in prison, causing extraordinary grief and uncertainty for them, for their families, and for their loved ones.

I want to be perfectly clear: Sarah, Shane and Josh have never worked for the United States government. They are simply open-minded and adventurous young people who represent the best of America, and of the human spirit. They are teachers, artists, and advocates for social and environmental justice. They have never had any quarrel with the government of Iran, and have great respect for the Iranian people.

I call on the Iranian government to immediately release Sarah, Shane and Josh. Their unjust detention has nothing to do with the issues that continue to divide the United States and the international community from the Iranian government. This is a humanitarian imperative, as these three young people are innocent of any crime. As a signatory to multiple conventions on human rights, the government of Iran should act in line with the principles of justice, and allow Sarah, Shane and Josh to be reunited with their families. This call has been echoed by people in many countries, and is shared by all who respect human freedom and decency.

I want to particularly acknowledge the suffering and advocacy of Sarah, Shane and Josh’s families. Earlier this week, I spoke with the mothers of these three young people, who have worked tirelessly for the release of their children. The Iranian government’s gesture of allowing these mothers to visit their children was welcome, but I cannot imagine how painful it was for these three courageous women to return home without their children. I told these three mothers that Sarah, Shane and Josh are in my thoughts and prayers, and that the U.S. government would continue to do all that it could to secure their release.

I also spoke earlier this week with the wife of Robert Levinson, who went missing in Iran over three years ago. We continue to have no information about his welfare, and reiterate our call for the government of Iran to provide any information that it has about his whereabouts. It is time to facilitate Robert Levinson’s return to the family and friends who have suffered so greatly in his absence. We continue to have him in our thoughts and prayers, and to do all that we can to reunite him with his family.

Each of these cases reminds us of the dignity that is shared by all human beings, and the necessity of justice. All Americans stand together in support of our citizens who are suffering through unjust detention abroad, and we will not rest until they are home.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

New IL Law Allows State Agencies to Store Records Electronically


CHICAGO - July 28, 2010. Governor Pat Quinn today signed a bill into law that allows state agencies and constitutional officers to send and store records electronically. The new law will help the state save money and conserve natural resources.

“State government must better leverage technology to conserve our natural resources and protect the environment,” said Governor Quinn. “This new law will help the state use our resources more efficiently, save money, and help the environment.”

Senate Bill 2630 updates Illinois law to allow state agencies to transmit or retain records electronically, unless doing so conflicts with the State Records Act or the agency’s administrative rules. In many instances, current state law does not allow agencies to e-mail documents or to store them electronically, requiring instead that they be printed for mailings and for storage.

The law does not require agencies to transfer previously archived documents to electronic format.

The new law also creates an advisory board that will develop best practices for state agencies on how to implement electronic records management and retention policies. The best practices will be developed by July 1, 2011. Every state agency and constitutional office will be required to use the guidelines beginning in early 2012 to promote the use of electronic means of creating, transmitting and retaining state records.

The new law was an initiative of State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias.

“This new law will help bring state government into the 21st Century in both a fiscally and environmentally responsible way,” Giannoulias said. “Making the switch to electronic records will not only help save natural resources, it will ultimately reduce costs associated with mailing, printing, and storing documents as well as buying paper and envelopes.”

The legislation was sponsored by Sen. Heather Steans (D-Chicago) and Rep. Thomas Holbrook (D-Belleville) and passed the Illinois General Assembly unanimously. It takes effect immediately.

Friday, July 23, 2010

GOP Senate Candidate Mark Kirk Says He Would Vote for Kagan, Were He Currently a US Senator

from the Kirk for Senate Campaign

With regard to Solicitor General Kagan, I would support her nomination. Ms. Kagan appears to be modest and thoughtful not because she expected this nomination but because she is modest and thoughtful. Under the Constitution, only the President can make this nomination and Solicitor General Kagan is one of the more careful nominees he could have picked.

Alexander Hamilton wrote in Federalist No. 76: “To what purpose then require the cooperation of the Senate? I answer that the necessity of their concurrence would have a powerful, though in general a silent operation. It would be an excellent check upon a spirit of favoritism in the president, would tend generally to prevent the appointment of unfit characters from family connection, from personal attachment, and from a view to popularity.”

Under this tradition, the Senate tempered any partisan review of the president’s choice. Recently, justices Ginsberg (96-3), Kennedy (97-0), Stevens (98-0), Scalia (98-0), Bryer (87-9) and Roberts (78-22) were confirmed by bipartisan majorities that applied the Federalist standard. I note Solicitor General Kagan earned support from the American Bar Association and conservative judges Estrada and McConnell.

Ms. Kagan's decision to ban military recruiters from Harvard troubled me. During her hearings, she committed to follow the unanimous Supreme Court ruling striking down that ban. I also note she considered the death penalty settled law and successfully won her case before the Supreme Court affirming the government's position against terrorists.


Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Court Rules Cedra Crenshaw Back on Ballot in State Senate Race Against Sen. A. J. Wilhelmi

Press Statement from the Office of Cedra Crenshaw
For Immediate Release

“I am just one mom, and today is a victory for all moms, dads, and regular people vs. Chicago Machine and their political games. I am delighted by the news that I am back on the ballot. Together, we will hold my opponent accountable for his horrific voting record,” said Cedra Crenshaw.

From the inception, Crenshaw had called on Sen. Arthur Wilhelmi to stop his party’s ballot challenge. Instead, Wilhelmi encouraged the spacious, technical attack to restrict Crenshaw’s ballot access, as he repeatedly said, “the law needs to be followed.” Today, the court spoke and the Wilhelmi machine lost. Good government and the rule of law won the first battle.

Throughout Wilhelmi’s entire political career, he has been timid in the face of corruption. Wilhelmi could not even stand up to corrupt Gov. Rod Blagojevich. On the question, should the people of Illinois have the right to recall corrupt Gov. Rod Blagojevich- he voted “present”. Even as the Crenshaw challenge became a national news story, Wilhelmi refused to defend the most basic principle in our representative democracy: ballot access. Wilhelmi was again “present” while basic democratic principles were being trashed by the leadership of his party. The people of Illinois are weary of Wilhelmi- politicians.

“My team worked very hard to get on the ballot, collecting 2,100 petition signatures in only 19 days. It is evident that our work ethic needs to go to Springfield and reform Springfield!”, stated Crenshaw.

This is a leadership election and once elected to the state senate Crenshaw’s will introduce legislation to clarify election law and help make ballot access less complicated for everyone -- even independents and third parties. The people of Illinois need to hold their career politicians to account, and competition at the ballot box means accountability for lawmakers.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Kirk Campaign Questions Giannoulias Statement that He Doesn't Take Money from Those Who Lobby the Treasurer's Office


Background: Last week, Alexi Giannoulias was asked whether he accepts campaign contributions from state lobbyists who lobby his State Treasurer’s office. Giannoulias did not give a straight answer. From the press conference:

Reporter: You don’t take federal money, but the Kirk folks are saying that you do take state lobbying money. Have you said ‘No’ to any kind of lobbyists who lobby for the state and especially to your treasurer’s office?

Giannoulias: And again, I understand the congressman is trying to put up smokescreens and trying to change the subject from the fact that he’s raised millions of dollars from federal lobbyists. The truth of the matter is my first day in office I ended pay-to-play in the state treasurer’s office. We don’t take money from anyone who does business with the state treasurer’s office. We don’t take money from banks. And if individuals want to donate, that’s fine. We have a complete firewall between myself and federal lobbyists.

Reporter: What about state lobbyists? Other state lobbyists, maybe they don’t lobby your particular office, but state lobbyists. Is there a ban on those?

Giannoulias: Well, they don’t – and again, this is about the decision with regard to the U.S. Senate race, and with regards to the United States Senate. And they have no impact on that legislation.

Why is Alexi Giannoulias trying to dodge a simple yes or no question?

Alexi Giannoulias says he “doesn’t take money from anyone who does business with the State Treasurer’s office,” but does he take money from anyone who lobbies the Treasurer’s office?

Alexi Giannoulias says he has a “complete firewall” between himself and federal lobbyists, but does he have a “complete firewall” between himself and state lobbyists who can influence his current office?

Get the Facts: As of March 31, 2010, Alexi for Illinois accepted $87,626.35 from registered Illinois State lobbyists – including $28,326.35 from lobbyists registered with entities that lobby the Treasurer’s office in the same year as their contribution. (Sources: Federal Election Commission; State of Illinois Lobbying Information Search) The total as of June 30th is not yet available. Lobbyists registered with entities that lobby the Treasurer’s office who contributed to Alexi for Illinois include:

Name Amount Date Employer Source
Balanoff, Tom $250.00 1/17/2010 SEIU source
Cassidy, Michael $100.00 3/31/2009 Information Requested source
Corrigan, John $2,400.00 12/28/2009 John C Corrigan & Associates source
Dart, Timothy $2,400.00 6/22/2009 Nicolay & Dart source
Dart, Timothy $2,400.00 3/29/2010 Nicolay & Dart source
Flynn, Neil $1,000.00 12/12/2009 Neil F Flynn & Associates source
Frang, Larry $2,000.00 10/16/2009 Illinois Municipal League source
Frang, Larry $2,000.00 3/24/2010 Illinois Municipal League source
Houlihan, Michael $1,800.00 3/29/2010 All-Circo source
Hunter, Laura $500.00 4/27/2009 Self-Employed source
Hunter, Laura $250.00 6/30/2009 The Hunter Group source
Jubeh, Hanah $2,400.00 3/27/2009 P2 Consulting source
Jubeh, Hanah $2,056.00 6/26/2009 Duo Strategies source
Jubeh, Hanah $220.35 12/29/2009 Duo Strategies source
Lackland, Jonathan $100.00 11/17/2009 IL Assn of Minorities in Govt source
Manning, David $2,000.00 6/29/2009 Community Bankers Assoc source
Manning, David $400.00 12/11/2009 Consultant source
Manning, David $500.00 3/31/2010 Consultant source
Patton, Mary $500.00 9/20/2009 Retired source
Shomon, Dan $2,400.00 3/30/2010 Dan Shomon source
Storino, Donald $2,400.00 3/6/2009 Self-Employed source
Toppert, Wesley $250.00 3/3/2009 Dan Shomon Inc source

Statement by Gov Quinn on the Settlement of the Chicago Area Labor Strike

CHICAGO – July 20, 2010. Governor Pat Quinn today issued the following statement on the settlement of the International Union of Operating Engineers, Local 150 and The Laborers District Council of Chicago & Vicinity strike:
“I want to salute the Operating Engineers and Laborers’ for coming to an agreement that will allow Illinois’ workers to return to their jobs and get important infrastructure projects back on track. We must continue to work together to keep these projects moving for Illinois residents and for the future of our state’s economy. The Illinois Department of Transportation continues to announce new projects that are part of the largest construction season in the history of Illinois. I want to again commend both parties – the unions and contractors – for the agreement reached last night that will help keep this construction season moving in the right direction.”
The agreement was reached with the Mid-America Regional Bargaining Association (MARBA).

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Live Shot of BP's Effort to place Containment Cap on

As a reminder - We've added a LIVE shot of BP's effort to place a Containment Cap on the oil leak. At this time, the effort continues, with much promise.

IL Issues Warning of Toxic Chemicals Produced by Stagnant Water Algae

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — For the first time in five years, the state is issuing an advisory over algae.

The Department of Natural Resources is urging boaters and swimmers to be careful not to ingest any of the water in Clinton Lake in DeWitt County , especially in stagnant areas or around algae blooms, because of the possibility of toxic chemicals being emitted by blue-green algae, which are common in Illinois waters.

Gregg Good, manager of the Surface Water Section for the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency, says the toxin is naturally occurring, but it isn’t always present; if the water is tested, the toxic chemical might be there one day and not be there the next.

The state became aware of the problem when a small dog died after drinking from the lake last week.

An autopsy is being performed on the dog, and the water is being tested. The toxin probably won’t kill a person, but it will cause stomach cramps, vomiting, fever and diarrhea.

The last time the state issued an advisory like this was in 2005 for Otter Lake in Macoupin County .

Gov Quinn to Release Commercial Fishermen Loose on Asian Carp Invaders, then Sell Carp to Chinese


Agreement will Boost Commercial Fishing Industry,
Creates 180 Jobs

CHICAGO – July 13, 2010. Governor Pat Quinn today announced a new initiative to stop the spread of invasive Asian carp species into the Great Lakes. Illinois is entering into a public-private partnership that will reduce Asian carp populations where they have been discovered in Illinois waters. This first-of-its-kind partnership will help enhance the commercial fishing industry, create approximately 180 jobs and relieve pressure on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Electric Barrier System designed to stop fish from moving further towards Lake Michigan.

“Protecting the Great Lakes is vital to millions of people from Illinois and throughout the Midwest who rely on these waterways for their livelihoods,” said Governor Quinn. “Today’s agreement is one of the most aggressive efforts to address the Asian carp problem, and is a critical step to long-term economic sustainability and the success of the commercial fishing industry.”

Illinois is entering into an agreement with Chinese meat processing company Beijing Zhuochen Animal Husbandry Company and Big River Fisheries located in Pearl, Ill. to harvest 30 million pounds of carp from Illinois rivers. Big River will process, package and ship the fish to Zhuochen for resale in international markets where the fish is a delicacy. The company is expected to harvest at least 30 million pounds of fish for the purpose of this agreement by the end of 2011.

The state, through the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, will invest $2 million in capital funds to help Big River retrofit its existing facility, increase its processing capacity and expand to new production facilities in Pittsfield, which will create 61 new jobs and 120 indirect jobs. Commercial fishermen, contracted by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, have already started removing Asian carp in the Illinois River where populations exist.

“The high quality and taste of the wild Asian carp from Big River Fish far exceeded our expectations. We see a tremendous market in China for the wild Asian carp,” said Mr. Liang Chang, Chairman, Beijing Zhuochen Animal Husbandry. “As Big River Fish's production capacity increases, we will be able to expand our marketing efforts in China.”

“Big River Fish can now retrofit and expand its facilities to meet our production commitment to Zhuochen,” said Mr. Rick Smith, President, Big River Fish Corp. “The Asian carp can become an economic engine for Illinois rather than a threat, and we thank Governor Quinn for his support of our efforts.”

Today’s announcement builds on the state’s existing efforts to stop the spread of Asian carp. The Illinois Department of Natural Resources, in conjunction with the Asian Carp Regional Coordinating Committee (ACRCC), has established an Asian Carp Control Strategy Framework, which includes both short- and long- term actions intended to keep Asian carp from establishing populations in the Great Lakes. These measures include:

• Operations to reduce propagule pressure on barriers
• Increased fish collection efforts and population suppression
• Evaluation of current suppression tools, as well as future fish suppression activities
• Emergency measures to prevent bypass of fish between the Des Plaines River and the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal (CSSC), as well as between the Illinois &Michigan Canal and the CSSC during flood events
• Increased biological control efforts
• Construction of a third electric barrier

To view the entire control framework, or to learn more about the efforts of the ACRCC, visit

In June, a Bighead Asian carp was found in Lake Calumet along the Chicago Area Waterway System (CAWS). This is the first physical specimen that has been found in the CAWS above the Electric Barrier System. Since the find, Illinois along with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and commercial fishermen have intensely sampled both Lake Calumet and the Calumet River leading to Lake Michigan. No other Asian carp have been found in the Chicago area waterway system to date.

President Obama Reportedly Picks New Budget Director


President Barack Obama will nominate Jacob Lew, a Clinton budget hand and former hedge fund manager for Citibank, as the next director of the White House Office of Management and Budget, the White House announced.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

ILGOP Chairman Statement on Removal of GOP State Sen. Candidate Cedra Crenshaw


“This is brazen machine politics right before our very eyes. The Democrats are out to protect incumbent A. J. Wilhelmi, period. Cedra is a mom who got fed up with politics as usual and decided to run. I’m sure she’s not surprised, and I’m convinced she won’t give up without a fight.” - Pat Brady, Chairman, Illinois Republican Party

Sen Bill Brady (R) Statement on Gov Quinn Awarding Pay Hikes to Staff

from the Brady for Governor Campaign,

"This morning, working families in Illinois woke up to learn that Governor Quinn is doling out massive pay raises as high as 24 thousand dollars to political cronies on his own staff, while the rest of us are tightening our belts, struggling just to get by.

I believe pay hikes for state government executives during a fiscal crisis is outrageous, but Governor Quinn? He defends his executive pay hikes, telling viewers on Chicago Tonight, "...that’s how it works."

Well Governor, feathering the nests of your own political cronies while working families are just scraping by is NOT how government should work. If Pat Quinn is serious about controlling state spending, he should immediately enact a wage freeze on state government payroll, and reverse his pay hikes for his executive staff today."