Monday, February 28, 2011

Gov Quinn Names EPA's Doug Scott as New Head of Commerce Commission, Flores to IDFPR

CHICAGO - February 28, 2011. Governor Pat Quinn today announced several top appointments to his executive cabinet. Today’s actions are the next step in a series of appointments Governor Quinn will continue making throughout the first quarter of 2011 as he continues to fulfill his commitment to creating jobs, recovering our economy and making state government more efficient and accountable to the people of Illinois.

Today Governor Quinn named Doug Scott as chairman of the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) and Manuel “Manny” Flores as director of the Division of Banking of the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation. Scott has served as director of the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) since 2005 and Flores has chaired the ICC since January 2010. Governor Quinn also named Andrew Ross as the state’s chief operating officer and Lisa Bonnett as interim director of IEPA.

“Throughout their careers, Doug Scott and Manny Flores have proven themselves to be strong advocates for the interests of Illinois’ working families,” said Governor Quinn. “Today’s appointments will allow them to keep fighting for Illinois’ consumers by ensuring proper oversight and regulation of utility companies and banks throughout our state.”

As director of the IEPA, Scott has protected Illinois’ consumers by working to significantly reduce emissions from the state’s power plants. He has also worked to support low-emission coal technology, wind power, and other alternative energy and fuel sources. Prior to leading the IEPA, Scott served as mayor of Rockford, and from 1995 to 2001 he served as state representative from Illinois’ 67th District. Scott has a bachelor of arts from the University of Tulsa and a juris doctorate from Marquette University.

As chairman of the ICC, Flores worked to ensure consumers received efficient, reliable, safe and fairly-priced utility services. Before leading the ICC, Flores served on the Chicago City Council and as a prosecutor in the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office. He received his undergraduate degree in political science from Dominican University and juris doctorate from George Washington University Law School.

Lisa Bonnett will serve as the interim director of the IEPA. Bonnett is currently serving as the agency’s acting deputy director and previously served at its chief fiscal officer. Bonnett has worked in state government for more than 30 years and lives in Springfield. She has a bachelor’s degree and master’s degree from the University of Illinois at Springfield.

Today Governor Quinn also named Andrew Ross as the state’s chief operating officer. Ross, who for the last two years has served as a deputy chief of staff in the governor’s office, will lead efforts to promote continued job growth in Illinois. He will manage efforts in the governor’s office and across state government to keep and attract new companies, encourage expansion of the green economy, and spur entrepreneurship and innovation across Illinois. In his previous position, Ross worked on an incentive package to keep Navistar and 3,000 jobs in Illinois, aided implementation of the state’s $31 billion capital program and helped overhaul the regulation of the Illinois cemetery industry following the tragedy at Burr Oak Cemetery in Alsip.


President Obama's Statement on the Passing of Frank Buckles, the Last American Veteran of World War I

Michelle and I were inspired by the service and life story of former Army Corporal Frank W. Buckles, the last surviving American veteran of World War I and the oldest known World War I era veteran in the world, who passed away yesterday at the age of 110. A decorated soldier in the Great War, he also survived more than three years in Japanese prisoner of war camps during the Second World War.

Frank Buckles lived the American Century. Like so many veterans, he returned home, continued his education, began a career, and along with his late wife Audrey, raised their daughter Susannah. And just as Frank continued to serve America until his passing, as the Honorary Chairman of the World War I Memorial Foundation, our nation has a sacred obligation to always serve our veterans and their families as well as they’ve served us. We join Susannah and all those who knew and loved her father in celebrating a remarkable life that reminds us of the true meaning of patriotism and our obligations to each other as Americans.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Wet Mush

The flux between snow, rain, and warmer temperatures is making Central Illinois a mix of saturated ground, mud, and still frozen ponds.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Rep Tom Cross (R) Calls for Vote on HB200, Sports Concussion Education

(Springfield) With growing attention on the dangers of concussions for athletes, former Chicago Bears offensive lineman and 1985 Super Bowl champion Kurt Becker plans to testify in favor of House Bill 200, a bill aimed to require more concussion education for parents, coaches and student athletes in Illinois.

On Wednesday morning, Becker will join the Athletic Director from Oswego High School, Steve McInerney and the Illinois High School Association’s Marty Hickman to testify in favor of Rep. Tom Cross’ (R-Oswego) bill.

The Elementary and Secondary Education Committee is scheduled to start at 8:00 a.m. on Wednesday, February 23 in room 114 at the capitol in Springfield.

Friday, February 18, 2011

IL Senate President Cullerton (D) Offers Support to Wisconsin Senate Dems

Illinois Senate President John Cullerton reached out to his Wisconsin colleagues today to offer his support for their efforts to protect public service employees’ right to bargain and force good faith negotiations on how to save public dollars.

Earlier today, Cullerton contacted the office of the Democratic Senate Leader in Wisconsin to offer his support and assistance.

“The vilification of public sector employees needs to stop. These are the people who teach our children, guard our worst criminals and protect our public health and safety,” Cullerton said. “Their rights shouldn’t be bulldozed for political gain.”

At the same time the Illinois Senate President called on Illinois’ public worker unions to help state leaders here resolve ongoing budget problems.

Cullerton reiterated that he intends to work with teachers’ unions to reform the education process and ensure the best teachers lead public school classrooms.

He also encouraged state AFSCME workers to contribute to the discussion on how to find savings and efficiencies in state spending.

“It’s the frontline workers who would likely know best how to maximize our resources and cut back on outdated and unnecessary services and spending. I want those workers to have a say in the budget and share their ideas,” Cullerton said.

Illinois and unions have a proven record of working together for success.

The recently enacted McCormick Place union work rules cut convention costs and bureaucratic red tape. The move spurred increased convention business which translates into more union work.

Gov Quinn Announces $1 Million Effort to Build Electric Vehicle ReCharging System

CHICAGO – February 18, 2011. Governor Pat Quinn today announced an initiative to boost the state’s sustainability efforts through the increased use of electric vehicles. Under the plan, the state will invest $1 million of Illinois Jobs Now! capital funding to install state-of-the-art electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure throughout the Chicagoland area.

“This project will encourage greater use of green transportation alternatives by making electric vehicle use more convenient and accessible in one of the most heavily traveled cities in the country,” said Governor Quinn. “Through strategic investments like this, we are encouraging long-term economic growth, supporting innovation and creating the jobs of today and tomorrow.”

This project is expected to be the largest concentration of DC quick-charge stations in the world. Exact locations of the charging stations are still being determined, but will include Midway and O’Hare Airports, grocery stores and shopping centers throughout the Chicagoland area, and parking garages in downtown Chicago. Installation of the network is expected to be completed by the beginning of 2012.

350Green, LLC will install, own and operate the EV charging network. The network will consist of a total of 280 charging stations, including 73 DC quick-charging stations and 146 Level 2 chargers for public use, with an additional 61 Level 2 chargers for the dedicated use of I-GO and Zipcar car-sharing fleets. The DC quick-chargers represent a new technology that will drastically reduce the amount of time it takes to charge a vehicle. A vehicle would now be able to charge in the time it takes to shop at the grocery store, as opposed to charging overnight, which is the current standard.

The $1 million in state capital investment will match $1 million in Clean Cities Grant funds that the city of Chicago received through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009. The project is expected to create 18 permanent and temporary jobs, and construction of the network will support 8,500 labor hours. The Illinois Jobs Now! capital construction program has created an estimated 155,000 jobs to date, and is expected to create or retain more than 439,000 jobs over six years.


Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Illinois Republican Party Chairman Pat Brady on Gov Quinn's FY 2012 Budget

"Pat Quinn tried to frame himself as a fiscal conservative in his budget address today. However, the rhetoric of this speech was empty, as his words do not match up with his policies, or reality for that matter. The fact remains that Pat Quinn has not proposed any specific, substantial budget cuts that are necessary to restore financial order. His only solutions continue to be borrowing against the future of Illinois and raising taxes.

"Governor Quinn glossed over the 66% income tax hike as a 'new revenue law' - a tax increase that will cost average citizens thousands of dollars that they just cannot afford right now, and also kill Illinois jobs. What he proved today is that he still does not grasp the gravity of the financial mess that Illinois is in, and the devastating effects that it is having on taxpayers and small businesses.

"Governor Quinn speaks as if the problems that plague Illinois were on someone else's watch - but in fact they have accumulated during his administration and that when he served as Lieutenant Governor under Rod Blagojevich. It's time he get serious about the reality of the situation and make the difficult decisions needed to get Illinois back to work. Quinn said today: 'Saying no is not enough, unless you are willing to offer new alternatives.' In fact is is Governor Quinn who is not offering new alternatives - just the same old 'borrow more, spend more, tax more.'"

Comptroller Topinka (R) Reacts to Governor Quinn's FY 2012 Budget

SPRINGFIELD – Illinois Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka released the following statement Wednesday in response to Governor Pat Quinn’s proposed budget, which includes $8.75 billion in new borrowing:

“Governor Quinn inherited a financial disaster from his impeached predecessor and I applaud him for working to restore our state’s fiscal integrity. But ultimately his budget proposal promises a new high in state spending and $8.75 billion in new borrowing. We need to end the disastrous pattern of ‘tax, borrow and spend’ that has put us into this mess. My solution is simple: cut spending, pay off our bills and get our house in order. Once that is done, responsible borrowing with a practical payback timeframe can be considered.

“Illinois families and employers recently endured a massive tax increase to allow the state to make ends meet. They are paying more to their state government than at any time in Illinois history, and they should expect no less than a balanced budget. Today’s proposal by the Governor still falls short of that goal, and in fact relies on borrowed money to cover-up an operating budget that is $1.7 billion higher than last year.

“The Governor’s office has indicated a willingness to work with lawmakers and Constitutional officers from both parties to find common ground, and I thank him for that offer. That dialogue provides an opportunity to move away from further discussion of taxing and borrowing, and focus on spending. We must work together to use this fiscal crisis to reassess every dollar spent, and find ways to become more efficient and do more with less. To that end, I encourage all state leaders to craft their own list of savings, or ways to stretch our tax dollars. From long-overdue changes in Medicaid to consolidation of the state’s fiscal offices, there are things we can do – and time is of the essence.”


Thursday, February 10, 2011

Statement of President Barack Obama on Egypt Following Mubarak's Refusal to Resign

The Egyptian people have been told that there was a transition of authority, but it is not yet clear that this transition is immediate, meaningful or sufficient. Too many Egyptians remain unconvinced that the government is serious about a genuine transition to democracy, and it is the responsibility of the government to speak clearly to the Egyptian people and the world. The Egyptian government must put forward a credible, concrete and unequivocal path toward genuine democracy, and they have not yet seized that opportunity.

As we have said from the beginning of this unrest, the future of Egypt will be determined by the Egyptian people. But the United States has also been clear that we stand for a set of core principles. We believe that the universal rights of the Egyptian people must be respected, and their aspirations must be met. We believe that this transition must immediately demonstrate irreversible political change, and a negotiated path to democracy. To that end, we believe that the emergency law should be lifted. We believe that meaningful negotiations with the broad opposition and Egyptian civil society should address the key questions confronting Egypt’s future: protecting the fundamental rights of all citizens; revising the Constitution and other laws to demonstrate irreversible change; and jointly developing a clear roadmap to elections that are free and fair.

We therefore urge the Egyptian government to move swiftly to explain the changes that have been made, and to spell out in clear and unambiguous language the step by step process that will lead to democracy and the representative government that the Egyptian people seek. Going forward, it will be essential that the universal rights of the Egyptian people be respected. There must be restraint by all parties. Violence must be forsaken. It is imperative that the government not respond to the aspirations of their people with repression or brutality. The voices of the Egyptian people must be heard.

The Egyptian people have made it clear that there is no going back to the way things were: Egypt has changed, and its future is in the hands of the people. Those who have exercised their right to peaceful assembly represent the greatness of the Egyptian people, and are broadly representative of Egyptian society. We have seen young and old, rich and poor, Muslim and Christian join together, and earn the respect of the world through their non-violent calls for change. In that effort, young people have been at the forefront, and a new generation has emerged. They have made it clear that Egypt must reflect their hopes, fulfill their highest aspirations, and tap their boundless potential. In these difficult times, I know that the Egyptian people will persevere, and they must know that they will continue to have a friend in the United States of America.

Text of President Obama's Prepared Remarks on National Wireless Initiative

Hello, Marquette! It is good to be in the U.P. It is good to be at Northern Michigan University!

So, I have to say, I think some folks on my staff have it out for me. Not because it’s 10 degrees here – I can handle that. It’s because for the second time in two weeks, not long after my Bears went down, they’ve sent me to a town with a bunch of Green Bay Packer fans, even if we are in Michigan. But I congratulate all the fans here, and we’ll see the Packers at the White House.

Of course, I haven’t come to Marquette to talk about winning the Super Bowl. I’ve come here because it’s towns like this where the jobs and businesses of tomorrow will take root. It’s towns like this where our economic future will be won.

In the short-term, the best thing we can do to speed up economic growth is to make sure families and businesses have more money to spend. And that’s exactly what the tax cuts we passed in December are doing. Because Democrats and Republicans came together, Americans’ paychecks will be a little bigger this year. Businesses will be able to write off their investments. Companies will grow and add workers.

But we have to do more. Our measure of success has to be whether every American who wants a job can find one; whether this country is still the place where you can make it if you try. In a world that’s more connected and more competitive, other nations look at this as their moment – their turn to win the jobs and industries of our time. I see things differently. I see this as America’s moment to win the future.

To do this, though, we have to up our game. To attract the best jobs and newest industries, we’ve got to out-innovate, out-educate, out-build and out-hustle the rest of the world. That means investing in cutting-edge research and technology, like the new advanced battery manufacturing industry that’s taking root right here in Michigan. It means investing in the skills and training of our people. It means investing in transportation and communication networks that move goods and information as fast as possible.

And to make room for these investments, we have to cut whatever spending we can do without. That’s why I’ve proposed that we freeze annual domestic spending for the next five years, which would reduce the deficit by more than $400 billion over the next decade, and bring that spending to the lowest share of our economy since Eisenhower was President.

Government has to start doing what American families do every day: we have to live within our means. But even as we do so, we cannot sacrifice our future. If you’re trying to cut back, you might decide not to go out to dinner or take a vacation. But you wouldn’t stop saving for your kids’ college or your retirement. The same is true with our country. Even as we cut out the things we can afford to do without, we have a responsibility to invest in those areas that will have the biggest impact our future – innovation, education, and infrastructure.

That last area – infrastructure – is why I’ve come here today.

Connecting a country of our size has never been easy. Just imagine what Americans experienced when they fanned out from thirteen colonies to settle a continent. If you wanted to get from one coast to the other, it would take you months and cost you a small fortune. If you settled in the heartland, you were an island, with no real market to sell your goods or buy what you needed.

So we decided to build a railroad to span a continent – one that would blast through mountains of granite, use thousands of miles of steel, and put to work an army of citizens and immigrants. It was an endeavor that would also require support from our government. As General William T. Sherman said, “Uncle Sam is the only giant I know who can grapple the subject.”

Even as President Lincoln tried to hold together North and South, he was determined to see this railroad unite East and West. Private companies joined the charge, racing one another to meet in the middle. And eventually, a telegraph operator sent out a simple message to the cheers of a waiting nation: “DONE.” If he knew we’d still be talking about it today, he might have come up with something more inspiring.

Overnight, the transcontinental railroad laid the way for a nationwide economy. A cross-country trip was cut from months to days. The cost to move goods and mail plummeted. Cowboys drove cattle to railcars that whisked them East. Entrepreneurs could sell anything, anywhere.

After the railroad was completed, a newspaper proclaimed: “We are the youngest of peoples. But we are teaching the world to march forward.”

That’s who we are – a nation that has always been built to compete. That’s why, decades later, FDR set up the Rural Electrification Administration – to help bring power to vast swaths of America that were still in darkness. Companies said that building lines to rural areas would be too costly. So Americans in these towns simply went without refrigeration or running water. If you wanted a glimpse of the larger world, your town might run a movie off a small diesel engine – but it might not even last for the full film.

Once power lines were laid down, electricity flowed to farms across the country and transformed millions of lives. When a Texas family returned home the first night their farmhouse was hooked up, a woman thought it was on fire. “No mama,” said her daughter, “the lights are on.”

Years later, as our nation grew by leaps and bounds, we realized that a patchwork system of back roads and dirt paths couldn’t handle the biggest economy in the world. So President Eisenhower helped make possible an Interstate Highway System that transformed the nation as much as the railways had. Finally, we could ship goods and services to places that railroads didn’t reach. We could live apart from where we worked. We could travel and see America.

These achievements…none of them just happened. We chose to do them. We chose to do big things. And every American benefited – not just from new conveniences. Not just from the jobs created by laying down new lines or tracks or pavement. We benefited from new economic growth – from the scores of new businesses that opened near each town’s new train station, new power lines, or new off-ramp.

But this is a new century. And we cannot expect tomorrow’s economy to take root along yesterday’s infrastructure. New companies are going to seek out the fastest, most reliable ways to move people, goods, and information – whether they’re in Shanghai or Chicago. And so if we want new jobs and businesses in America, we have to have the best transportation and communication networks in the world. Just like the movie, Field of Dreams: if we build it, they will come.

Over the last two years, we have begun rebuilding for the 21st century, a national project that has meant thousands of good jobs for the hard-hit construction industry. And I have I proposed redoubling these efforts. We want to put more Americans to work repairing crumbling roads and bridges. Within 25 years, our goal is to give 80 percent of Americans access to high-speed rail, which could allow you go places in half the time it takes to travel by car. And within five years, we want to make it possible for businesses to put high-speed wireless services in reach of virtually every American.

That last part is why I chose to come to Northern Michigan University today. Today, more than 90 percent of homes in South Korea subscribe to high-speed broadband. Meanwhile, in America, the nation that created the internet, only 65 percent of households can say the same. When it comes to high-speed internet, the lights are still off in one-third of our households. For millions of Americans, the railway hasn’t come yet.

For our families and businesses, high-speed wireless service is the next train station; the next off-ramp. It’s how we’ll spark new innovation, new investments, and new jobs.

You already know this here at Northern Michigan. For a decade now, this university has given a new laptop to every incoming student. WiFi stretched across campus. But if you lived off-campus, like most students and teachers here, you were largely out of luck. Broadband was often too expensive to afford. And if you lived a bit further out of town, you were completely out of luck – broadband providers often won’t build networks where it’s not profitable.

So this university tried something new. You partnered with various companies to build a high-speed, next-generation wireless network. And you managed to install it with six people in only four days – without raising tuition. Today, this is one of America’s most connected universities, and enrollment is near the highest it’s been in 30 years.

What’s more, you told nearby towns that if they allowed you to retrofit their towers with new equipment to expand your network, then their schools, first responders, and city governments could use it too. As a result, police officers can access crime databases in their cars. Firefighters can download blueprints on the way to a burning building. Public works officials can save money by monitoring pumps and equipment remotely.

And you’ve created new online learning opportunities for K-12 students as far as 30 miles away, some of whom can’t always make it to school in a place that averages 200 inches of snow a year. Now, I’m sure some of the students don’t exactly see the end of snow days as an opportunity. But it’s good for their education, and it’s good for our economy. In fact, I’ve just come from a demonstration of online learning in action.

For local businesses, broadband access is helping them grow, prosper, and compete in a global economy. In fact, Marquette has been rated one of the top five “eCities” in Michigan for entrepreneurship. Consider Getz’s Clothiers, a third-generation, family-owned Marquette institution. They’ve occupied the same downtown store for more than a century – but with the help of broadband, they were recently listed as one of America’s 5,000 fastest-growing companies. Online sales make up more than two-thirds of its annual revenue. It can process more than 1,000 orders a day, and its workforce has more than doubled. Today Getz’s is a local business with a global footprint.

If you can do this in the snowy wilderness of the Upper Peninsula, we can do this all across America. In fact, many places already are. In Wagner, South Dakota, patients can receive high-quality, life-saving medical care from a Sioux Falls specialist who can monitor their EKG and listen to their breathing – from 100 miles away. In Ten Sleep, Wyoming, a town of about 300 people, a fiber-optic network allowed a company to employ several hundred teachers who teach English to students in Asia over the internet, 24 hours a day. You’ve all heard about outsourcing. Well this is what we call “insourcing” – where overseas work is done right here in America.

We want to multiply these stories – and yours – all over the country. We want to invest in the next-generation of high-speed wireless coverage for 98 percent of Americans.

This isn’t just about a faster internet or being able to friend someone on Facebook. It’s about connecting every corner of America to the digital age. It’s about a rural community in Iowa or Alabama where farmers can monitor weather across the state and markets across the globe. It’s about an entrepreneur on Main Street with a great idea she hopes to sell to the big city. It’s about every young person who no longer has to leave his hometown to seek new opportunity – because it’s right at his fingertips.

To make this happen, we’ll invest in research and development of emerging technologies and applications. We’ll accelerate breakthroughs in health, education, and transportation; and deploy a new nationwide, interoperable wireless network for first responders – making sure they have the funding and the frequencies that they were promised and that they need to keep us safe. And by selling private companies the rights to these airwaves, we won’t just encourage private investment and expand wireless access; we’ll actually bring in revenues that lower our deficits.

Now, access to high-speed internet by itself won’t make a business more successful, or a student smarter, or a citizen more informed. That takes hard work. It takes those late nights. It takes that quintessentially American drive to be the best. But we have always believed that we have a responsibility to guarantee all our people every tool necessary for them to meet their full potential. And in a 21st century economy, that has never been more important. Every American deserves access to the world’s information. Every American deserves access to the global economy. We have promised this for fifteen years. It is time we delivered on that promise.

Connecting our people. Competing with the rest of the world. Living within our means without sacrificing what’s required to win the future. We can do all this. We have done it before.

In 1960, at the height of his presidential campaign, John F. Kennedy came to Michigan. It was a moment not unlike this one, when other nations were doing their best to take our place at the top. And here, he made it clear that if we wanted to keep from being knocked off, then there could only be one goal for the United States, and it could be summed up in one word: “first.”

“I do not mean first, but,” he said. “I do not mean first, when. I do not mean first, if. I mean first – period.”

“The real question now,” he continued, “is whether we are up to the task – whether each and every one of us is willing to face the facts, to bear the burdens, to provide the risks, [and] to meet our dangers.”

Marquette, we were up to the task then. We are up to the task today. Time and time again, whether westward or skyward, with each rail and road we’ve laid, in every community we’ve connected with our own science and imagination, we have forged anew our faith that we can do anything. We do big things. That’s who we are. That’s who we must be once more – that young nation that teaches the world to march forward.

That’s what you’re doing here at Northern Michigan University, and that’s what all of us are going to do together in the months and years to come. Thank you, God Bless You, and God Bless the United States of America.


IL Committee Looks at Whether State Should Require State Retirees to Pay a Portion of Healthcare Costs

The Illinois Channel will televise some of the Government Forecasting and Accountability committee hearing, which heard testimony Wednesday on whether the state should require retired state employees to pay for a portion of their healthcare costs.

While changing the pensions on retirees may be unconstitutional, healthcare costs are NOT constitutionally protected.

At this time the state spends about $457 million on RETIREE costs, covering approximately 84,100 individuals. Some of those are family members of former state workers.

Before Gov Edgar's administration, workers had to only put in only 8 years of service to the state to get a LIFETIME of free healthcare benefits. Under Gov Edgar, this was changed to 20 years of service.

Watch this issue, as a majoy tussle this spring. Should the state begin charging retirees to pay a portion of their healthcare benefits -- it could add up to a major new source of income to the state. Some of the changes however may have to wait for a new contract with state workers, which may mean any changes in benefit costs could not take effect until July 2012.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Six to Get Illinois' Highest Award in April

SPRINGFIELD – As the Land of Lincoln prepares to celebrate the 202nd birthday of Abraham Lincoln, Governor Pat Quinn today announced six distinguished Illinoisans who will receive The Order of Lincoln, the state’s highest award.

“The men and women receiving the Order of Lincoln have dedicated themselves to improving their communities and helping their neighbors,” said Governor Quinn. “They truly reflect the selflessness embodied by our nation’s sixteenth president, and we thank them for their service.”

The Order of Lincoln Medallion will be presented by Lincoln Academy of Illinois officials at a special ceremony Saturday, April 16 at the Krannert Center for Performing Arts at the University of Illinois at Urbana. The 2011 Laureates include:

Richard & Mary Lackritz Gray

Richard and Mary Lackritz Gray are lifelong Chicagoans with international reputations in the arts. The Richard Gray Gallery, founded in Chicago in 1963, is one of the leading dealers in modern and contemporary American and European art. Richard Gray is a Life Trustee of the Art Institute of Chicago, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Goodman Theater, and WTTW/WFMT. Also, he is Chairman Emeritus of the Board of Governors of the Smart Museum of Art and the Founding Vice-Chairman of the Chicago Humanities Festival. Mary Lackritz Gray, an art historian, is a member of the Friends of the Parks Advisory Board and the Art Institute’s Committee on Libraries. She authored A Guide to Chicago’s Public Sculpture in 1983 and A Guide to Chicago’s Murals in 2001. The Grays have exhibited for decades a remarkable devotion to Illinois’ cultural life through commitments of time, gifts of art, and donations.

Shahid Khan

Shahid Khan is the president of Flex-N-Gate Corporation, a global automobile components and systems manufacturer located in Urbana, Illinois. Through his understanding of design and entrepreneurial spirit, Khan has advanced new applications of technologies. A native of Pakistan, Khan began working at Flex-N-Gate shortly after he came to the United States to study industrial engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. After rising to the position of chief engineer in 1978, Khan left Flex-N-Gate to start his own firm, Bumper Works. He acquired Flex-N-Gate in 1980 and shaped the company over the course of 30 years into one of the top 200 largest private companies in the United States. Today, Flex-N-Gate employs over 9,500 people at 48 manufacturing and 9 product development and engineering facilities throughout Canada, the United States, Mexico, Argentina, and Spain. Khan has made significant investments in educational opportunities for future generations by supporting research, teaching, and outreach activities.

Shirley R. Madigan

As the voice for artists and the arts in Illinois, Shirley Madigan has given a lifetime of commitment to supporting and promoting arts organizations nationally and internationally. She was appointed to the Illinois Arts Council (IAC) in 1976, and has been asked to serve as IAC Chairman by five governors. Madigan actively represents the Council to arts organizations, individual artists, government officials, educators and the business and philanthropic communities. In addition, Madigan has served on the National Endowment for the Arts - Advisory Board on Arts Education, the boards of the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies, Arts Midwest and the Illinois Ethnic Heritage Commission. She has worked on the steering committees for Gallery 37, Year of the American Craft, and the Illinois Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission. She is currently a trustee of Loyola University of Chicago, Erikson Institute, and After School Matters.

Dawn Clark Netsch

Dawn Clark Netsch, Professor of Law Emerita at the Northwestern University School of Law, has been a pioneer in education, law and politics for more than 60 years. Born in Cincinnati, Ohio, Netsch earned her B.A., Phi Beta Kappa, from Northwestern University in 1948. She graduated first in her class from Northwestern's law school in 1952. Netsch’s early career included working as a private practice attorney, campaigning for Adlai Stevenson, and serving as an aide to Governor Otto Kerner. In 1965, she joined the faculty of the Northwestern School of Law and helped pave the way for women in legal education. She was a delegate to the 1970 Illinois Constitutional Convention and, two years later, she was elected to the Illinois State Senate. She served in the Illinois Senate for 18 years before being elected Comptroller of Illinois in 1990. Netsch made history again in 1994 as a “straight shooter” when she ran for Governor of Illinois.

Timothy Nugent

Timothy Nugent has devoted his entire professional life to transforming lives through the development of technologies that enhance mobility. Dr. Nugent founded the Division of Disability Resources and Educational Services in 1948 at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. It was the first post-secondary disability support service program in the world. Early in his career, Nugent utilized ramps he built in his garage to help veterans injured in World War II take advantage of the GI Bill. He went on to lead his program toward many firsts, including curb cuts, fixed-route buses with wheelchair lifts, the first National Wheelchair Basketball Tournament, and founding a fraternity dedicated to serving those with disabilities. In addition, Nugent was instrumental in the development of architectural accessibility standards that shaped laws throughout the nation. Nugent's work in disability services has positively impacted millions of lives around the world.

The 2011 Convocation and Dinner Chairs are Stanley and Judy Ikenberry and
Michael and Virginia Hogan. Planning Committee members include Dena Bagger,
Margaret Cline, Cheryl Easter, Jodi Ferris, Kim Fox, Donna Greene, Clare Haussermann, Babette Hiles, Virginia Hogan, Judy Ikenberry, Nancy Ikenberry and Carol Scharlau. Civic Committee members include Clint Atkins, Craig Bazzani, Dave Downey, Hon. Jim Edgar, Kim Fox, Rita Henneman, Jim Leonard, Greg Lykins, Douglas Mills, Tom Ramage and Carol Scharlau.

The Lincoln Academy of Illinois, unique among the 50 states, was established in 1964 to honor Illinois’ most distinguished citizens, either by birth or residence, who have brought honor to the state by their achievements. Prior recipients of The Order of Lincoln include President Ronald Reagan, the Chicago Bears’ Walter Payton, Poet Laureate Gwendolyn Brooks, author David Herbert Donald, business leader Lester Crown, Nobel scientist Leon Lederman, and educator Stanley Ikenberry. For more information, visit


The purpose of today’s hearing is to discuss the fiscal and monetary policies that have led us here.

On the fiscal side, the CBO projects a $1.5 trillion deficit this year with publicly-held debt rising to 69 percent of GDP by the end of the year – up from 40 percent at the end of 2008.

In a few short years, the CBO projects government spending to drive our debt to crisis levels, overwhelming the entire economy and drowning the next generation in red ink.

Endless borrowing is not a strategy. We must restore the foundations of economic growth – low taxes, spending restraint, reasonable regulations, and sound money – to help restart the engines of economic growth and job creation.

We must not neglect the “sound money” part of the equation. The Federal Reserve has undertaken another round of quantitative easing – purchasing Treasury bonds in an attempt to lower borrowing costs and stimulate the economy.

My concern is that the costs of the Fed’s current monetary policy – the money creation and massive balance sheet expansion – will come to outweigh the perceived short-term benefits.

These costs may come in the form of asset bubbles and price pressures. We are already witnessing a sharp rise in a variety of key global commodity and basic material prices, and we know that some producers and manufacturers here in the United States are starting to feel cost pressures as a result.

According to the core price indexes that the Fed watches closely, these cost pressures have not yet been passed along to consumers – but the inflation dynamic can be quick to materialize and painful to eradicate once it takes hold. The steepening of the yield curve this week certainly adds to these worries.

I’m concerned that normalizing monetary policy when the time comes may be difficult – not only for the pure technical challenges of shrinking the Fed’s substantial balance sheet or correctly judging economic turning points, but also for political reasons.

It is hard to overstate the consequences of getting this wrong. The dollar is the world’s reserve currency and this has given us tremendous benefits.

For the sake of our economy in particular and the global recovery as a whole, it is vital that we focus on dollar stability if we are to prevent the kind of beggar-thy-neighbor currency conflicts that can destroy economic recoveries.

Our currency should provide a reliable store of value – it should be guided by the rule of law, not the rule of men.

There is nothing more insidious that a country can do to its citizens than debase its currency.

Chairman Bernanke: We know you know this. The Fed’s exit strategy and future policy – it will determine how this ends.

We know you are concerned about this nation’s fiscal trajectory. We have asked you to come here today because our fiscal policy is on a dangerous track. That is well established.

But, many of us fear our monetary policy is on a similar track as well.

I firmly believe that a course correction here in Washington is sorely needed to help get us back on the right track. While it won’t be easy, Americans have risen to greater challenges and prevailed in the past.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Text of President's Feb 1, 2011 Comments on the Egyptian Crisis

THE PRESIDENT: Good evening, everybody. Over the past few days, the American people have watched the situation unfolding in Egypt. We’ve seen enormous demonstrations by the Egyptian people. We’ve borne witness to the beginning of a new chapter in the history of a great country, and a long-time partner of the United States.

And my administration has been in close contact with our Egyptian counterparts and a broad range of the Egyptian people, as well as others across the region and across the globe. And throughout this period, we’ve stood for a set of core principles.

First, we oppose violence. And I want to commend the Egyptian military for the professionalism and patriotism that it has shown thus far in allowing peaceful protests while protecting the Egyptian people. We’ve seen tanks covered with banners, and soldiers and protesters embracing in the streets. And going forward, I urge the military to continue its efforts to help ensure that this time of change is peaceful.

Second, we stand for universal values, including the rights of the Egyptian people to freedom of assembly, freedom of speech, and the freedom to access information. Once more, we’ve seen the incredible potential for technology to empower citizens and the dignity of those who stand up for a better future. And going forward, the United States will continue to stand up for democracy and the universal rights that all human beings deserve, in Egypt and around the world.

Third, we have spoken out on behalf of the need for change. After his speech tonight, I spoke directly to President Mubarak. He recognizes that the status quo is not sustainable and that a change must take place. Indeed, all of us who are privileged to serve in positions of political power do so at the will of our people. Through thousands of years, Egypt has known many moments of transformation. The voices of the Egyptian people tell us that this is one of those moments; this is one of those times.

Now, it is not the role of any other country to determine Egypt’s leaders. Only the Egyptian people can do that. What is clear -- and what I indicated tonight to President Mubarak -- is my belief that an orderly transition must be meaningful, it must be peaceful, and it must begin now.

Furthermore, the process must include a broad spectrum of Egyptian voices and opposition parties. It should lead to elections that are free and fair. And it should result in a government that’s not only grounded in democratic principles, but is also responsive to the aspirations of the Egyptian people.

Throughout this process, the United States will continue to extend the hand of partnership and friendship to Egypt. And we stand ready to provide any assistance that is necessary to help the Egyptian people as they manage the aftermath of these protests.

Over the last few days, the passion and the dignity that has been demonstrated by the people of Egypt has been an inspiration to people around the world, including here in the United States, and to all those who believe in the inevitability of human freedom.

To the people of Egypt, particularly the young people of Egypt, I want to be clear: We hear your voices. I have an unyielding belief that you will determine your own destiny and seize the promise of a better future for your children and your grandchildren. And I say that as someone who is committed to a partnership between the United States and Egypt.

There will be difficult days ahead. Many questions about Egypt’s future remain unanswered. But I am confident that the people of Egypt will find those answers. That truth can be seen in the sense of community in the streets. It can be seen in the mothers and fathers embracing soldiers. And it can be seen in the Egyptians who linked arms to protect the national museum -- a new generation protecting the treasures of antiquity; a human chain connecting a great and ancient civilization to the promise of a new day.

Thank you very much.

White House increasing pressure on Hosni Mubarak to Leave Office

President Obama Tells Egyptian President Mubarak that a transfer of power "Must be peaceful and it must begin now."

Attorney-General Madigan Sues Firm for Selling Fraudulent Prospects Lists

Chicago — Attorney General Lisa Madigan has filed a lawsuit against an Illinois marketing firm alleging it sold to businesses “lead lists” of potential customers that it fraudulently claimed were verified and screened.

Madigan’s lawsuit, filed in St. Clair County Circuit Court, charges that Ronnie Henderson, of Granite City, and Paula Caveny, of Edwardsville, and their business, Select Marketing Solution Management, sold lead lists to financial advisors, insurance companies and sales people without verifying that listed consumers wanted to be contacted and without checking their names against the national Do Not Call registry.

“At a time when small businesses are struggling to stay afloat, this company charged business owners hundreds of dollars for information that could have caused them to violate the Do Not Call List and leave them potentially libel,” Attorney General Madigan said.

Businesses in Cook, Madison, St. Clair, DuPage, Saline, Adams, Jackson, Douglas, Edgar, Will, Lake and Piatt counties and out-of-state businesses reported to Madigan’s office losses totaling more than $11,000 from purchasing the lists they believed were accurate. Companies that contacted consumers on the lists found numbers were disconnected or consumers reached had never been contacted by Select Marketing for their approval.

Madigan’s lawsuit alleges defendants violated the Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act. It seeks to bar the defendants from the business of selling leads, void all pending contracts between the defendants and its customers and require Select Marketing to pay refunds to affected customers. The lawsuit also seeks to impose a $50,000 civil penalty per violation of the act, an additional $50,000 penalty for violations found to be committed with the intent to defraud and to require the defendants to pay for prosecution costs.

Assistant Attorney General Deborah Sterling-Scott is handling this case for Madigan’s Consumer Fraud Bureau.

Gov Quinn Activates National Guard as Blizzard Hits Across Illinois

SPRINGFIELD – February 1, 2011. Governor Pat Quinn today activated more than 500 Illinois National Guard troops to assist stranded motorists on several interstate highways as part of the state’s ongoing efforts to prepare for a large winter storm approaching the state. The troops will be stationed at rest areas along interstate highways, including Interstate 70 and those north of I-70, and will coordinate with Illinois State Police (ISP) to ensure the safety of travelers stranded along the roads.

“We must do everything we can to keep motorists safe during this massive winter storm. Illinois Department of Transportation crews are working non-stop to clear roadways, and the Illinois State Police will also be closely monitoring our highways,” said Governor Quinn. “These troops from the Illinois National Guard will help ensure public safety along the roadways, and I urge everyone to exercise caution when traveling.”

Illinois National Guard troops deployed for this mission are from the following units:

· The 2/106th Cavalry Squadron based in Kewanee, with subordinate units from Galva, Dixon and Pontiac, which are being deployed to the northern part of the state.

· The 766th Engineer Company based in Decatur, the 1844th Transportation Company based in Quincy and the 3637th Maintenance Company based in Springfield, which are being deployed to the central part of the state.

· The 634th Brigade Support Battalion based in Sullivan and the 233rd Military Police Company based in Springfield, which are being deployed to the southern part of the state.

In addition, an Illinois National Guard headquarters element is being drawn from the 65th Troop Command Brigade and 183rd Fighter Wing, both from Springfield.

Troops stationed along the highways will carry supplies such as water, snack bars and roadside safety tips to provide to stranded motorists. Guard members will also relay information regarding road conditions, vehicle accidents and stranded motorists to ISP officers working in the area.

”I’m proud that the Illinois National Guard is able to play our part in responding to this winter storm,” said Maj. Gen. William L. Enyart, the Adjutant General of the Illinois National Guard. ”Our Soldiers and Airmen respond to the Governor’s call to help in state emergencies just as we answer the President's call to serve overseas. It takes selfless citizens to serve in today’s National Guard, whether in Illinois or across the world.”

Governor Quinn activated the State Emergency Operations Center (SEOC) in Springfield Monday afternoon to coordinate the state’s response to the storm. The center will operate around the clock until the storm threat subsides.

Illinois travelers can check on highway conditions by calling 1-800-452-IDOT (4368) or visiting the IDOT’s road conditions website at and clicking on “Winter Road Conditions.”

For more information about winter storm safety, visit the Ready Illinois Web site at