Chicago Sun-Times
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***updated with City Response***
Gov. Pat Quinn on Monday said if Chicago is to have its own casino, the Illinois Gaming Board must have "supreme" authority over it, rather than ceding power to the city.
Citing the Hired Truck scandal, Quinn said in a Chicago Sun-Times Editorial Board interview that Chicago doesn't have the best track record: "things don't go so well when the city is running things."
Pending legislation in the Illinois House that would add five casinos in the state - including in Chicago -- contains language that would allow a mayoral-appointed board to trump authority of the state's gaming commission in some instances. The legislation would make Chicago the first City to own its own casino. Quinn reiterated what his office told the Sun-Times last week -- that there would be no casino deal if he isn't first sent a bill with comprehensive pension reform.
In remarks to the board, Quinn said negotiations are ongoing on the bill's language but he would insist that the gaming board has the final word. That includes clarifying language that would allow the gaming board to revoke the City's casino license if necessary.
"Understanding the city's casino would be municipally-owned, I do believe that the gaming board authority must be supreme," Quinn said. "The gaming board has to be the umpire. The final judge. I think that's imperative."
Asked if it were a must for his signature on legislation pending in the Illinois House, Quinn responded: "It has been from day one."
"The gaming board has to be the final junction. That pattern has worked well. We already know ... that things don't go so well when the city is running things. Hired Trucks and Silver Shovels ... It's just common sense that the City should not be a regulatory authority on its gambling especially because this is the first municipally-owned casino in the country."
The Sun-Times last week highlighted potential red flags raised by opponents, including from Illinois Gaming Board Chairman Aaron Jaffe who said the bill gave the mayoral-appointed Chicago Casino Authority final say in some areas of conflict and that it gave the City considerable power in the construction phase of the city-based casino.
"The bill says the Illinois Gaming Board shall control the gambling, OK. However, the Chicago Casino Authority would control the building of the casino," Jaffe said. "In Illinois, when you get into building and construction and stuff like that, you have to be very leery about what's going where. The largest fine ever imposed by the Illinois Gaming has to do with a type of building contract."
A statement from Mayor Rahm Emanuel's spokeswoman responded:
"As Governor Quinn knows very well, there is the potential for corruption at all levels of Government which is why we agree that the Gaming Board should have maximum oversight over all gaming in Illinois. However, there is also a not so proud history in Illinois where Governors have attempted to manipulate and influence the gaming board for corrupt purposes. We cannot expose the taxpayers of Chicago to such risk. That is why the appropriate remedy is to grant the gaming board the authority to revoke the license of an operator of a Chicago casino which would effectively shut down its operations. Furthermore, the gaming board also has the ability to remove the Chicago Casino Authority's Board as well as its Executive Director, all appropriate powers for a state regulator."

quinn_feb7.JPGSPRINGFIELD-Gov. Pat Quinn signed a $2 billion-plus package to fund road construction, avert layoffs in the state's child-welfare agency and pay health-insurance bills for state workers after it passed the Senate Thursday despite GOP no-votes.

The legislation the governor signed sailed out of the Senate 38-15 and came one day after Quinn called on lawmakers to send him the supplemental spending bill designed to fund construction and cash-starved areas of state government for the next five months.

In a statement released Thursday afternoon, Quinn described the legislation as one "that will put people to work and protect the most vulnerable among us."

The measure covers spending for more than $600 million worth of unpaid healthcare costs for state employees, $675 million in spring road construction and $25 million to avert layoffs in the Department of Children and Family Services.

The legislation didn't require new revenue sources because it essentially rearranged existing state and federal money already in the state budget.

"This is a good initiative. It'll support human services and community-based mental health, which is desperately needed," said Sen. Dan Kotowski (D-Park Ridge), the bill's chief Senate sponsor.

The legislation was fast-tracked, passing the House and Senate in two days, but not without a misstep the Quinn administration acknowledged could have a "significant impact" in hindering roadwork envisioned under the plan.

The administration intended to dip into the state's Road Fund, which pays for road and bridge work, for $125 million to fund state employee health care costs. Instead, the legislation set the Road Fund diversion at $176 million.

Rather than slow down the legislation, as Senate Republicans sought, the head of the Illinois Department of Transportation, Ann Schneider, promised in a letter to a key Senate Democrat not to exceed the $125 million diversion originally envisioned.

But that pledge wasn't enough to assuage wary Republicans, who voted against the stopgap spending deal after their bid to delay passage of the bill was ignored by Senate Democrats.

"We're left in a position because we rushed and have a flawed draft where we have to take the word of the administration rather than just having the bill right and not having to worry about what happens after this," said state Sen. Matt Murphy (R-Palatine), who voted against the plan.

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Sun-Times Photo


SPRINGFIELD-With only one in four Illinois voters approving his job performance, Gov. Pat Quinn is the least popular in the country and would lose in head-to-head pairings against two of three Republicans eying his job in 2014, a newly commissioned survey found Thursday.

The Democratic-leaning Public Policy Polling firm found that just 25 percent of voters in Illinois approved of the work Quinn is doing, while 64 percent disapprove of his job performance -- a level of support that the company said made him "the most unpopular governor [it] has polled on anywhere in the country this year."


If a general election were held today, Quinn would lose to state Sen. Kirk Dillard (R-Hinsdale) by a 44- to 37-percent margin and to state Treasurer Dan Rutherford by a 43- to 39-percent margin, the firm reported.

If matched up against U.S. Rep. Aaron Schock (R-Ill.), another Republican considering a run for governor, Quinn would win narrowly by a 40- to 39-percent spread.

"Quinn's unpopularity puts the Republicans in a position where they could win despite the fact that none of them are very well known," said Tom Jensen, director of Public Policy Polling.

An aide to Quinn defended his tenure and acknowledged his efforts at dealing with difficult subjects, like Medicaid reform, facility closures and tax increases, have not been popular -- even if they are in the best interests of state government.

"Gov. Quinn is doing what's right for Illinois and to make our state a better place," Quinn spokeswoman Brooke Anderson said. "After decades of fiscal mismanagement and two corrupt governors in a row, Illinois now has no-nonsense ethics laws, a shrinking unemployment rate and less discretionary spending than ever before because of Gov. Quinn.

"He's leading the state in its most difficult moment. What's required right now is a lot of hard decisions and bold leadership, and it's not easy and immediately popular but we're doing what's right," she said.

In a September poll released by the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute, Quinn's approval rating stood at 42 percent, up a notch from a 35.5 percent approval rating recorded by the institute in October 2011.

Beyond measuring how Quinn might match up against potential Republican opponents, the Public Policy Polling survey also showed the governor is vulnerable in a primary, though no Democrat has stepped forward and openly declared he or she is planning to take on Quinn in 2014.

The firm found that Quinn would trail Bill Daley, the ex-U.S. Commerce Secretary and former Mayor Richard M. Daley's brother, by a 37- to 34-percent margin, and the spread would be even wider if Attorney General Lisa Madigan would take on Quinn, the firm said.

In a hypothetical matchup, Quinn would trailer her by a 64- to 20-percent deficit.

The firm also sized up the growing GOP field aiming to unseat Quinn.

Rutherford is on top of the pack with 19 percent of Republican respondents saying he is their first choice. Schock is second with 18 percent, and 2010 GOP gubernatorial nominee Bill Brady pulled in 14 percent.

As the list goes on, Dillard has 12 percent; 8 percent favored departing U.S. Rep. Joe Walsh (R-Ill.) and 7 percent chose businessman Bruce Rauner, an investor in Wrapports LLC, the parent company of the Chicago Sun-Times.

PPP Release IL 112912

SPRINGFIELD -- On the eve of Thanksgiving, Gov. Pat Quinn granted clemency to 81 people seeking gubernatorial pardons and the expungement of their criminal records, including a woman convicted in 1982 of voluntary manslaughter.

"This action marks another step in a series of clemency decisions aimed at eliminating a backlog of more than 2,500 cases that built up during the previous administration," according to a statement released late Wednesday afternoon by the governor's office.

While Quinn officially forgave 81 people of their crimes and moved to wipe their slates clean, he rejected petitions from another 88 people seeking clemency, the governor's office said.

The woman convicted of voluntary manslaughter is Chicagoan Felicia Williams.

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President Obama and Gov. Pat Quinn had less trouble coming together in 2010. Sun-times file photo

Gov. Pat Quinn got a prime speaking role at September's Democratic National Convention, but since then he's been mostly missing in action as a front-and-center surrogate for President Barack Obama.

That may change between now and Tuesday, but the governor has pretty much stayed home as other top Illinois politicians crisscrossed the country to sing Obama's praises - and two states vital to the president's re-election, Iowa and Wisconsin, are neighbors.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel was on CNN's "State of the Union" Sunday, talking up Obama, after doing live local television interviews as a surrogate for the president in five battleground states. Emanuel traveled to Florida last month to campaign for Obama.

Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.), meanwhile, committed to visits in Colorado and Nevada to boost Obama and other Democrats with Hispanic voters between now and Tuesday.

And Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) stumped in Ohio for Obama last week during a visit aimed at targeting fellow Catholics in that battleground state. It marked Durbin's second campaign visit to Ohio in two weeks.

Quinn spokeswoman Brooke Anderson defended her boss, saying he has done his share to help promote Obama for a second term.

"Over the past two weeks, the governor sent bus loads of Quinn volunteers to Wisconsin. He has also served as an Obama surrogate on national television programs," she said. "As you know, he has contributed the maximum to the president's re-election campaign."

Anderson said Quinn has appeared twice in the past two weeks on CNBC with business anchor Maria Bartiromo and did "many more" programs around the Democratic convention.

"The governor of Illinois balances his state responsibilities with supporting the president's re-election effort as much as possible," she said.

But a potential 2014 GOP gubernatorial rival offered a different take on Quinn's absence from the presidential campaign trail.

"I think a part of it is reflective of the state he's governor of," said state Treasurer Dan Rutherford, chairman of Mitt Romney's Illinois presidential campaign effort.

"When he has the lowest bond rating in the nation, the highest unemployment rates in the nation and [more than an $80 billion] unfunded liability in pensions, I'm not sure that's the profile the president wants to have on the national stage about his home state."

SPRINGFIELD-Gov. Pat Quinn is the most globetrotting Illinois governor since at least Jim Thompson.

Rod Blagojevich never went outside the country in his capacity as governor. George Ryan made his celebrated trips to Cuba twice and also to South Africa. And, Jim Edgar went to China, Mexico, the Middle East, India and Europe during his two terms in office.

But in leaving on a trade mission for Brazil this Sunday, Quinn is setting a standard for going abroad.

Since July 2011, the governor has gone on separate trips to Israel, China, Japan, Belgium, Germany, Canada, Spain and now Brazil, mostly to talk business, though the Germany trip last Christmas involved visits to U.S. troops from Illinois.

"He's the exporter in chief of Illinois and a key part of his strategy is to promote Illinois around the world," spokeswoman Brooke Anderson said. "The governor's efforts have resulted in more tourism and exports for Illinois."

Here's the full list of those accompanying Quinn to Brazil:

Chicago Sun-Times Bureau Chiefs: Dave McKinney, Springfield and Lynn Sweet, Washington, wrap up the Republican National Convention in Tampa before they move from Florida to Charlotte, N.C. where the Democrats kick-off their first convention session on Tuesday.


(video by Lynn Sweet)

TAMPA--Rep. Aaron Schock (R-Ill.) here for the Republican National Convention gives Democratic Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn a failing grade in an interview with Chicago Sun-Times Springfield Bureau Chief Dave McKinney.


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Hundreds of unionized state workers picket outside the main entrance to the Illinois State Fairgrounds Wednesday, which was Governor's Day, a traditional day of Democratic unity. The show of force was directed entirely at Gov. Pat Quinn for wanting to gut public-employee pensions and close state facilities that could mean thousands of state layoffs. (reporting and photo by Dave McKinney)
Chicago Sun-Times Springfield Bureau Chief Dave McKinney has the story from the fair; read McKinney's report HERE.

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Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon at the Illinois State Fair (photo and reporting below by Dave McKinney)

Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon drew boos from angry union protesters when introducing Gov. Pat Quinn at Governor's Day Wednesday at the Illinois State Fair in Springfield. Known for his long speeches, Quinn spent only two minutes talking at the rally. But his words were drowned out by hundreds of union members upset by his plans to cut back pension benefits, close state facilities and lay off thousands of workers. Chicago Sun-Times Springfield Bureau Chief Dave McKinney has the story from the fair; read McKinney's report HERE.

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Aaron Schock, a U.S. congressman from Peoria and a possible GOP opponent to Democratic Gov. Quinn in 2014, takes casts a large image in Springfield. (Dave McKinney photo)

By Dave McKinney

It's a good thing Illinois Republicans pride themselves on having a big-tent philosophy.

They need a big tent at the Illinois State Fairgrounds, after all, just to house a picture of potential 2014 gubernatorial candidate Aaron Schock, a U.S. congressman from Peoria who is being talked up as a possible GOP opponent to Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn in 2014.

Schock's mug is featured dramatically in a larger-than-life, floor-to-ceiling poster that says "He's done a lot . . . He'll do more."

While other potential GOP gubernatorial rivals also have literature inside the party's tent, Schock's image by far is the largest of anyone appearing on the fall ticket or beyond, including Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney.