October 13, 2014



Chicago Sun Times: Madigan machine helps speaker keep power beyond Springfield

To understand how Illinois House Speaker Michael J. Madigan has kept his decades-long grip on state politics, it helps to consider August A. Olivo.

Over the years, the younger brother of former 13th Ward Ald. Frank Olivo has done his part to help the speaker’s political interests, including giving $8,100 to Madigan’s 13th Ward Democratic Organization and gathering signatures to help get the speaker’s daughter, Attorney General Lisa Madigan, on the ballot.

Before then, the speaker was Olivo’s sponsor when he wanted a favor from former Gov. George Ryan, according to a once-secret list that tracked perks Ryan doled out when he was secretary of state. Madigan helped Olivo get a low-digit license plate — a symbol of clout — from Ryan’s office, records show.

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The Street: Sears Is Failing Right Before the Eyes of Investors and Customers

The tragic demise of Sears (SHLD) is unfolding right now in thestock market. It’s also happening right in front of the eyes of unknowing consumers that still visit Sears and Kmart stores.

Shares of Sears Holding Corporation have plunged 21% in the past month on reports it’s having to pay more to finance its inventory and a key vendor has reduced shipments to the retailer. According to an Oct. 8 Bloomberg report, Euler Hermes Group, a leading provider of credit insurance to vendors, has been sending out cancellation notices, with a few others following Euler’s actions. Per the report, one unnamed supplier has begun to withhold products from Sears after a recommendation from its credit department.

The fear among credit insurance companies and vendors is Sears’ dismal three-year stretch of same-store sales at both divisions and operating cash flow burn in 2014 of $747 million may leave it unable to pay its bills in 2015. Sears refutes the claims that it’s in a trying spot. “We continue to meet all of our obligations,” said Chris Brathwaite, a company spokesman, to Bloomberg.

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WQAD: App helps Illinoisans find home legislators and track their votes

The “VoteSpotter” app was designed to help Illinois residents identify their home legislators in the House and Senate, and to track how those legislators vote on key issues facing the state.

The free app was previously only available to track Michigan legislators.  A new version was released by the Illinois Policy Institute in partnership with the Mackinac Center to track Illinois legislators.

Illinois residents can input their own address to find their home legislators and to track their performance, even beyond Election Day.

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Daily Herald: District 116 trying again for $29 million high school expansion

Round Lake Area Unit District 116 officials say they have improved communication with voters as part of a second attempt to gain permission to borrow $29 million for a high school expansion and renovation.

Those beefed-up communication efforts include spreading the word about the Nov. 4 referendum question at school open houses, creating literature on how the money would be spent and giving high school building tours.

“It was more of a matter of not reaching enough people the first time around,” school spokeswoman Heather Bennett said.

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NY Times: No Smoke, No Mirrors: The Dutch Pension Plan

Imagine a place where pensions were not an ever-deepening quagmire, where the numbers told the whole story and where workers could count on a decentretirement.

Imagine a place where regulators existed to make sure everyone followed the rules.

That place might just be the Netherlands. And it could provide an example for America’s troubled cities, or for states like Illinois and New Jersey that have promised more in pension benefits than they can deliver.

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Chicago Sun Times: City Council proving again ‘Chicago ain’t ready for reform’

The City Council is proving once again that legendary Ald. Paddy Bauler was right when he said, “Chicago ain’t ready for reform.”

In 2009, aldermen balked at then-Mayor Richard M. Daley’s plan to give Inspector General Joe Ferguson the power to investigate them.

Instead, they created their own inspector general, tied his hands into a pretzel and waited 18 months — until after the February 2011 aldermanic election — to fill the job with Faisal Khan.

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Chicago Sun Times: Why round 2 of ACA enrollment could be tougher

Getting uninsured Illinois residents to sign up for new options for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act was hardly easy.

The second round of open enrollment, which starts Nov. 15, could prove to be even harder, experts said.

Last year was the first that Americans could enroll in two new options for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act. The law expanded who could apply for Medicaid, which is the state and federal health program for lower-income people, and the law created an online marketplace, where higher-income people could shop for what are supposed to be more affordable health insurance plans with financial aid from the government.

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City Journal: Inverted Priorities

Washington has a new corporate scourge: tax “inversions,” through which an American company sells itself to or merges with a foreign firm so that it can avoid paying full U.S. taxes. There’s an easy way to thwart these moves: cut corporate tax rates and pay for the rate cut by eliminating some of the country’s biggest tax breaks.

Tax inversions made front-page headlines this summer, when Florida-based Burger King announced that it was selling itself to Canadian firm Tim Hortons. President Obama denounced the move. “If you’re doing business here, if you’re basically still an American company, but you’re simply changing your mailing address to avoid paying taxes, then you’re really not doing right by the country and by the American people,” the president said. Massachusetts senator Elizabeth Warren agreed, chargingthat “these companies are renouncing their American citizenship, turning their backs on this country, simply to boost their profits.”

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