Sunday, August 2, 2015

Trump Tops Walker, Bush in NBC/WSJ Poll


Image: Trump Tops Walker, Bush in NBC/WSJ Poll

Chalk up another poll win for Donald Trump over his GOP opponents.
Trump continued to rise above his GOP rivals, leading in a Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll released Sunday morning.
According to the poll of Republican primary voters, Trump leads with 19 percent, followed by 15 percent for Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and 14 percent for former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.
The poll was conducted July 36-30, after Trump's public feud with Sen John McCain. Bush and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio led the last NBC/WSJ poll, taken in June.
Here are the poll results:

  • Donald Trump - 19 percent
  • Scott Walker - 15 percent
  • Jeb Bush - 14 percent
  • Ben Carson - 10 percent
  • Ted Cruz - 9 percent
  • Mike Huckabee - 6 percent
  • Rand Paul - 6 percent
  • Marco Rubio - 5 percent
  • Chris Christie - 3 percent
  • John Kasich - 3 percent
  • Rick Perry - 3 percent
  • Bobby Jindal - 1 percent
  • Rick Santorum - 1 percent
  • Less than 1 percent: Carly Fiorina, Lindsey Graham, George Pataki, Jim Gilmore
The NBC/WSJ poll could help determine who will be on the state Thursday during the first GOP debate.


Under rules laid down by debate host Fox News and backed by the Republican National Committee, only the 10 top-polling candidates will share the prime-time stage. But which polls Fox News executives will use is unclear.
NBC News projects that of the three candidates – Christie, Perry and Kasich -- tied for the 10th spot, Perry will miss the cut.
Trump's lead in the NBC/WSJ poll is the latest in a series of poll wins for the billionaire developer.
In a Reuters/Ipsos poll released last week, Trump had a commanding lead with the support of 25 percent, a double-digit advantage over Bush with 12 percent.

Trump leads polls in Arizona and New Hampshire and places second to Walker in Iowa.
Fox News relaxed one criteria this week, removing a requirement that its debate for the low-pollers have at least 1 percent support in polling. This will allow all the announced candidates to participate.

A Fox spokeswoman had no comment on the selection process.

RNC chief strategist Sean Spicer wrote in a Wall Street Journal opinion article this week that the "Republican Party suffers from an abundance of riches" and that a way has been found for all to get some debate time.

"Is the arrangement perfect? No. It is, however, the most inclusive setup in history," he wrote.

Fox News has yet to identify the five polls to be considered in choosing the top 10. A flood of new polls are expected in coming days as news organizations and polling organizations seek to have a say in the process.

The identities of the top 10 are to be released publicly late on Tuesday afternoon.

Fiorina said whatever happens, she will fight on. She noted that previous presidents like Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan had been written off at early stages of their candidacies.

Those in danger of being cut are trying to raise their visibility enough to push their poll numbers higher. Many are doing TV interviews to make their case.

"You only need a bump of a couple of points and you get in. That's the absurdity of this thing," said Larry Sabato, political analyst at the University of Virginia.
Material from Reuters was used in this report.

Trump Tops Walker, Bush in NBC/WSJ Poll

Conservative donor Koch urges end to 'corporate cronyism' - Yahoo News


DANA POINT, Calif. (AP) — Billionaire industrialist and conservative political donor Charles Koch welcomed a group of roughly 450 like-minded fundraisers to one of his twice-annual conferences Saturday by challenging them to advocate for ending "corporate cronyism" - even if those policies help their businesses.


Koch, who along with brother David has long pressed for a federal government that collects fewer taxes and issues fewer regulation, said cutting back special treatment for business is the first step to ending a "two-tiered society" and encouraging "principled entrepreneurship"

"Where I believe we need to start in reforming welfare is eliminating welfare for the wealthy," Koch said. "This means stopping the subsidies, mandates and preferences for business that enrich the haves at the expense of the have nots."

Most recently, the Kochs have been strong advocates of the shutting down the federal Export-Import Bank, and their groups have spent money on advertisements and outreach to win senators and representatives over to their side on the issue.

The bank is a federal agency that helps U.S. companies sell products overseas by underwriting loans to foreign customers. Small-government activists have said it wastes taxpayer dollars to enrich the country's biggest companies.

The Koch brothers and their network of donors, many in attendance at the weekend event at a luxury resort south of Los Angeles, are preparing to spend $889 million to influence elections next year — much of it aimed at ushering a Republican to the White House. As such, among those in attendance were several of the GOP candidates for president, including Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and former technology executive Carly Fiorina.

Walker compared the Koch donor conference with the tea party rallies of five years ago, saying both groups of people are motivated by the same frustration with politics and desire to see the country improved.

"I wish the whole world could see what goes on here," he told the donors, adding that he believes they're not giving to political candidates out of personal financial interests. "You're here because you love America."

Democrats would disagree, and have done so vehemently. The party has routinely portrayed the brothers — their Koch Industries is one of the largest private companies in the country — as greedy corporate tycoons whose work in politics is an end to padding their bank accounts. The brothers, who are billionaires many times over and rank among the wealthiest people in the world, dismiss the criticisms.

"We're doing all this to make more money? I mean, that is so ludicrous," Charles Koch said of his political involvement during a rare interview in April with USA Today.

Other GOP presidential candidates — Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz — were scheduled to address the group Sunday. Each is being interviewed separately by Mike Allen, a journalist at the Washington publication Politico. Other Republicans mingling with donors over cocktails on a lawn ringed with palm trees and decorative columns that overlooks the Pacific Ocean included Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner and Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey.

Asked about some of his Cabinet choices, should he be chosen as GOP nominee and elected next November, Walker named fellow hopefuls Fiorina and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, as well as former Missouri Sen. Jim Talent and former Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, who was also in attendance.

Leaders of two of the largest Koch-backed political entities, Americans for Prosperity and Freedom Partners, have said they will not spend money to influence the Republican presidential primary, instead holding back their resources to spend on defeating the Democratic nominee in November 2016.

Still, many of the men and women at the donor conference, including the Kochs themselves, have the ability to spend millions of dollars backing their preferred candidate. David Koch has said several times in recent months that Walker would make a great president, while asserting that he is not planning to formally endorse anyone.

The Koch brothers have hosted such gatherings of donors and politicians for years, but always in private. For the first time, this weekend's event includes a small number of reporters who were invited to hear the 2016 candidates and attend some other forums. As a condition of attending, reporters were not permitted to identify any of the donors in attendance.

The Kochs are protective of their fellow donors in other ways. Most of their contributions remain out of public view, as all but a few entities in the Koch network aren't legally required to name their contributors — even though they can spend money to influence politics, such as through issues advocacy ads. The groups may even promote specific candidates in limited ways.

Fundraising reports filed Friday with federal regulators show how important deep-pocketed donors have become.

About 60 donations of $1 million or more accounted for about one-third of the more than $380 million brought in so far for the 2016 presidential election, an Associated Press analysis found. The review included contributions to the official campaigns and the far larger gifts to outside groups called super PACs.

Conservative donor Koch urges end to 'corporate cronyism' - Yahoo News

Social Media Users Press For Governor's Recall With Petitions | WUIS 91.9

By Jacqualine Simone Williams Aug 1, 2015

A number of recall petitions from people dissatisfied with Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner are circulating on social media platforms, but these efforts do not meet the legal requirements for recall in the state.

As of press time, the petition with the most support, posted on, has more than 9,000 signatures with a goal set at 600,000.

Merrill Cole, an English and literature professor at Western Illinois University, added his name to the petition. Cole says he is against the governor’s “entire agenda.” Rauner’s office declined to comment on the petitions.

“I’m really opposed to Rauner’s philosophical position and the kinds of things he’s trying to say. It’s not just that it affects me and the place where I work, and people I work with. It’s also a way of governing which I think is wrong,” Cole says.

However, political experts say such online petitions can do little more than show discontent.

“To the extent this is some kind of a movement by the people, [a few thousand] signatures online where you don’t know who they are or how many times people have signed it — I mean, that’s not exactly a groundswell,” says Chris Mooney, director of the University of Illinois’ Institute of Government and Public Affairs. “But, I think it is a reflection of the frustration that people are feeling. Not only with the governor, but with the budget impasses.”

Another expert agrees. “It’s a pretty stiff bar to cross,” says Ron Michaelson, a professor of political science at the University of Illinois Springfield. “The likelihood of recalling the governor between now and 2018 would be no better than 1 percent.” Michaelson is a former director of the Illinois State Board of Elections, which oversees the recall process.

Voters approved the recall amendment to the Illinois Constitution in the 2010 general election. While the concept has had its supporters over the years, Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s impeachment and removal from office in 2009 catalyzed the push for recall in the state. Before voters approved the amendment, impeachment was the only option to get rid of a sitting governor.

“We’re charting new territory,” Michaelson says. He says gathering signatures is an uphill battle for voters. He estimates that for the upcoming 2016 general election, over half a million signatures would be needed. Also, the governor has the right to challenge signatures.

The process is complicated. For Rauner to get the boot, an affidavit with a notice of intent to circulate a petition has to be approved by the State Board of Elections. But, that affidavit has to first carry signatures of at least 20 members of the House and 10 members of the Senate to throw a recall effort into motion. And it doesn’t get any easier for those who might seek to recall Rauner — under the current legislature, half of the signatures in each chamber would have to come from Republicans. If petitioners passed that hurdle, they would be required to get a minimum of 100 eligible voters from at least 25 different counties across the state to sign their petitions, along with hundreds of thousands of other Illinoisans.

Only official petition forms issued by the State Board of Elections are valid. Although Cole supports current online recall efforts, he acknowledges their limitations. “Sometimes [online] petitions have greater symbolic force than actual legal force,” Cole says. “Recall would be one way, perhaps, of putting an end to it. But, I’m not putting all my eggs into that particular basket.”

That may be a wise choice when one considers how a well-funded recall campaign played out in one of Illinois’ neighboring states.

“It’s very difficult to get a recall on the ballot. But it’s more difficult to get people to vote for it,” Mooney says. As was the case three years ago, when Wisconsin voters gathered nearly a million signatures to put Gov. Scott Walker on the chopping block. However, Mooney says, Wisconsin’s recall process is simpler than Illinois’ because it bypasses lawmakers and goes straight to the public. “In that case, if you get enough people mad at you and they’re organized enough, as with Walker and organized labor, they were able to get it on the ballot,” Mooney says.

Even with a large number of people signing petitions, the recall attempt was unsuccessful at the election.

He says the buzz surrounding a potential recall could also backfire on Rauner’s detractors and instead boost the governor’s popularity. To some, Walker’s successful fight against a recall attempt backed by labor unions is a plus on his political resume as he runs for president, Mooney says.

Cole says he hopes that more calls for change would at least get the governor’s attention. “Maybe he will back away from some of the crazier ideas he’s floated and work some sort of compromise. I don’t know. But, I think if he pushed it too far, then a recall becomes a real possibility.”

Social Media Users Press For Governor's Recall With Petitions | WUIS 91.9

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Illinois lawmakers evade pressure to buckle on budget - SFGate


    SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — Illinois has entered its second month without a state budget, and there's no indication that summer's dog days will present any new opportunities for a breakthrough in the squabbling between Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner and the Democrats who control the General Assembly.

Senators nonetheless will have to sweat over a tricky vote when they return to the Capitol on Tuesday — whether to reject a pay increase for themselves and violate the state Constitution, as the House already has done.

Both chambers will hold one-day sessions in what's become a weekly pilgrimage to Springfield. Lawmakers have approved no yearlong spending plan after they were unable to gather the votes necessary to override a gubernatorial veto of the one they adopted in May. And they continue to rail against Rauner's demands for pro-business structural reforms even as they appear to be buckling to his pressure to reject the automatic pay raise.


Here are some questions and answers on the status of the impasse:


A: House Speaker Michael Madigan, a Chicago Democrat, characterizes the weekly appearances as a "continuous session." If lawmakers didn't show up periodically, it could be ammunition for Rauner, who rejects the General Assembly's desire to raise taxes to fill a projected $4 billion deficit. Rauner vetoed that spending plan and let the last fiscal year lapse June 30 without a new plan in place.

The first-year governor doesn't want to talk about spending shortfalls until he gets legislative endorsement for his pro-business and anti-corruption initiatives, such as curbing payouts for worker injuries, limiting politicians' terms in office and developing a nonpartisan way to draw political districts. Madigan and Democratic Senate President John Cullerton say those are tangential issues that should come after the budget.

Rauner also may figure that if he doesn't get his proposed reforms this year, he faces less of a chance in 2016, when much of the Legislature is up for re-election.


A: Not a lot. Two potential pressure points — the August opening of public schools and the first fiscal year paychecks for state workers — dissolved when Rauner signed school spending into law and court orders dictated all 64,500 employees continue should be paid.

Public universities must open this month, and the return of students could shine a new light on the falloff in state aid to colleges. Despite severe cuts in the past decade, they still count on that money to make up, on average, 20 percent of their budgets, according to state figures.

The standoff's effect on social service agencies and their clients continues to mount. Community Action Agencies joined a growing list of state-supported groups that have shut down or curtailed services on Friday, announcing in a statement the closing of centers statewide and "forcing agencies to turn away thousands of Illinois' most vulnerable residents."

The Belleville News-Democrat reported that the Clyde C. Jordan Senior Center in East St. Louis halted transportation and meals for the elderly Friday.

Those hurt by service cuts — working mothers needing daycare or graduate students seeing teaching assistant jobs dry up — are part of Democrats' core constituency, said David Yepsen, director of the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute at Southern Illinois University-Carbondale. Growing frustration could force the Democrats "to cry 'uncle' for Rauner," he said.


A: Until last week, lawmakers said little about an automatic 2 percent cost-of-living adjustment to their salaries that was approaching. But Rauner criticized them for not voluntarily offering to sacrifice it, given the state's problems.

After dismissing the noise about it as a "diversion" for weeks, Madigan led his House majority in voting to kill it, saying it became necessary after the money was budgeted.

The raises still will go through unless the Senate also votes them down. Cullerton says he believes it is "blatantly" unconstitutional to reject them, because of court rulings prohibiting some already-approved salary changes. But he told the Chicago Sun-Times in an interview that he would call the vote this week and support ending the pay hikes.

Even if someone should object, Cullerton said, "Nobody's gonna sue."

Illinois lawmakers evade pressure to buckle on budget - SFGate

Friday, July 31, 2015

New power rules may preserve Exelon nuclear plants in Illinois | Reuters


New rules for U.S. electricity providers could save two money-losing nuclear power plants in Illinois from shutting down and may amount to a $10 billion bonanza to U.S. power producers.

A system of rewards and penalties is part of a requirement approved last month by federal energy regulators that applies to a power auction next month.

It may benefit some costly nuclear reactors in the PJM power region, which stretches from New Jersey to Illinois, that have had a tough time competing against the growing use of wind turbines and power plants fired with cheap natural gas.

That is particularly true for two plants operated by Exelon Corp, the biggest U.S. nuclear power plant operator. It has warned it might be forced to shut its Quad Cities and Byron nuclear plants in northern Illinois, unless the reactors' revenues increase.

Other generators expected to benefit from the new requirements, including those with nuclear plants located far away from the Midwest wind farms, include Dynegy Inc, NRG Energy Inc, Public Service Enterprise Group Inc and Talen Energy Corp.

Thanks to the growth of alternative power sources and abundant gas from shale formations, PJM power prices have fallen an average of 20 percent over the past five years to around $50 per megawatt hour compared with the prior five years.

The regulation should provide generators with more money for keeping their units ready to operate when most needed to avoid unexpected power plant outages like those that pushed the system to the brink of blackouts as homes and businesses cranked up their heaters during the polar vortex winter of 2013/2014.

The rule creates a niche for nuclear plants, which run consistently, unlike breeze-dependent wind turbines, and do not need potential upgrades to withstand harsh winter temperatures like gas plants.

Under so-called capacity performance requirements, generators will receive higher fees to keep plants available but face stiff penalties if their units don't deliver power when needed during system emergencies. Fines for an average 100-megawatt plant would be around $350,000 an hour.

One megawatt can power about 1,000 homes.

PJM will hold the auction starting August 10 for power capacity for the June 2018-to-May 2019 time period that will include the capacity performance standards.

Capacity performance prices for the 2018-2019 delivery year are expected to increase by about 25 percent over last year's rates to around $150 to $165 per megawatt day, according to analysts, which could total about $10 billion for the power resources sought in the auction.

If analysts' estimates are correct and all ten of Exelon's reactors in northern Illinois are selected to provide capacity in the auction, the company could receive around $600 million for those reactors during the 2018-2019 delivery year.

"We expect the vast majority of our nuclear units will clear the auction," Joseph Dominguez, Exelon's executive vice president for government and regulatory affairs told Reuters, meaning the company expects most of its reactors in PJM to receive capacity payments for the 2018-2019 delivery year.

He would not speculate on what might happen with Quad Cities and Byron in Illinois and Oyster Creek in New Jersey, which did not clear last year's auction for the 2017-2018 delivery year that did not include the capacity performance standards.

Exelon has already said it planned to retire Oyster Creek in the fourth quarter of 2019, but has not set a closure plan for the Illinois plants.

With the new capacity standards in place, some analysts said Byron and Quad Cities, which are located in Exelon's Commonwealth Edison (ComEd) power delivery zone in northern Illinois, will make the grade for continuing to operate.

"Byron and Quad Cities will clear the 2018-2019 auction because we think the ComEd zone will price at a higher level than the rest of PJM," said Prajit Ghosh, research director North America power, at Wood Mackenzie, an energy consultancy.

Exelon has lost close to $1 billion over the past five years on its nuclear operations - about $350 million at Quad Cities alone. It expects those losses to continue, based on forward power prices, Dominguez said.

Even if Byron and Quad Cities clear the auction, Dominguez said they still face the risk of shutdown unless federal, state and regional policy makers find ways to compensate generators for the environmental and reliability benefits that non-carbon emitting nuclear plants provide.

In the meantime, extra revenues from the capacity auction could keep the money losing reactors operating for a few more years until possible new carbon standards are available.

(Reporting by Scott DiSavino; Editing by Jessica Resnick-Ault and Alden Bentley)

New power rules may preserve Exelon nuclear plants in Illinois | Reuters

Boone County leaders: 'We've got to figure out how to grow the economy' - News - Rockford Register Star - Rockford, IL


  • BELVIDERE — Since the recession hit in late 2007 and early 2008, a few hard realities have surrounded Boone County budget issues: a dwindling tax base, a stagnant economy, a larger tax burden shifting to property owners.
    In 2008, the combined value of all Boone County properties was more than $1.2 billion. That year, the typical homeowner paid 69 cents for every $100 of a property's assessed value in property taxes. By 2014, the combined property value in the county had fallen 31 percent, to about $880 million. But the amount of money the typical homeowner paid in taxes for every $100 of assessed value increased to $1.26.
    To balance its budget and compensate for its shrinking tax base, the county increased the amount of money — from $8.6 million in 2008 to $10.9 million in 2014 — it collects in property taxes each year, even as values plummeted.
    “The economics of our county were beat up in the recession and have not recovered," County Administrator Ken Terrinoni said. "But you can’t, every single year, put it on the backs of the property taxpayer. ... We’ve got to figure out how to grow the economy."
    To turn things around, the Boone County Strategic Plan Task Force — a collection of county department heads coordinated by Terrinoni, his assistant Justyn Miller and County Board members — has been meeting in "focus groups" to brainstorm ideas to revitalize the economy.
    County Board members Sherry Giesecke and Jeff Carlisle hatched the idea during a board retreat in January; for the past five months, the group has been meeting to identify issues, goals and objectives.
    "We've never done a formal process like this," Terrinoni said.
    The task force is organized into three focus groups: Public Safety and Justice, Operations, and Infrastructure and Economic Development. It has drafted five goals:
    • Promote intergovernmental collaboration and communication.
    • Promote economic development to support new and existing businesses.
    • Maintain and enhance community safety through an integrated law enforcement and criminal justice system.
    • Integrate the functions of county departments, including technology, to promote effective and efficient government.
    • Plan, develop and invest in the community to enhance quality of life with a focus on infrastructure and transportation.
    “Inflation plus new business is the only way to grow revenue," Gieseke said Tuesday during a Public Safety and Justice focus group meeting. "What we really want to do is not just look for money, but we want to look for improving quality of life and increasing revenue to do that."
    The Public Safety and Justice group includes representatives from the sheriff's office, the county jail, emergency management, the coroner's office, the probation department, the public defender's office, the state's attorney's office, the 17th Judicial Circuit Court, the clerk of the circuit court's office and information technology.
    Page 2 of 2 - The group discussed sending surveys to residents and more aggressively seeking state and federal grants for economic development and infrastructure projects. The most detailed discussion, however, was about figuring out the county's 21st-century identity and "rebranding."
    One rebranding idea is to promote and encourage specialty businesses and boutique shops in the area, such as The Complete Sheep Shoppe on Caledonia Road, the McEachran Homestead Winery in Caledonia and Edwards Apple Orchard in Poplar Grove.
    "It’s very interesting. It’s a great idea," said Jane Zeien, who owns The Complete Sheep Shoppe with her husband, Paul Zeien Jr. "I don't know very much about it. But I’d like to help out any way I could. ... There’s a lot of things the area has that are positive."
    Zeien, whose shop specializes in wool and sheepskin products, pointed to the county fair, the local 4-H club and the county's willingness to promote local businesses as examples.
    But retail alone may not be enough.
    "We’re never going to solve our basic problems, like kicking the can down the road, not doing this, not doing that, until we’ve solved our tax base," Terrinoni said. "And by that I mean making it more diverse and resilient. You need a little bit of everything. A little (retail), but you need the larger industry that brings in jobs.”
    The task force's operations focus group will meet next at 7:30 a.m. Aug. 7 at the Belvidere Township building, 8200 Fairgrounds Road. A meeting for the Infrastructure & Economic Development group has not been scheduled.
    “What I’ve learned from my staff that I inherited six months ago is a lot of frustration, especially with county government," Sheriff Dave Ernest said. "We plan and we plan, but nothing ever seems to go anywhere. ... We're at a point where that absolutely has to change.”
    Ben Stanley: 815-987-1369;; @ben_j_stanley
  • By Ben Stanley
    Rockford Register Star


    • Boone County leaders: 'We've got to figure out how to grow the economy' - News - Rockford Register Star - Rockford, IL

      Boone County prosecutor says County Board chairman wrong to talk to judge - News - Rockford Register Star - Rockford, IL


      By Georgette Braun
      Rockford Register Star

      Posted Jul. 30, 2015 at 3:59 PM
      Updated Jul 30, 2015 at 4:53 PM

      BELVIDERE — Boone County State's Attorney Michelle Courier told Boone County Board members this week that Chairman Bob Walberg had inappropriately told a judge handling a case against Plote Construction Inc. that he "did not approve of the lawsuit against Plote."
      Courier said in a letter posted on the Boone County Community Forum Facebook page that "while there is a pending case, judges are forbidden to have ex parte communications about that case." She said Walberg's actions were "inappropriate." Courier said that Judge Rob Tobin had said in court Tuesday that he told Walberg he couldn't talk about the case and ended the conversation.
      Walberg said today that he had called Tobin to talk about politics and the economy as he does sometimes but that his conversation "wasn't anything with the case. ... I didn't realize there was a problem." He said Courier, a Republican who is seeking re-election, is making the situation a political one.
      Tobin asked Courier and an attorney for Plote whether they wanted him to withdraw from the case. Courier said in her letter to County Board members that she didn't. Courier could not be reached for further comment. Courier said in the letter that Plote's attorney had asked for a new court date to discuss the offer with Plote. An attorney for Plote could not be immediately reached for comment today.
      Hoffman Estates-based Plote operates a quarry at 1050 Ecs Way, Belvidere. Courier had filed a lawsuit against Plote for operating beyond the hours approved by the County Board. She obtained a temporary restraining order that was violated, and she said in the letter that she had filed a motion for sanctions that was set to be heard Tuesday.

      Above is from:   Boone County prosecutor says County Board chairman wrong to talk to judge - News - Rockford Register Star - Rockford, IL


      TO SEE THE ACTUAL COMMUNICATIONS FROM Judge Tobin and States Attorney Courier GO TO: