Ghost Busters

Chicago, IL

#122 Feb 24, 2014
Treatment Centers Closed wrote:
Illinois closed mental health treatment centers more than a year ago citing budgetary problems. Where do Illinois lawmakers expect addicts in Illinois to go for treatment?
You can't have it both ways.
Shovels in the Ground

Chicago, IL

#124 Mar 5, 2014
Now Mike's looking for another chunk of money from the presidential library. He'll never quit!
You Got Served

Chicago, IL

#125 Mar 9, 2014
Addicted wrote:
Members of both parties are addicted to power and money. That addiction to money and power impairs good judgement and negatively impacts taxpayers.
It is time for Mike Madigan and others like him to leave office.
You got served with More.
More hiring of family members, the politically connected, jobs for votes, no bid contracts, failure, and debt.
Relax and enjoy all that you have.

Save your money. You're really going to need it.
Another vote bought

Blue Island, IL

#126 Mar 12, 2014
Indicted state rep keeps cashing Madigan's checks
WED, 03/12/2014
DAVE MCKINNEY

The Madigan love keeps coming for indicted state Rep. Derrick Smith.

The political committee Madigan controls, Democratic Majority, pumped another $15,246 this week into Smith’s campaign fund to pay for printing and postage in his five-way primary for the 10th House District on Chicago's West Side.

Since January 1, the Madigan-led fund has invested $46,736 into Smith’s re-election. All told, Democratic Majority has given Smith $115,530 since 2011, state campaign records show.

Smith is scheduled to go to trial May 28 for allegedly accepting a $7,000 cash bribe from an undercover FBI informant who asked Smith to help a purported daycare operator in his West Side district obtain a state grant. Smith has denied wrongdoing.

Even though the speaker voted to expel Smith from the House in 2012 – marking the first time a sitting member had been driven from office in more than a century -- Madigan has offered to help incumbent House Democrats fend off primaries this spring, including Smith.

Despite his federal indictment, Smith easily won back his seat in the fall of 2012 despite opposition from his one-time Democratic patron, Secretary of State Jesse White.

“I believe he came back into office, right?” Madigan spokesman Steve Brown said, when asked about how the speaker reconciles the fact he voted to expel Smith with now diverting financial help to his campaign.

“So he’s an incumbent, and we’re supporting incumbents,” Brown told the Chicago Sun-Times.

The most recent Democratic Majority expenditure to Smith’s campaign appears to be for a campaign mailer.

Asked if he could provide a copy of that mail piece, Brown said he didn’t have it.

Pressed if he could offer up a campaign contact for Smith, who does not appear to have a political website and has run essentially a ghost campaign devoid of joint campaign appearances with his four rivals, Brown suggested “dialing directory assistance.”

Smith is facing Chicago cop Eddie Winters, who briefly took over as state representative after Smith was ousted; lawyer Pamela Reaves-Harris; former teacher Beverly Perteet; and Antwan Hampton, a communications professor at Northern Illinois University.

Reaves-Harris is backed by Ald. Jason Ervin (28th), former Ald. Ed Smith and U.S. Rep. Danny Davis, D-Ill., while Winters has the backing of the secretary of state.
There You Have It

Chicago, IL

#127 Mar 12, 2014
This is exactly how Madigan is operating his party; working the system through palm cards and scamming honest people/voters!

What you really need Mr. Madigan; is an exit strategy.
Madigan was it worth it

Blue Island, IL

#128 Mar 13, 2014
Why are Illinois unions spending so much on a GOP race?
Stirred, not shaken

March 13, 2014

If you haven't heard: One of the Republicans running for governor of Illinois wants to shake up Springfield. His campaign is peddling "Shake Up Springfield" T-shirts, visors, fleece jackets, iPhone covers and coffee cups. He promises that, if elected, he'll challenge public employee unions and other interests that he says have shaped the status quo — the sorry state of this state.

The status quo has heard all about Mr. Shake Up Springfield. The status quo is not amused. The status quo does not wish to be shaken. The status quo is stirred.

Hence the unusual involvement of those unions, historically a loyal Democratic constituency, in ... the Republican race for governor. Wednesday's Tribune reported that three unions (Illinois Education Association, Illinois Federation of Teachers, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees) contributed at least $800,000 apiece to a political action committee that ran a TV advertising blitz against Mr. Shake Up Springfield.

The union-backed PAC is ending its ad campaign, ostensibly because it has achieved its purpose: educating voters that Mr. SUS would be bad for Illinois. But the same unions also have donated a total of at least $400,000 to another of the four Republicans running for governor. And another union-backed PAC is airing ads for that candidate.

If all of this strikes you as a lot of traditionally Democratic money uncharacteristically anxious to influence an intramural Republican contest, come sit by us. But it's a free country, and media outlets all across Illinois, including our corporate cousins in the broadcast industry, must be happy to have the business.

The unions are clear on what they oppose. They oppose Illinois pension reforms, those signed into law and others, such as a 401(k)-style retirement plan, that Mr. SUS might advance. They oppose Mr. SUS' call for less spending by the state of Illinois. They oppose the education reform initiatives into which Mr. SUS has poured millions of his own dollars, the better to liberate disadvantaged Illinois children from dead-end schools.

In his TV ads, Mr. Shake Up Springfield has told all of us plenty about what he would do to rescue the sorry state of this state. That is, he's told us what he wants for Illinois: more jobs, less spending, better schools, solvent public finances.

Then we see the TV ads attacking Mr. SUS and we wonder: The people and the organizations who defend the status quo — they want what for Illinois?
Crooked Cook County Dems

Blue Island, IL

#129 Mar 27, 2014
Many Illinois voters with memories won't trust Gov. Quinn's tax plan
Quinn wants his 'temporary' 67-percent tax hike made permanent. Voters with memories will be suspicious.
March 27, 2014

In outlining his budget blueprint Wednesday in Springfield, Gov. Pat Quinn surprised no one when he called for the permanent extension of current income tax rates. Yes, those are the rates that, according to the law Quinn signed Jan. 13, 2011, are to start receding on Jan. 1.

He surprised no one when he blamed other people's poor fiscal practices "that I inherited" for this state's disastrous financial shape, or when he invoked a recession that officially ended nearly five years ago, in June 2009.

He surprised no one when he warned of massive teacher layoffs, property tax increases and even "victims of rape left without proper care" if lawmakers allow the individual income tax to roll back from 5 percent to 3.75 percent as scheduled.

Quinn, that is, surprised no one. He offered no fundamental changes in how Illinois spends or does business — no remedies for the distressed status quo. In his sixth budget address — this one for the fiscal year that begins July 1 — the governor instead said he wants to make permanent the income tax increase that he and his Democratic Party allies insisted would be "temporary."

That's the problem with Springfield. This state's leaders, having volunteered a promise to the people of Illinois, have reached their difficult day of reckoning: They no longer can paper over Illinois' stagnant economy and financially dysfunctional state government. They're face to face with their law's imminent rollback of their marquee, feed-the-beast, 67 percent personal income tax hike of 2011. The tax increase that was supposed to solve so many of the state's problems but didn't.

To many Illinois citizens, state government looks like an addict who would rather stall than suffer career-ending consequences. "Just give us a little more money, a little more time. Honest, it'll be better soon. This time we mean it. Really. Please."

Quinn pledged Wednesday that if lawmakers kill the partial rollback and keep collecting that $4 billion in annual revenue, Springfield will give homeowners $740 million a year —$500 per household — in new property tax relief.

The response from lawmakers and taxpayers — that is, from people with memories, should be a firm "No." Here's why:

What most plagues state government isn't budget mathematics. It can't be displayed on a pie chart. It isn't theoretical. It's relational. It's widespread mistrust of the folks who run Springfield. It's mistrust of their promises as to what they'll do tomorrow in return for collecting more fast money today.

Now state leaders are asking taxpayers to trust them, again. The same leaders who described a state of emergency in 2011, supposedly requiring the tax hike, but who today claim this state's economy is improving — yet they still need all the money. The same leaders who raised taxes by 67 percent before they cut spending or refashioned Medicaid or reformed pensions. The same leaders who promised their tax hike would be temporary. And now the same leaders who warn of doomsday cuts to the state's most vulnerable if the tax goes away.

As Springfield offers tax refunds in the future, many voters can only ask, "Do I trust Springfield?" Among those voters' recollections:

The Illinois tollways were supposed to transition to freeways in 1973. They didn't. The income-tax surcharge imposed to fund local governments in 1989 was supposed to expire. It became permanent in 1993. The 2011 income tax vote that hiked rates from 3 percent to 5 percent on individuals, and from 7.3 percent to 9.5 percent on corporations, was supposed to be temporary. Senate President John Cullerton and House Speaker Michael Madigan support Quinn's plan. If the three of them have their way, those rates will be ... permanent.
Crooked Cook County Dems

Blue Island, IL

#130 Mar 27, 2014
Cullerton on Jan. 11, 2011, the night the tax hike passed: "We are going to have our bills paid. It's going to absolutely boost our economy and create jobs when we pay those people what they're owed.… A portion of this tax (increase) is going to expire in four years. This, again, is a temporary tax."

So state government started collecting $7 billion more annually, a number now approaching $8 billion annually. Yet Illinois still has the nation's second-highest unemployment rate, low prospects for job growth, the highest unfunded pension liabilities and nearly $5 billion in unpaid state bills.

Again, Cullerton on 1/11/11: "We are in desperate need to improve our bond ratings. We will do that by raising this money, and we acknowledge that a future General Assembly will decide whether (the higher personal and corporate tax rates) should be extended."

Yet since the tax hike passed, the three major credit ratings agencies repeatedly have downgraded Illinois' creditworthiness.

Quinn, too, described the tax increase as temporary in 2011: "We have some temporary tax increases that are designed to pay our bills, get Illinois back on fiscal sound footing."

Madigan's top aide in the House, state Rep. Barbara Flynn Currie, promised the tax hike was "only intended to pay our old bills and deal with the structural deficit."

Ninety Democrats passed the 2011 tax hike with no Republican votes. Fifty-nine of those lawmakers are still in the House and Senate. Those 59 voted for a tax increase that partially expires this year. To reverse that course, lawmakers would have to take another vote, to make their 2011 tax hike permanent.

Those 59 lawmakers ought to hold their leaders accountable to what they promised the people of Illinois. They should be the first "no" votes on extending this tax hike in return for ... yet another promise from Springfield.
Clueless

Chicago, IL

#131 Mar 27, 2014
Quinn doesn't get it, he is simply unable to deliver a balanced state budget or get bills paid within a reasonabe time frame.
Irony

Blue Island, IL

#132 Mar 31, 2014
Task force report says Madigan controlled Metra hires
BY ROSALIND ROSSI

A new report by Gov. Pat Quinn’s transit task force came out swinging Monday at House Speaker Michael Madigan, accusing him of “in effect” deciding for years if job candidates were hired at Metra.

The report — whose ethics recommendations were overseen by former U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald — revealed that Metra kept three boxes of three-by-five-inch cards holding the names of more than 800 people referred for jobs, promotions or raises by “various political officials or persons influential with political parties.’’

Those boxes dated roughly from 1983 to 1991, but some job decisions involving Madigan went as far back as 1976, according to the report.

The records “reflected patronage hiring at Metra,’’ said the report, which outlined a series of reforms to address influence-peddling and enhance regional transit planning.

Madigan was among a host of individuals — including Metra and CTA board members as well as Cook County and legislative officials — who made job-related recommendations to Metra, the final report of the Northeastern Illinois Public Transit Task Force said.

But when it came to Madigan’s recommendations, the report noted,“in some cases, he did not recommend people to be hired — he in effect decided they were hired.’’

The 94-page report’s 107th footnote said Madigan or “a private attorney who appears to have recommended individuals on behalf of the Speaker of the House” recommended 26 people to Metra. That included one so-called “high priority” candidate recommended by Madigan and apparently hired “before the first interview,’’ according to the report.

Madigan spokesman Steve Brown called the report “amateurish” for not specifying names and dates.

“That goes to the amateur nature of the report. They throw these items out and I guess hope to achieve some change in public policy. It will be a challenge,’’ Brown said.

“It’s hard to ask [Madigan] any questions,” Brown said, based on “25- to 30-year- old index cards.”

However, Brown speculated that the unnamed private attorney was Sam Vincent, Metra’s lobbyist at the time. He said Madigan held no more influence with Vincent than any other lawmaker.

Quinn formed the 15-member task force last August after outcry over a huge severance package Metra Board members gave their ex-CEO as well as influence-peddling allegations at Metra — some involving Madigan.

Quinn gave the task force the broader mission of cleaning up the ethics of Metra, CTA, Pace and their financial overseer — the Regional Transportation Authority — and reorganizing the area’s transit agencies to provide “world-class” transit.

Toward that end, the task force on Monday recommended a New York-style solution, in which the 47 members of all four transit agencies would be replaced by one superboard — possibly of 15 people — overseeing a supertransit agency that would plan regionally. Metra, the CTA and Pace could become operating units under the larger agency.

The superboard would be appointed by the governor, the mayor of Chicago, the Cook County board president, and collar county chief executives. Those officials would make their selections from a slate of candidates proposed by an “independent group”— a group Fitzgerald said could be picked by those authorities. Candidates would be vetted by the inspector general.

The CTA and the mayor’s office have already dumped on the superagency model as lacking accountability, and RTA Chairman John Gates Jr. has described the idea as virtually dead on arrival.

One task force co-chair, George Ranney of Metropolis Strategies, said “several” lawmakers have expressed interest in working on a bill tied to the report but declined to name them.

“Nothing’s DOA,’’ Ranney said.“There’s going to be political support; it won’t happen overnight.’’
What Have We Become

Blue Island, IL

#134 Apr 5, 2014
The Sad State of Illinois

Bill Ryan
Surprised she wasnt wearing one of her daddies "Eff You" hats that all interviewees at Metra wore to their interviews----her own husband got a job at the RTA because daddy Mikey sent him.

Hey Lisa---Pot is about to be legal, Illegals are now Legal, Gays can get married, why punish the prostitutes and those who visit them? Gotta be votes in there somewhere...typical Madigan.

Go do your job and investigate real crime, like the ones your daddy commits.
The Madigan Way

Blue Island, IL

#135 Apr 11, 2014
That patronage scandal at Metra? There was nothing to it. Move along.
Mike Madigan's watchdog absolves Mike Madigan of ethics violations
April 11, 2014
News that comes as a surprise to no one: An investigation by Illinois' legislative watchdog has found that House Speaker Michael Madigan did not violate the state's ethics act when he pressured Metra officials to give one of his Democratic foot soldiers a raise.

It's not because the speaker didn't intervene on behalf of Patrick Ward, who has donated generously to the campaigns of both Madigan and his daughter, Attorney General Lisa Madigan. And it's not because there's nothing wrong with that, either.

It's because the state ethics act is a disgraceful fraud, designed to provide cover for politicians' corrupt behavior, not to prevent it. But you knew that.

Madigan knew it, too, when he asked Legislative Inspector General Thomas Homer last summer to investigate.

Back in July, when the House Mass Transit Committee was trying to get to the bottom of that secret $871,000 separation deal between Metra and CEO Alex Clifford, Madigan acknowledged that he had lobbied senior Metra staffers to increase Ward's salary. Madigan's position, as always, was that such interference is perfectly appropriate.

Remember the legislative scholarship racket, which allowed state lawmakers to grant their campaign workers, business associates and other pals free rides to the state's universities? Madigan was among the worst offenders. He also finished at the top of the list of state power brokers who clouted friends and family onto the special admissions track at the University of Illinois. With breathtaking hubris, he chalked it all up to "constituent service."

Then there was "Madigan's list," the speaker's picks for openings on the Cook County associate judges' bench.

The Metra scandal that didn't run afoul of the ethics act caused such a public uproar that six board members were forced to resign. Clifford said he was ousted because he refused Madigan's request to give Ward a raise, or to promote another crony from customer service representative to conductor.

The settlement agreement approved by the Metra board included a mutual confidentiality clause designed to keep those allegations quiet. But the Mass Transit Committee shook loose Clifford's eight-page memo to the board, and the truth was out.

In January, a Tribune investigation documented the extent of Madigan's meddling throughout the state. The newspaper identified more than 400 current or retired employees at all levels of government with strong political ties to the speaker. The Tribune documented repeated instances in which Madigan personally lobbied for jobs, promotions or raises for his allies.

One of them was Ward, who left his $57,000-a-year job at Metra in December 2012 and landed a new,$70,000-a-year job in the state labor relations bureau six months later.

Last week, a mass transit task force named in the wake of the Clifford scandal reported finding Madigan's fingerprints on Metra personnel decisions dating back decades. The task force said notes contained on index cards dated 1983 to 1991 suggest that Madigan "did not recommend people to be hired — he in fact decided they were hired."

But hey, there's nothing illegal about that. That's why Madigan had nothing to fear when he ordered up an investigation of himself last summer.

In response to the task force report, Metra's board on Friday will consider a new policy under which recommendations from outsiders would be kept in a log, available to public inspection. That's similar to the "firewall" erected by the University of Illinois after it was caught running a separate admissions track for applicants with political sponsors.

That covers two of the nearly 7,000 units of government in Illinois. Here's a better idea:
The Madigan Way

Blue Island, IL

#136 Apr 11, 2014
Pass a real ethics law that prohibits elected officials from clouting their cronies on to the public payroll. Include some serious sanctions. Assign an independent watchdog to investigate claims against lawmakers, not one who's hired and supervised by those very lawmakers. And make those investigations public. All of them.

In a 2011 letter to all 177 members of the General Assembly, Homer — a former Democratic lawmaker who is the state's first legislative inspector general — complained that the ethics act has "proven to be weak medicine" because it suggests "merely ideals toward which legislators should strive." Compliance is voluntary, and penalties are optional.

If that sounds fishy to you, remember who writes the laws.
Jan

Blue Island, IL

#137 Apr 11, 2014
Join the remapping fight

April 10, 2014

Thanks to the Tribune for its editorial praising the efforts of the redistricting amendment “army.”

As one of the hundreds of soldiers in that army, I am grateful that the editorial pointed out the transparency, diversity and accountability that are integral parts of this amendment. The voting public needs to know that this redistricting amendment is about more than redrawing a ridiculously gerrymandered map that protects incumbents; it is about the process involved in drawing such a map, a process that is currently closed to the public. This is a process that defies democracy.

It is important to point out — as the Tribune did — that the battle is not over. Much misinformation is currently being disseminated about disenfranchising minorities. If one would bother to read the fine print on the amendment, he or she would see that the amendment clearly states, "the district plan shall not dilute or diminish the ability of a racial or language minority community to elect the candidates of its choice."

We hope that in November the voting public will see that this is a real chance to reform Illinois politics and vote Yes for Independent Maps.

— Jan Goldberg
Wow

Chicago, IL

#138 Apr 11, 2014
The Madigan Way wrote:
That patronage scandal at Metra? There was nothing to it. Move along.
Mike Madigan's watchdog absolves Mike Madigan of ethics violations
April 11, 2014
News that comes as a surprise to no one: An investigation by Illinois' legislative watchdog has found that House Speaker Michael Madigan did not violate the state's ethics act when he pressured Metra officials to give one of his Democratic foot soldiers a raise.
It's not because the speaker didn't intervene on behalf of Patrick Ward, who has donated generously to the campaigns of both Madigan and his daughter, Attorney General Lisa Madigan. And it's not because there's nothing wrong with that, either.
It's because the state ethics act is a disgraceful fraud, designed to provide cover for politicians' corrupt behavior, not to prevent it. But you knew that.
Madigan knew it, too, when he asked Legislative Inspector General Thomas Homer last summer to investigate.
Back in July, when the House Mass Transit Committee was trying to get to the bottom of that secret $871,000 separation deal between Metra and CEO Alex Clifford, Madigan acknowledged that he had lobbied senior Metra staffers to increase Ward's salary. Madigan's position, as always, was that such interference is perfectly appropriate.
Remember the legislative scholarship racket, which allowed state lawmakers to grant their campaign workers, business associates and other pals free rides to the state's universities? Madigan was among the worst offenders. He also finished at the top of the list of state power brokers who clouted friends and family onto the special admissions track at the University of Illinois. With breathtaking hubris, he chalked it all up to "constituent service."
Then there was "Madigan's list," the speaker's picks for openings on the Cook County associate judges' bench.
The Metra scandal that didn't run afoul of the ethics act caused such a public uproar that six board members were forced to resign. Clifford said he was ousted because he refused Madigan's request to give Ward a raise, or to promote another crony from customer service representative to conductor.
The settlement agreement approved by the Metra board included a mutual confidentiality clause designed to keep those allegations quiet. But the Mass Transit Committee shook loose Clifford's eight-page memo to the board, and the truth was out.
In January, a Tribune investigation documented the extent of Madigan's meddling throughout the state. The newspaper identified more than 400 current or retired employees at all levels of government with strong political ties to the speaker. The Tribune documented repeated instances in which Madigan personally lobbied for jobs, promotions or raises for his allies.
One of them was Ward, who left his $57,000-a-year job at Metra in December 2012 and landed a new,$70,000-a-year job in the state labor relations bureau six months later.
Last week, a mass transit task force named in the wake of the Clifford scandal reported finding Madigan's fingerprints on Metra personnel decisions dating back decades. The task force said notes contained on index cards dated 1983 to 1991 suggest that Madigan "did not recommend people to be hired — he in fact decided they were hired."
But hey, there's nothing illegal about that. That's why Madigan had nothing to fear when he ordered up an investigation of himself last summer.
In response to the task force report, Metra's board on Friday will consider a new policy under which recommendations from outsiders would be kept in a log, available to public inspection. That's similar to the "firewall" erected by the University of Illinois after it was caught running a separate admissions track for applicants with political sponsors.
That covers two of the nearly 7,000 units of government in Illinois. Here's a better idea:
Corruption is Very Ugly and Real!
This guy has guts

Blue Island, IL

#139 Apr 15, 2014

Daring freshman Dem defies Mike Madigan
MON, 04/14/2014 -
MADELEINE DOUBEK
An astonishing thing just happened. A freshman Democrat dared to say no to the state’s most powerful politician, Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan.

State Rep. Scott Drury, a Highwood Democrat, was one of a few Democrats who killed Madigan’s millionaire tax. He was the only freshman Democrat to oppose the Speaker. Drury put out a release declaring his opposition and Madigan’s spokesman, Steve Brown, declared it dead for this spring minutes later, blaming Republicans.

Just after the primary on March 20, Madigan announced a major political masterstroke designed especially to stick it to pro-schools, multimillionaire GOP governor candidate Bruce Rauner. His millionaires’ tax was to be a 3 percent surcharge on income over $1 million, with proceeds directed toward schools. The Speaker, his eyes twinkling, held a rare press conference, implying he had the 71 votes needed from his supermajority. Less than three weeks later, it was dead.

Who is this Drury guy anyway and is his political future now dead, too?

A North Shore resident, Drury probably has more millionaires in his district per capita than most. But, in talking to him, that seems beside the point. Drury is a former federal prosecutor who’s worked a few political corruption cases. Just as Madigan was revealing his tax, Drury was taking a drubbing from Democrats and Republicans for his proposal to require the state to pay its bills on time. There probably are many reasons why that bill failed, but he did succeed in helping stop the millionaires’ tax.

Drury said he couldn’t get past all the revenue plans floating around, piecemeal, without any corresponding look at spending or the bottom line. Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn is pushing to make permanent the temporary 5 percent income tax. Many Democrats are pushing for a progressive tax system that raises rates as income rises. And then there’s Madigan’s millionaires’ tax.

Drury is one of a few in his party who believe tax rates, revenue, spending and budgeting should be laid out for the public together.“If a constituent came to me and said,‘What’s my tax rate going to be if this passes, I couldn’t tell him.’”

So the freshman told the Speaker he couldn’t vote for a tax increase when he didn’t know the whole picture.“There wasn’t a whole lot of reaction,” Drury said of the Speaker.

Last election, Drury ran with support from the party, but says he broke things off when he became uncomfortable with the party’s handling of his messaging. He got about $80,000 in party support, but returned an unsolicited check for $20,000 from Friends of Michael J. Madigan. He doesn’t expect one of those any time soon, though Madigan does back his incumbents. Drury will face Mark Neerhof, a Lake Forest Republican. Drury says he always thought of his candidacy--as a newcomer with a prosecutorial background--as an experiment.

As for the tax hike, it came down to “it doesn’t pass the sleep-at-night test. If I’m going to do this job and do it well, if there’s a political risk to me,” he said,“I’d rather do it and see what happens.”

Will Drury get any more legislation enacted? Will he become a party pariah?

“I don’t know what tomorrow is going to bring,” Drury said,“but I hope the public sees there’s someone being independent and they appreciate it. To me, success isn’t getting re-elected. Success is more people like me getting re-elected.”
Avoiding real problems

Blue Island, IL

#140 Apr 15, 2014
Walgreens Pressured To Move Headquarters To Europe

Deerfield, IL,

April 15, 2014

The Walgreen Co. drugstore chain got its start nearly a century ago in downstate Dixon, Ill., before moving its corporate headquarters to Chicago and eventually to north suburban Deerfield.

Next stop? Could be Bern, Switzerland.

A group of shareholders reportedly is pressuring the giant retail chain for a move to the land of cuckoo clocks. The reason: lower taxes. Much lower taxes:

If Walgreen changes its legal domicile to Switzerland, where it recently acquired a stake in European drugstore chain Alliance Boots, the company could save big bucks on its corporate income-tax bill. The effective U.S. income-tax rate for Walgreen, according to analysts at Swiss Bank UBS: 37 percent. For Alliance Boots: about 20 percent.

We hope Walgreen doesn't relocate. Would company executives be smart to do so in order to best serve their shareholders? Hmm. We'd rather not say. So we'll respond to that question with another, broader but similarly urgent question:

How many companies have to turn refugee before Congress and the White House stop their bipartisan talking — but only talking — about the need to reform the federal tax code in general, and the corporate income tax in particular?

Nearly 30 years after the last significant reform, the U.S. tax code is a mess. Both political parties agree that corporate income-tax rates, among the highest in the world, need to be reduced. Practically every other advanced country has taken the step. That has left the U.S. as a conspicuous outlier, with a relatively competitive business-tax burden overall — except for the excessive income-tax rate.

President Barack Obama has said repeatedly that he supports business-tax reform in principle. In his State of the Union address in January, the president said both parties should work together to overhaul a tax regime "riddled with wasteful, complicated loopholes that punish businesses investing here, and reward companies that keep profits abroad." He urged "lower tax rates for businesses that create jobs here at home."

In February, House Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp, R-Mich., proposed a plan for comprehensive tax reform that included slashing the corporate tax rate to 25 percent.

Yet House and Senate leaders won't take up controversial tax reform in an election year. They simply won't budge. If only the same could be said for corporate America. As more companies relocate their headquarters for tax purposes, shareholder pressure mounts for others to do the same.

Last month, Deerfield-based Horizon Pharma announced a plan to move its headquarters to Ireland, part of a reverse merger with Dublin-based Vidara Therapeutics International. That's the latest in a series of transactions by drugmakers structured to take advantage of Ireland's low corporate tax rates: Horizon follows Actavis, Perrigo and Jazz Pharmaceuticals to the Emerald Isle. Horizon Chief Executive Tim Walbert estimates that his company's tax rate will drop into the low-20s percentage range or less, down from the high-30s percentage range in the U.S.

But this isn't just a gambit for pharmaceutical companies. Shareholders of insurance industry behemoth Aon Corp. in March 2012 approved that company's HQ move to London from Chicago — a move that, yes, lowered Aon's tax burden.

Walgreen differs from Aon, Horizon and other business-to-business companies because it deals directly with the public. The drugstore chain has to tread carefully to avoid provoking a backlash from its customers if it is perceived as shirking its responsibilities to the U.S. Not long ago, computer giant Apple endured a spate of criticism amid reports about its efforts to reduce its U.S. corporate taxes.
Avoiding real problems

Blue Island, IL

#141 Apr 15, 2014
The Financial Times, which reported on the meeting in which Walgreen executives and shareholders discussed a headquarters move, noted that the retailer is concerned about "political risks." That's understandable, and paradoxical:

If Walgreen moves its headquarters for tax reasons, some of the loudest howls of criticism — who'll be the first to scream "Walgreed!"?— will come from the very politicians who haven't fixed our corporate tax code. Remember, you can lead a long life without hearing a president or a member of Congress utter these two sentences: We have only ourselves to blame. If we had offered more than lip service, this wouldn't have happened.

But if "political risk" truly is what's keeping an Illinois business icon from relocating, Congress and the president had better not wait until after the November election to plan serious tax reforms. By that time, the new "Corner of Happy & Healthy" could be in downtown Bern.
By Golly

Chicago, IL

#142 Apr 15, 2014
I think you've got it!

The ultimate off shore account!:)
The Government we deserve

Blue Island, IL

#143 Apr 16, 2014
In the two years since he was indicted on bribery charges, State Rep. Derrick Smith has defiantly maintained his innocence in public.

But within hours of his arrest in March 2012, the West Side Democrat admitted to FBI agents that he “f --- ed up” when he accepted a $7,000 cash bribe to write a letter of support for a daycare operator seeking a $50,000 state grant, prosecutors allege in court papers filed late Monday.

Smith told the agents he was “going crazy” about his poor campaign finances and that the bribe was “all about getting money to put back out on the streets in the hands of his campaign workers,” even handing FBI agents back $2,500 of the bribe money, which he’d stashed under a chest at the foot of his bed, FBI reports state.

According to the FBI reports, Smith, who waived his right to remain silent and spoke to agents for three hours without his lawyer present, hoped to keep his arrest quiet. He asked that he not be accompanied back to his home to retrieve the bribe money by white FBI agents, the report says. Instead he was charged later that day.

“At numerous times during the interview, Smith stated ‘I f --- ed up’ and said that he should never have written a letter for the daycare,” the report concludes.



FBI 302 interview with Illinois State Rep. Derrick Smith



Smith’s lawyer, Vic Henderson, has urged U.S. District Judge Sharon Coleman to ban jurors from hearing the damning evidence at Smith’s trial next month, claiming Smith’s admissions were part of a private “plea negotiation.”

“The evidence is clear that Mr. Smith made these statements in contemplation of a guilty plea,” Henderson wrote in a filing last month.

But prosecutors say Smith “was engaged in a standard law enforcement interview and knew well that his statements could be used against him,” and that admissions Smith made to an assistant U.S. attorney should also be heard by jurors.

Coleman has yet to rule.

Smith became the first state representative in more than a century to be booted from office by his fellow representatives in September 2012, though he won re-election just two months later.

Last month, however, he lost a primary battle, despite financial support from House Speaker Michael Madigan.

His trial starts May 28.

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