Friday, January 30, 2009

Michael Steele Wins RNC Chairmanship Race

From the Associated Press

WASHINGTON - Michael Steele was elected Republican National Committee chairman on Friday, defeating the incumbent party chief and three other challengers over six rounds of voting to become the first black to lead the GOP.

The former Maryland lieutenant governor takes over a beleaguered GOP as Republicans seek to rebound from back-to-back defeats in national elections that gave Democrats control of Congress and the White House.

"As a little boy growing up in this town, this is awesome," said Steele, the most moderate candidate in the field and considered an outsider because he's not a committee member.

In a brief acceptance speech, the new GOP chairman struck a tone of inclusiveness.

"We're going to say to friend and foe alike: We want you to be a part of us, we want you to with be with us, and for those who wish to obstruct, get ready to get knocked over," Steele said.

He won 91 votes out of a possible 168 in the sixth round. A simple majority of 85 was needed, but it took six rounds for Steele to win.

Statement from Secretary of State Jesse White on Removal of Rod Blagojevich as Governor

From the Office of Secretary of State Jesse White
January 29, 2009

This has been a difficult time for the state of Illinois. I applaud the Illinois House and Senate for conducting the impeachment process and trial of Rod Blagojevich fairly and professionally.

Since his arrest on December 9th, I have called for Mr. Blagojevich to step aside or resign immediately for the good of the state. As he refused to do so, I strongly believe today's vote by the Illinois Senate was the correct action. We now have an opportunity to restore integrity to not only state government but to the state of Illinois as a whole.

I am committed to working with Governor Pat Quinn to ensure that our state sets a high standard on ethics in government and enforces a strict no tolerance policy on any form of corruption or wrong doing. Our citizens deserve nothing less from their government.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

U.S. House Passes Obama's $819 Billion Stimulus Plan

From the Washington Post

With no Republican support, the House approved an $819 billion stimulus plan that will serve as the cornerstone of President Obama's efforts to resuscitate the economy, an early victory for the new president but still a disappointment because of the lack of Republican votes.

The measure passed 244 to 188, with 11 Democrats and 177 Republicans voting against it.

The two-year economic package includes $275 billion in tax cuts and more than $550 billion in domestic spending on roads and bridges, alternative-energy development, health-care technology, unemployment assistance, and aid to states and local governments. It would also provide up to $500 per year in tax relief for most workers and more than $300 billion in aid to states for funding to help rebuild schools, provide health-care to the poor and reconstruct highways and bridges.

Governor to Testify Before Impeachment Trial

On Thursday, Governor Blagojevich will testify before the Illinois State Senate, holding a trial on whether to remove the governor from office.

Gov. Blagojevich, who has said in public interviews he feels the Senate Trial is a Sham, and that "the fix is in" to remove him -- will not be cross-examined by senators.

A vote on whether to remove Blagojevich as Illinois governor could come as early as Thursday evening, depending upon how long senators wish to deliberate on the matter.

Should the senate vote to remove Blagojevich, it is expected that Lt. Gov Quinn, would be sworn-in as Illinois' Governor shortly after Blagojevich is removed from office.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

McKenna Backs Michael Steele for National GOP Chairman

From Andy McKenna, Chairman of the Illinois Republican Party

On February 12 we will celebrate the 200th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s birth. Abraham Lincoln founded the Republican Party during a time of dramatic economic change because he believed it was the work of government to expand opportunity but it was the work of people to turn opportunity into prosperity.

Two weeks before we celebrate this great leader, Republicans will have an opportunity to discuss our Party’s future, expand our Party’s vision, and remind people of the values Lincoln believed were the core of the Party he helped create.

On January 30, Republicans from all over the United States will assemble in Washington DC to select a new Chairman of the Republican National Committee. I will be there, and I will cast my vote proudly for Michael Steele. The Republican Party faces many challenges in the coming years, and Michael Steele is the man to address them.

America’s faith in its political process has never been lower, and both parties are responsible. Corrupt politicians in both parties have shaken the people’s confidence in their elected officials.
Democratic Governor Rod Blagojevich embarrassed Illinois and shocked the nation when he tried to sell President Obama’s Senate seat. But instead of immediately stripping Blagojevich of his appointment power, Democrats in Springfield and in Washington endorsed Blagojevich’s choice for Senate, fearing they would lose if they let the people decide. All too often, insiders excuse and protect the corrupt when they should denounce them.

Michael Steele has been an outsider his entire career. He is not afraid to speak out against corruption. As Chairman he would take the ethical high ground and help restore the people’s faith in government.

Not only was Steele the first African American Lieutenant Governor in Maryland’s history, but he was also the first Republican. He won by reaching out to the Republican faithful, and by articulating an inclusive message that appealed to Independents and Democrats. Michael Steele will represent a Republican Party committed to competing for votes in every city, county and town in the country.

I am proud to be part of a Republican Party in Illinois that worked as hard for Mark Kirk as it did for Peter Roskam. I am a pro-life, Irish-Catholic, yet on our most important questions we gain more from discovering common values than from debating private differences. Litmus tests for candidates do not move us forward. Michael Steele realizes that. Michael Steele ran an inclusive party in Maryland and he will aggressively pursue a policy of outreach as National Chairman. Steele knows we need to focus on growing our Party despite our differences.

Finally, our Party’s greatest strength has always been its local organizations with their legions of grassroots volunteers. Our Party is always most effective when we are inspired not from the top down, but from the ground up. Michael Steele has traveled the country to train, support and inspire these local organizations and as Party Chairman his efforts would only increase.

Michael Steele is an exceptional and charismatic leader. He will maintain the Party where it is strong and grow the Party where it is weak. His enthusiasm, integrity and ideas will renew the Republican Party and keep it the Party that Abraham Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan were all proud to call their own.

Andy McKenna
Chairman, Illinois Republican Party

Monday, January 26, 2009

Caterpillar to Cut 20,000 Jobs

From the Wall Street Journal

Caterpillar projected 2009 earnings well below analysts' estimates and said it would cut 20,000 jobs, or about 18% of its work force, to reflect the lower demand. The heavy-machinery maker reported fourth-quarter net income fell 32% on a steep drop in demand at the end of last year, as the global economic downturn worsened and some customers cancelled orders.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Gov. Blagojevich Claims Impeachment Trial is "Unfair"

From Crain's Chicago Business

(AP) — Impeached Gov. Rod Blagojevich said he's not being defiant in boycotting his Senate impeachment trial next week, but that it's because the process is unfair.

At a news conference Friday, Blagojevich said under the Senate rules his constitutional rights were being trampled because he cannot call all the witnesses that he wants.

The two-term governor faces a Senate impeachment trial starting Monday that will determine if he will keep his job. The Senate rules bar testimony from anyone federal prosecutors say would jeopardize the criminal corruption trial against Blagojevich.

Blagojevich is accused of, among other things, scheming to benefit from his power to name President Barack Obama's replacement in the U.S. Senate.

He has denied any wrongdoing.

Blagojevich also said at the press conference that fellow Democrats want him out of office so they can raise income taxes.

He also called upon the state's newspaper editorial boards to urge the state Senate to change the rules of his impeachment trial.

Blagojevich said he's "mostly" done the right thing for the people of Illinois and he called on newspapers to "get involved."

Blagojevich wants the trial's rules changed so that he can call any witness he'd like. Senators, however, have said they won't allow any testimony that might interfere with the criminal investigation against the governor.

Blagojevich specifically mentioned Chicago's two largest newspapers, the Tribune and the Sun-Times.

Federal authorities have accused Blagojevich of pressuring the Chicago Tribune to fire editorial writers who had been critical of him.

Blagojevich: Lawmakers Want Me Out To Raise Taxes

From WBBM News Radio 780

CHICAGO (CBS/AP) - Gov. Rod Blagojevich said Friday morning that state legislators are trying to get him out of office quickly so that they can raise taxes.

Blagojevich spoke for more than 40 minutes on a local Chicago radio show early Friday, a day after the station's program director offered him a radio show if he resigns. The governor says he's done nothing wrong and has no intention of stepping down.

Blagojevich has been impeached by the state House and faces an impeachment trial in the Senate starting Monday that could end with his removal.

He says as soon as he's gone, state lawmakers will pass a "huge" income tax increase.

On Thursday, Blagojevich and his attorney Sam Adam Jr. spoke with CBS 2 Chief Correspondent Jay Levine. They say they will not be at the impeachment trial when it begins.

"To deny due process to any citizen, however high or low that citizen might be, and do a rush to judgment (and) not give me a chance to have witnesses is wrong," Blagojevich said. "I'm not going to be a party to something like that, and whatever the consequences are to me, I'll face those, because the larger issues at stake is the fundamental rights citizens in our country."

"We'd love to work with them and have rules fair, so we can aggressively who that I've done nothing wrong, and have done about everything right," the governor added.

Blagojevich argued that without proper procedures for impeachments, any future state executive can get railroaded.

"He'll be so afraid of taking on the Legislature, to stand in the way of raising taxes or fighting to provide health care for children as I've done, because he's afraid the legislature can do what … they're about to try to do to me," Blagojevich said.

Asked about lawmakers' explanation that they cannot call witnesses because it could jeopardize the criminal case against Blagojevich, the governor responded: "It's very simple, then take criminal allegations out (of the impeachment trial). Allow the U.S. attorney to prosecute that case in court of law. I can't wait to have my day in court to prove my innocence."

Asked if he has considered stepping aside temporarily or resigning outright, Blagojevich said: "Put me aside … It's whether or not a legislature can have an illegal, farce impeachment process to throw government out."

In a separate interview, Blagojevich compared his arrest to the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941.

"Dec. 9 to my family, to us, to me, is what Pearl Harbor Day was to the United States," Gov. Rod Blagojevich said in an interview with The Associated Press. "It was a complete surprise, completely unexpected. And just like the United States prevailed in that, we'll prevail in this."

Blagojevich is still considering going to court to block the impeachment trial, but he's also appealing to the public for support.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Governor’s Statement to Press from this Morning, January 22, 2009

From the Office of Governor Rod Blagojevich

CHICAGO – “I want to make a brief statement and then I’ll have more to say about this either today or tomorrow. It’s my understanding that Senator Cullerton has said I’m being defiant because my lawyers have refused to participate in a sham impeachment trial. Let me be very clear, this has nothing to do with defiance on my part and everything to do with respect for the Office of the Governor. What the Senate and House are trying to do is to thwart the will of the people and remove a governor elected twice by the people without a fair hearing, without due process, and without giving me the right - the most basic right every citizen in our country has - and that is the right to call witnesses. I’d like to call, for example, Rahm Emmanuel, President Obama’s Chief of Staff, who on 'Face the Nation' just last Sunday, made it very clear nothing inappropriate happened in his conversations with me, about who the next Senate pick is. I want the Senate to agree to let me call witnesses like that, and we want them to work with us to have a fair hearing, a fair process. My lawyers have chosen not to participate in the impeachment process in the Senate because they believe, rightfully so, that the rules which don’t allow me, as the governor, to call witnesses are unfair, and deny fundamental due process. You can’t possibly defend yourself when they say you did something and they don't let you call witnesses to say you didn't do it. I’ll have more to say later.”

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Durbin Introduces LaHood to Senate Committee

From the Office of U.S. Senator Dick Durbin

[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) today introduced President-elect Barack Obama’s nominee for Secretary of Transportation, former Representative Ray LaHood, to the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee.

“President-Elect Obama and I have worked with Ray in Illinois and we’ve been impressed – not just with the relationships he’s built, but also with his competence and his leadership. The President-Elect has chosen the right man for the job,” said Durbin. “Ray has built a long record strengthening Illinois’ transportation system as whole – always with the goals of improving safety, relieving congestion, generating economic activity and protecting the environment. I believe we will all benefit from his record if he is confirmed.”

Text of Durbin’s remarks as prepared:

Thank you for this opportunity to introduce my friend and former colleague Ray LaHood, who has been nominated to serve as the 16th Secretary of Transportation.

Born and bred in Peoria, Illinois, Ray has continued the tradition of those who have served before him in the House of Representatives.

The 18th district was home to Everett Dirksen, Bob Michel and a rather famous one-term Member from Illinois -- Abraham Lincoln.

Ray, like those famous Members, contributed to a higher level of civility, decorum, and bipartisanship in the House of Representatives.

He founded the Congressional Bipartisan Retreat to help Members and their families get to know each other outside of the rough and tumble debates of the House floor.

Back in Illinois, Ray has regularly convened bipartisan meetings with the area's state representatives, mayors and other elected officials.

His dedication to his District and his service in the House has earned him a reputation as one of the most respected Members to have served in the House of Representatives.

President-Elect Obama and I have worked with Ray in Illinois and we’ve been impressed – not just with the relationships he’s built, but also with his competence and his leadership.

The President-Elect has chosen the right man for the job.

Ray has always led on transportation issues within the Illinois delegation.

The steel, iron and steam of the earliest railroads and trains cemented Illinois’ place as the transportation hub of North America.

Ray made it his mission to improve passenger and freight rail operations in Illinois.

Ray understands that transportation is not a rural vs. urban issue.

Illinois is sometimes characterized as a divided state, with Chicago in the North and the rest considered “downstate.” Ray never fell for that. He’s worked on the premise that rural transportation networks are part of and rely on metropolitan transportation networks.

He has helped move passengers and freight from the prairies surrounding Peoria, through the bustling downtown of Chicago, all the way down to the river towns of Southern Illinois.

Ray has built a long record strengthening Illinois’ transportation system as whole – always with the goals of improving safety, relieving congestion, generating economic activity and protecting the environment. I believe we will all benefit from his record if he is confirmed.

The next Secretary will confront some significant policy and programmatic challenges.

First, the economic crisis compels the new Administration and the Congress to work together and to act quickly.

Transportation infrastructure will be the backbone of our economic recovery, and the next Secretary will help shape and implement a plan to upgrade our roads, rails, and airports.

Second, the aviation industry is struggling.

The aviation industry was nearly crippled this summer by the rising price of jet fuel. The Aviation industry has cut over 30,000 jobs and left many communities across the country without any commercial air service whatsoever.

Lastly, the next Secretary will shepherd in the next reauthorization of our surface transportation laws. This reauthorization has the potential to fundamentally change the way our national transportation system relates to climate change and our dependence on foreign oil.

All of these issues call for a leader with the integrity and character to reach out to a diverse group of stakeholders and reach consensus.

A former DOT official was recently quoted as saying, “the most important part of the DOT Secretary’s job is knowing how to work with other people.”

Ray LaHood has the most important part of the job covered. And I am pleased and proud as a fellow Illinoisan to wholeheartedly recommend and encourage the confirmation of our friend Ray LaHood. Thank you very much.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Governor Blagojevich Reminds Illinoisans to Take Advantage of Warming Centers During Cold Snap

From the Office of Governor Rod Blagojevich

CHICAGO – As extreme weather conditions persist, Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today reminded Illinoisans of the more than 100 state buildings throughout Illinois which serve as warming centers. The buildings are open throughout the winter to provide safety and warmth for those seeking refuge from the cold.

“I urge individuals and families in need to take advantage of the State’s warming centers, particularly during dangerous, sub-freezing temperatures,” said Governor Blagojevich. “During this national economic slowdown, Illinois families need all the help they can get to save money on their heating costs while keeping their children warm and safe.”

As part of the Governor’s annual Keep Warm Illinois campaign, the Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) makes offices across the state available to serve as warming centers, along with seven Illinois Tollway oases. Warming center hours vary by location and are limited to each facility’s regular business hours. Except for Tollway oases, warming centers do not offer food, drinks or other amenities. After business hours, people using the warming centers who have no place to go will be referred to overnight shelters.

In the fall, Governor Blagojevich spearheads the Keep Warm Illinois campaign, an innovative multiagency effort he founded that works through numerous partnerships and programs to coordinate efforts in preparing communities across the state for high home heating costs. Governor Blagojevich launched the Keep Warm Illinois campaign and website in October to help all Illinoisans stay warm, healthy and safe this winter. The Keep Warm Illinois website ( offers various no-cost and low-cost energy saving tips, a web-based tool to conduct a home energy audit, links to energy assistance programs and other resources. In addition, the Keep Warm Illinois hotline (1-877-411-WARM) is another resource for Illinois residents to learn how to save energy and get energy assistance.

Durbin Introduces Duncan to Senate Committee

From the Office of U.S. Senator Dick Durbin

[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) today introduced President-elect Barack Obama’s nominee for Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, to the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.

“Every student who wants a college education should have the academic preparation and financial support they need to achieve their goal. This is a challenge and a priority for the Obama administration,” said Durbin. “Arne has been a tremendous asset to my state of Illinois. Chicago will miss his leadership. But he will be an excellent education secretary. The students of America could not have a stronger advocate on their behalf.”

Duncan was appointed Chief Executive Officer of Chicago Public Schools – the third largest school district in America – in 2001. Over the last seven and a half years, Duncan has made Chicago a model of school system reform. His approach to school reform has resulted in higher test scores, lower dropout rates, increased college enrollment, more than 100 new schools, and an expansion of after-school and Saturday programs. Duncan and his wife Karen currently reside in Hyde Park with their two children.

Text of Durbin’s remarks as prepared:

President-Elect Obama has asked Arne Duncan to serve as Secretary of the Department of Education.

Arne Duncan was appointed CEO of Chicago Public Schools in 2001. Since then, we have watched him tackle the challenge of turning around troubled schools in Chicago.

Chicago Public Schools is the 3rd-largest school district in America with all the challenges of any urban school district.

Arne is a leader. He has consistently surpassed expectations through his hard work and clear dedication to Chicago’s children.

Arne understands the challenges of urban education. Education has been his life – starting as a child, when he spent every afternoon at his mother’s tutoring program for inner-city children.

Many of his views about urban education were shaped by this experience, and you will learn more about those views over the course of this hearing.

Arne also worked in the non-profit sector. He adopted a whole class of children and sent them to college. He started a school in Chicago built around financial literacy.

You might also have heard that Arne has played basketball all his life—including professionally in Australia. He will tell you that the discipline and teamwork that he acquired on the court has helped him off the court.

But it is his work with the Chicago Public Schools that really stands out.

I have visited many Chicago schools with Arne, stood with him at public events and press conferences, and followed his reform efforts closely.

He lights up when he’s talking about the latest school that is beating the odds or a new program reaching students who had been written off.

But he doesn’t sugarcoat the challenges he encounters along the way. He is straightforward, thoughtful, and honest.

Today, Chicago enjoys a reputation as a model of school system reform, and I credit Arne’s leadership -- his work ethic, his focus, and his determination.

Over 7 ½ years, Arne has raised test scores, lowered dropout rates, boosted college enrollment, opened more than 100 new schools, and expanded after-school and Saturday programs.

Through it all, he has maintained good relations with business leaders, unions, and elected officials—even as he pushed forward tough reforms. Arne Duncan understands that real, meaningful change in our toughest schools depends on participation from all parties.

Arne knows when to compromise and he knows when to hold firm. One of his toughest reforms was closing down low-performing schools in Chicago. It was very controversial. But Arne knew that these schools were failing their students, and he never blinked. Today, the children who were in those schools are much better off.

No other district in the country has been as aggressive about holding schools accountable for performance or as willing to try new innovative methods of improving schools. He will bring the same high standards and focus on innovation to the Department of Education.

American education is at a critical moment. Thirty years ago, the U.S. ranked 1st internationally in graduating students from high school and college. Today, we rank 15th.

This is not the time for America to fall behind. It’s time to raise the bar. We need to make sure that every student who wants a college education receives the academic preparation and financial support they need to achieve their goal. Every student who wants a college education should have the academic preparation and financial support they need to achieve their goal.

This is a challenge and a priority for the Obama administration. Arne Duncan is the right leader to carry that agenda forward. He has my complete confidence and highest recommendation.

Arne has been a tremendous asset to my state of Illinois. Chicago will miss his leadership.

But he will be an excellent education secretary. The students of America could not have a stronger advocate on their behalf.

It’s an honor to introduce my friend, a great educator and a great leader, Arne Duncan.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Rep. Fritchey Files for 5th Congressional Race

From the Campaign Office of John Fritchey for Congress

Chicago − Capping a momentous first week of his candidacy to become the next Congressman for Illinois’ 5th Congressional District, State Rep. John Fritchey (D-Chicago) today filed his nominating petitions with the Illinois State Board of Elections. The Special Primary Election has been set for March 3rd, and was announced after Rahm Emanuel’s departure to become Chief of Staff for President-Elect Barack Obama.

Rep. Fritchey was the first of the candidates in line to file petitions. He arrived at the Illinois Board of Elections at 4:30 a.m., over three hours before the office opened for business. While three other campaigns arrived later to file petitions on behalf of various candidates, Fritchey was the only candidate to file personally.

“I think it’s important for a candidate to show their commitment and desire in any race, and I wanted to make clear that I am bringing the same passion I have shown in my service as a legislator to this campaign. Should I be fortunate enough to be elected, I will bring that same passion to Washington,” said Rep. Fritchey.

Rep. Fritchey said that his filing, coming only a week after he announced his candidacy, demonstrates his broad-based support across the 5th District, which runs from the lakefront west to the DuPage County line.

“While other major campaigns were paying people to circulate petitions for their candidates, we had well over 100 volunteers who gathered over 6,000 signatures from across the District,” said Rep. Fritchey. “The fact that they did so over a weekend with nearly a foot of snow shows their commitment and belief in the campaign that we are going to bring to the voters of the 5th District.”

Statement from Secretary of State Jesse White Regarding U.S. Senate Seating Roland Burris

From the Office of Secretary of State Jesse White

Last Friday the Illinois Supreme Court ruled that my office and our state had met all the legal requirements regarding the appointment of Roland Burris to fill Illinois’ vacant U.S. Senate seat. As I maintained all along, the ultimate decision to seat Mr. Burris belonged to the U.S. Senate.

With that, I believe that the U.S. Senate acted appropriately today in seating Mr. Burris, and I believe he will do a fine job as U.S. Senator.

In that Friday ruling, the Illinois Supreme Court supported my position that I did not need to co-sign the Governor’s appointment proclamation. I did not co-sign that document because the Governor was arrested in part for trying to sell this very same senate seat.

I am pleased that Illinois will once again be represented by two senators in the U.S. Senate. Our state deserves that.

Senate has Deal to Seat Burris

From the Wall Street Journal

Roland Burris will be sworn into the U.S. Senate later this week pending any objections from Senate Republicans.

The announcement comes 14 days after now impeached Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich appointed Mr. Burris to fill the seat vacated by President-elect Barack Obama. The Senate initially fought the appointment saying it was tainted because Mr. Blagojevich has been charged with trying to auction off the seat.

Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White refused to certify Mr. Blagojevich's appointment but this afternoon Senate leaders said a deal had been struck.

"The Secretary of the Senate has determined that the new credentials presented today on behalf of Mr. Burris now satisfy Senate Rules and validate his appointment to the vacant Illinois Senate seat," said a statement released by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Assistant Majority Leader Dick Durbin.

Reid and Durbin Statement on Roland Burris

From the Office of U.S. Senator Dick Durbin

Washington, DC—Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Assistant Majority Leader Dick Durbin made the following statement today regarding Roland Burris. Attached is the Secretary of the Senate’s statement:

“The Secretary of the Senate has determined that the new credentials presented today on behalf of Mr. Burris now satisfy Senate Rules and validate his appointment to the vacant Illinois Senate seat. In addition, as we requested, Mr. Burris has provided sworn testimony before the Illinois House Committee on Impeachment regarding the circumstances of his appointment.

“We have spoken to Mr. Burris to let him know that he is now the Senator-designate from Illinois and as such, will be accorded all the rights and privileges of a Senator-elect.

“Accordingly, barring objections from Senate Republicans, we expect Senator-designee Burris to be sworn in and formally seated later this week. We are working with him and the office of the Vice President to determine the date and time of the swearing-in.

“As we had outlined to Mr. Burris, a path needed to be followed that respects the rules of the Senate. We committed to Mr. Burris that once those requirements were satisfied, we would be able to proceed. We are pleased that everything is now in order, we congratulate Senator-designee Burris on his appointment and we look forward to working with him in the 111th Congress.”

Governor Blagojevich signs Clean Coal Legislation Paving Way for Taylorville Gasification Plant

From the Office of Governor Rod Blagojevich

CHICAGO – Taking another bold step toward establishing Illinois as a national leader in fighting climate change and creating a cleaner and more energy independent future, Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today signed Senate Bill 1987, which creates a Clean Coal Portfolio standard that will encourage construction of facilities that emit far fewer pollutants than are older, traditional coal-fired power plants.

Senate Bill 1987, which was sponsored by State Senator Donne E. Trotter (D–Chicago), will enable Tenaska’s proposed Taylorville Energy Center to become the nation’s first commercial-scale, Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle (IGCC) power plant that will convert coal into a gas that will be used to generate electricity and allow for the capture and underground storage of carbon dioxide emissions.

“The Taylorville Energy Center’s use of cutting edge clean coal gasification technology is a great example of how we can grow our economy and create good paying jobs while protecting our environment,” said Governor Blagojevich. “Illinois has among world’s largest coal reserves and the geology needed to safely store greenhouse gases underground that will let use this domestic energy source in an environmentally safe manner while reducing our state’s reliance on imported energy sources.”

It is intended to create a stable market for power produced by coal gasification power plants by requiring Illinois utilities to buy up to five percent of their power from clean-coal facilities by 2015. It also creates a goal that each public utility to obtain 25 percent of its power from clean coal plants by 2025.

It dramatically expands the Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) that currently requires Illinois utilities to purchase 25 percent of their electricity from renewable sources, such as wind power, by 2025 by imposing the same requirement on Alternative Retail Electric Suppliers, companies that sell power to commercial and industrial electricity customers. Expanding the RPS will double the amount of renewable energy supplied to Illinois customers, spur billions in new investments in renewable energy and create thousands of new construction and permanent green tech jobs across Illinois.

It also requires the two main utilities that serve Illinois customers – ComEd and Ameren – to invest in efforts that help customers reduce their energy use during time of peak energy usage. Such “demand response” that cut peak energy use not only save consumers money but can reduce emissions by avoiding the need to generate additional power.

Clean coal facilities, such as the Taylorville Energy Center, can responsibly use Illinois coal to produce power and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by capturing carbon dioxide that can be permanently stored underground in mature oil fields or deep saline aquifers. In addition to vast coal reserves, Illinois’ geology is well-suited for carbon sequestration, making Illinois an ideal place to build coal gasification plants.

The $3 billion gasification plant would create 1,500 construction jobs, 120 permanent jobs at the plant and 160 new mining jobs to supply the 1.8 million tons of Illinois coal needed annually to power more than 600,000 households.

The plant will use coal gasification technology that emits dramatically lower emissions than conventional coal plants. The air pollution permit issued by the Illinois EPA reflects Illinois’ commitment to developing environmentally responsible solutions to meet rising energy demand.

“The air we all breathe will be cleaner because gasification plants remove pollutants and impurities prior to combustion, resulting in significantly lower mercury, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide and particular emissions than conventional coal plants,” said Illinois EPA Director Doug Scott.

The Taylorville Energy Center has received a final air permit from the Illinois EPA, the first issued in the country for a commercially-sized IGCC power generating plant, and has authorized independent power producer Christian County Generation (CCG), or Tenaska, as managing member of CCG, to build the gasification plant.

The Governor today also signed Senate Bill 1511, sponsored by State Senator Kwame Raoul (D – Chicago) and State Representative Gary Hannig (D – Gillespie), which approves $35 million in State-backed bonds to fund a study on the development of clean coal and efficient energy resource development throughout the state. To protect consumers and ensure that the costs of building and operating the Taylorville plant will be reasonable, the bill requires Tenaska to complete a facility cost report and submit it for approval by the Illinois Commerce Commission and the Illinois General Assembly before construction can begin.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Illinois Alliance for Growth Statement on the Impeachment

From the Illinois Alliance for Growth

(Springfield, Ill.) “Impeachment of an executive branch officer is the political equivalent of the nuclear option and should not be used to resolve policy differences or for political pay back. While I believe that Governor Blagojevich should be removed from office for issues related to his criminal complaint, the process upon which that occurs should be above reproach,” said Illinois Alliance for Growth President Greg Blankenship.

“Impeaching the Governor for defying the obscure Joint Committee on Administrative Rules; prescription drug reimportation and “agency efficiency initiatives” does not rise to the level of impeachment let alone seriousness,” continued Blankenship. ”Governor Blagojevich has put his political desires above the rule of law and instead of restoring that rule of law the General Assembly, controlled by governor’s own party, has put its political desires above the rule of law.”

“I call on all those who believe that the rule of law should be above politics in the Illinois State Senate to ensure that the trial of Governor Blagojevich be a fair, impartial hearing in which the governor is allowed an adequate defense and that he be judged on the merits of the case not politics. Should the State Senate continue the effort to politically railroad an even deservedly removable governor, they run the risk of running afoul of Illinoisans’ – as well as America’s — sense of fair play by making an individual meriting removal into a victim. And no one wants that,” concluded Blankenship.The Illinois Alliance for Growth is a non-profit, non-partisan taxpayer protection group dedicated to economic growth and limited government. You can find out more about the Illinois Alliance for Growth at

Burzynski Prepared to Conduct Impeachment Trial of Blagojevich

From the Office of State Senator Brad Burzynski

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – State Senator Brad Burzynski (R-Rochelle) said he and colleagues in the Illinois Senate are fully prepared to conduct the trail of Gov. Rod Blagojevich following the impeachment proceedings in the Illinois House.

"Conducting the Governor's impeachment trial is a duty I'll undertake with extreme seriousness," Sen. Burzynski said. "This is an unprecedented time, which makes it important that we act in an open and fair manner moving forward."

Sen. Burzynski emphasized that the House vote to impeach the Governor does not remove Gov. Blagojevich from office – that decision falls to the Senate, which is tentatively scheduled to begin its trial during the last week of January.

Given the wide scope and intricate detail of the allegations against Gov. Blagojevich, Sen. Burzynski said it will be important to be thorough during this trial so the people of Illinois know the depth and magnitude these charges run. From combining campaign contributions and official state business, to illegally expanding healthcare without authority and up to the allegation of trying to sell President-Elect Barack Obama's U.S. Senate seat, Sen. Burzynski said the Senate has a lot of ground to cover.

With the various allegations that have come to light surrounding the Governor, Sen. Burzynski said it underscored the need for greater transparency in Illinois government.

"While we have to deal with the problems before us today, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't also look at the types of practices that put us in this situation," Sen. Burzynski said. "The days of secret budget bargaining, insider deals and pay-to-play needs to end. Moving forward, we need to recognize that this is the beginning of changing unethical practices in state government."

An overview and detailed explanation of the impeachment process can be found at

Statement from Secretary of State Jesse White Regarding Illinois Supreme Court Decision

From the Office of Secretary of State Jesse White

I want to thank the Illinois Supreme Court for their ruling today. They have affirmed what Attorney General Lisa Madigan and I have maintained all along: that I have fulfilled my legal obligations regarding the appointment of Roland Burris to the U.S. Senate.

I want to remind everyone that on December 31, 2008 as Secretary of State I registered the appointment in accordance with state law. That document did not include my signature or the State Seal. As the Illinois Supreme Court ruled today, that act alone fulfilled my legal obligations.

I want to be clear that I could not and will not in good conscious sign my name to any appointment made by Governor Rod Blagojevich to fill the senate vacancy. This governor was arrested in part for trying to sell this very same senate seat. The Illinois Supreme Court has made it clear in it’s ruling that I am under no legal or constitutional obligation to affix my signature.

As I have maintained all along, the ultimate decision to seat or not seat a Senate appointment lies with the U.S. Senate.

Blagojevich Says Impeachment Expected

From the Chicago Tribune

Democratic Gov. Rod Blagojevich said today the Illinois House's impeachment vote was expected and part of a years-long battle against him.

"It happened kind of fast," the governor said of the vote. "But again, kind of expected. And part of the process that has been the dynamic in Illinois."

"From the very moment of my re-election I've been engaged in a struggle with the House to get things done for people," he said. "The House has stood in the way of letting that happen."

The House voted 114-1-1 today to impeach Blagojevich for a wide array of offenses, including criminal corruption and wasting taxpayer money. The Senate is scheduled to convene a trial in little more than two weeks.

The news conference came after Blagojevich went for a jog in his North Side neighborhood this morning as the House debated impeachment. When the governor got back from his run he compared his situation to long-distance running.

Blagojevich returned from his jog about 11:10 a.m. to a welcoming party of cameras and reporters. But when reporters asked for his response to the impeachment vote, the governor remained focused on his workout.

"How's the pace?" he said. "Pace is good, huh? Seven miles. It was a good run."

Durbin Statement on the Illinois General Assembly Vote to Impeach Gov. Rod Blagojevich

From the Office of U.S. Senator Dick Durbin

[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) made the following statement regarding a 114-1 vote of the Illinois House to impeach Governor Rod Blagojevich:

“The Illinois House of Representatives has done the right thing today in voting to impeach Governor Blagojevich.”

“Beyond guilt or innocence, the allegations in the criminal complaint against Governor Blagojevich raise serious questions about his ability to carry out his duties as chief executive of our state.”

“I urge the Governor to summon the moral strength to put our state and our nation above any personal considerations and resign immediately.”

Statement from Sec. of State Jesse White on Impeachment of Gov. Blagojevich

From the Office of Secretary of State Jesse White

Since the day Governor Rod Blagojevich was arrested, I have been calling for him to step aside or resign. Unfortunately, the Governor has refused to put the people of Illinois first and do the right thing.

I have closely monitored the progress of the House Special Investigative Committee and today’s vote to impeach the Governor. I applaud their efforts to ensure that the process was handled fairly and professionally.

While it is a sad day for the state of Illinois, this is a necessary first step toward restoring integrity to our great state.

State Supreme Court Hands Down Opinion in Burris Case

Illinois Supreme Court says Sec. of State Jesse White is not required to sign and affix the state seal to the document appointing Roland Burris to the U.S. Senate. Read the opinion here.

Governor Blagojevich to hold Press Conference at 2:00 p.m.

It has been reported that Governor Blagojevich will hold a press conference today at 2:00 p.m.

Stay tuned for more details as they become available.

Governor Blagojevich Impeached by House of Representatives

This morning, the Illinois House of Representatives voted 114-1-1 to impeach Governor Rod Blagojevich.

Rep. Milton Patterson (D-Chicago) cast the one "no" vote.

Rep. Elga Jefferies (D-Chicago) voted "present."

Blagojevich Impeachment Moves to Full House, Senate Trial Begins January 26

The debate over impeaching Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich moves to the Illinois House of Representatives today. The debate begins at 9 AM. Not only are most members of the Illinois media gathered in the state capitol today, but so are many national media outlets.

But while the proceedings will last for some hours in all likelihood, the vote is a foregone conclusion. No one expects to the Governor to get much support in the House of Representatives. Due to the inauguration of President-Elect Obama, the Senate will not take up the trial of the Governor until January 26. The trial in the Senate is expected to last approximately 9 to 10 days.

If all goes according to the current timetable, Gov. Blagojevich could be removed from office around February 4th.