Monday, March 30, 2009


As most of you know, I've formed an Exploratory Committee to consider running for the U.S. Senate seat once held by my friend and political mentor, President Barack Obama. Inspired by his example, I'm announcing today that if I ultimately decide to run, I will not accept any contributions from corporate PACs or Washington lobbyists.
I announce this decision as we witness today the disastrous aftermath of the golden age of corporate special interests and lobbyists. George W. Bush's policies, implemented at the insistence of a few and at the expense of many, have plundered our treasury, bankrupted our future, and poisoned our politics.
The election of Barack Obama signaled that this age of skewed policies is coming to an end. The change Americans voted for in the 2008 election was a call to take back our government from those few, narrow interests that dominated Washington for far too long.
Today, in that spirit, I am taking a step that no major Illinois candidate from either party has ever taken in a run for the U.S. Senate. It is a decision that advances us one step closer to that change that we all fought for and believed in last November. I will simply say "NO" to contributions from all federal lobbyists and corporate PACs.
These special interests do not represent the interests of most Americans, and they should not be allowed to buy a seat at the table when it comes to deciding critical issues or determining the direction of our nation, especially in the midst of our current financial crisis.
Others are free to criticize the stand I take today. They can dust off the rhetoric of cynicism or quibble with the details. They may attack this idea as a tepid half-step or a radical leap that will only strengthen a Republican nominee fattened with lobbyist cash and PAC dollars. To them, I say the citizens of Illinois have voted against Washington's conventional wisdom before, and I am willing to put my faith in their wisdom again.
Striving to earn the trust of thousands of Illinois residents who made my 2006 election possible, my first act as Illinois State Treasurer was to end pay-to-play politics and ethics abuses by issuing an executive order prohibiting political contributions to my campaign accounts from any banks, contractors and office employees. In addition, I banned gifts from lobbyists to anyone who worked in my office, and prohibited former employees from lobbying the office.
That act was the toughest ethics measure in state government to date. It signaled the start of a daunting task of curbing the influence of lobbyists and insiders in our state government. As we know in Illinois, that road has been a long and hard one indeed.
I make this decision because such a government should not be merely an ideal - it should be a reality. And while I am realistic about the fact that the efforts of one person won't stop lobbyists in their tracks or magically deliver government back to the people, I believe that if everyone considering a run for the U.S. Senate or any public office would take a similar pledge, the influence of federal lobbyists and corporate special interests would slowly but certainly recede. Simply put, the tide of change grows more powerful with every candidate who refuses to play politics by the old rules.
As such a potential candidate, I choose this path because I firmly believe that our government isn't an exclusive club open only to the well-connected, and that politics shouldn't be about special access to a privileged few. For far too long, we've grown accustomed to politics-as-usual and have forgotten that our political process is meant to empower all people to improve their communities, their states, and their nation for themselves and their families.
The historic 2008 election reminded us that when such ordinary citizens band together, their collective power can change communities and nations. Unlike the corporate entities that bankroll the status quo, I believe that citizens' committees of nurses, teachers, workers, police officers, firefighters, veterans, environmentalists, and others who band together to protect our constitutional rights are true agents of change. I will proudly accept their support if they deem my cause worthy.
My refusal to accept corporate PAC and lobbyist donations is not a slap at those who are now trapped in a flawed campaign finance system and have made their best efforts to make change happen from within. It is, however, the acknowledgment of a simple truth: Americans deserve better than the status quo. They deserve a government free of interference by Washington and corporate insiders. They deserve a candidate who will run a campaign worthy of their vote.
In the face of political scandal after political scandal, the citizens of the great State of Illinois have never lost their faith in the ideal of just and ethical government. Now, more than ever, it is up to all of us to bring integrity back to the process here in Illinois. Should I eventually choose to become a candidate for U.S. Senate, I will be not the candidate of corporations or lobbyists, but I will be their candidate, joining with them as we transform our government from the ground up.
Published on Alexi Giannoulias for Illinois (

Saturday, March 28, 2009

[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – Assistant Senate Majority Leader Dick Durbin (D-IL) today announced that Illinois Housing Agencies will receive $221,498,521 in grant funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The Public Housing Capital Fund grants, allocated through the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), provide funding for improvements to and the modernization of public housing.
“Improvements to public housing will enhance the quality of life for individuals who rely on this important service – including nearly 80,000 people in Illinois,” said Durbin. “More than that, local economies stand to benefit from this significant investment in infrastructure projects that will modernize public housing, increase energy efficiency and create jobs.”

The funding is part of $2.985 billion for 3,122 housing authorities nationwide that HUD announced earlier this week. According to HUD, this funding effectively doubles the Department's annual support of local housing authorities to improve their public housing and will allow local housing agencies to address the long-standing capital needs of public housing, create jobs, and increase energy efficiency.

Southern Illinois Housing Authorities

Alexander County, $1,268,015; Bond County, $252,716; Clark County, $153,368; Clay County, $325,351; Cumberland County, $167,665; Edwards County, $86,513; Effingham County, $190,932; Franklin County, $1,366,452; Gallatin County, $178,992; Jackson County, $1,657,577; Jefferson County, $771,886; Johnson County, $146,117; Hamilton County, $137,975; Hardin County, $267,588; Lawrence County, $240,486; Marion, $672,020;Marion County, $983,683; Massac County, $402,629; Perry County, $690,535; Pope County $196,329; Pulaski County, $262,186; Randolph County, $400,110; Richland County, $132,935; Saline County, $957,531; Union County, $720,375; Wabash County, $203,560; Wayne County, $367,319; White County, $190,052; and Williamson County, $1,380,451.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Representative Julie Hamos (D)18th District

Dear Randy,
When Governor Pat Quinn presented his budget address to the General Assembly last week, he said: "Illinois is staggering to pay an $11.5 billion deficit and has a mountain of unpaid bills. Illinois' economy is falling. Unemployment is rising, and our people are hurting. To be direct and honest - our state is facing the greatest crisis of modern times."
Although this was a sobering message, Gov. Quinn's no-nonsense assessment of the state's condition was a welcome contrast to the former governor who refused to acknowledge our growing structural budget problems.
Although I will not commit to any increase in fees or taxes unless they are coupled with genuine reforms in the way we manage the state's business, we do have a constitutional mandate to pass a balanced budget. It's most unfortunate that we have to fill this huge budget hole exactly at the same time that the national economy is reaping havoc on families and businesses.
In the past few months, I sent surveys to seek your opinion on various public policy issues facing the state. Today, I believe we have questions to ask and research to conduct in order for any of us to make informed decisions on these tough issues. These are some key questions:
How was the budget deficit calculated? How much are bills we already owe?
Which budget items or programs can be eliminated, reduced or postponed until the economy improves?
How much is Illinois receiving from the federal economic stimulus plan? How much is available to fill our budget deficit versus "shovel-ready" construction projects?
If we have federal dollars for "shovel-ready" construction projects, do we also need a state capital plan this year?
How have the revenue projections been affected by this economic downturn?
Are there alternatives to the income tax to fill the budget hole? While our 3% flat rate income tax is the lowest in the nation, how does the total tax burden for families and corporations -- including sales and property taxes - compare to other states?
What are the short-term and long-term impacts of pension reforms? How do public pensions in Illinois compare to other states?
These are complex issues, but we are short on time and a repeat of the doomsday budget scenarios we've endured for the past four years is unacceptable to me. There are too many people who depend on state government for us to put off difficult decisions until the last minute. Of course, none of the solutions will be painless.
I am interested in hearing from you, especially if you have answers to any of these questions or ideas for other questions we must ask. If you were forwarded this message, or you're not sure you're not on my list, please complete this form. And, because I would like to get as much input as possible, please pass the word along about my updates.
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Saturday, March 14, 2009

Money Mess Created by Six Years of Iraq

Plain Talk By Al Neuharth, USA TODAY Founder

Much is being written and said about the new stimulus law (officially the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009). Not enough of us explain or realize why we're in this money mess.
It's primarily because we've spent or authorized more money on the Iraq war (its sixth anniversary is next Thursday) than we're putting into the stimulus program. Comparison:
•The Iraq war $864 billion.
•The stimulus program $787 billion.
Sure, greedy bankers, covetous Wall Streeters, irresponsible buyers of homes and cars they couldn't afford all contributed to this recession. But if we hadn't blown that huge bundle in Iraq, we could have handled our problems here at home more easily.
Most of us consider Iraq to have been President Bush's biggest blunder. It was, but Congress voted to let him do it. Five months before we invaded Iraq, I wrote in this column on Oct. 4, 2002:
"Congress is 'debating,' but President Bush and his hawkish cohorts are demanding a virtual blank check to wage war on Iraq. They'll probably get it. That's a mistake."
Many Democrats as well as nearly all Republicans in Congress gave Bush that blank check. Votes on the Iraq resolution:
• House of Representatives: Yes, 215 Republicans, 81 Democrats.
• Senate: Yes, 48 Republicans, 29 Democrats.
By contrast, the votes on President Obama's recovery or stimulus plan to clean up the mess that Congress helped create with the Iraq misadventure:
• House: 246 Democrats, 0 Republicans.
• Senate: 56 Democrats, 3 Republicans.
Both parties got us into this mess, but only one is trying to get us out of it. As a political independent, I understand that. No matter your party affiliation or inclination, you should, too.

Monday, March 9, 2009

High-speed rail funding

Gov. Pat Quinn (center) and U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (left) address the media Monday at Union Station in Chicago, where they announced that they're seeking $500 million in federal funds for high speed rail in Illinois.

Monday, March 2, 2009

March 2, 2009

Giannoulias launches exploratory committee for U.S. Senate bid
State Treasurer names economy as top priority

With less than a year before the 2010 primary election, Illinois State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias today will form an exploratory committee for election to the U.S. Senate. Giannoulias is filing the necessary paperwork with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) to form the committee, which will allow him to raise money for a possible Senate run in Illinois. The Senate seat was held previously by Giannoulias' political mentor, Barack Obama, who stepped down after winning the U.S. Presidency last November. "More than ever, we need a Senator who can deliver on the change that President Obama has promised our nation," said Giannoulias, noting that he has received a tremendous response from Illinois residents encouraging him to pursue the Senate seat. Giannoulias, the state's chief investment officer, says restoring the public's trust and confidence in government, reviving the economy and getting Illinoisans back to work would serve as his top priorities. "Working families in Illinois and throughout the nation are facing serious financial challenges during this economic downturn," Giannoulias said. "They are hungry for new leadership and solutions." Giannoulias was elected Illinois State Treasurer in 2006 as an independent Democrat. He has been committed to wisely investing the state's money and to promoting a progressive, reform-based agenda that focuses on innovative initiatives and policies. Coming from the private sector, Giannoulias sought to implement new safeguards to make government more accountable, curb ethical abuses and eliminate even the perception of any wrongdoing. His accomplishments include:
* Ending pay-to-play politics in the Treasurer's office by prohibiting his campaign fund from taking contributions from contractors, banks and office employees.
* Making the state's financial records more transparent by successfully pushing legislation requiring current and future administrations to post online reports detailing where state money is invested and how it performs compared to standard benchmarks.
* Weathering the 2008 market meltdown as a result of a conservative and diversified investment strategy.
* Introducing innovative investment strategies that brought new revenue to the state, including securities lending, which earned more than $2 million during its first year.
* Addressing the nation's worst unfunded pension liability by successfully drafting legislation that will accelerate paying down Illinois' pension debt and potentially save $16 billion dollars.
* Helping to thaw the credit markets for consumers and increasing the state's rate of return through depositing money in healthy Illinois financial institutions that did not receive federal bailout money.
* Supporting the retention and creation of hundreds of jobs through low-interest business loans and venture capital investments.
* Overhauling Illinois' much criticized Bright Start plan, leading Morningstar to rank it one of the top five college savings plans in the nation and calling it a "Cinderella Story" with lower fees, more investment options and fewer tax penalties.
* Negotiating $3.5 million in privately financed scholarship money that will help thousands of need- and merit-based students attend college. In addition, he established the Fallen Heroes Scholarship Fund, which provides scholarship accounts for the children of fallen military and National Guard personnel.
* Combating record foreclosure rates in Illinois by creating the Finally Home program, which helps homeowners refinance unaffordable, variable rate mortgages or obtain conventional financing to purchase homes.
* Advocating for green jobs and lifestyles by establishing the nation's largest hybrid vehicle rebate program and creating a low-interest loan program to help businesses, governments and non-profit organizations build or go green.
* Harnessing the power of eBay, generating more revenue for the state and cutting office costs by selling unclaimed property online.
* Ending one of the biggest scandals that tarnished Illinois government for 25 years by taking ownership of two hotels from deadbeat political insiders who owed state taxpayers $60 million in loan and interest payments.

Democrat Elected Officials

  • Effingham County Board Distric G-Doug McCain
  • Effingham County Treasurer - Steve Dasenbrock
  • Effingham County Board District C - Karen Luchtefeld

Effingham County Democrats Officers

  • Chairman - Audrey Griffith
  • First Vice Chairman - Dan Niebrugge
  • Second Vice Chairman - Allen Wente
  • Secretary - James Hammer
  • Treasurer - Shirley McEvers