Morning Spin: Retiring Paul Ryan could be more ‘liberated’ in dealing with Trump, Democrat says

Welcome to Clout Street: Morning Spin, our weekday feature to catch you up with what’s going on in government and politics from Chicago to Springfield. Subscribe here.


Democratic U.S. Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi said the exiting Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan might be more “liberated” in dealing with President Donald Trump.

“Dealing with President Trump is no walk in the park. I don’t think it’s any secret he and the president don’t necessarily see eye to eye on a variety of issues,” Krishnamoorthi, who represents the northwest and west suburban 8th Congressional District, said on WGN AM-720.

“That being said, I was a little disappointed that he hasn’t been more forceful in pushing back on the president with regard to a variety of issues, and he’s kind of ceded some of our legislative prerogative in Congress to the president,” the Schaumburg congressman said. “I’m hoping that maybe now that he’s somewhat liberated, he’ll do that in the remaining months.”

Krishnamoorthi said he thought Ryan was “sincere” in saying he was retiring to spend more time with his family, since his father died when Ryan was 15.

But he also said Ryan “probably sees the likelihood of him serving as the next speaker going down with each passing day.”

Ryan’s departure comes amid expectations of a motivated Democratic turnout in the fall, which has prompted several ambitious challenges to Republican incumbents, including several districts in Illinois.

*On the “Sunday Spin”: Tribune political reporter Rick Pearson’s guests were Tribune reporter Hal Dardick; Northwestern Law School senior lecturer Jason DeSanto; and Krishnamoorthi. The “Sunday Spin” airs from 7 to 9 a.m. on WGN-AM 720. Listen to the full show here.

What we’re writing

*Cook County tax officials take excess campaign donations from appeals firms, ethics panel says.

*Gay rights advocates want Illinois schools to be required to teach LGBT history.

*Rod Blagojevich likely down to last legal hope as U.S. Supreme Court decides whether to take up his appeal.

*Riverwalk rising: City banking on boom to pay off cost of river transformation.

*With settlement of jilted spouse’s lawsuit, an archaic state law nears a quiet end.

*Supreme Court case could make sales tax-free e-commerce sites tougher to find.

*Look beyond the Obama center plans — here’s a water-filled vision for Jackson Park.

What we’re reading

*Three weeks after March for Our Lives, gun rights advocates rally at state capitols across U.S.

*Michael Ferro sells stake in Chicago Tribune parent Tronc to McCormick Media for $208.6 million.

*Why objects in mirror are closer than they appear.

Follow the money

*Campaign finance reports are due by midnight. They’ll update in real time here.

*Track Illinois campaign contributions in real time here and here.

Beyond Chicago

*New U.S. sanctions against Russia could come this week.

*Trump suggests via Twitter Comey should be in prison. Comey calls Trump “morally unfit.”

*Barbara Bush in failing health.

*FEMA underestimated Hurricane Maria.

*Oregon retiree gets $76,000 monthly pension.


In Janesville, Ryan’s exit illustrates Republican divide, challenges this fall »

Gay rights advocates want Illinois schools to be required to teach LGBT history »

Cook County tax officials take excess campaign donations from appeals firms, ethics panel says »

Morning Spin: Retiring Paul Ryan could be more ‘liberated’ in dealing with Trump, Democrat says

The Sunday Spin: Politics with Rick Pearson Full Show 4/15/18

On this edition of The Sunday Spin:

Rick Pearson talks with Tribune Reporter Hal Dardick about the race for Cook County Democratic Chairman and the race for Chicago Mayor. Hal and Ray Long covered a recent story about Cook County officials who oversee property tax appeals taking contributions in excess of county ethics laws. Rick Pearson talks with Hal to get the full rundown.

Next, Rick is joined by Northwestern Law School Senior Lecturer, Jason DeSanto. Rick and Jason analyze Mark Zuckerberg’s testimony before Congress about Facebook and its privacy policies. Jason also discusses James Comey’s attempts to uphold his credibility despite some of his recent comments included his memoir A Higher Loyalty.

Then, Rick speaks with Democratic U.S. Rep. and member of the House Oversight Committee Raja Krishnamoorthi. Raja discusses the on-going situation with Syria and Bashar al Assad, his thoughts on James Comey’s memoir, the proposed Conflict Act, and much more.

The Sunday Spin: Politics with Rick Pearson Full Show 4/15/18

Bernard Schoenburg: 36 years later, Susan Catania hopeful about ERA

Former GOP state Rep. SUSAN CATANIA, who was House sponsor of ratification of the federal Equal Rights Amendment during the apparent deadline year of 1982, was heartened when the Illinois Senate voted 43-12 last week to back the cause again.

“It’s very long overdue,” Catania told me by telephone, “but it’s definitely time for Illinois to not be aligned with the confederate states which opposed the Equal Rights Amendment.”

The summer of 1982 was wild in Springfield, as the June 30 deadline for ratification approached. Women dressed in red, led by the late PHYLLIS SCHLAFLY, brought their stop ERA message to the Statehouse on session days, as pro-ERA forces, often dressed in green, advocated for their side.

A small group of women, led by activist SONIA JOHNSON, went on a 37-day water-only fast for the ERA — sitting in the rotunda each day. And members of the Champaign-based pro-ERA “Grass-Roots Group of Second Class Citizens” got arrested after chaining themselves to the brass railing at the Senate’s main entrance. They came back another day and sprayed animal blood in front the House and Senate chambers and the governor’s office, leading to more chaos.

I was interviewing Catania just outside the Senate chamber when the blood-spraying began.

Catania served in the House from 1973-83. She was a Republican from Chicago when there were three-member House districts. She ran for the GOP nomination for lieutenant governor in 1982, coming in second in a three-way primary won by GEORGE RYAN. She later worked for the Department of Children and Family Services, and then the Department of Human Services, overseeing the statewide sexual assault and prevention response program.

Catania, 76, who says she still leans Republican and now calls Buffalo Grove home, says 36 years later that one anti-ERA message, about women’s role in the military, has been rebuffed.

“We have a United States senator who clearly has demonstrated that women can serve with complete distinction in the U.S. military. And we have her fighting the good fight now in Washington.”

She was talking about U.S. Sen. TAMMY DUCKWORTH, D-Illinois, the Hoffman Estates resident who lost both legs when her helicopter was shot down over Iraq.

Catania said she voted for Duckworth in 2016.

“She’s carrying the torch for women,” she said, and is “speaking out for the military and for women, for working families.”

Catania also voted for Democrat HILLARY CLINTON over GOP President DONALD TRUMP, saying he stands only for himself, and not “anything that the Republican Party ever has stood for.”

By 1982, ERA was ratified by 35 of the required 38 states. Advocates passed a ratification measure in Nevada last year, and they believe the amendment can still take effect if two more states give approval.

Opposition to ratification of ERA has been building with the new action in Springfield, with groups including the Illinois Family Institute against the measure.

Catania said three of her seven daughters were born during her years in the House. She and husband ANTHONY have six grandsons and seven granddaughters.

Her simple advice to House members when ERA comes up: “Vote yes.”

Border war

The Illinois Senate voted 33-22 on a resolution last week urging Gov. BRUCE RAUNER not to send Illinois National Guard troops to the Mexican border if so requested by President Trump.

No such request was made to Illinois, but Rauner had told reporters he believed such a request would be honored.

SETH McMILLAN of Taylorville, who is running against state Sen. ANDY MANAR, D-Bunker Hill, in the 48th Senate, said Manar’s vote for the resolution “sided with liberal Chicago Democrats and put illegal immigrants over the people of central Illinois.” He also said it would lead to “more illegal immigration and more dangerous drugs like opioids flowing across the border.”

“As state senator, I would support President Trump’s request to send the Illinois National Guard to secure our borders,” he added.

Manar noted that the resolution “does not carry the weight of law,” but also said he agrees with language in the resolution that the safety and security of Illinois citizens and National Guard members “must take precedence over the political aspirations of our executive branch. …”

And, Manar said, if McMillan is concerned about opioids, he should “pick up the phone and call his friend Bruce Rauner,” and not let money intended to help with addiction problems downstate lapse, which he said was revealed “stunningly” in testimony before an appropriations committee last week.

The Department of Human Services responded that some appropriation authority was not fully utilized due to an influx of federal dollars. Manar said that shouldn’t keep the Rauner administration from spending the state appropriated funds.

McMillan said tens of millions in state dollars have gone to things like health insurance for people who are not legal residents. PolitiFact Illinois in 2016 reported that from fiscal 2009-2014, the state spent between $42 million and $59 millon a year on health care associated with undocumented children.

“We should completely eliminate welfare for illegal immigrants and use those resources for opioid prevention and intervention,” McMillan said.

Manar, a senator since 2013 who was earlier chief of staff to the Senate president, called bringing those health-care costs to the discussion “gotcha politics.”

“I’m a serious legislator,” Manar said. “Some would probably say maybe I’m too serious, but I reject gotcha politics.”

McMillan, Manar said, “has a struggling campaign and he’s going to do and say all kinds of things over the next few months.”

Democratic governor candidate J.B. PRITZKER called the president’s National Guard order — so far only affecting other states — “blatant racism and political pandering.”

RACHEL BOLD, spokeswoman for Rauner, said if the president calls for the guard, the governor’s options are to work with the president and maintain control over the guard, or refuse and lose command — meaning he may not be able to call members home in an emergency. She also said Govs. Rauner and PAT QUINN sent Guard members to the southern border in the past at the request of then-President BARACK OBAMA.


— Contact Bernard Schoenburg:, 788-1540,

Bernard Schoenburg: 36 years later, Susan Catania hopeful about ERA

Statehouse Insider: Rauner sets achievable budget goals

Sometimes the key to success is to set achievable goals. Or another way of putting it is to set the bar low enough you can’t fail.

Which brings us to Gov. Bruce Rauner’s budget goals for the spring session. He’s set out three things he wants from the budget lawmakers craft this year: That it be for a full year, that it be balanced and that it not include any new taxes.

That’s not exactly a lofty list. For one, even though some Republicans keep pushing the idea the Democrats will pass only a half-year budget, there appears to be no desire by them to do that. The Democrats fully expect J.B. Pritzker to get elected governor this year and they don’t want him to start his term facing a budget crisis.

For two, lawmakers approved a 32 percent increase in the state income tax last year. Rauner has and will use it as a focus for attacking Democrats this year. Most lawmakers are up for election this year. Does anyone seriously think anyone is going to vote for another tax hike this year? So the governor has already achieved this goal.

Finally, we have the question of the whole mess being balanced. As anyone knows, balanced is in the eye of the beholder. Majority party lawmakers will tell you they pass balanced budgets all of the time. Rauner, on the other hand, insists each of his budget proposals was balanced when he proposed them. Few outside of government believe either of them.

So everyone can just agree whatever passes is balanced and voila, goals achieved

* The long-awaited meeting between Rauner and Rep. Jeanne Ives happened last week. Kinda. Sorta.

Both were in a Springfield restaurant Wednesday night and Rauner stopped by Ives’ table long enough to say hello. On this much there seems to be agreement. After that, not so much.

Rauner said that during this brief encounter, the two agreed to meet again to talk about things and make nice after the contentious Republican primary. Ives’ camp said no such agreement was made.

You have to wonder at this point if it might be better that the two never get together to resolve their differences. The conflicting stories likely to emerge from such a meeting probably would set unity back another decade.

* ”We haven’t done any hard work in this committee at all. We should all be pretty much ashamed by ourselves.” Ives on the House Personnel and Pensions Committee, assessing what the committee has done, or not, to control state pension costs this year.

* The Department of Corrections went before a Senate budget panel last week and said it needs more than $400 million in additional appropriation authority to get through the rest of this fiscal year.

That’s a serious problem. Some Democrats expressed surprise at the news and criticized department officials for not opening their testimony about the dire situation they face.

Please spare us the mock horror and other theatrics. The fact Corrections was short about $400 million in the current budget was not new. Rauner Budget Director Hans Zigmund  testified to the same committee on Feb. 6 that a supplemental spending bill was needed, including for Corrections. Zigmund was asked when Corrections would run out of spending authority without the additional bill and he replied, ”Pretty soon.” That was early February.

It’s not because Republicans have dragged their feet on this. Bills were introduced in both the House and Senate in mid-February to address the problem. Neither has moved an inch since.

There are plenty of things out there to play politics with if that’s the desire. Messing around with the prison system and its ability to keep the bad guys where they belong maybe isn’t the wisest choice.

Contact Doug Finke at, 788-1527 or

Statehouse Insider: Rauner sets achievable budget goals

State Week: Low Bar For Budget ‘Progress’

Gov. Bruce Rauner made a rare request for a meeting with the four legislative leaders of the General Assembly — House and Senate, Democratic and Republican. In a show of how once-ordinary tasks can be touted as achievements in the current toxic political climate, Republicans left the meeting saying they were pleased Democrats agreed to appoint budget negotiators.

They also apparently agreed to set a “revenue estimate” — the amount of  money Illinois government expects to collect, and thus to spend, in the next budget year.

Meanwhile, the Department of Corrections faced tough questions about its request for hundreds of millions of dollars more than it was appropriated in the current budget year. But were the Senators really surprised, and should they have been?

Sean Crawford hosts with regular panelists Charlie Wheeler, Brian Mackey and Daisy Contreras, and guest Doug Finke of GateHouse Media and The State Journal-Register.

The State Week panel wants to hear your questions about Illinois.

If there’s anything you’ve ever wondered about Illinois government and politics — whether a current event or something historical — we want to answer your question on air.

We’d also like you to ask your question on air. There are two ways to get in touch:

  • Leave a voicemail at (217) 206-6412.
  • Record a voice memo on your smart phone and email it to (Here’s a helpful guide from NPR. Be sure to begin by saying who you are and where you’re from, along the lines of: “Hi, I’m Brian Mackey from Springfield, and I’ve always wondered …”)

We hope to hear from you soon.

State Week: Low Bar For Budget ‘Progress’

Morning Spin: Rauner, Ives meet briefly at brewery, share first ‘hello’ since brutal primary race

Welcome to Clout Street: Morning Spin, our weekday feature to catch you up with what’s going on in government and politics from Chicago to Springfield. Subscribe here.


Weeks after Gov. Bruce Rauner narrowly fended off a primary challenge from state Rep. Jeanne Ives, the two Republicans briefly met face-to-face at a Springfield brewery.

The encounter happened Wednesday night at Obed & Isaac’s Microbrewery, a favorite haunt of Rauner’s when he is in town.

Rauner said he saw Ives at a table across the restaurant and “went over to say hello and to wish her well and to tell her that I look forward to getting together with her.”

Ives said she was sitting with friends when the governor stopped by. She said on Thursday it’s “juvenile” that some political watchers were making a big deal about the exchange.

“‘Hello.’ That was it,” Ives said of her chat with Rauner. “There’s no there there.”

The Democratic Governors Association has tried to seize on a lack of communication between Rauner and Ives since the primary election to highlight divides in the Republican Party. Rauner bested Ives for the GOP nomination by just 3 percentage points.

*New DUI policy in far northwest suburbs: Refuse breath test, cop will seek instant warrant for blood test.

*Randomly chosen Police Board member to decide if Chicago cop to face potential firing over shooting.


What we’re reading

*Heinz teased “mayochup,” a new mayo and ketchup condiment. A contentious online debate ensued.

*Growing up, Chicago brothers discover their father’s friends were mobsters. They wrote a book.

*Downstate mayor resigns, asking council to not take legal action against him.


Follow the money

*Mayoral candidate Willie Wilson filed a “notification of self funding” about the $100,000 he gave his campaign, the paperwork needed to remove campaign contribution limits for other candidates.

*Track Illinois campaign contributions in real time here and here.


Beyond Chicago

*Trump administration looking at rejoining TPP.

*Why did Ryan make his announcement now?

*Farm bill would make food stamps changes.

*Some national parks fees will go up, but not by as much as planned.

Morning Spin: Rauner, Ives meet briefly at brewery, share first ‘hello’ since brutal primary race

Morning Spin: Rauner off to Poland, Germany next week

Welcome to Clout Street: Morning Spin, our weekday feature to catch you up with what’s going on in government and politics from Chicago to Springfield. Subscribe here.


Gov. Bruce Rauner is traveling to Germany and Poland next week in what he described as an effort to bring companies from the two countries to Illinois.

The trip makes good on a pledge the Republican governor made last fall to visit Europe, after taking a trip to Japan and China.

Rauner disclosed his plans during a question-and-answer session with members of the Illinois Chamber of Commerce at a luncheon in Springfield on Wednesday. He pointed to a Germany as a model for training a workforce that can meet the needs of businesses, noting teens who go to trade school rather than a traditional four-year university.

Of the trip to Germany, Rauner said, “We’ve got a bunch of announcements.”

“We’re bringing German companies more here and expanding German investment in the state,” he said.

“Poland is becoming more free-enterprise, they’re actually growing some pretty big companies, and the No. 1 state where they should be investing when they come to the U.S. is Illinois,” he said.

*To boost gender pay equity, Emanuel bans city departments from asking job applicants for salary history.

*Crime-fighting technology in Chicago gets $10 million boost from billionaire Ken Griffin.

*Posting signs outside of Chicago tobacco stores could warn teens of vaping dangers, officials say.

*Hipsters in Homewood? Suburbs try to lure millennial city dwellers by showing they’re cool, too.

What we’re reading

*IHSA giving high schools the chance to buy concussion insurance for their athletes.

*Before the movie, “Rampage” the video game offered destruction without death.

*It’s baby penguin season across Chicago: Cuteness overload or something more?

Follow the money

*Track Illinois campaign contributions in real time here and here.

Beyond Chicago

*Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens hit woman, she tells lawmakers.

*Paul Ryan won’t run again.

*Zuckerberg goes back for Round 2.

*Cambridge Analytica CEO steps down.


In Janesville, Ryan’s exit illustrates Republican divide, challenges this fall »

Illinois Senate approves federal Equal Rights Amendment, more than 35 years after the deadline »

Crime-fighting technology in Chicago gets $10 million boost from billionaire Ken Griffin »

Morning Spin: Rauner off to Poland, Germany next week