The Congress News


Emanuel saves Diana Rauner from relationship question

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Who says chivalry is dead? Mayor Rahm Emanuel stepped in front of a speeding question aimed at Illinois first lady Diana Rauner.

The scene unfolded as both attended an announcement about early childhood education at a Northwest Side preschool. The two greeted each other warmly and shared a couple of laughs.

That prompted WLS-AM 890 reporter Bill Cameron to ask Diana Rauner if she has any advice for her husband, Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner, about how he could better get along with Emanuel after the two onetime vacation buddies spent the past couple of years publicly sparring about everything from school funding to labor reform.

Before Diana Rauner could answer, Emanuel — who has a well-known record for declaring political spouses, including his wife, Amy Rule, off-limits to media prying — stepped in to parry the question.

“Look, Diana’s here, obviously, the first lady, but more importantly her leadership of (early childhood learning organization) Ounce of Prevention,” Emanuel said. “And she has been a great partner to the city on our early childhood. I would no more let you do that to Amy than I’ll let you do that to Diana.”

Emanuel wasn’t above a little politicking to go with his chivalry, turning to Rauner and telling her to keep in mind he bailed her out.

“Don’t forget that, though,” he said as Rauner broke out laughing. (John Byrne) 


What’s on tap

*Mayor Emanuel will talk about the upcoming opening of a new CTA transit center at Union Station.

*Gov. Bruce Rauner has no public events.

*Former Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn, who’s been much more publicly visible in recent months, will hold a news conference to offer an idea on how to take the politics out of redistricting following the latest failed effort.


What we’re writing

*John Bills, central figure in City Hall red light camera bribery scandal, gets 10 years.

*Aldermen to Emanuel: Not so fast on police reform vote (includes more details on the proposal).

*Emanuel: Trump interested in elections games, not Chicago crime.

*State Board of Elections says hack could have yielded personal information of 200,000 who registered online.

*August most violent month in Chicago in 20 years.


What we’re reading

*Once an al-Qaida recruiter, now a voice against jihad.

*Human ancestor Lucy may have died in fall from tree.

*What is your favorite Gene Wilder movie? We’re gonna go with "Blazing Saddles" and "Young Frankenstein" (tie).


From the notebook 

*Duckworth looks Downstate with new TV ad: Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Tammy Duckworth is out with a new ad that looks to be a way for her to gain more name recognition Downstate.

The 30-second spot features steelworkers laid off from Granite City Steel, a Metro East company that began shedding more than 2,000 workers just days after Christmas last year.

In the ad, Duckworth says her opponent, Republican U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk, “describes himself as an ardent free-trader, and that is a fundamental difference between us. I am a fair-trader.”

That’s followed by a laid-off steelworker named Anthony, who says, “He’s not supposed to work for China, he’s supposed to fight for our jobs.” (Rick Pearson)

*Rauner super PAC calls map ruling “affront to democracy": The Turnaround Illinois political action committee, a super PAC created in part by Gov. Rauner, sent an email to supporters Monday blasting the state Supreme Court ruling last week striking from the ballot a new redistricting method.

“In an affront to democracy, the state’s highest court ruled that a voter referendum for independent maps was unconstitutional,” the email says. “This means the people of Illinois lose to the political machine once again.”

The super PAC has been using the theme of “Fix Illinois” in ads featuring Rauner that call on voters to sign a petition to push a proposed state constitutional amendment on term limits through the General Assembly.

The petition’s purpose is political, not practical. The courts previously have ruled on a Rauner-backed petition drive that the constitution can’t be changed by citizen initiative to impose term limits on lawmakers. Instead, it’s a way to generate a political support base helpful to Republicans in the fall election.

“When the General Assembly reconvenes this fall, they should put political reform — including independent maps and term limits — at the top of the legislative agenda,” Rauner’s super PAC says. “Let’s hold the machine accountable. Let’s make them vote on the political reforms that the people demand.” (Rick Pearson) 

*Will Bills talk?: One of the questions throughout the City Hall red-light camera bribery saga was whether John Bills, a former top city transportation official under Mayor Richard M. Daley and part of House Speaker Michael Madigan’s patronage army, would help the feds in their investigation.

At his sentencing hearing Monday, Bills denied being a “power broker or mastermind."

“I was a mid-level manager who was directed by my superiors and given a responsibility that I obviously wasn’t prepared for,” he said.

Now Bills is facing a 10-year prison sentence, though there wasn’t much during the hearing or afterward to indicate he’s going to start talking now.

U.S. Attorney Zachary Fardon told Judge Virginia Kendall that she should consider Bills’ duplicity in trying to blame the scheme on others while at the same time refusing to name them.

“If the defendant had information about higher-ups, he could have put up or shut up,” Fardon said. “He did neither.”

But Nishay Sanan, Bills’ attorney, said it would be wrong to punish his client for refusing to talk.

Afterward, Fardon declined to say whether he believes other city officials were involved in the massive scheme and have gone unpunished, as Bills’ lawyer has long maintained. Fardon would not discuss whether the government had sought Bills’ cooperation — Bills’ lawyer has said it repeatedly did so — or whether that offer still stood.

Sanan has said Bills has remained steadfast in his refusal to turn government informant in spite of Sanan’s contention at trial that well-connected lobbyists and Bills’ elected bosses were the true beneficiaries of the scheme.


Follow the money 

*House Republican Leader Jim Durkin collected $53,900 (the max) from a D.C.-based plumbers/pipefitters political fund.

*Our Twitter feed of Illinois campaign contributions is down for maintenance. In the meantime, you can track campaign contributions in real time here.


Beyond Chicago

*Trump’s new aim: poison a Clinton presidency.

*Trump plans major ad buy after weeks of being outspent.

*McCain in fight for political life in Age of Trump.

*Clinton aide finally dumps creepy husband.

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