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Thursday, June 1, 2006 07:16 am

The Hype

The Hype

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Betting on a gamble Not long after Gov. ROD BLAGOJEVICH announced his proposal to fund education by leasing the state lottery for $10 billion, the wordplay began. “Governor takes gamble on funds,” read one headline. Chicago Sun-Times columnist MARK BROWN announced that the “plan looks like a bad bet for schools.” Even state Treasurer JUDY BAAR TOPINKA, the governor’s Republican challenger in November, took a piece of the action in their first gubernatorial debate this weekend when she, too, called the education plan a “gamble.”
Granted, a lease would be a risky move — especially in light of the fact that the state would have to go back to the drawing board once the funding stream ran out, in 2025. But certainly the naysayers aren’t suggesting that games of chance are all bad, are they? After all, the lottery itself is a legalized form gambling — the chance of winning the jackpot in the state’s Mega Millions game is about 1 in 176 million. Actually, Blagojevich’s odds don’t look so bad.
292 Favors? News of a so-called “clout list” reportedly kept by Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s office, the authenticity of which has been called into question recently, raises questions about politics’ role in hiring in the first-term governor’s administration. Yet, state-employee advocacy groups, some of which have taken aim at Blagojevich’s jobs policies in the past, have been markedly silent on the issue. Roy Williams, who as head of the Illinois Association of Minorities in Government, has quibbled with Blagojevich over minority hiring, promotions, and salary issues says, “I think it has an adverse impact on minorities when they hire that way because [minorities] don’t have the sponsorships that whites have.” A former state employee, Williams’ name also appears on the list. The American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees Council 31 — which refused to endorse Blagojevich in the Democratic primary and isn’t all that crazy about his lottery-leasing plan, either — has no beef with the list. According to Council 31 spokesman LINC COHEN, AFSCME’s 100,000-plus members never had contractual rights to those jobs on the clout list, anyway. “These are management people. These aren’t people who are union members — and who, by and large, won’t be union members.”
Vaya con dios, Nedd NEDD KAREIVA, the 46-year-old founder of the Stop the ACLU Coalition, says that conservative Christians such as himself “aren’t in good conscience going to vote for someone with pro-homosexual positions,” referring to Republican gubernatorial candidate Judy Baar Topinka, who supports gay rights. Therefore he’s started an online petition and posted a MySpace profile asking Topinka to withdraw from the race. However, with no statutory foundation to formally challenge Topinka’s nomination, Kareiva, a former competitive Scrabble player, acknowledges that his appeal probably won’t get far: “I don’t know if that would faze her — we know that women go more on emotions more than facts,” says Kareiva, who professes to be engaged. Chances are, he’ll never see his petition project to fruition. For one thing, he’s only collected 22 signatures, and, he says, he’s so disgusted with this state’s politics that he’s “making serious plans to move to Indiana.”
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