Rich Miller

Rich Miller

Crime will be big issue this year

By Rich Miller

Illinois House Speaker Chris Welch marked his first anniversary as his chamber’s top leader with a series of news media interviews last week. One of the questions I asked was what his legislative district’s constituents were talking to him about the most.

“The number one issue in my district, and this is across the state, is crime,” Speaker Welch said.

Welch said he is telling people in his district that he’s working on legislation to address carjacking, organized retail theft and other crime-related issues. He also said he’s talking to mayors and police chiefs in his suburban district about their ideas.

Welch said he wants to put money into the state budget. “I want to make sure our police are properly funded, properly trained, properly educated.”

RichMiller 1

Rich Miller

When told about Speaker Welch’s response, House Republican Leader Jim Durkin said, in part, “Democrats must just be getting their polling in, showing how disastrous their ‘defund the police’ and anti-crime victim agenda has been with Illinois voters. Talk is nice, but actions are more important. Just last week the Democrats again passed a law that gives accused criminals more rights than victims. It is no surprise that the number one issue in Speaker Welch’s district is crime, because Democrats have created a consequence free Illinois that has emboldened criminals.”

I’m hearing from people in both parties that current poll results are extremely ominous for Democrats, particularly in the suburbs. Welch told me he’s “well aware of the political climate as we head into the election season.”

I mentioned that former House Speaker Michael Madigan was often criticized for living in 1994, when Democrats were swept out of office after a massive, racialized anti-crime backlash. But, in a somewhat bizarre twist, it was Madigan’s strong support for the Black Caucus’ criminal justice reform “pillar” as part of his last-minute attempt to hold onto power a year ago that resulted in the controversial bill’s passage. That bill has intensified the Democrats’ political woes.

“We’re going to be fine in 2022, but it’s not going to be given to us, we’ve got to do the work,” Welch said. “And there’s a lot of difference between 2022 and 1994. There’s a lot of ways to communicate to voters that exist now that didn’t exist in 1994.”

Also, the Republicans drew the legislative district map ahead of that 1994 national blow-out. Madigan’s Democrats managed to hold on to the majority during the 1992 race, but lost it two years later (and then regained it in 1996).

As far as Leader Durkin is concerned, Welch was completely dismissive. “Leader Durkin has proven that he can’t get past Speaker Madigan,” Welch said, adding that Durkin “is stuck in a partisan fight in his own mind, and so we’ve got to find other ways to work with members on his side of the aisle.”

Welch is disclosing that he has $12 million cash on hand in his caucus and personal campaign committee accounts. Madigan’s standard election cycle budget was $30 million, but Welch’s operation also focuses on helping members raise money for themselves, which is not something Madigan ever did. Even so, he has a long way to go.

“There was never a fundraising apparatus within the caucus’ political side,” Welch said. “We’re also helping our members with their political messaging…from a social media standpoint, we’re providing them with content. That’s never been done before.” He also claimed that his members “have had quite a successful year when it comes to fundraising.”

With petition circulation kicking off last week, I asked Welch what will happen if any of his House Democratic members attracts a primary opponent. Will he step in to help with money and people?

“I have told our caucus members that it is my plan in every sense of the word to protect incumbent members,” Welch said. “And we will do that.”

By the way, I also asked Senate President Don Harmon what people in his district are telling him.

“What I’m hearing most,” Harmon said, “is a longing for something that resembles ‘getting back to normal.’ It is most often voiced in growing concerns about crime, schools and COVID.”

Normal seems so far away right now.

Rich Miller also publishes Capitol Fax, a daily political newsletter, and CapitolFax.com.

Local News

The main sign at the Scottsdale shopping center could in the months ahead sport a sign for a cannabis dispensary. --Supplied photo

Some saying ‘Nope to dope’

Concern over dispensary in Scottsdale By Tim Hadac Owners of a cannabis dispensary want to set up shop in the Scottsdale Shopping Center—a move some in the community are questioning and others are opposing. “There’s a lot of concern out there,” said Scottsdale Neighborhood Watch President Jason Huff. “First, there’s concern about whether a dispensary…

Cook County Sheriff Thomas J. Dart

Dart warns of Kia, Hyundai thefts

Suggests steps to protect vehicle owners From staff reports Cook County Sheriff Thomas J. Dart is warning the public about what he is calling a dramatic rise in thefts of certain models of Kia and Hyundai vehicles. He is urging owners to take additional precautions to reduce the risk of theft. In the past few…

Roberts Road closures and detours. (Supplied by Illinois Tollway Authority)

Overnight closures coming Monday night for Roberts Road, 87th Street

Overnight road closures, including weekend full intersection closures with detours, will be scheduled on Roberts Road and 87th Street during the next two weeks to accommodate mainline bridge beam placement as part of the Central Tri-State Tollway (I-294) Project. Overnight lane closures will also be scheduled on southbound I-294 during this time to complete the work. On Monday, August 15,…

IllinoisTollwayLogo_HiRes

Traffic shift coming Monday on Tri-State between 83rd Street and Mile-Long Bridge

Beginning Monday, night, a traffic shift is scheduled on the northbound Central Tri-State Tollway between the 83rd Street Toll Plaza and the Mile Long Bridge, including removal of the current counterflow configuration. Four lanes will remain open. Overnight August 15, on northbound I-294 between the 83rd Street Toll Plaza and the Mile Long Bridge overnight lane closures will be scheduled, with traffic reduced to a single lane…

Sandburg's Jillian Cosler finished second in a prestigious tournament in Decatur on Friday. Photo courtesy of Sandburg High School.

Area Sports Roundup: Sandburg golfer Jillian Cosler opens high school sports season with a bang

By Jeff Vorva Staff Writer The 2022-23 high school sports season opened with a bang. Practices were allowed to begin on Aug. 8 and the IHSA unleashed boys and girls golfers on Aug. 11; and there was some excitement the next day. Sandburg’s girls golf team participated in the Prep Tour Showcase at Hickory Point…

Fire goalie Gabriel "Gaga" Slonina and his teammates have four games scheduled at SeatGeek Stadium in the coming months. Photo courtesy of Chicago Fire

Pro Soccer Report: Chicago Fire to play four matches at SeatGeek

By Jeff Vorva Staff Writer Before soccer fans could blink their eyes, SeatGeek Stadium in Bridgeview has been tabbed to host four Chicago Fire games. SeatGeek was the MLS club’s home from 2006 until 2019, when it moved to Soldier Field. Conflicts with Soldier Field’s prized tenants, the Chicago Bears, and damage to the playing…

With the color guard flags whipping in the breeze, the Shepard High School marching band rehearses their new field show. (Supplied photos)

Marching Astros take the field

Weeks before the start of the new school year, marching band members from Shepard High School baked in the summer sun to prepare for the coming competitive season. As much as any event, marching band camp signals the start of a new school year. For a week, the Marching Astros arrived early and stayed late…

Ryan Clancy talks about his sister, Chicago Police Officer Patricia "Patsy" Swank, 29, who committed suicide last month. Clancy said the pressure on all police officers is a heavy burden and supports the Oak Lawn Police Department following a controversial arrest of a teen last month. Clancy made his comments during the Oak Lawn Village Board meeting Tuesday morning.(Photo by Joe Boyle)

Oak Lawn residents offer staunch support for police

By Joe Boyle Oak Lawn residents came out in force to offer support for the village’s police department after a well-publicized arrest of a teen following a traffic stop last month. Residents jammed the Oak Lawn Village Hall for the board meeting Tuesday morning to provide testimony in support of officers after the arrest of…

American English, an award-winning Beatles cover band, entertained the large crowd for over two hours, despite on-and-off rain, as the final act of Sunday's event. (Photos by Isabella Schreck)

Tunes and tons of local restaurants come together at the Taste of Orland

By Isabella Schreck The Supremes, John Mellencamp and The Beatles came to the Taste of Orland. Well, really, tribute bands brought their music and presence to Orland Park Village Center’s stage. “I was really impressed with American English,” Rebecca Whealan, of Palos Heights, said. “From the costumes to their sound [Eric Michaels] as Paul McCartney,…

election 2022

Calandriello announces Biking the 17th District on Sunday

From staff reports Daniel Calandriello, the Democratic nominee for the Cook County Board 17th District, announced a “Biking the 17th District” event from Elk Grove Village to Orland Park on Sunday to raise awareness of the Cook County Forest Preserve. Calandriello, of Orland Park, plans to bike several trails located within the Cook County Forest…

Neighbors

DVN JCs Restoration House Ad
The main sign at the Scottsdale shopping center could in the months ahead sport a sign for a cannabis dispensary. --Supplied photo

Some saying ‘Nope to dope’

Concern over dispensary in Scottsdale By Tim Hadac Owners of a cannabis dispensary want to set up shop in the Scottsdale Shopping Center—a move some in the community are questioning and others are opposing. “There’s a lot of concern out there,” said Scottsdale Neighborhood Watch President Jason Huff. “First, there’s concern about whether a dispensary…

Cook County Sheriff Thomas J. Dart

Dart warns of Kia, Hyundai thefts

Suggests steps to protect vehicle owners From staff reports Cook County Sheriff Thomas J. Dart is warning the public about what he is calling a dramatic rise in thefts of certain models of Kia and Hyundai vehicles. He is urging owners to take additional precautions to reduce the risk of theft. In the past few…

Roberts Road closures and detours. (Supplied by Illinois Tollway Authority)

Overnight closures coming Monday night for Roberts Road, 87th Street

Overnight road closures, including weekend full intersection closures with detours, will be scheduled on Roberts Road and 87th Street during the next two weeks to accommodate mainline bridge beam placement as part of the Central Tri-State Tollway (I-294) Project. Overnight lane closures will also be scheduled on southbound I-294 during this time to complete the work. On Monday, August 15,…

IllinoisTollwayLogo_HiRes

Traffic shift coming Monday on Tri-State between 83rd Street and Mile-Long Bridge

Beginning Monday, night, a traffic shift is scheduled on the northbound Central Tri-State Tollway between the 83rd Street Toll Plaza and the Mile Long Bridge, including removal of the current counterflow configuration. Four lanes will remain open. Overnight August 15, on northbound I-294 between the 83rd Street Toll Plaza and the Mile Long Bridge overnight lane closures will be scheduled, with traffic reduced to a single lane…

Sandburg's Jillian Cosler finished second in a prestigious tournament in Decatur on Friday. Photo courtesy of Sandburg High School.

Area Sports Roundup: Sandburg golfer Jillian Cosler opens high school sports season with a bang

By Jeff Vorva Staff Writer The 2022-23 high school sports season opened with a bang. Practices were allowed to begin on Aug. 8 and the IHSA unleashed boys and girls golfers on Aug. 11; and there was some excitement the next day. Sandburg’s girls golf team participated in the Prep Tour Showcase at Hickory Point…

Fire goalie Gabriel "Gaga" Slonina and his teammates have four games scheduled at SeatGeek Stadium in the coming months. Photo courtesy of Chicago Fire

Pro Soccer Report: Chicago Fire to play four matches at SeatGeek

By Jeff Vorva Staff Writer Before soccer fans could blink their eyes, SeatGeek Stadium in Bridgeview has been tabbed to host four Chicago Fire games. SeatGeek was the MLS club’s home from 2006 until 2019, when it moved to Soldier Field. Conflicts with Soldier Field’s prized tenants, the Chicago Bears, and damage to the playing…

With the color guard flags whipping in the breeze, the Shepard High School marching band rehearses their new field show. (Supplied photos)

Marching Astros take the field

Weeks before the start of the new school year, marching band members from Shepard High School baked in the summer sun to prepare for the coming competitive season. As much as any event, marching band camp signals the start of a new school year. For a week, the Marching Astros arrived early and stayed late…

Ryan Clancy talks about his sister, Chicago Police Officer Patricia "Patsy" Swank, 29, who committed suicide last month. Clancy said the pressure on all police officers is a heavy burden and supports the Oak Lawn Police Department following a controversial arrest of a teen last month. Clancy made his comments during the Oak Lawn Village Board meeting Tuesday morning.(Photo by Joe Boyle)

Oak Lawn residents offer staunch support for police

By Joe Boyle Oak Lawn residents came out in force to offer support for the village’s police department after a well-publicized arrest of a teen following a traffic stop last month. Residents jammed the Oak Lawn Village Hall for the board meeting Tuesday morning to provide testimony in support of officers after the arrest of…

American English, an award-winning Beatles cover band, entertained the large crowd for over two hours, despite on-and-off rain, as the final act of Sunday's event. (Photos by Isabella Schreck)

Tunes and tons of local restaurants come together at the Taste of Orland

By Isabella Schreck The Supremes, John Mellencamp and The Beatles came to the Taste of Orland. Well, really, tribute bands brought their music and presence to Orland Park Village Center’s stage. “I was really impressed with American English,” Rebecca Whealan, of Palos Heights, said. “From the costumes to their sound [Eric Michaels] as Paul McCartney,…

election 2022

Calandriello announces Biking the 17th District on Sunday

From staff reports Daniel Calandriello, the Democratic nominee for the Cook County Board 17th District, announced a “Biking the 17th District” event from Elk Grove Village to Orland Park on Sunday to raise awareness of the Cook County Forest Preserve. Calandriello, of Orland Park, plans to bike several trails located within the Cook County Forest…

CRR NH European Foot Ankle House Ad
CRR NH Trianos Pizza House Ad