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Official: MTD's estimates inflated
But bus service says district pays for access others don't getCHAMPAIGN — A Champaign school board member is accusing the Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District of "gouging" the school district in its cost estimates for busing students to the proposed Central High School site north of Interstate Drive.
Mayor Gerard exchanges barbs with former Campaign Adviser

Craig Walker gives the Mayor grief via Twitter for not graduating from the UofI while Gerard points out that his critic is a distinguished alum of another institution.  Was Gerard representing himself as a graduate of the UofI?  If so, it appears he's getting that small detail corrected.  Apparently, all that heat makes people cranky. 


Rauner dealt double blows over Illinois ballot

Illlinois Republican gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner suffered a double blow Friday with the approval of a Nov. 4 ballot that does not include his referendum to limit the terms of Illinois lawmakers but features a Libertarian candidate who could undercut his draw of conservative votes.

Gerard Campaign Manager on Smile Politely Radio (Analysis)
Don Gerard's Campaign Manager went on Smile Politely Radio last week. You can listen to the interview HERE.

The Gerard Campaign cried foul after Angie Patton (Joe Petry Campaign Manager and former Gerard Campaign Manager) and myself (Deb Feinen supporter) were invited on the show to provide analysis and discuss the Mayoral Q&A that Gerard didn't show up for. You can listen to that interview HERE.

There were several interesting observations that have me scratching my head.

1. Gerard's Campaign Manager is clearly and intentionally ratcheting up racial tensions. He even suggested that Republicans (or those taking "cues" from the Republicans) are calling the police because a black girl was registering voters at the Taste of Champaign. How does an innocuous comment about Laurie Bonnet's handling of student voter registration turn into a racist ploy by the Republicans?  Nothing says #movingforwardtogether like shameless lies and conspiracy theories that divide people.

2. He claimed that the only thing Republicans want to talk about is the Mayor's race because Rs are scared of the November election. I appreciate the political spin, but Republicans everywhere are talking about the fall elections. Why would Gerard's Campaign Manager try to deflect any attention away from his own race? The Smile Politely discussion on the mayoral race was a Smile Politely initiative and I certainly don't think of that online magazine as a Republican entity. When Angie and I were on the show, we are invited to discuss the mayoral Q&A specifically and all questions by the hosts were related to the Mayoral race.  Not sure what Republicans he's listening to...

3. I find it interesting that Mayor Gerard's campaign manager is pointing out that 70% of Joe Petry's Q2 receipts comes from 5 people. Those five people contributed $18,600 while Don Gerard has accepted more than $15,000 from a single bar owner. While I really don't have any problem with people supporting candidates, I think it's extremely hypocritical for Gerard to criticize Petry and make this an issue. If anyone were going to raise the issue, I figured it would be Feinen, Foster, or Kurtz....but definitely not Gerard.

While Gerard's team continues to focus on divisive topics, I don't think there's anything wrong with Gerard taking credit for everything good in Champaign. It's just what politicians do. The amount of progress Champaign has made over the past 20 years is impressive. His campaign will likely suggest the Mayor has a direct role in that progress and will certainly downplay the fact that the Council as a whole should share equally in any victories.
Wayne Williams drops out.  Was it a sham all along?

Wayne Williams dropped out of the race for County Clerk. You might remember past HI coverage on this topic. I initially discussed it HERE. Then I received a call from Wayne Williams saying that he could address my questions, but I still had doubts HERE. Finally, Wayne called me and convinced me to meet with him at the Esquire. You can read about our conversation HERE.

Wayne Williams was a placeholder candidate and the only thing surprising about this announcement is how long the Champaign County Dems took to execute. I knew he was a sham candidate all along.  Of course, my anonymous critics screamed that I was wrong and didn't know what I was talking about.  I was part of some "noise machine"...blah blah blah.  Wayne Williams looked me in the eye and assured me he would be on the ballot in November.  It turns out my original analysis was spot-on. Now it will be fun to watch how Wayne Williams is rewarded for helping out the local democrats. I predict that Wayne Williams will be following in the footsteps of Curt Deedrich and Tony Fabri will be rewarded with a patronage job in the next 3-5 years. Only time will tell if I'm once again spot-on accurate.
Wave or No Wave, House Landscape Favors Republicans

Former Madison County Judge Ann Callis started the cycle as one of Democrats’ top recruits. But her challenge to Rep. Rodney Davis (R) just isn’t materializing. The congressman is in a very strong position and Gov. Pat Quinn is proving to be an anvil around the neck of Downstate Democratic candidates. We’re moving the race from Toss-Up/Tilt Republican to Lean Republican.

Ann Callis Staffer Grabs Student Protester (Raw video)

At a public appearance last week on the campus of Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, Ann Callis' campaign staff physically attempted to silence and remove students protesting Callis' appearance with Senator Dick Durbin. The event was open to the media and was on the campus quad, public space available to anyone.   We have the local Young Dems here in Champaign County flat-out making up stories about people violating their rights on public property while members of Team Callis elsewhere in the district are caught (on camera) physically confronting others.   Can you imagine how crazy the local kids would behave if Rodney Davis' crew did something this?!  

Tom's Mailbag Thoughts: Gerard Campaign Spokesman continues to stir the pot

Tom's Mailbag was quite entertaining this week.  Read the article HERE.  Don Gerard's campaign spokesman Matt Duco is attracting more negative attention for his divisive behavior. He dodges Tom Kacich's questions about his shenanigans. Matt Duco claiming that others are trying to stoke the partisan flames is like watching a serial arsonist point fingers at others while holding an empty can of gasoline. He recently tweeted that the Rodney Davis campaign fired their whole field staff. This claim turned out to be completely false. He followed that up with an attack on the local GOP by creating a voter registration controversy at West Side Park after claims of the local GOP using the Champaign Police and Park District staff of doing their "dirty work".   When challenged to explain, nobody can get a direct answer.  

The Chamber endorsed Kristin Williamson and contributed $5000. Someone wrote in to Tom Kacich to point out how few minority-owned businesses are Chamber members. I suspect the Business Empowered endorsement had more to do with Carol Ammons being in favor of a $15/hour minimum wage vs. skin color. I guess if you don't support Carol, you're a racist. 

One of Kacich's contributors alleged Gerard's campaign contributors of having a conflict of interest relating to TIF funds. While the assumptions proved to be inaccurate, I find it interesting that Gerard's campaign initially claimed others are trying to buy an election while the majority of his fundraising comes from a few big-money donors.  While the Gerard #grassroots campaign is guilty of extreme hypocrisy, I don't see anything wrong with a very few business people supporting Don Gerard with very large checks. 

The idea of Bambenek running for Mayor gave me a good chuckle. The dude is a lighting rod, what else can I say? Someone emailed me a faux campaign sign for laughs.  

The attacks on Kristin Williamson (alleged lobbyist) were baseless. I think it's cute how the dems are all worked up in a district they shouldn't have to work to defend. When the Champaign County Dems can slate a strong candidate and get the Republicans worked up to defend the 102nd and the 104th, I'll be impressed. 

Last but not least, the high school registration debacle continues to generate eye rolls as someone writes in to suggest the N-G editorial writer got his facts wrong. It turns out the editorial was spot-on.

Eric B: Welcome to the new and improved Halfway!
Enjoy the new and improved Halfway Interesting.  Halfway Interesting will be aggregating the most interesting political news content for state and local policy and elections.   Of course, I will be providing the occasional supplement from time and time when the situation requires.   Be sure to check out our BlogTalk page for in-depth interviews with C-U's political movers and shakers.  If you have any suggestions on news stories, please DM me on Twitter or FB.  Enjoy!
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Democrat drops from clerk race |
CHAMPAIGN — Wayne Williams dropped out of the race to be the Democratic nominee for Champaign County clerk on Friday, leaving his party without a candidate in the race that county chairman Al Klein earlier had proclaimed was "job one."From the time that Williams, of Champaign, was named the candidate in June there were persistent rumors that it was
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